The Yellow Tang

The Yellow Tang

The yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) is also known as the Lemon sailfin, Yellow tang, Yellow sailfin tang, and Somber surgeonfish. Take note that the Zebrasoma flavescens have not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species yet.

Geographical range, habitat and habits

The Yellow tang is believed to be native to Caroline Island, Guam and Hawaii. It is also common in parts of Hong Kong, Japan, Johnston Island, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, North Marianas, Ogasawara Islands, Palau, Philippines, and Vietnam, among other locations. It inhabits the Pacific Ocean and may also live off the coast of Florida in the Western Central Atlantic. The Yellow Tang is found in areas of lagoons and seaward reefs with prolific coral growth. These fish live alone or form loose groups. Geographically speaking, the yellow tang is confined to 30°N to 8°N, and 127°e to 79°w.

Size and appearance of the Yellow Tang

The largest scientifically measured Yellow Tang has been 20.0 cm and, as suggested by its name, the Yellow Tang is a bright yellow colour. It has a very deep body with a moderately protruding mouth. Young Yellow Tangs feature 12 upper teeth and 14 lower teeth, whilst the adults have 18 upper teeth and 22 lower teeth.

Caring for the Yellow Tang

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These fish need a lot of space to swim around in, and good hiding spots in which to seek shelter. As such it is not recommendable to keep the Yellow Tang in an aquarium tank with a capacity below 60 gallons / 225 litres of water. Providing plenty of live rock in the aquarium is essential to promoting algae growth. Generally Yellow Tangs are peace loving fish but it can be risky to combine these fish with others of their species, especially if they are of similar size. Housing Yellow Tangs with other tangs will increase the chances of clashes in the tank if the fish are of the same genus.

If provoked, the Yellow Tang may shake its sharp spine to scare off other fish in the aquarium. They will seldom resort to actual violence. However they can nibble at corals and as such it is not considered a reef-safe fish.

Exceptionally high oxygen levels and strong water movements are encouraged when keeping Yellow Tang fish. Temperatures of water in the aquarium must fluctuate in the ranges 75-82° F or 24-28° C, and the water pH value must be between 8.0 and 8.4. Specific gravity must remain at 1.020-1.025.

Feeding the Yellow Tang

Naturally the Yellow Tang is primarily accustomed to filamentous algae but will also swallow other matter like fish eggs and small invertebrates that live among the algae.

To ensure optimal good health in the aquarium, it is important to provide the Yellow Tang with a varied diet. High quality flakes or pellets, which are recommended for marine algaevores, can be used as a base and can be supplemented with boiled vegetables and dried and fresh algae. Occasional servings of meaty foods will also be essential for the fish’s good health.

Yellow Tangs Breeding

As far as breeding is concerned, group and pair-spawning have been observed among territorial males that court passing females in the wild.