Acanthurus coeruleus reaches 39 cm in length. A sexually mature fish is typically over 10 cm in length. Adult coloration is deep blue and occasionally purple. Mature fish are able to temporarily change color between near-black and pale white. These color shifts can encompass the entire fish or portions of it and are different between the sexes. Similar to other fishes in the family Acanthuridae, Acanthurus coeruleus is a laterally compressed, pancake-shaped fish with high eyes, a subterminal mouth, yellow caudal spine at the base of the tail, and a dorsal fin that ends at the caudal peduncle. Juveniles are bright yellow. Older juveniles are blue or orange-brown with grey stripes. The sharp caudal spine is found in a horizontal groove on the peduncle and can be extended during aggressive interactions. Acanthurus coeruleus has 9 dorsal spines, 26-28 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines, and 24-26 anal soft rays.
Range length: 39 (high) cm.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike