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FAQs about the Sailfin Tangs, Genus Zebrasoma Identification

Related Articles: Genus Zebrasoma, Sailfin Tangs,

Related FAQs: Zebrasomas 1, Zebrasomas 2, Zebrasoma Behavior, Zebrasoma Compatibility, Zebrasoma Selection, Zebrasoma Systems, Zebrasoma Feeding, Zebrasoma Disease, Zebrasoma Reproduction, Yellow Tangs, Purple Tangs, Striped Zebrasoma Tangs, Surgeons In General, Tang ID, Selection, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease,

What the? Who dat?

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Help with ID/Zebrasoma ID 7/17/12
Hi
<Hello Shawn>
was on your website reading and I felt that you guys really no <know> your stuff, So I had a question maybe you can help me with. I need help to ID.
This beautiful tang I picked labeled as a BLACK TANG rare hybrid. $5.00 yes $5.00 got it found out 2 weeks later it should have been $500.00 & not $5.00 . Yes wow! So I never asked about the fish I got for $5.00 & now for that I need your help.
Wrong but wouldn't you snatch it  for $5.00 if you could.?
<Yes, ship it out to me and I'll give you 10 and you will have a 5 dollar profit. :-).   I believe this tang is a Zebrasoma rostratum and is restricted to just a few French Polynesian Island groups, hence its rarity.
 Bob may input if my ID is not correct.  James (Salty Dog)> <<Is likely a Z. rostratum. A nice colour. B>>
Shawn C.
More pic of same fish shows color in different light & mood.

Shawn C.
Thank you for the pics and please do not send large photo files in the future, our server space is not that large, resizing to a few hundred KBs will suffice.  James (Salty Dog)>

Help with ID/Zebrasoma ID 7/17/12
Thank you for your quick response, one more question, the color of the fish I have never seen it before, is that highbred or is that an original color that's only found in those locations you mentioned in your previous email.
<That is the only location they are found but there may be some color morphs.>
Does this fish go by any other specific name, is it a one-of-a-kind or can I get more, it's a beautiful fish.
<All depends on what is imported from various locations.  Best to check aquarium fish etailers occasionally or ask to be notified if one becomes available.  Be prepared to pay much, much more than 5 dollars for it.>
I would love a tank full.
<You would need a very large tank to reduce aggression amongst them. Once again thank you for the information.  I looked it up it says it's a black tang yes I got lucky but I've never seen that color so anymore information all is welcome.  To thank you again for your timely response, I'll correct the picture sizing as well thank you if you have any pictures of any similar fish I would love to see them on your site side-by-side so I can see a comparison.
<Google Zebrasoma on our site as well as others.  In the future please check your grammar/punctuation.  I really do not have the time to do this as we are volunteers and only work one to two hours per day at most.  James (Salty Dog)
Shawn C
Help with ID/Zebrasoma ID 7/17/12

Thank you so much!
<You're welcome.>
And you please spell check as well
<<I do.>>
<All depends on what is imported from various locations.  Best to check aquarium fish etailers occasionally or ask to be notified if one becomes available.  Be prepared to pay much, much more than 5 dollars for it.>
Etailers???
<http://www.etailers.com/>
Your completely helpful but be nice!
<I am being nice.  I respond to you in a timely manner and all I ask is that you check your grammar/punctuation so I do not have to do it before posting.  We do not get paid for this work, strictly volunteer.  It wasn't a scolding, simply a
request.  James (Salty Dog)>
Shawn C.
Re Help with ID/Zebrasoma ID 7/17/12

Man to man my bad & thank you  James (Salty Dog ) for all your help!
<You're welcome Shawn.  James (Salty Dog)>
Shawn C

Black Tang ID... Scopas to me 11/16/08 Hi <Hi Michael, Mich here.> These two black tangs have come in over the last couple of months. I am skeptical as to them being true black tangs. <I am too.> One (the more bluish one) looks to be a black/scopas hybrid and the second could just be a darker scopas. Do you have an opinion of this? <Yes, in my opinion they are not Zebrasoma rostratum nor do I think them to hybrids. Take a look at photos on www.fishbase.org and you will see Zebrasoma scopas that appear this dark and darker. The Zebrasoma rostratum (from the Latin rostr- meaning beak) has a longer rostrum or snout than the Scopas Tang. I do not see the pronounced snout characteristic of the Zebrasoma rostratum in your photos. I believe them to be pretty Scopas Tangs.>
Kind Regards
Michael
<Cheers,
Mich>

