Zebrasoma veliferum 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Acanthuridae

Scientific Name: Zebrasoma veliferum (Bloch, 1795)
Common Name(s):
English Sailfin Tang, Desjardin's Sailfin Tang, Eastern Sailfin Tang, Pacific Sail-fin Surgeonfish, Pasific Sailfin Tang, Purple-lined Tang, Ringed Tang, Sailfin Surgeonfish
French Chirurgien à Voile, Chirurgien Voilier
Spanish Navajón Velero
Acanthurus velifer Bloch, 1795

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2010-05-07
Assessor(s): Abesamis, R., Clements, K.D., Choat, J.H., McIlwain, J., Myers, R., Nanola, C., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B. & Stockwell, B.
Reviewer(s): Edgar, G. & Kulbicki, M.
Zebrasoma veliferum is widespread in the Pacific region. It is occasionally to locally common in most parts of its range, however occurs in low densities. It is harvested for the aquarium trade, but is not a major component (average of 4,000 fish/year from 1992-2001). There are no major threats known and it occurs in a number of marine protected areas in parts of its distribution. It is therefore listed Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Zebrasoma veliferum is found from Christmas Island (Indian Ocean) and Viet Nam eastward to Pitcairn group, Hawaiian Islands, northward to southern Japan, southward to Rottnest Is., and New South Wales, Australia and Rapa, French Polynesia except the Marquesas.
Countries occurrence:
American Samoa; Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; China; Christmas Island; Cook Islands; Disputed Territory (Paracel Is., Spratly Is.); Fiji; French Polynesia; Guam; Hong Kong; Indonesia; Japan; Kiribati (Gilbert Is., Kiribati Line Is., Phoenix Is.); Macao; Malaysia; Marshall Islands; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Pitcairn; Samoa; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand; Timor-Leste; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States (Hawaiian Is.); United States Minor Outlying Islands (Howland-Baker Is., Johnston I., Midway Is., US Line Is.); Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):30
Upper depth limit (metres):1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Zebrasoma veliferum is common in most parts of its range but not locally abundant. It was recorded as more abundant in offshore stations sampled at the Nha Trang Bay MPA and was found to be associated with branching corals (Nguyen and Phan 2008). It is common in Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea and in Raja Ampat, Indonesia (Allen 2003, 2003b). It is occasional in Palawan Province, Philippines (Werner and Allen 2000, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development unpub. data).

It is rare in the Guam fishery (<1% of the acanthurid fishery - Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources unpub. data). There was an average of 4,000 fish/year from 1992-2001 exported from a number of locations (most come from the Philippines) (Global Marine Aquarium Database accessed 19 March 2010). In 2007 in Hawaii, 57 lbs. were landed as bycatch, 93 lbs. in 2004. This species is not targeted (Division of Aquatic Resources unpub. data).

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 slope (493 ha). A total of 84,118 individuals were recorded in this area in fish visual surveys conducted from 1990-1993 (Lecchini et al. 2006). It is uncommon in the American Samoa National Park (National Park of Samoa Checklist of Fishes, accessed 21 April 2010).

In the central Philippines, density and biomass of herbivorous fish in reserves had positive relationships with duration of reserve protection. Acanthuridae and Labridae (parrotfishes) were the major families that increased in biomass inside reserves with duration of reserve protection. For Z. veliferum, mean biomass of 0.19 kg per 500 m2 was recorded at one reserve (5 to 7 years of protection) (Stockwell et al. 2009). It is common but not abundant in the Philippines (R. Abesamis and C. Nanola pers comm. 2010). Frequency of occurrence is <10% in the Philippines based on Underwater Visual Census (C. Nanola pers comm. 2010).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Zebrasoma veliferum is usually encountered as solitary individuals, but occasionally in pairs, on coral reefs from shallow protected areas to outer reef habitats at least as deep as 40 m (Randall 2001a, b). It grazes on algal turf (Choat et al. 2004). It is classified as a grazer (Choat 1991). Maximum age was given as 27 years by Choat and Robertson (2002a). Maximum age was 30 years in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia (J.H. Choat pers. comm. 2010). Juveniles shelter within branching corals on shallow reef flats as well as reef slopes. It occurs most consistently in high quality, coral reef environments, in lower densities in turbid reef habitats (R.F. Myers pers comm. 2010).


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). It was observed to form spawning aggregations on the Great Barrier Reef (Squire and Samoilys unpub.), it spawns in pairs (Randall 2001a).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Zebrasoma veliferum is harvested for food and is usually caught in traps in parts of its range and caught using spears in Guam. Because of its larger size, it is of greater value as food fish than Z. flavescens or Z. scopas (Randall 2001b). It is also a component of the aquarium trade (Global Marine Aquarium Database accessed 19 March 2010).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Zebrasoma veliferum is a component of subsistence fisheries and is found in localities where coral reef degradation is prevalent.

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., Clements, K.D., Choat, J.H., McIlwain, J., Myers, R., Nanola, C., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B. & Stockwell, B. 2012. Zebrasoma veliferum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T178010A1520055. . Downloaded on 16 October 2018.
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