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Species guide

Yellow surgeonfish

Scientific name: Zebrasoma flavescens

DESCRIPTION:
The yellow surgeonfish is a fish with an oval, compressed shape, a relatively long face and small, terminal mouth. Its colouring is bright yellow. It has modified scale at the base of the tail in the shape of a needle, commonly called scalpel because it cuts a great deal.
Its maximum size is 25 cm.

BIOLOGY:
This fish lives alone, in pairs or small groups. It is a highly territorial animal with other species of surgeonfish.
It is a herbivore that feeds on filamentous seaweed.
Its reproduction is oviparous. The eggs are pelagic (they float freely). They take a long time (even months) to get through the plankton phase and become benthonic.

HABITAT:
The yellow surgeonfish lives in coral-rich areas in lagoon and marine reefs. We normally find it at a depth of 2 to 46 m.

DISTRIBUTION:
It is found in the Indian-Pacific. Very common in the Hawaiian Islands.

STATUS:
Species not evaluated (according to the red list of endangered species).

CURIOSITIES:
The surgeonfish owe their name to the scalpels they have on either side of their body near the base of the tail, which they draw and use as defence in territorial disputes. These scalpels cut flesh as cleanly as a surgeon’s scalpel.