The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Zebrasoma desjardinii
Zebrasoma desjardinii
(sailfin tang)
Marine Fishes

Copyright Info
Zebrasoma desjardinii (Bennett, 1836)

Common name: sailfin tang

Synonyms and Other Names: Desjardin's sailfin tang

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Highly variable in color and banding patterns.  Strongly marked with colors ranging from bright yellow to black. Large dorsal and anal fins with pale yellow lines.  Caudal fin dark with blue spots. Dorsal fin VI (28-33), anal fin III (22-26). From Allen et al. (2003).

Similar species: No Atlantic surgeonfish has white spots on the face or the very tall dorsal fin of the Zebrasoma species.

Native Range: The species is distributed in the Indian Ocean from the Red Sea and East Africa to Andaman Sea and north Sumatra, Indonesia (Allen et al. 2003).

Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: In Florida, this species was seen at a commercial pier in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea in 1999 (Semmens 2004).

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Zebrasoma desjardinii are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL199919991Florida Southeast Coast

Table last updated 7/17/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: The species is typically found in lagoonal areas and exposed reefs up to 30 m (Allen et al. 2003). Juveniles are prevalent in the inner reef zone.  Adults can be found in pairs, but juveniles are typically solitary (Lieske and Myers 1994). The species is known to be territorial and frequently exhibits agonistic behaviors (Alwany et al. 2005). Zebrasoma desjardinii are herbivores, feeding mainly on algae, but have also been observed consuming jellyfish (Rajasuriya 2013; Bos et al. 2017).

Means of Introduction: Probable aquarium release.

Status: Reported from Florida.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

References: (click for full references)

Allen, G., R. Steene, P. Humann and N. Deloach. 2003. Reef Fish Identification. Tropical Pacific. New World Publications, Inc., Jacksonville, Florida and Odyssey Publications, El Cajon, California.

Alwany, M., E. Thaler, and M. Stachowitsch. 2005. Territorial behaviour of Acanthurus sohal and Plectroglyphidodon leucozona on the fringing Egyptian Red Sea reefs. Environmental Biology of Fishes 72: 321-334.

Bos, A.R., E. Cruz-Rivera and A.M. Sanad. 2017. Herbivorous fishes Siganus rivulatus (Siganidae) and Zebrasoma desjardinii (Acanthuridae) feed on Ctenophora and Scyphozoa in the Red Sea. Marine Biodiversity 47(1):243-246.

Lieske, E., and R. Myers. 1994. Collins Pocket Guide. Coral reef fishes. Indo-Pacific & Caribbean including the Red Sea. Haper Collins Publishers.

Rajasuriya, A. 2013. Field Guide to the Reef Fishes of Sri Lanka. Colombo: IUCN Sri Lanka Office, 104 pp.

Semmens, B.X., E.R. Buhle, A.K. Salomon, and C.V. Pattengill-Semmens. 2004. A hotspot of non-native marine fishes: Evidence for the aquarium trade as an invasion pathway. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 266: 239-244.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: James A. Morris, Jr., and Pamela J. Schofield

Revision Date: 3/18/2021

Peer Review Date: 6/15/2009

Citation Information:
James A. Morris, Jr., and Pamela J. Schofield, 2024, Zebrasoma desjardinii (Bennett, 1836): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2299, Revision Date: 3/18/2021, Peer Review Date: 6/15/2009, Access Date: 7/17/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [7/17/2024].

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