The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Acanthurus pyroferus
Acanthurus pyroferus
(chocolate surgeonfish)
Marine Fishes

Copyright Info
Acanthurus pyroferus Kittlitz, 1834

Common name: chocolate surgeonfish

Synonyms and Other Names: Acanthurus celebicus Bleeker, 1852; mimic surgeonfish, yellowspot surgeonfish

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Dorsal fin VIII (27-31), anal fin III (24-28), pectoral rays 15-16. Juveniles exhibit three color patterns: 1) all yellow, 2) yellow with blue markings as mimics of lemonpeel angelfish (Centropyge flavissima; see photo above), or 3) pale greenish-grey shading posteriorly to black with a blue caudal margin, a mimic of the pearlscale angelfish (Centropyge vrolikii, see photo above). Adults are dark brown in color, sometimes changing to yellowish tan anteriorly, with an orange bar just posterior to gill opening and pectoral fin base (see photo, above). Prominent yellow band on posterior margin of caudal fin; yellow on pectoral fin (Randall 2005).

Similar species: juvenile Blue Tang (Acanthurus coeruleus) distinguished in all yellow phase by the presence of thin blue edging on dorsal and anal fins, but not on caudal fin margin; also lacks dark opercular bar present on some specimens of A. pyroferus. No other adult Atlantic surgeonfish display a yellow margin on caudal fin.

Size: to 29 cm TL (Randall 2005)

Native Range: Western Pacific and southeastern Indian Ocean (Randall 2005)

Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: In Florida, a single individual was captured off Blue Heron Bridge, near Riviera Beach in December 2014 (L. Akins, personal communication).

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Acanthurus pyroferus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL201420141Florida Southeast Coast

Table last updated 7/14/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Found in lagoons and seaward reefs, 4-60 m (Allen et al. 2003). Typically a solitary species that inhabits mixed coral, rock or sand at the base of reefs (Myers 1999). Juveniles exhibit mimicry of anglefish of the genus Centropyge. In the Pacific Islands, they bear a striking resemblance to adult lemonpeel anglefish Centropyge flavissima. In the Indo-Pacific they resemble pearlscale anglefish C. vrolikii. Mimicry may provide young A. Pyroferus a feeding advantage and protection against predators (Randall 2005b).

Means of Introduction: Probably aquarium release.

Status: Reported from Florida.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

References: (click for full references)

Allen, G., R. Steene, P. Humann, and N. Deloach. 2003. Reef fish identification: tropical Pacific. New World Publications, Inc., Jacksonville, FL.

Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian reef fishes. Coral Graphics, Davie, FL.

Randall, J.E. 2005a. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, HI.

Randall, J.E. 2005b. A review of mimicry in marine fishes. Zoological Studies 44(3):299-328.

Other Resources:

Author: Schofield, P.J.

Revision Date: 6/28/2019

Peer Review Date: 12/31/2014

Citation Information:
Schofield, P.J., 2024, Acanthurus pyroferus Kittlitz, 1834: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2931, Revision Date: 6/28/2019, Peer Review Date: 12/31/2014, Access Date: 7/14/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [7/14/2024].

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