Zebrasoma xanthurum 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Acanthuridae

Scientific Name: Zebrasoma xanthurum (Blyth, 1852)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Yellowtail Tang, Dusky Sailfin Tang, Purple Tang, Red Sea Sailfin, Yellowtail Sailfin Tang, Yellowtail Surgeonfish, Yellow Tang
French Acanthure à Queue Jaune
Acanthurus xanthurus Blyth, 1852
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N. and Fricke, R. (eds). 2015. Catalog of Fishes: genera, species, references. Updated 1 October 2015. Available at: (Accessed: 1 October 2015).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2010-05-07
Assessor(s): Myers, R., Abesamis, R., Clements, K.D., Choat, J.H., McIlwain, J., Nanola, C., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B. & Stockwell, B.
Reviewer(s): Edgar, G. & Kulbicki, M.
Zebrasoma xanthurum is found from the Red Sea around the entire Arabian Peninsula. It is common throughout its range and can be locally abundant in some parts of its distribution. It is a minor component of the aquarium trade. There are no major threats known and it occurs in a number of marine reserves in parts of its range. It is therefore listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Zebrasoma xanthurum is found from the Red Sea around the entire Arabian Peninsula, with a single sighting in the Maldives (Randall and Anderson 1993). Records from Sri Lanka appear to be based on an error in the type locality (Randall 2001a). It has been recorded off Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park, Hong Kong. It was probably a released aquarium fish (To and Situ 2005). Records from Comoros and Zanzibar need to be verified (R.F. Myers pers. comm. 2010).
Countries occurrence:
Bahrain; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Jordan; Kuwait; Maldives; Oman; Pakistan; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; Sri Lanka; Sudan; United Arab Emirates; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):50
Upper depth limit (metres):1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Zebrasoma xanthurum is more common on the outer islands of the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea: Halaniyat Islands, at 123 ind/450 m2 and Daminiyat Island 85 ind/450 m2. On the central coast of the Gulf of Oman 64 ind/450 m2 were recorded at Bandah Kayran. It is uncommon on the reefs of southern coast of Oman (J. McIlwain unpub. data). In Duda, Red Sea density estimates are 6.6/100 m2 (A. Ayling pers. comm. 2010)

In the Nabq Managed Resource Protected Area, South Sinai, Egyptian Red Sea, mean abundances of this species showed differences at various depths and between no-take zones (NTZ) and take zones (TZ). At 1 m depth of the NTZ, mean abundance was recorded at 0.00 while in the TZ it was 0.04. At 3 m depth of the NTZ, mean abundance was recorded at 4.83 while in the TZ it was 4.00. At 10 m depth of the NTZ, mean abundance was recorded at 0.42 and 1.13 in the TZ (Ashworth and Ormond 2005). The greater abundance of this species in the fished area than in the NTZ in 10 m depths, can be attributed to a result of reduced predation or competition (Ashworth and Ormond 2005).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Zebrasoma xanthurum is a herbivore grazer feeding mostly on benthic algae. The diel activity of this species is divided into three distinct patters: early morning (6:00 a.m.), during the day (09:00-15:00 hr) and sunset. It feeds mostly solitarily or in pairs during the day. At sunset individuals cease feeding and move to their night shelter at the reef wall. It takes cover among coral colonies as well as crevices (Fouda and Sayed 1994). 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).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Zebrasoma xanthurum is a minor component of the aquarium trade (Global Marine Aquarium Database accessed 19 March 2010). Online prices range from $87.98-$259.95 (L. Rocha pers. comm. 2010).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats known for this species.

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: Myers, R., Abesamis, R., Clements, K.D., Choat, J.H., McIlwain, J., Nanola, C., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B. & Stockwell, B. 2012. Zebrasoma xanthurum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T178009A1519810. . Downloaded on 25 June 2018.
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