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 scopas
Zebrasoma scopas
(Brown Tang)
Marine Fishes

Copyright Info
Zebrasoma scopas (Cuvier, 1829)

Common name: Brown Tang

Synonyms and Other Names: brushtail tang, twotone tang

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Deeply compressed body with protruding snout.  Black to brown body with pale-green longitudinal lines becoming dots towards the head and caudal fin.  Juvenile coloration may be lighter with yellowish bars and whitish shading towards the head.  Pectoral fin might be dull reddish-brown (Robertson 1983).  Dorsal fin more elevated in juveniles than adults.  White caudal spine apparent in adults.  Sometimes called brushtail tang or twotone tang.  Dorsal fin IV-V (23-25) anal fin III (19-21).  From Randall (2001).

Similar species: No Atlantic surgeonfish is similarly colored.

Native Range: The species is distributed in the Indian and Pacific oceans from East Africa to the Pitcairn Islands, north to southern Japan, south to Lord Howe and Rapa islands (Randall 2005).

Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: In December 2008, a single specimen was observed on a reef just offshore of Datura Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Lad Akins, personal communication).

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 scopas are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL200820091Florida Southeast Coast

Table last updated 7/20/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: The brown tang inhabits intertidal and subtidal reef slopes.  The diet consists primarily of fleshy benthic red microalgae.  Pairs of adults will defend joint feeding territories similar to other Zebrasoma spp.  In the Pacific, the species reproduced from February to April, whereas in the Indian ocean they were observed to reproduce from August to December.  Individuals change color and engage in courtship in and away from the reef edge.  From Robertson (1983).

Means of Introduction: 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, FL.

Randall, J. E.  2001.  Acanthuridae. Surgeonfishes (tangs, unicornfishes). Pages 3653-3683 in Carpenter, K.E., and V. Niem, eds. FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific.  Vol. 6.  Bony fishes part 4 (Labridae to Latimeriidae), estuarine crocodiles.  FAO, Rome.

Randall, J. E.  2005.  Reef and Shore Fishes of the South Pacific.  New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands.  University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu.

Robertson, D. R.  1983.  On the spawning behavior and spawning cycles of eight surgeonfishes (Acanthuridae) from the Indo-Pacific.  Environmental Biology of Fishes 9: 193-223

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Schofield, P.J.

Revision Date: 3/18/2021

Peer Review Date: 6/15/2009

Citation Information:
Schofield, P.J., 2024, Zebrasoma scopas (Cuvier, 1829): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2797, Revision Date: 3/18/2021, Peer Review Date: 6/15/2009, Access Date: 7/21/2024

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 [7/21/2024].

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