Yellow Tang Fish “Zebrasoma Flavescens”

yellow tang fish

Last updated on July 8th, 2022 at 09:39 am

The yellow tang, Zebrasoma flavescens, is a type of fish that can be found in the Pacific Ocean. It’s often called “the chameleon of fishes” because it changes color depending on its mood and surroundings. The best way to keep one as a pet is in an aquarium with live rock, sand, corals, and many other types of small sea creatures.

The yellow tang is a common and popular fish that can be found in aquariums all across the world. There are many different species of tang, but they’re most commonly identified as being from the Acanthuridae family. They typically live for about five years, though some have been known to reach forty! The yellow tang has varied coloration depending on the environment it’s in.

The yellow tang fish is the largest of all surgeonfish, averaging at about 20 inches long and 16 pounds in weight. The fish can live up to 15 years old or more. It has a cylindrical body with a short tail that makes it easy for them to swim backward as well. They are brightly colored on their sides while being darker on their backs.

They have a white head and tail fin with black spots on the upper lobe of their tailfin, which is usually only visible when looking from below at night or during the daytime with darker water conditions.


yellow tang fish

The yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) is a popular saltwater aquarium fish. The species was named by an Australian ichthyologist and marine biologist, Rupert Henry Jardine Gwynne of the University of Melbourne during an 1878 expedition to Sydney Harbor with his wife Alice from London on HMS Challenger in 1877.

The yellow tang is found in the Indo-Pacific from East Africa to Polynesia, usually living at depths of 15 m (49 ft). It normally lives around coral reefs, but may venture into lagoons and channels. The species reaches a maximum length of 96 cm (38 in) long for males and 78 cm (31 in) long for females.

The yellow tang is an herbivore, feeding on algae and occasionally consuming small invertebrates like crustaceans or mollusks. It mostly feeds using a ‘snorkel technique’, where it swims near the surface with its head out of the water while filtering food from the air or substrate below. This species is a sequential hermaphrodite, meaning it starts life as female and changes to male later in its lifetime.

Yellow tangs are popular aquarium fish because of their coloration (which may change from bright yellow to light green) and the fact that they generally stay small enough does not pose too much risk for beginning aquarists without a large tank.

Recently, the yellow tang fish has been observed to be undergoing a process called ichthyosis – a condition that causes fish scales to become thicker and more difficult to remove from one’s skin if touched. This is an unintended side-effect of humans feeding these animals zooplankton for their diet instead of naturally occurring algae.

Species profile

yellow tang fish

The yellow tang is a relatively small, vibrantly colored fish that is often found in the shallow waters around coral reefs. They are naturally timid and slow-moving but they can be very aggressive when feeling threatened or hungry. The Yellow Tang’s diet consists mainly of algae and meaty foods like plankton. There have been reports where this species has been observed feeding on smaller fish.

Asfur Angelfish (Pomacanthus Asfur)

They are found in the shallow waters around coral reefs and they’re naturally timid but aggressive when feeling threatened or hungry. Their diet mainly consists of algae, meaty foods like plankton (which is a cloud of small organisms that float near the surface) and it is reported that they’re observed feeding on smaller fish.

Color and appearance

The yellow tang has an overall light-yellow color, with a darker vertical stripe on each side of the fish. The head is white and silver in appearance, while the body is blue-green to dark green at its rear. A black spot may be visible near the eye or over it. When viewed from above, its tail is green and the body is yellow.

When viewed from below, its tail is blue-green with a white spot at the base of its upper lobe, while the body can be brownish to black. The pelvic fins are usually white or light gray in coloration on males, but dark grey to black on females.


The yellow tang is found in shallow tropical and subtropical waters of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. They can also be found near reefs with lots of algal growths to eat as well as nooks that provide shelter from predators such as larger fish or sharks. The yellow tang will usually stay in these areas unless they are looking for a new home.

