Inhabits shallow reefs or rocky areas. Found in loose aggregations (Ref. 9710). Mainly diurnal. Ingests sand when feeding on algae (Ref. 13442). The spine on both sides of the caudal peduncle may inflict painful wounds (Ref. 5217). Minimum depth reported from Ref. 27115. Larvae are planktonic (Ref. 47377). At Fernando de Noronha Archipelago in southwestern Atlantic, juveniles hold cleaning stations together with the blue tang (Acanthurus coeruleus) and sergeant major (Abudefduf saxatilis) and graze algae as well as pick molted skin and parasites from green turtles (Chelonia mydas). This behavior is preceded by a characteristic inspection usually followed by feeding nips on the turtles skin (head, limbs, and tail), as well as on the carapace. The most inspected and cleaned body parts are the flippers (Ref. 51385).