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Yellow Tang

Zebrasoma flavescens
I remember going to pet stores as a child and always admiring the huge display tanks of saltwater fish. And one particular fish always stood out- the Yellow Tang. How could it not? Its large(ish) size, its bright, almost neon coloring. It's quite the beauty!

Yellow Tangs are native to the shallow, coastal reefs of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They don't swim much deeper than 46m, and the larger fish tend to stay in the shallowest waters. Hawaii is a particular hotspot for the species, and most of the fish captured for captive living come from this area.

In the wild they feed on different algaes and plants, and live in small schools. They spawn several times a year, with these sessions coinciding with the full moon.

If you're interested in owning a Yellow Tang you'll need to have a large aquarium, and a lot of time and patience required to correctly maintain the habitat. Because they can reach lengths of up to 8in, and because they can get aggressive with other surgeonfish (the group in which they belong), a size of 55gallons is absolutely necessary.

Because they show aggression towards other fish of their type, most people keep only one, or they keep enough to form a school. The presence of a school prevents the territorial fighting that would arise if there were only 2 or 3 fish. Obviously the larger the school, the larger the required tank.

IUCN Status : Not Evaluated
Location : Pacific and Indian Oceans
Size : Length up to 8in (20cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Actinopterygii -- Order : Perciformes
Family : Acanthuridae -- Genus : Zebrasoma -- Species : Z. flavescens


  1. Please don't encourage people to own coral reef wildlife. Yellow Tangs can live for decades in the wild, but most of the hundreds of thousands taken from Hawaii's reefs each year are dead within a year. There are dozens of reef fish that can now be bred in captivity and are sold in pet stores. Please only buy captive bred - never wild caught!! Mahalo,

  2. Thank you so much for that information. I wasn't able to find much about how well the wild-caught fish do, most resources only mention the location of capture.
    It's always tricky to write about animals that are kept in captivity, and I want to provide accurate information about the requirements, challenges, and legality of owning those particular species... but it would be impossible for me to be an expert on every single creature out there, so getting input from others is much appreciated.

  3. This fish is so cool, I have never seen such one before and this tense colour! Nice neon trend, I know such beauties can be seen only by the coral reefs!


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