Sailfin Tang, Zebrasoma veliferum (Bloch 1795)

Other Names: Pacific Sailfin Tang, Purple Sailfinned Tang, Sailfin Surgeon, Sailfin Surgeonfish, Sail-finned Surgeon-fish, Sailfinned Tang

A Sailfin Tang, Zebrasoma veliferum, at Koror, Palau. Source: Mark Rosenstein / iNaturalist. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A brownish tang with broad greyish-brown bars alternating with narrower yellow bars, dark greyish to brown dorsal and anal fins with pale bands, and a greyish-brown to yellow caudal fin. Small juveniles have alternating yellow and black bars.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Zebrasoma veliferum in Fishes of Australia, accessed 10 Jun 2023,

Sailfin Tang, Zebrasoma veliferum (Bloch 1795)

More Info


Rottnest Island to the Montebello Islands, and offshore reefs of Western Australia, Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, and the northern Great Barrier Reef and reefs in the Coral Sea to Moreton Bay, Queensland, with juveniles to at least Sydney, New South Wales; also Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean, and Middleton Reef, Elizabeth Reef and Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the tropical, west-central Pacific.
Individuals or occasionally pairs inhabit lagoon and outer reef areas from the lower surge zone to a depth of 45 m. Juveniles often shelter within branching corals.


Dorsal fin IV, 29-33; Anal fin III, 23-26; Pectoral fin 15-17. 
Body depth 1.8-2.0 in SL; caudal peduncle with a retractable spine on each side; no brush-like patch of bristles posteriorly on side of body; dorsal fin very tall and sail-like, longest ray 2.1 to 2.5 times in SL.


Herbivore - grazes on algal turf, and also consumes leafy macroalgae.


This species has previously been referred to as Zebrasoma velifer.


The specific name is from the Latin velifer (= sail bearing) presumably in reference to the very tall dorsal fin.

Species Citation

Acanthurus velifer Bloch 1795, Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische Vol. 9: 106, pl. 427, fig. 1. Type locality: seas of East Indies.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Australian Faunal Directory

Sailfin Tang, Zebrasoma veliferum (Bloch 1795)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37437037

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-45 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:40 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map