Yellow Tang

From Microcosm Aquarium Explorer

Zebrasoma flavescens - (Bennett, 1828)
Yellow Tang

Zebrasoma flavescens.jpg

A marine aquarium classic. Alf Jacob Nilsen/Bioquatic Photo

Overview

This is a brilliant yellow, stunning fish—collected mostly from Hawaiian waters—that can help keep certain types of troublesome algae in check. It is a scrappy fish, especially in smaller spaces. Keep just one per tank, unless the aquarium is large (180 gallons [682 L] or more), in which case you should add three or more individuals simultaneously. It is rarely a threat to clams and corals.

Yellow Tangs have been reported in the waters off South Florida, far from their native range. Aquarists are urged never to release fishes, invertebrates, or any aquatic plant material in their local waters.

Family: Acanthuridae

Other common name(s):

Native range:

Habitat: Reef and lagoons with protective coral growth. Provide several larger caves or crevices in which it can shelter when threatened. It also needs plenty of swimming room.

Maximum length: 20 cm (8 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 285 L (75 gal)

Water: Marine 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)

General swimming level: All levels.

Feeding

Herbivore. Feed algae-based foods at least three times a day, as well as freeze-dried algae flakes or seaweed sheets (nori). You may be able to feed it less if there is a good algal crop in the aquarium.

Aquarium Compatibility

The Yellow Tang will swim about the tank inspecting all surfaces for algae on which to browse. It can use its scalpel-sharp tangs (seen as white spines at the base of the tail) to inflict wounds on other fishes (or careless fishkeepers). The downside—it is particularly susceptible to parasites.

Special Care

If it is not getting proper nutrition, the stomach will look pinched, and it may suffer from erosion of the skin around the head and the fins.

Breeding/Propagation

Egg scatterers that produce pelagic eggs, often in midwater mating rituals. Both eggs and larvae that drift with plankton in the water column and settle back onto a reef at about the time of metamorphosis. These are among the most challenging types of marine fishes to propagate in captivity.

Notes

Studies have found that heavy collection of the Yellow Tang in the Hawaiian Islands can have a significant impact on the species' population levels. Collectors argue that this species is extremely resilient and bounces back rapidly after collection.

Off the Kona Coast, once very heavily fished, aquarium fish collection restrictions have been placed on nine protected areas. The results will be closely watched and other protected areas may result.

Reference: 101 Best Saltwater Fishes
Image credit: AJN
Text credit: SWM