Me too. RMF

Yellow Scopas Tang? Doubtful 6/16/07 Specs 90G FOWLR Established for 2 Yrs All readings normal range, nitrates 50ppm, <Dangerously high... should be addressed stat... not allowed to creep up higher than 20 ppm.> 1Lutascens Wrasse, 1Porc Puffer, 1Majestic Angel, <There is not enough room for these last two here> 1Yellow Scopas Tang I have a yellow scopas tang, <Ah, not likely... but could be a cross twixt Z. flavescens and Z. scopas... these can/do hybridize> as sold to me by the LFS. I was told it is a rare color morph, that happens naturally. Well my question is first whether this is actually a yellow scopas tang or a washed out yellow tang? <... no pic? What, am I, are we supposed to do... guess?> Is there any physical characteristic that is different between the yellow and scopas tang? <Some... and there are indeed Acanthurids that do have all yellow juvenile phases... and even color morphs of sorts amongst Zebrasoma spp.. But I've never seen a Scopas as such...> Are they different fish or just different colors? I mean I have never heard of a brown yellow tang...Your thoughts would be appreciated, mainly because it is hard to determine its health (because I don't really know what a healthy yellow would look like for this fish). It has never been the yellow of a typical yellow tang. It, quite simply, looks faded. He is healthy and active but it is hard for me to determine whether his faded color may actually indicate some kind of deficiency in diet or environment. <Please see Fishbase.org and WWM for pix... You may have an aberrant colored individual... or a cross... but w/o images... fin ray et al. meristic counts... There is no way to tell from here. Bob Fenner>

Black Tang. Cross between Zebrasoma rostratum, scopas? 03/26/07 Hello everyone at WWM, <Allan> My name is Allan. I am from Perth Australia. I have ordered and received a Zebrasoma rostratum. With one problem... <Mmmm> It convinced me and my LFS staff ( one of which is quite up to date with marine fish ) that they have sent a Scopas Tang. Looks very similar but much more charcoal looking at front end. We are being precautious and rightfully so. He let me take the fish home and if there is problems will sort it out. ( I know him personally ) I know there can be variations in scopas tangs <Yes... principally color, markings... but some "length of snout"> and they can be quite black, but the issue is that it is a juvenile 2 1/2". I and they have rarely seen these fish in the flesh, let alone a juvenile, and we have no idea what juvenile Black Tangs do look like. <About like this... do become darker, longer of "beak" with growth...> I am in good contact with most of the good LFS in Perth. <Oh, and will be down your way in a couple of years with a few thousand drunk friends of the Hash House Harriers...> First of all we compared it to a similar scopas and the scopas was way browner. We then went to fishbase and downloaded the specs on fin count, but couldn't get close enough to count them ( there is only a slight difference in finnage ). <Best to make high def., large file electronic images here...> We then found the greenish line and long snout ( I knew this anyway ), problem is they develop with age. Believe it or not I have searched everywhere ( hours ) on the net and cant find a pic of a juvenile black tang. I have sent 3 photos to you and crew and ask you and as many people you can who have ever seen a juvenile Rostratum, to try to give me a guide to what you think it is. Knowledge on such specialized fish in Perth is limited and I greatly appreciate any sort of input you have. <I too cannot discern what species this is... but I do have a suspicion that it/this may well be a cross... Really, only time, development will tell here likely. Cheers, Bob Fenner (aka Dogfish in the HHH)>
Black tang (Zebrasoma rostratum) ID perhaps 03/26/07 Hello everyone at WWM, <Hi Allan, Mich here.> My name is Allan. I am from Perth Australia. I have ordered and received a Zebrasoma rostratum. With one problem... <Not sure that's what you got?> It convinced me and my LFS staff (one of which is quite up to date with marine fish) that they have sent a Scopas Tang. Looks very similar but much more charcoal looking at front end. We are being precautious and rightfully so. <All say! Last on I saw sold for $400 USD!!! YIKES!> He let me take the fish home and if there is problems will sort it out. (I know him personally) <Mmm careful here.> I know there can be variations in Scopas tangs and they can be quite black, but the issue is that it is a juvenile 2 1/2". They and I have rarely seen these fish in the flesh, let alone a juvenile, and we have no idea what juvenile Black Tangs do look like. <I do have some photos of that $400 Zebrasoma rostratum and it was a juvenile. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you but wanted to confirm that I did indeed have these photos.> I am in good contact with most of the good LFS in Perth. First of all we compared it to a similar Scopas and the Scopas was way browner. We then went to fishbase and downloaded the specs on fin count, but couldn't get close enough to count them (there is only a slight difference in finnage). We then found the greenish line and long snout (I knew this anyway), problem is they develop with age. Believe it or not I have searched everywhere (hours) on the net and can't find a pic of a juvenile black tang. <I believe you.> I have sent 3 photos to you and crew and ask you and as many people you can who have ever seen a juvenile Rostratum, to try to give me a guide to what you think it is. <I have seen one juvenile and it does resemble. However, I have no formal training on fish identification, as such, I am afraid to say with any certainty on such an expensive fish. I will get photos placed on the website so all can view and opine.> Knowledge on such specialized fish in Perth is limited and I greatly appreciate any sort of input you have. <Hope this helps. -Mich RMF any comment?>

