Desjardini Tang | Zebrasoma desjardinii Care & Info

We’ve all heard of the yellow tang, but did you know that there are more amazing tang species out there in the aquarium hobby? Let us introduce you to the colorful Desjardini tang (Zebrasoma desjardinii). Not the easiest fish to keep, but definitely an interesting addition whose amazing coloration makes it worth the hassle!

Keep reading for everything you need to know about the Desjardini tang and how to care for one in your aquarium.

Name (Common, Scientific)Desjardini tang, Red Sea sailfin tang, Indian sailfin surgeonfish, Zebrasoma desjardinii
Minimum tank size180 gallons
Minimum group size1
Temperature75-82 °F
Difficulty levelModerate

Desjardini tang (Zebrasoma desjardinii) description

This species has a pretty wide range in the wild. It’s found in the Indian Ocean, both on the western (African) and eastern (India) side. These fish grow to a pretty impressive size of around 16” in length, although the males are much larger than the females. They possess an oval body shape and sport large dorsal and anal fins.

This fish is much appreciated for its beautiful color and patterns: the body is a deep blue with yellowish-orange horizontal stripes, as well as dots in this color and white.

Note: The Desjardini tang can look quite similar to the sailfin tang (Zebrasoma veliferum) as a juvenile. Your Desjardini will grow into its spectacular spots and stripes as it ages.

Desjardini tang (Zebrasoma desjardinii) aquarium

If you’d like to keep a Desjardini tang in your aquarium, keep in mind that these are not suitable fish for beginning aquarists. Due to their adult size, they’re also not meant for smaller aquariums: you’ll have to be able to offer at least around 180 gallons.

Desjardini tangs aren’t too pick about the aquarium (as long as the water quality is high) and are actually considered pretty hardy by many aquarists. They do need plenty of algae to pick on, though, as they’re naturally mainly herbivores. It’s probably a good idea to have a good amount of live rock in your aquarium for this fish to graze on if you’re planning on keeping one.

It’s also generally recommended to make sure the aquarium water is well-oxygenated in order to keep tangs healthy. Good water flow levels help.

Desjardini tang (Zebrasoma desjardinii) compatibility

This tang is considered reef-safe, although like almost all fish, it can turn to nipping at large polyp stony corals if it’s malnourished.

With other fish, this species can generally be considered peaceful. The problem is other tangs, especially sailfins. They can turn extremely aggressive towards their conspecifics. Unless we’re talking a large public aquarium, you should avoid keeping them together.

Note: Don’t forget that tangs are also known as surgeonfish for a reason. They sport a sharp spine (also known as their scalpel) on their sides, right at the base of the caudal (tail) fin. Be careful if you ever have to handle yours.

Desjardini tang (Zebrasoma desjardinii) aquarium fish close-up

Desjardini tang (Zebrasoma desjardinii) diet

A Desjardini tang usually won’t be too picky when it comes to food, accepting the normal combination of flake/frozen/live foods just fine. This is not the most natural option for them, however.

Like many other tangs, this one is mainly a herbivore. It likes to graze on algae (sometimes even nuisance bubble algae!) throughout the aquarium. Since our tanks are usually too clean to sustain such a large fish, you’ll have to supplement your Desjardini tang’s diet with greenery like algae-based foods and nori (seaweed) sheets. You can even offer blanched veggies like zucchini or broccoli!

Be sure to feed your Desjardini tang multiple times a day to keep it healthy.


Large reef fish like the Desjardini tang are truly a sight to see, but keeping them happy and healthy does require some specialized knowledge and care. That’s where we come in: FantaSEA Aquariums can design, build and maintain your aquarium for you. Save the hassle and just enjoy an aquarium in your home or office! You can contact us here with your ideas.