Species encyclopedia

Indian sailfin surgeonfish

Zebrasoma desjardinii


The Indian sail-fin surgeonfish can be found in lagoons and on the coral reef at depths of up to 30 metres.

As a juvenile, this fish prefers shallow water in sheltered areas, where it always swims close to the corals between which it hides at the slightest warning.

It feeds on algae and associated organisms. During the day, groups of 50 to 100 individuals can be observed roaming their feeding area. The feeding area is in competition with other herbivores, including surgeonfish of other species.


During reproduction, the adults pass through the coral reef to settle temporarily on the outer slope of the reef. There, they engage in a courtship ritual that brings them close to the surface where they release their reproductive cells.

When danger approaches, the sailfish surgeon fully deploys its anal and dorsal fins. In this way it increases its volume to intimidate intruders.

There can be variations in the livery of sailfish surgeons depending on the geographical area and the time of day. At night its colours become more dull and uniform which allows it to pass unnoticed.

Indo-Pacific region


Species encyclopedia

For a better experience of our website, we invite you to increase the size of your navigator window.