Sailfin Tang Question...Identification 6/28/06 Hi <Hello Danielle> Quick question for you. My LFS has a couple of Sailfin Tangs that looks like a Desjardini tang, but instead of the whitish color between stripes it is almost black. They have them labeled as Australian Sailfins. Is this accurate? <Yes, this is the veliferum which is found from southwestern to northwestern Australia, and the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef.> Have you ever heard of this? Are they the same species as the Desjardin's, but just a different color variation? <Yes.> Thanks for any help that you can offer. <Both of these are zebrasoma. The zebrasoma veliferum is found in the Coral Sea, Fiji, Tahiti, Great Barrier Reef, and the Indo Pacific. The have five vertical yellow stripes and the tail begins in bright yellow ending with blue highlights. The zebrasoma Desjardini is found in the Red Sea, Maldives/Sri Lanka. These also have vertical yellow stripes but have light grey freckles on the nose and yellow freckles on the abdomen. James (Salty Dog)> Danielle

Indian Ocean v. Red Sea Sailfin III 11/11/03 In Calfo and Fenner's new book Reef Invertebrates they list Z. veliferum as a potential bubble algae control creature; did they mean to include all members thereof (including the Pacific or Hawaiian Sailfin) or is the Desjardin Sailfin the one commonly believed in aquaristics to be the right candidate? <as stated in the last e-mail, my friend... they are the same species (Desjardin/red sea Sailfin is simply a Z. veliferum) but anecdotally they are believed to be more inclined to rasp bubble algae: <<it is possible that a race of fishes (same species...different locale) is evolved or predisposed to eating some prey items over another. There is a strong belief in aquaristics that this is the case with the Red Sea Sailfin>> best regards, Anthony>

Indian Ocean v. Red Sea Sailfin 11/7/03 I think this link answers the question below: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zebrasom.htm <Okey-dokey> Desjardin's tang is both from the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. <yes... and more importantly, is no longer a valid species but rather a synonym (same species) with Z. veliferum (common Sailfin)> Yet the LFS sells the Red Sea for more than the Indian Ocean. <correct... extra cost of shipping - the most significant part of the cost of any fish> I want it to eat bubble algae. Does one do a better job than the other? <it is possible that a race of fishes (same species...different locale) is evolved or predisposed to eating some prey over another. There is a strong belief in aquaristics that this is the case with the Red Sea Sailfin> I also don't want it to get too big. Does one stay smaller than the other? <nope... they are all too big and too aggressive for most aquariums (under 100 gallons or larger if mixed with other tangs). TO control bubble algae, treat the problem (nutrients, lack of QT, etc) and not the symptom (the bubbles) for best results. Anthony>

Mystery tang??? =( Hello, I was wondering if you could identify this species of tang for me? apparently its very rare and its face goes blue when feeding or stressed??? NO ONE can seem to identify this for me and I was told that perhaps you would be the one to do it!! =) If you could please let me know what it is I would greatly appreciate it!!! Thanks in advance!!!! <Mmm, looks to be a very strange color variation of a Zebrasoma species of some sort... Does happen. Do you have any larger, clearer images? Bob Fenner>

