Zebrasoma scopas, or midnight sailfin tang as they are known in Australia, are a fairly abundant reef dwelling fish that is found on the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea as well as much of the greater Indian and Pacific Oceans. This fish is commonly collected for the aquarium trade as they make a fantastic algae eater which isn’t too aggressive and is the smallest species of surgeonfish, so they won’t outgrow most home aquariums.
Cairns Marine’s elite fish collector Bondy was certainly surprised when he found this extremely rare xanthic individual in 15 meters in the Coral Sea on a typical fish collection trip.
Scopas tangs are typically a tan to brown shade with small white spots all over their body. The juveniles can feature some small lines throughout the body, but they do not exhibit the bright yellow colouration found on this individual.
This must be the first known record of a xanthic scopas tang from Australia displaying this level of yellow colouration, looking almost entirely like a bright yellow tang save for the small patch of normal color on its face which is different on either side. Compared to the Yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) this individual has a much higher first dorsal ray and a different sail structure.
This Australian xanthic scopas tang certainly has a very different appearance than more common yellow scopas tangs from the Philippines, more akin to the xanthic piebald scopas varieties that occasionally become available. The oddball Z. scopas is certainly a very unique specimen for the Coral Sea and we can’t wait to see how this individual matures in his own special aquarium.