The first white sailfin tang came to us not as a tiny minnow but as a nearly full-grown adult Zebrasoma veliferum. This shocker of a fish specimen was shared by RVS Fishworld who is no stranger to fishing up aberrant reef fish species from all over the world.
If you currently have or have had a sailfin tang in the past, the proportions of this fish will seem at once familiar and very foreign. With its multitude of broken spots and stripes the normal sailfin tang looks like one continuous fish with a very tall body including tall dorsal and anal fins.
Interestingly, it’s precisely these markings that break up the true outline of the fish, making it seem much larger than it really is, and making this colorless specimen look really out of place as a Zebrasoma. Without any markings whatsoever, the ghost white sailfin tang looks like the body of a Naso surgeonfish with long dorsal and anal fin extensions.
Although the white Zebrasoma veliferum appears near completely ‘leucistic’ and pallid in this photo, as we have seen in white scopas tangs and white yellow tangs, this color usually appears as a brilliant white in the bright lighting of modern fish and reef aquariums. Sailfin tangs are well known to be pushy fish in aquarium communities so we can only assume that this white sailfin tang had to be a bulldog on the reef in order to survive and not be picked off by any would-be predators.