Zebrasoma scopas 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Acanthuridae

Scientific Name: Zebrasoma scopas (Cuvier, 1829)
Common Name(s):
English Brushtail Tang, Bluelined Sailfin Tang, Blue-lined Tang, Brown Sailfin Surgeonfish, Brown Sailfin Tang, Brown Tang, Two-tone Surgeonfish, Twotone Tang, Yellow sailfin tang
French Chirurgien à Balai, Chirurgien à Brosses, Chirurgien à Robe Sombre, Chirurgien Brun
Acanthurus altivelis Valenciennes, 1835
Acanthurus ruppelii Bennett, 1836
Acanthurus scopas Cuvier, 1829
Acanthurus suillus Cuvier, 1829
Zebrasoma flavescens (non Bennett, 1828)
Zebrasoma gemmatum (non Valenciennes, 1835)
Zebrasoma supraalba Fowler, 1946
Taxonomic Notes: Zebrasoma scopas hybridizes with Z. flavescens and Z. rostratum (Randall 2001a).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2010-05-07
Assessor(s): Abesamis, R., Choat, J.H., McIlwain, J., Clements, K.D., Myers, R., Rocha, L.A., Nanola, C., Russell, B. & Stockwell, B.
Reviewer(s): Edgar, G. & Kulbicki, M.
Zebrasoma scopas is widespread in the Indo-Pacific region. It is common in many localities where it occurs and can be locally abundant. It is caught incidentally in subsistence fisheries and makes up a minor component of the aquarium trade. It is found in a number of marine reserves in parts of its range. There are no major threats known. It is therefore listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Zebrasoma scopas is found from East Africa and Gulf of Aden to French Polynesia and the Pitcairn Islands except Marquesas, northwards to Suruga Bay, Honshu, Japan and southwards to the Abrolhos Island, Western Australia, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island and Rapa.
Countries occurrence:
American Samoa; Australia; Bangladesh; British Indian Ocean Territory; Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; China; Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Comoros; Cook Islands; Disputed Territory (Paracel Is., Spratly Is.); Djibouti; Fiji; French Polynesia; French Southern Territories (Mozambique Channel Is.); Guam; India (Andaman Is., Nicobar Is.); Indonesia; Japan; Kenya; Kiribati (Gilbert Is., Kiribati Line Is., Phoenix Is.); Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Mayotte; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Myanmar; New Caledonia; Niue; Norfolk Island; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Pitcairn; Réunion; Samoa; Seychelles; Singapore; Solomon Islands; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Timor-Leste; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States Minor Outlying Islands (Howland-Baker Is., US Line Is.); Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):60
Upper depth limit (metres):1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Zebrasoma scopas is a common species in coral reefs at most localities where it occurs (Randall 2001a). It was recorded as more abundant in offshore stations sampled at the Nha Trang Bay MPA and was found to be associated with encrusting corals (Nguyen and Phan 2008). It was recorded as abundant in the northern Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea (Allen 2009). It is common in Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea and in Raja Ampat, Indonesia (Allen 2003, 2003b). It is common and can be locally abundant in the Philippines (R. Abesamis, C. Nanola and B. Stockwell pers. comm. 2010). In the central Philippines mean biomass of Z. scopas was higher in marine reserves compared to areas open to fishing (Stockwell et al. 2009). It was the eighteenth most dominant species in Tutuila, Aunuu, and Taema Banks, American Samoa, contributing to 0.6% of total fish biomass and 1.4% of numerical abundance (Sabater and Tofaeono 2006).

Visual census surveys along the Iboih coast, Weh Island, Indonesia recorded fish densities of 10 individuals/750 m2 at Pantai sirkui and 7 individuals/750 m2 at Teupin Layeu (Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science  2007). In Moorea, French Polynesia, SPOT satellite images allowed estimation of the surface area of fringing reef (1,076 ha), barrier reef (3,788 ha) and outer slop (493 ha). A total of 511,438 individuals were recorded in this area in fish visual surveys conducted from 1990-1993 (Lecchini et al. 2006).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Zebrasoma scopas inhabits coastal, lagoon, and outer reefs in coral-rich areas at depths between about 1-60 m (G. Allen pers comm.). It grazes on algal turf mainly on thallate and filamentous red and green algae (Choat et al. 2002, Choat et al. 2004). Juveniles recruit into high coral cover (Wilson et al. 2006).


It shows rapid growth for the first three to four years of life. Beyond four years, growth declines sharply; resulting in extended periods of asymptotic growth. The maximum number of annuli recorded for this species was 32 to 35 (Choat and Axe 1996). Maximum age was 33 years in the Great Barrier Reef (Choat and Robertson 2002a).


The sexes are separate among the acanthurids (Reeson 1983). There is a possibility of sexual dimorphism in Zebrasomas with cloacas bigger in females (Bushnell et al. 2010). This dimorphic character most probably applies to all Zebrasomas (J.H. Choat pers comm. 2010). This species was observed to form spawning aggregations. A single observation was made by Randall (1961b) in the Society Is. around 10-20 ft over coral heads at the edge of a lagoon next to a barrier reef with strong currents going out to open sea. Spawning occurred near dusk in subgroups with a tendency for diagonal spawning rushes. No colour changes were observed. It may form resident spawning aggregations (Domeier and Colin 1997). It was observed to pair spawn at Aldabra (Robertson et al. 1979). It was observed to form spawning aggregations on the Great Barrier Reef (Squire and Samoilys unpub., Randall 1961b, Russell 2001). It recruits all year round in low numbers in the central Visayas (R. Abesamis unpub. data).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Zebrasoma scopas is a component of subsistence fisheries, it is not targeted. It is a minor component of the aquarium trade (Global Marine Aquarium Database accessed 19 March 2010). Online prices range from $19.99-$44.99 (L. Rocha pers. comm. 2010).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Zebrasoma scopas is captured in subsistence fisheries, there may be some localized declines in areas where it is harvested.

Surgeonfishes show varying degrees of habitat preference and utilization of coral reef habitats, with some species spending the majority of their life stages on coral reef while others primarily utilize seagrass beds, mangroves, algal beds, and /or rocky reefs. The majority of surgeonfishes are exclusively found on coral reef habitat, and of these, approximately 80% are experiencing a greater than 30% loss of coral reef area and degradation of coral reef habitat quality across their distributions. However, more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of coral reef habitat loss and degradation on these species' populations. Widespread coral reef loss and declining habitat conditions are particularly worrying for species that recruit into areas with live coral cover, especially as studies have shown that protection of pristine habitats facilitate the persistence of adult populations in species that have spatially separated adult and juvenile habitats (Comeros-Raynal et al. 2012).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no species-specific conservation measures in place for this species. However, its distribution overlaps several marine protected areas within its range.

Citation: Abesamis, R., Choat, J.H., McIlwain, J., Clements, K.D., Myers, R., Rocha, L.A., Nanola, C., Russell, B. & Stockwell, B. 2012. Zebrasoma scopas. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T178005A1518420. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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