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 xanthurum
Zebrasoma xanthurum
(yellowtail tang)
Marine Fishes

Copyright Info
Zebrasoma xanthurum (Blyth, 1852)

Common name: yellowtail tang

Synonyms and Other Names: yellowtail tang

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Body is deep with moderately elevated dorsal and anal fins.  Protruding snout with mottled dark lines anteriorly.  Rich blue in body coloration with bright yellow and slightly rounded caudal fin.  Pectoral fins bright yellow towards posterior.  Dark spots on abdomen, anterior body, and head.  Velvet-like path setae anterior of caudal spine.  Dark thin banding extend from anterior to posterior.  Dorsal fin V (24-25), anal fin III (19-20) pectoral fin (15).  From Randall (1983).

Similar species:  Juvenile blue tang (Acanthurus coeruleus) rarely show blue body with yellow tail and lacks yellow coloration on pectoral fins.  Juvenile yellowtail damselfish (Microspathodon chrysurus) has bright blue body spots and a less-protruding mouth.

Native Range:  Western Indian Ocean, including the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.  Also recorded in Maldives.  From Randall and Anderson (1993).

Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: In Florida, this species has been observed near Boca Raton from 2001 to 2005 (REEF 2008). A single specimen was captured in 2018 near Boca Raton, Sea Emperor (wreck). One individual was observed in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Italy in 2015 (Guidetti et al. 2016).”

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 xanthurum are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL200120201Florida Southeast Coast

Table last updated 7/14/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Inhabits reef zone including coral (Lieske and Myers 1994) and rocky bottoms (Sommer et al. 1996).  The diet consists mainly of filamentous algae (Guiasu and Winterbottom 1998; Mill et al. 2007).  Surgeonfishes have been found to spawn mainly during late winter and early spring (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)

Guiasu, R. C. and R. Winterbottom.  1998.  Yellow juvenile color pattern, diet switching and the phylogeny of the surgeonfish genus Zebrasoma (Percomorpha, Acanthuridae).  Bulletin of Marine Science 63: 277-294.

Guidetti, P., Magnali, L., & Navone, A. (2016). First record of the acanthurid fish Zebrasoma xanthurum (Blyth, 1852) in the Mediterranean Sea, with some considerations on the risk associated with aquarium trade. Mediterranean Marine Science 17(1): 147-151.

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

Mill, A. C., J. K. Pinnegar and N. V. C. Polunin.  2007.  Explaining isotope trophic-step fractionation: why herbivorous fish are different.  Functional Ecology 21: 1137-1145.

Randall, J. E.  1983.  Red Sea Fishes.  IMMEL Publishing, London.

Randall, J. E. and C. Anderson.  1993.  Annotated checklist of the epipelagic and shore fishes of the Maldives Islands.  Ichthyogical Bulletin of the J. L. B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology 59: 1-47.

Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF).  2008.  Exotic species sighting programs and volunteer database.  World wide web electronic publication. www.reef.org, date of download March 10, 2008.

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

Sommer, C., W. Schneider and J.M. Poutiers.  1996.  The living marine resources of Somalia.  FAO species identification field guide for fishery purposes.  FAO, Rome.

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 xanthurum (Blyth, 1852): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2305, Revision Date: 3/18/2021, Peer Review Date: 6/15/2009, Access Date: 7/14/2024

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 [7/14/2024].

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