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Back You are here: Home Features Events and Features Fort Fisher Aquarium Island Gazette’s Animal of the Week for the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher for November 14, 2012

Island Gazette’s Animal of the Week for the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher for November 14, 2012

A doctorfish in the Cape Fear Ledge
exhibit at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.


Doctorfish - A curious name for an interesting fish, doctorfish can’t cure what ails you. In fact ingesting these fish can make humans sick because of the build-up of toxins in the fish’s liver from feeding on microalgae from dead coral.
Their name derived instead from the scalpel-sharp spine on the animal’s body which it uses to protect itself from predators. Doctorfish (Acanthurus chirurgus) have various body coloration, yet they always display blue fins and 10 to 12 dark vertical bars on each side.
These bars separate them from other regional Acanthurus species like the blue tang and surgeonfish. Doctorfish may grow to nearly 14 inches in length. Their main predators are large fishes like tuna. Doctorfish live near coral reefs or rocky-bottomed areas of the Atlantic Ocean.