Yellow tangs are often found at depths of about 18 feet or less, but they can also be seen in the shallows and on reefs. They have been known to live up to 20 years old, with females living longer than males. This is most likely because as female yellow tangs mature their abdomens turn a black color.


The yellow tang fish is a very small fish, with females typically being smaller than males. On average, they measure up to 12 inches in length and their weight ranges from about one-half pound to four pounds when fully grown.

Yellow tangs are usually only around three or so inches long when first born but can grow up until seven or eight inches in size. They are usually bright yellow or orange with a blue stripe that runs down the length of their body and they have small black spots on both ends of their dorsal fin.

Life cycle

The life cycle of the yellow tang has five stages: egg, larva, juvenile, subadult, and adult. The males become sexually mature at about 11 months old while females take 14-18 months to reach sexual maturity. After mating in a broadcast spawning event where they release eggs and sperm into open water, female yellow tangs will lay eggs on a rock in the territory they have chosen. The females will lay between 20-150 eggs each day and guard them for about two weeks, after which she dies.

The larvae live off of their yolk sacs until it is gone and then feed by consuming plankton (zooplankton). After about three months, yellow tang larvae will metamorph and then live on the reef.

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Juveniles are yellow tangs that have not yet reached sexual maturity but can reproduce if they choose to do so, while subadults are sexually mature juveniles that eat mostly crustaceans. The adults of this species feed mainly on algae and seaweed.

Are they peaceful or aggressive?

Yellow tangs can be aggressive, especially when they are first introduced to the tank. They may nip at other fishes in order to establish dominance within the tank and assert their position as a more dominant species.

The most important thing is not being too hasty with introductions of yellow tangs into your tank because that could lead to aggression. If you introduce them to your tank before introducing other less-aggressive species, they may be more inclined to dominate the tank and attack other fishes that are introduced later on.

It is best if you can gradually introduce yellow tangs into a marine aquarium where there will not already be any type of fish population present so that it won’t have to fight for dominance.

Understanding the yellow tang’s aggressive tendencies is essential to its well-being and yours, too! It may be best if they are housed in a tank alone or with other very peaceful fish that won’t react negatively when introduced later on.

Yellow tang care information

yellow tang fish

What do yellow tang eat (Yellow tang diet)

Yellow tangs eat small fish, crustaceans, and invertebrates. They will also graze on algae that grow in the aquarium and sometimes consume flakes or pellets as a supplement to their diet.

What they live in

Yellow tangs are found in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, from Southern California to Peru. They have a lifespan of about 20 years and grow up to 12 inches long. Their natural habitats include reefs, lagoons, sheltered bays with sandy or rocky bottoms, seagrass beds where there is adequate food for the fish to consume.

What they do

Yellow tangs are very social and will form small schools of about 20-50 individuals or may stay solitary, depending on the location. They are considered reef safe because they usually remain close to a host while grazing for food rather than tearing up rocks like some other species that have been known to do.

What they look like

A yellow tang has a bright stripe that runs all the way down its body, with alternating blotches of white and black along with it. When hunting for food on the ocean floor, or in an aquarium setting when grazing on algae, their color changes to camouflage them against possible prey items so they can sneak up on them.

What they need to survive

Yellow tangs are fairly hardy and can live in a wide range of water conditions as long as their aquarium or habitat is up-to-date with the latest equipment and technology for maintaining good levels of oxygen, pH balance, salinity, nitrogen cycle stability, etc. They often live in tanks with other types of fish, but may be more aggressive towards smaller ones.

What do we call them?

In Latin their name is Zebrasoma flavescens. They are also sometimes called “the yellow striped surgeonfish” and “gold-striped blue tang“.

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What happens when they get too big?

If a yellow tang gets too large for the aquarium it’s in, there are options to upgrade or give them their own tank. They can be kept with other types of fish as long as it is maintained and cleaned properly so that all inhabitants live in harmony. However, because they often live in tanks with other types of fish, they may be more aggressive towards smaller ones.

