Gem Tang (Zebrazoma gemmatum)

Discussion in 'iBluewater' started by iBluewater, Nov 1, 2013.

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  1. iBluewater

    iBluewater Senior Member (PhD)

    Jan 11, 2011
    iBluewater....... CA
    Photo below taken under full spectrum lighting 5500K
    Gem Tangs (Zebrazoma gemmatum) are becoming increasingly scarce.
    The smaller Gem Tangs (Zebrazoma gemmatum) imported for the aquarium trade are generally 2.5" - 3.5" in size, and they almost all come from Mauritius. About half a dozen specimens have entered the US aquarium trade this year. These smaller juveniles are normally lighter in color, not displaying many of the rich color intensity of adult Gem Tangs. Until recently virtually no show size specimens have been introduced to the aquarium trade.

    The folks at iBluewater have been working hard to change this. Several times, while at Madagascar, their team dived the Reunion Island and surrounding small islands in the Indian Ocean, about 140 miles southwest of Mauritius. Their quest was to find out if there were Gem Tangs (Zebrazoma gemmatum) present by those remote small islands. If they were present, what sizes would they be? Large adults are especially hard to find, so these are the ones they were specifically looking for.

    As with large Yellow Tangs (Zebrasoma flavescens), large Gem Tangs (Zebrasoma gemmatum) dive fast and deep when they sense danger. They are a real challenge for any diver to get close to. Regional village divers say they do not have the expertise or the equipment to chase down the large Gem tangs (Zebrasoma gemmatum). On infrequent occasions, fishermen's nets/lines accidentally snare a large specimen or two. These specimens are normally the unhealthy ones, too weak to be able to dive fast and deep to escape capture.

    For these dives, the iBluewater team used Rebreathers instead of the usual scuba tanks. The added flexibility and longer dive times gotten from the use of Rebreathers gave them the ability to better explore these remote islands for the large tangs.

    Photo below taken under full spectrum lighting 5500K

    Many months of ground work had to be laid before the first of several Show Size (6"- 7") Gem Tangs (Zebrasoma gemmatum) was found. These fish are truly outstanding. Their white "Gem Spots" mesmerize with their intensity and clarity. The gem spots on their caudal fin is light yellow as is the color of their caudal fin. A blue line edges the back end of their caudal fin, this stretches from top to bottom of their caudal fin. The entire dorsal, anal, plevic and caudal fins are also all edged with a blue line. Further, a distinct greennish hue covers the entire pelvic and anal fins. This greenish hue is also present on the upper areas of the dorsal fin. The top and lower eye rims are blue. Blue also covers its upper mouth area, continuing to all of the lower mouth and throat area and extending to the start of the plevic fins. From there it transitions to greennish hues.

    Once the Gem Tangs have been found, the next set of major problems needed to be resolved - how to store them, then transport such large specimens to Los Angeles. Those details were eventually sorted out, and a holding facility was set up. The first batch of Gem Tangs were then ready to ship. These consisted of 5 singles and a bonded pair. Each of the singles were shipped in about 2 gallons of water and plenty of pure oxygen while the bonded pair received about double those amounts.

    An appropriate aquarium home for a single show size Gem Tang (Zebrasoma gemmatum) would start out at a 40-gallon fish and live rock only tank, with only a couple of small fish and 2 or 3 small shrimps. More ideally, an 80 to 120 gal tank would provide plenty of space and gallonage for up to a pair of large Gems. Gems Tangs (Zebrasoma gemmatum) are generally hardy fish. They acclimate well to captivity and feed readily. Aside from their rarity, the biggest challenge to owning Gem Tangs is likely to be the almost 4K retail price tag each. In 2009 the retail price for a 3" Gem was $2400. The last known sale price was $3999, sold in early 2013 by one of the three major online stores. This is, of course, a reflection of supply and demand. Import numbers will very likely remain low because of how difficult these Gem Tangs are to find and collect.

    LFS owners, wholesalers, and hobbyists, if you want to get one of these super rare fish, get in touch with iBluewater. They also have a very limited number of bonded pairs of Show Size
    Gem Tangs (not available anywhere else).

    Photo below Melanistic Gem Tang (Zebrazoma gemmatum) Photo taken under full spectrum lighting 5500K

    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
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  3. Scuba Ken

    Scuba Ken Ritteri Anemone

    May 7, 2011
    Fort Mcmurray, Alberta, canada
    Nice fish, 4k ?
    Sorry too rich for me, although if anyone gets a breeding pair and they have babies, I am always available to fish sit, I would bring a net and a nice bucket too ;-)
  4. Eyelash Blennie

    May 17, 2011
    Nice write up Bob! Ibluewater is THE place to go for hard to find quality fish