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surgeonfishYellow-eyed Surgeonfish
Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Class: Osteichthys Family: Acanthuridae Genus: Ctenochaetus Species: strigosus
Scientific name: Ctenochaetus strigosus
Common name: “Goldring” or Yellow-eyed Surgeonfish
Hawaiian name: Kole

This dark colored surgeonfish is distinguishable by its fine, horizontal striping, yellow eye-ring and blue lips. It is endemic (that is unique) to the Hawaiian Islands and Johnston Atoll. It is commonly found in shallow reef waters over coral and coral rubble and has been recorded at a depth of 300 feet. Goldring are diurnal herbivores that browse on filamentous seaweeds and diatoms covering the seafloor. Their mouths have bristle-like teeth giving rise to one of their groups’ common names––“bristletooths”.

Although it is frequently found on its own, on Turtle Reef this species more commonly travels in schools, often in the company of other herbivores such as yellow tang.

Goldring bristletooths are one of the two most common species seen at turtle cleaning stations where they browse on the algae and diatoms coating the turtle’s carapace. Goldrings appear to prefer the algae growing on the hard parts of turtle’s bodies, while closely associated yellow tang prefer algae from the soft parts. The behavior of these respective species is indicative of one way that closely related species specialize, thereby avoiding competition for similar resources.

Interestingly, while browsing on turtles, Goldring bristletooths will tolerate the presence of divers much closer than while feeding in schools or on their own. Why?

[Back to Reef Species Guide]