Yellow tang fish tank mates

The yellow tang is a hardy fish that can be kept with other peaceful, non-aggressive species like the clownfish (anemonefish). They can also live peacefully together in one aquarium.

As herbivores, they will not bother invertebrates and are unlikely to eat corals or anemones. These fish may bother other fish with their constant grazing on the plants in your tank, and they may eat live rock or corals.

This is a fish that will be appropriate in many different kinds of tanks. They are not too aggressive, but they may eat your plants or corals, so choose tank mates carefully to avoid losing these parts of the marine ecosystem.

They come in bright colors and can form schools if you have enough specimens for them to do so. They are peaceful and will not bother invertebrates or corals.

Yellow tangs may eat live rock, plants, or coral while grazing in the tank. Be sure to keep them with other herbivores like clownfish (anemonefish) as they won’t harm any of these animals but may still be bothersome.

Water condition

This is one of the most important factors to consider when keeping a fish. The water should be clean, with no chlorine or ammonia, and preferably low in nitrates. It’s essential that you do frequent water changes (50% every week) because they remove built-up toxins from the tank as well as replenish them with fresh saltwater for the fish.


Breeding in the aquarium is necessary for a continued supply of this fish. The yellow tang will not breed if it is stressed. A sexually mature, healthy individual must exist for successful spawning to take place. Spawning behavior may be observed at any time during daylight hours when water temperatures are between 78 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit with pH levels above neutral.

A female yellow tang may release eggs that are fertilized by the male. The eggs will then be laid on a solid surface and guarded for approximately 24 hours, after which they hatch into free-swimming larvae that consume plankton in open water. Larvae can take up to six weeks or longer before becoming juvenile fish. Juvenile yellow tangs will continue to grow and can reach sexual maturity in less than a year.

Breeding yellow tangs are not difficult, but it does require strong water movement or an aerating device such as a powerhead. If there are no disturbances from other tank mates, the male may help with egg care by fanning eggs on his side.

Yellow tangs can be bred in a well-established aquarium with live rock, or as part of a marine fish breeding program using larviculture tanks and grow outs (tanks for juvenile fishes that have reached the desired size).

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Some yellow tangs may show spawning behavior before they are sexually mature (at about 12 inches in length).

Yellow tang lifespan

The lifespan of a yellow tang is typically between 12 to 15 years but can live for up to 20 years in the wild. They have been known to reach 18 inches long and weigh as much as 13 pounds.

Their life expectancy will depend on many factors such as diet, environmental conditions, water temperature, and more. Healthy yellow tangs will typically live to be about 15 years old.

Parasites and diseases

yellow tang fish

Yellow tangs are prone to parasites and disease, with the most common being ich. Ich is a protozoan that lives on other fish, including yellow tangs. It can be contracted by contact or from saltwater (salinity). Symptoms of ich typically include white spots all over its body which will appear in different stages – the spots will start off as small, then grow larger and more numerous. Eventually, the ich can cover the whole body of a fish before it dies.

Treatment for this is removing the infected tang to quarantine water or adding a medication such as copper sulfate, salt, or formalin into its environment; if left untreated, yellow tangs with ich can die in a matter of days.

Ich is not the only parasite that yellow tangs are susceptible to, but it is the most common one and can easily be identified through its symptoms. There are also other diseases such as vibriosis and bacterial infections like septicemia which require different treatments for prevention or treatment. It’s important to make sure that any new fish is healthy before adding it to an aquarium because only with proper care can yellow tangs live a long, happy life.


The yellow tang is prey to much larger fish, such as the sea bass and moray eel. The other ichthyological predators of the yellow tang are other members of its own species; they do not have any natural enemies aside from humans. Some studies show that there is a correlation between fighting ability in males and their body weight.

Does it make good pets?

The yellow tang is a popular choice for saltwater aquariums because they are hardy, easy to care for, and inexpensive. They are not the best pets however, as they can be aggressive towards other fish in an aquarium setting. Yellow tangs require at least 60 gallons of water with live rock or coral structures and plenty of places to hide from the water flow.