Due to presence of very sharp scales at the base of the tail, this fish is named the Sailfin Tang. When threatened, they can raise their scales like a knife and can swim backwards at an enemy. The Sailfin Tang can also be known as Eastern sailfin tang, Pacific sailfin tang, Sail fish tang, Ringed tang, Purple-lined tang, Pacific sailfin surgeonfish, and Pacific sail-fin surgeonfish. They are indigenous to the Pacific Ocean and Western Indian Ocean. The Sailfin Tang fish are mainly found in lagoons and seaward reefs. During the juvenile stage, the fishes are solitary creatures who prefer to stay hidden among rocks or corals. When they are adult, they mostly live singly or in pairs. The Sailfin Tang species is one of the largest members of the genus Zebrasoma. The Sailfin Tang fishes need a bigger aquarium and should not be housed in tank smaller than 40 gallons water. They are hardy and tolerant species who thrive well in a temperature range of 72-78 degrees and pH range of 8.1 to 8.4. The Sailfin Tang fishes chiefly feed on leafy microalgae, so any tank with sufficient amount of algae makes a very good habitat for this species. Male Sailfin Tang tends to grow larger that the female Sailfin Tang. Though they can get along with other tank mates quite peacefully, but are territorial in nature towards the similar looking fishes. The Sailfin Tang fishes help in keeping the corals healthy by preventing overgrowth of algae by feeding on them. The distinctive feature of the Sailfin Tang is that they have different body marking that keeps on changing from juvenile stage till adult stage. At an early stage, the Sailfin Tang feature medium brown to yellow colored body with bright yellow and black stripes. Whereas, the adult body shows a brownish-olive color with both striped and dot patterns on it.
The Sailfin Tang is colored in white with thick brown vertical bands running along their body. The Sailfin has large rounded dorsal and anal fins that continue the color of its body. They are easy to keep and do well in fish-only or reef tanks. These fish can be kept in groups. They are voracious algae eaters.The Surgeonfish family consists of fish which are colorful, thin-bodied, and usually have an oval shape. These fish have long continuous dorsal and anal fins and crescent tailfins. The scalpel at the base of their tailfin is very sharp and is used by the fish for protection from predators as well as a way of establishing itself with other fish. These fish are usually seen at reefs eating algae all day long.Photo by Saltwaterfish.com member, Bschaible: Bobby Schaible