This fish is one recognized by all marine aquarists; it is very popular and commonly kept. If a splash of colour is required then this is one of the fish to consider, it attracts the eye like a magnet does metal.
The fish is properly called Zebrasoma flavescens. It is yellow all over apart from a small white area in front of the tail; this is the ‘scalpel’.
The yellow tang could grow to 7½ inches (circa 19cm). As with all fish of this type it is not for every aquarist as swimming space is required. A small aquarium is not a home for it; a suggested minimum size is 3ft (circa 91.5cm) by 1.5ft (circa 45.75cm) by 1.5ft though larger is better. If the reef structure is large this will reduce the swimming space, so even if the aquarium itself seems large enough the actual free seawater space needs to be checked.
The yellow tang is reputedly one of the hardiest of the surgeon fishes. Of course high quality seawater needs to be provided at all times. Tank mates should be compatible though even so aggression could appear, but usually with needs properly met they are peaceable enough.
Feeding these fish is not difficult, they will usually take marine flake and de-frozen foods. However, it is essential that they receive adequate amounts of algae. In the aquarium some of this could be provided by natural growth and in this way the fish is useful in keeping algae down – it should eat filamentous algae. Aquarium algae are not normally present in sufficient quantity so the aquarist needs to provide the food in other ways. One of the best methods is to purchase sheets of dried algae such as Nori. One sheet or a part of it can be held in place by an aquarium clip and left. The fish should eat it enthusiastically. It is suggested that algae is fed at least every other day, though many aquarists place the food in the aquarium everyday to ensure the fish can take it at will – any sheet algae that breaks free should be re-fixed or removed and any uneaten after a full day removed.
Brightness and colour are usually present in a marine aquarium and this fish has them plus another, movement. Properly cared for they should ‘live long and prosper’.
The video gives information on care of the yellow tang. For those who want to see a photo of the fish click on the link.