Palette Surgeonfish Paracanthurus hepatus

  Tropical reef fish

Palette Surgeonfish

Palette Surgeonfish Paracanthurus hepatus

Identity card

Palette Surgeonfish

Scientific name:
Paracanthurus hepatus
Acanthuridae, Acanthurinae
Year of description:
Linnaeus, 1766
IUCN Status:
Least Concern

Not Evaluated


Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.


From 2 to 40 metres deep.


It rarely exceeds 20 cm on average.


It feeds mainly on zooplankton, but can also feed on algae that live on the seabed.

Palette Surgeonfish Paracanthurus hepatus

The palette surgeon fish is known as the character of Dory in "Finding Nemo".


Unlike most other surgeonfish, this species is not very territorial.

did you know?

Where is the animal to be found?

The palette surgeonfish inhabits the areas exposed to the currents of the flats and the tops of the outer slopes, at depths of 2 to 40 metres. It has a very localised distribution on the reef.

Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean, from East Africa to the Line Islands; from southern Japan to southern Australia, New Caledonia and Samoa.

How can it be recognised?

It gets its name, surgeonfish, from the sharp, scalpel-like spines at the base of its tail. Furthermore, these spines are covered with a venomous mucus that can cause severe pain. It rarely exceeds 20 cm on average.

What is distinctive about it?

The palette surgeonfish reproduces by external fertilisation. The couple release their gametes into the water when they come to the surface. After the eggs hatch, the larvae remain on the surface and gradually develop as they swim and feed. The long spines grow on the small adult that then settles between the branching corals.

Palette Surgeonfish Paracanthurus hepatus

Where can I find it at Nausicaá?

journey on the high seas

The great Ocean show

Tropical reef fish

The Ocean Mag

Browse through our Ocean Mag

A la une

A treaty on biodiversity in the high seas

More than 80 states gathered at the United Nations in New York have already signed the international treaty on the protection of the high seas.

banc de mérous ile de malpelo


A brief glossary of terms covering the poles and glaciers

Do you speak polar? What is the difference between pack ice and icebergs? Here are a few definitions to help you understand the cryosphere.


Poles, glaciers and climate change

A look at why glaciers and the poles are important in the fight against climate change.