Zebrasoma xanthurum
Source: JJPhoto.dk
Zebrasoma xanthurum
Source: Tropeland - Kasper Hareskov Tygesen
Zebrasoma xanthurum
Source: JJPhoto.dk
Zebrasoma xanthurum
Source: JJPhoto.dk
Zebrasoma xanthurum
Source: Gdiggers / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Facts

Latin name Zebrasoma xanthurum - (Blyth, 1852)
Common name Purple Tang
Family Acanthuridae - Zebrasoma
Origin
Max length 37.0 cm (14.6")

As aquarium fish

Minimum volume 800 l (211 gal)
Hardiness Average
Suitable for aquarium Suitable with care
Reef safe Always reef safe
Aggressiveness Aggressive towards food competitors

Food

Mostly
  • Small crustaceans (Krill, mysis, artemia...)
Recommended
  • Microalgea (Eg. spirulina)
  • Macroalgea (Eg. seaweed / nori)

Aggressive

This species can be extremely aggressive towards other fish.

Be careful when keeping these fish together with peaceful or docile species. Regular feeding, plenty of hiding places and a lot of space can alleviate aggressive behavior to some degree.

High water quality

This species demands a high water quality.

Amongst other things it means, that water must be properly oxygenated.

Well established aquarium with algae

These fish should be kept in a well run aquarium where they can "graze" algae from rocks and stones.

If there are insufficient algae on the rocks, it is important to feed more frequently and supplement with algae rich food e.g. Spirulina. 

Requires plenty of space for swimming.

This species revels in swimming and requires an aquarium with ample space.

Algae Eaters

Even though these fish enjoy a diverse type of frozen foods, it is imperative that its primary food, is algae based, thus ensuring that the fish`s immune system remains healthy.

This can, for example, be plant based fish flakes, Nori seaweed or similar.

Hiding places

This species requires places to hide, especially when newly introduced into the aquarium.

Genus description (Zebrasoma)

One almost always sees this genus of Surgeonfish in a coral aquarium, since they are beautifully coloured, relatively easy to keep and useful.

The Zebrasoma genus is distinguished in that all the species have a larger or smaller, sail-like fin, which is folded out when threatened by other fish.

Z. xanthurum are the only fish in this genus which are decidedly aggresive, the others typically do not present problems, when the aquarium has space enough.
Some specimens of Z. flavescens can act aggressively towards other Zebrasoma tangs.

Family description (Acanthuridae)

Surgeonfish (Acanthuridae) live primarily of different types of algae, making it a popular choice for coral aquariums, as they help to keep the aquarium algae free.

Most Surgeonfish have a scalpel by the caudal fin, used to defend themselves. It can cause some deep lacerations, so pay attention if the fish start to fight and when handling the fish.

When in the aquarium, they will spend most of their time swimming around and nibbling the algae from the stones. Surgeonfish will rarely irritate corals or invertebrates. Large Palettes/Blue tangs can be an exception.

The Surgeonfish are not typically aggressive towards other types of fish. If more Surgeonfish are added to the aquarium, they will establish a hierarchy. It is best to add the most aggressive species last and to ensure that there are sufficient hiding places, as they prefer to have their own individual sleeping area.

If multiple aggressive species are added to the same aquarium, one runs the risk of one of them dying due to stress. One must therefore be cautious about adding multiple Acanthurus species or Zebrasoma xanthurum into the same aquarium. A combination of the different genera will normally get along well, although the more aggressive species can still be challenging.

FishBase

Aquarium trade Yes
Distribution Western Indian Ocean: Red Sea to the Persian Gulf; recorded from Maldives (Ref. 11303).
English common names Yellowtail surgeonfish, Dusky sailfin tang
Danish common names Kejserkirurgfisk
French common names Acanthure à queue jaune

References and further reading

About references

Bob Fenner. Functional and Gorgeous: Purple Tangs, Zebrasoma xanthurum - Wet Web Media - (English)

Bob Fenner. The Sailfin Tangs, Surgeons, Doctorfishes, of the Genus Zebrasoma - Wet Web Media - (English)

James W. Fatherree. 2009. Aquarium Fish: Surgeonfishes, A.K.A. the Tangs - Advanced Aquarist - (English)
Bob Fenner. Surgeons, Tangs and Doctorfishes, Family Acanthuridae - Wet Web Media - (English)
2013. Kirurgfisk - Saltvandswiki - (Danish)

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2014. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (08/2014).

Tags

herbivore, algae eater, aggressive territorial, surgeon tang
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