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Sea Life, Animals
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Yellow Tang

(Zebrasoma flavescens)

Yellow tang are in the surgeonfish family. They are bright yellow in 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.


Yellow tang are mainly found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The yellow tang prefers subtropical waters but is not commonly found in oceans. They are reef-associated fish and inhabit the sub-surge zone of coral reefs. This is because that is the area of the reef with the least wave action.


Tangs are primarily herbivores and graze alone or in groups. With their long, down-turned mouth and small teeth algae, is their food of choice. Most of their algae diet is found on the coral reefs in which they live.


Yellow tang generally spawn in groups but have been known to spawn in pairs by territorial males that court passing females. Spawning activity occurs around the full moon indicating lunar productivity. Yellow tang spawn in batches throughout the year


Predators of yellow tang include larger fish and predatory invertebrates such as crabs and octopi. Yellow tangs rely on camouflage and their scalpel-like fins to protect themselves. To humans, these fish appear bright yellow, but, to other fish, yellow tangs blend in very well with coral reef backgrounds. In addition to camouflage, they use the spins on their tail fins for defense.