Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescent)



The Yellow Tang is a saltwater fish native to the Pacific and Indian Oceans.   Their range is from west of Hawaii to east of Japan.   These fish dwell in shallow reefs in depths from 6 to 151 feet.   These fish are also known as Yellow Sail-fin Tang, Scalpel Fish or Yellow Surgeonfish.

The Yellow Tang are easily identified by their bright yellow color. At night, the yellow coloring fades slightly and a prominent brownish patch develops in the middle with a horizontal white band. They rapidly resume their bright yellow color with daylight.   Adult fish can grow to 7.9 inches in length, and 1 to 2 cm in thickness.   Males tend to be larger than females.   They have an arrow-like body shape and a long snout-like mouth. Their mouth and surrounding skin has a toughened exterior to withstand the impact with the rough reef surface.   They also have a sharp spine located near their tail used for defense and as an anchor in the rocks when sleeping. They have become a popular fish for aquariums.

The Yellow Tang feed on turf algae, seaweed and other marine plant material. In fact, these fish also eat the algae growth on turtle shells, providing them with a “cleaning service“.   Although they are a herbivore, they have been known to eat shrimp and other smaller animals.   Additionally, these fish will also eat excrements from other fish.   They are a very territorial and semi-aggressive and will attack other fish.


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