Sailfin Tang

ANIMAL:
Sailfin Tang Zebrasoma veliferum

Type of Animal:
Tang/Surgeonfish

Habitat:
Reefs, lagoons, hidden behind rocks/corals, coral areas w/ strong currents, found in depths of 3-200 ft

Location(s):
Indo-Pacific, C Pacific, S Pacific

Appearance:
Rather large tang w/ disk-shaped body (especially when fins fully extended), very elevated dorsal fin, big anal fin, extended snout, has broad pale yellow bands alternating w/ darker bands, yellow tail fin, white head w/ yellow dots, dark band near head, juveniles yellower than adults w/ more medium-brown

Food/Diet:
Algae, seaweed, vegetable matter (especially if green/leafy), fruit matter, shrimp, copepods

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Breeding in aquariums, aquaculture, & zoos. Captive breeding to help reduce demand for wild-caught fish.

Lifestyle:
Schools of 2-30 fish, territories often defended by school, juveniles sometimes solitary

Additional Info:

Called:
Male
Female
Young: Acronurus
Group: School
 
Weight:
Male: 10-12 oz
Female: 8-10 oz
 
Gestation:
1 day 

Life Span:
10-40 years

Height:
Male: 10-14 in
Female: 6-11 in

Body Length:
Male: 10-14 in
Female: 6-11 in
Young: 1.5-3 in

Main predators are sharks, manta rays, & larger bony fish.
 
2nd largest member of Zebrasoma genus.
 
Important in keeping reefs healthy due to algae-eating diet. Without these fish, algal overgrowths can occur.
 
They’re very active fast swimmers.
 
Spawn in pairs/groups w/ eggs/sperm being released simultaneously.
 
Eggs hatch 1 day after being laid. 1st, larvae develop serrate ridges on head, then pelvic fin/2nd dorsal spines form followed by 2nd anal spine. Then head/body deepen becoming kite-shaped w/ long pelvic/dorsal/anal spines. Then triangular scales appear in vertical rows. Finally, juvenile coloring starts showing along w/ tail fin base forming little scalpel.
 
They reach maturity at a year old.
 
Can spawn all year round.
 
Active during the day (diurnal).

Fun Fact(s):
Also called Sailfin Surgeonfish, Pacific Sailfin Tang, Indo-Pacific Sailfin Tang, Eastern Sailfin Tang, Ringed Tang, Ringed Surgeonfish, Sailfish, Pacific Sailfin Surgeonfish, & Purple-Lined Tang. Gets surgeonfish name from sharp scalpel-like spine on each side of tail base used in defense. These scalpels can cause nasty wounds. Gets sailfin name due to appearance of fins & ringed name due to banding.
 
Besides using tail scalpels in defense, they’ll also use them in territorial fights.
 
Can store fat in body cavities meaning they can go through short periods of time w/o food.
 
These fish sometimes called “sea cows” due to eating lots of food/producing lots of waste.
 
They’re fairly popular in aquarium trade but very difficult to breed in captivity.
 
Though mostly light-colored, they can darken if under stress.

2 thoughts on “Sailfin Tang

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