The Zebra tang, aka Acanthurus polyzona is a very rare “book fish” which we’ve covered before from a distance, but this story is about some good news for aquarists. After about two years of poking, prodding, begging, pleading and insisting, the Gurroby clan of Ornamental Marine World finally made a special expedition to the south side of Mauritius island to collect the zebra tang.
Only a small collection of the zebra tang was made with just a few specimens being shipped to Sea Dwelling Creatures in the US and Coral Haven in the UK. As rare if not rarer than the “holy grail” of surgeonfish the gem tang, zebra tangs are even lesser known either in books, in science, by divers and especially in aquaria. If the species Acanthurus polyzona seems familiar to you that’s because it’s closely related to the uber common and widespread convict tang, A. triostegus.
Now that there are finally a few zebra tangs in captivity we can see that not only does A. polyzona have more stripes than the convict tang, it also has some very attractive spotting in the ventral region beneath the pectoral fin. Additionally, there’s some funky striping going on in the face of the zebra tang which is almost completely bare in Acanthurus triostegus.
With fewer than ten zebra tangs in captivity worldwide, there’s no doubt that Acanthurus polyzona is a very rare fish indeed but if this first efforts yields strong fish which develop into beautiful adults in aquaria, hopefully ‘Neeka and the gang will make another trip to the south side of the island to collect more of the convict tang’s doppelgänger. Big thanks to Ornamental Marine World for making this fish available, and props to Sea Dwelling Creatures and Coral Haven for the great pics and being first to bring this species to market.