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Facts About the Yellow Tang Fish You Probably Didn't Know

Facts About the Yellow Tang Fish You Probably Didn't Know
The yellow tang fish is a saltwater fish species and is widely kept in aquariums. This post focuses on some interesting facts that cover the habitat, lifespan, behavior, and feeding habits of this beautiful fish.
Raksha Kulkarni
Last Updated: Aug 12, 2017
Color Magic!
The bright yellow color of the fish fades at night, and a proper brown patch can be seen. The fish regains its bright color again in the morning.
Yellow tang fish are commonly known by various names like the Yellow Hawaiian Tang, Yellow Sailfin, or Yellow Surgeonfish. These bright yellow-colored fish belong to the surgeonfish family and are mainly found in Hawaii, which explains the names. These fish require little maintenance and can also be kept in a reef tank. These reasons make them a popular options for aquariums. Also, they are quite active, hardy, and not very aggressive in nature. There are many interesting facts about these fish that are discussed below.
Scientific Classification
➤ Kingdom: Animalia
➤ Phylum: Chordata
➤ Class: Actinopterygii
➤ Order: Perciformes
➤ Suborder: Acanthuroidei
➤ Family: Acanthuridae
➤ Genus: Zebrasoma
➤ Species: Z. flavescens
Appearance and Size
Yellow Tang Fish
Notice the white scalpel near the tail
A bright and slimy yellow body with a white horizontal band, that's how a yellow tang looks. These yellow-colored fish grow up to 8 inches (20 cm) in length and 1 - 2 cm thick. They get their name due to the presence of a white-colored, razor-shaped scalpel (also called tang) near the tail. They use it only when they feel threatened. Another distinctive feature is their snout-like mouth, which is used to eat algae off the coral reefs. There is no special characteristic to distinguish between the males and the females, but the males are known to grow larger than the females.
Where Do the Yellow Tang Fish Live?
They are mainly found in the shallow reef waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are seen anywhere between the depths of 6.6 - 151 feet. They are said to be native to the Hawaiian Islands, but are also found in the seas near Hong Kong, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, etc. They are found in areas around coral reefs so that they get enough food and can hide if threatened.
What Do Yellow Tang Fish Eat?
The fish feed on benthic turf algae or other sea plants in the wild. But in captivity, they are fed packed aquarium food which contains meat in it, making it a question of debate. These are of great help to the turtles because they eat all the algal growth on their shells.
Yellow tang hiding
Yellow tang hiding
➤ If they feel threatened, they will hide in weeds or reefs.
➤ While sleeping, they may attach themselves to rocks with the help of their scalpels.
➤ They also use their scalpels while fighting or when caught by a predator.
➤ These are semi-aggressive fish and can be kept with other fish. All they need is a lot of space to swim and hide.
How Do Yellow Tang Fish Reproduce?
In tropical waters, they can breed all yearlong. The breeding season starts when a male tang is seen marking territories with a female. The female may release up to a clutch of 40,000 eggs in the water, which are then fertilized by the male. The fry (baby fish) hatch before a week. Though breeding them in captivity has not been easy, and breeders are known to encountered problems.
In a Tank
They are a saltwater species and also need a big tank so that they can swim freely. They can be kept by first-timers but some experience will help in the betterment of this species. They are generally sold at a younger age, when they are only 2 - 4 inches, so utmost care should be taken. They can be kept with other fish, provided you give them space. They can be kept with other species like clownfish, cardinalfish, lionfish, etc. They can be aggressive towards fish of the same species like the blue tang, but the problem can be solved by introducing all the fish at the same time. Feeding is not a problem because they'll eat almost everything, but feeding them nori is a must.
Lifespan and Health Concerns
➤ In the wild, the fish can live up to 30 years. In captivity, they can live up to 5 - 10 years, but are also known to live for around 20 years if given the right tank and food.
➤ They are no different from other tangs and are susceptible to Marine Ich (Cryptocaryon irritans) or other saltwater diseases. Diseases can be avoided by maintaining appropriate temperatures and balance in the diet.
➤ Also, high levels of nitrate can cause poisoning in them. This can be avoided by measuring nitrate level and keeping it below 30 PPM.
Fortunately, these beauties are listed as LC (Least Concern) by the IUCN and are found in enough numbers.