Re: mystery tang??? =( Hello!!! THANK you very much for the quick response, unfortunately I don't have any other images ...If you had to take a guess, what would you say? <Do you know where the fish was collected? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zebrasom.htm> My friend who owns this tang would only tell me that its face would go blue when feeding and/or stressed ( apparently that was a big hint? lol)...I'm guessing that it might perhaps be some sort of hybrid? <Not a hybrid... as in a cross between species... likely a genetic mosaic however... a "Koi" variety... maybe of Z. flavescens.> Anyway if something comes to mind PLEASE let me know!!! Best wishes,
Max
Re: My mistake, another photo!!! =) Hello again! ...I just found another picture that my friend had taken, much clearer!!!! Any thoughts? Best wishes, Max <Mmm, this pic does show a much longer "snout"... maybe this is a Z. rostratum. Bob Fenner>

Re: My mistake, another photo!!! =) Thank you very much for all your help, If you have any ideas later on feel free to let me know!!! I'll keep you updated on the progress of my search!!! lol <Real good. Thank you. Bob Fenner, still going to get down to the Mascarenes for that on-sight Gemmatum pic!> Best wishes, Max

Re: is this a real tang? Click here: Gem Tang Zebrasoma gemmatum I also saw a tang that looks like it's a yellow tang but it's all orange. Is that a tang also? Jahner <Yes... these are not common in Hawai'i (where yellow tangs come from) but are found occasionally... some all orange, but most mottled with orange and white. Bob Fenner>

Philippine Sailfin Yellow Tang Bob, we have a yellow Philippine Sailfin Tang that has began getting darker and darker (brownish tint). We were wondering if you have ever heard of this. He seems to be in very good health and eats well. Any assistance you might be able to offer will be appreciated. <<Hmm, well, about the only Zebrasoma (Sailfin tang genus) members that are shipped out of the P.I. are Z. scopas (likely the species here) or Z. veliferum... (though occasional "errant" species are found there...)... And, no problem with the Scopas changing color as you describe... this is natural... with this variable species. Bob Fenner>>

Zebrasoma rostratum? I am in the process of setting up a 90 gallon reef tank and have been researching possible fish inhabitants for this tank. Have noticed Black Tangs on the market, and would like to know more about them (besides the fact that they are expensive). For example, is the scientific name for these "Zebrasoma rostratum" or "Zebrasoma scopas"? How large do "Black Tangs" typically get in an aquarium? Do they display characteristics similar to the Yellow Tang as far as what they eat and how they behave toward other species and to their own kind? From what part of the world do they come? Thank you in advance for any information you can give me. I have found your column on this website to be extremely helpful, and apologize if I missed an earlier discussing of Black Tangs. Patricia <<Almost all of the "Black Tangs" on the market are Z. scopas. This species has a few distinct, though variable color themes, some tan to brown, others quite blackish. Z. rostratum have very pronounced long "snouts"; they are unmistakable once you've seen one or its picture. Scopas get about hand size in captivity, let's say about 5 inches long overall (up to twice that in the wild). And yes, they are very similar to Yellow Tangs (Z. flavescens) in diet and behavior. Scopas are found throughout the mid to western Pacific and Indian Ocean. Please see the articles on the genus of Sailfin Tangs and Surgeonfish family at wetwebmedia.com for more. Bob Fenner>>

Scopas v. Rostratum Hi Bob, Since the Scopas tang matter came up with Joyce, let me ask you a question I was wondering about. I've seen pictures where the Scopas was jet black. Is there any way to tell a $20 jet black Z. scopas from an equally-black $200 Z. rostratum -- other than nose length? <Mmm, they can appear quite similar when both are small and in good condition and the Scopas happens to be a darkish one. Most rostratums are significantly darker overall, have nice blue highlights on the top of the head... and the nose, long, longer with age, growth. You can see pix, descriptions of both on www.Fishbase.org oh and WWM! Bob Fenner> Thanks, Dale M.
Re: Scopas v. Rostratum
I know this isn't something you can necessarily pick up on at first site, but what about attitude? Scopas is reported to be one of the most aggressive z. and very territorial. Is not the rostratum a more easy going type, like the yellow tangs? <Hmm, I have found all the listed Zebrasoma to be about the same type and range of temperament. Z. veliferum, and some believe the same species in Z. desjardinii can be quite quarrelsome with growth. Bob Fenner> Dale M.

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here


by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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