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Yellow Tang


Yellow Tang, Zebrasoma flavescens

The Yellow Tang is also known as the Yellow Hawaiian Tang, Yellow Sailfin Tang, and the Yellow Surgeonfish. They come from the Central and South Pacific, including Hawaii, Indonesia and the Great Barrier Reef. They are a major export from Hawaii and this is the preferred source of quality specimens. Unfortunately this has also resulted in substantial decline of wild populations and collection efforts have damaged the coral reefs in Hawaii.  As a result of the environmental damage caused by the collection of yellow tangs, we don't recommend their purchase, but we note that they are among the most popular choices for saltwater aquariums.  Yellow tangs are a solid yellow color with a protruding snout. They are a surgeonfish, so named for the two "surgeon's scalpel" spines that can pierce at intruders at their caudal peduncle.

Yellow Tangs should have an aquarium of about 100 gallons for adequate hiding spaces and swimming room. They are best suited for a fish only tank. They enjoy a rich coral environment, but will eat invertebrates. Either keep a single fish or a group of at least 6 to spread out aggression. They are active, curious aquarium inhabitants. They pay attention to what is going on in and outside the aquarium. Yellow Tangs react quickly to inappropriate pH levels.

Yellow Tang, Zebrasoma flavescens

Yellow Tangs are omnivorous in aquarium life, but vegetable matter should be the mainstay of their diet. They are always hungry. They will eat algae, peas, lettuce, spinach , dried seaweed (nori), spirulina flakes, as well as frozen brine shrimp and flake foods. They like crustaceans and meaty foods can also be provided. They should be fed small amounts several times a day. Yellow Tangs will help keep natural algae in the tank under control. 

There is no visible difference between males and females. Yellow Tangs spawn in pairs and in groups. They are egg-scatterers and have not been bred in captivity, which is the main reason their populations are being depleted in Hawaii. 

Due to their scalpel type spines, Tangs can easily become badly entangled in nets. It is best to catch them in plastic bags or containers to prevent injuries to the fish. Yellow tangs are susceptible to ich, velvet, black spot, flatworm black dot and head & lateral line erosion. When choosing a yellow tang, look for an active, brightly colored specimen that is checking you out.

Scientific Name: Zebrasoma flavescens
Family: Acanthuridae
Care: Normal
Temperature: 24 - 28 C; 75 - 82 F
pH: 8.1 - 8.4
dH: 8 - 12
Specific Gravity: 1.018 - 1.025
Size: 20 cm; 8 inches
Breeding: Egg Layer
Life Span: years
Crustacean Safe: No
Coral Safe: Yes


Zebrasoma flavescens do best when kept singly, but in the wild they feed on the coral reefs in large ups. They may act aggressively towards other species of tangs, so they are best kept as the only tang species in the tank.  A Regal Tang may do well with it. Suitable tank mates include Blennies, Angelfish, Damsels, Wrasses and Rabbitfish.