Yellow Tang Care: Complete Guide on Breeding, Disease, and Care

Yellow Tang Overview

Also scientifically known as the Zabresoma Flavescene, the Yellow Tang is one of the most popular marine aquarium fishes. It is yellow, just as its name suggests, and with just this single color, it remains a very popular fish amongst aquarists in the hobby and trade. 

The fish are known to become hardy once they have been acclimated, and therefore even beginners can successfully keep them in their home aquariums. The fish are not expensive to keep and will not be expensive to acquire. There are varieties of tang fish that are highly expensive, such as Achilles or shoal.

The yellow tang fish species is usually readily available, and therefore its market price is usually not as high as other marine aquarium fishes that are hard to find. There are two types of tangs currently being traded the most in the hobby: the yellow and blue tang. 

The blue tang, however, is highly-priced than the yellow variety. The yellow tang is generally peaceful and can make a great addition to a community tank. The mature fish can reach up to 20 cm in total length. They are usually slow in their growth and live longer even if kept in the aquarium. If you plan to keep various tangs in the same tank, just ensure that the tank is large enough to provide plenty of space for them.

The below information will help you figure out if a Bala shark could be the right fish for your tank:

Information chartYellow Tang
Scientific name Zebrasoma Flavescens
Family Tangs
Care level Easy to moderate
Temperament Docile
Color During daylight hours
Lifespan More than 30 years in the wild and 5-10 years in captivity
Size 20 cm
Diet Accepts benthic turf algae and other marine plant material
Minimum tank size 50 gallons
Temperature 72 to 82 F
Water conditions 8.1 to 8.4
Tank mate compatibility Any fish, corals, and invertebrates. But avoid aggressive large fish like sharks or lionfish.

Yellow Tang Fish Appearance

yellow tang

The yellow tang fish features a very bright yellow coloration that makes it stand out in the aquarium. The fish shows a very attractive bright yellow color something that makes it very popular in the hobby.

They have got narrow bodies that are oval-shaped with snouts that are long. They have up to seven fins which include the spiny dorsal and tail fins. The fish also have got a sharp spine that is white in color appearing on both sides of their dorsal fins. This sharp spine that is found on their tails can be used by the fish for defense as well as offense as is necessary.

The fish has got the capability to change its color which they usually do over the course of a day. It has been noted that the yellow tangs usually exhibit a very bright yellow coloration during the daylight hours. When night time sets in, the fish usually changes its color to a somewhat dark, grayish yellow with a lateral stripe that appears white.

The lifespan of Yellow Tang

The typical lifespan of a Yellow Tang is believed to be 5-10 years in captivity. But when the fish lives in the wild, it is believed to survive for 30 years. 

Remember that the lifespan of any fish can increase or decrease depending on the care offered.

Yellow Tang Size

A typical Yellow Tang typically grows up to 20 cm in length. Compared with females, males are known to be larger. If you are initially keeping this fish species in a smaller tank, be ready to transfer them to a bigger tank once they start growing. 

Yellow Tang Natural Habitat and Origin

The fish appears naturally in the wild in the Pacific from Hawaii to Japan it also occurs off the coast of Florida in Central Atlantic. The fish are usually found at depths of between 10 to 150 feet in outer reefs and lagoons. The fish prefer areas where there are dense corals where they hide in between the corals.

The fish can be found singles, in pairs, and sometimes in groups that number but just a few of them. The young ones of the fish prefer being solitary and very secretive usually hiding amidst the coral reefs.  Because the fish is a marine water inhabitant ensure to provide marine water habitat for it in captivity.

Yellow Tang Care and Tank Setup

The general hardiness of the fish makes it easy to keep in the aquarium so long as an appropriate marine environment is provided for it. The fish is known to adapt well in diverse water conditions but the water quality must good. You can keep the fish in a fish only tank or even in a reef tank.

Yellow Tang Care and Tank Setup

The fish will not interfere with corals or invertebrates and usually responds quite well to treatment when it is ill and is being treated.

For more detailed tank requirements for the yellow tang fish please follow these tips:

  • The minimum tank capacity for the fish should be 50 gallons or more. The fish can grow up to 8 inches or even more so they need a pretty big tank.
  • Because the fish needs sufficient supply of oxygen to do well, ensure that the tank is properly aerated.
  • You can put lots of rocks as well as corals that will provide crevices where they can retreat when it is time for sleeping.
  • The fact that they are a shoaling fish makes it important to provide a very large tank if you intend to keep many of them in a single tank.
  • As for the lighting of the tank moderate lighting is advised because being a medium-bottom dweller the fish may not like very bright light exposure.
  • Partial water change is important at least once every week to help keep the water clean and healthy for the fish.
  • You will also need to install a protein skimmer if you the tank contain coral reef and live rock placed.
  • You will also need to have good quality substrate and gravel or sand can make great substrate for the fish.

Yellow Tang Tank Size and Specification

This section of the post talks about the size, shape, filter type, and other relevant information. 

Optimum Tank Size for Yellow Tang

The recommended tank size for Yellow Tang is 50 gallons. If you keep this fish in a smaller tank, it won’t be able to survive properly. That’s because Yellow Tang needs a good amount of space to swim around. 

Optimum Tank Size for Yellow Tang

Since Yellow Tang is an herbivore, it’s likely to spend time grazing algae off the reef structures. 

Tank Shape for Yellow Tang

The exact tank shape for the Yellow Tang is debatable. But it’s suggested to pick a rectangular tank which is no less than 50 gallons. 

Filter Type 

Yellow Tang needs oxygen to survive in the tank. You can maintain a proper oxygen supply by pumps, air stones, filters, or plants. 

If you do not change the filter often, the tank water may get contaminated, causing serious illness. Usually, it’s recommended to use biological filters to clean the tank water. 


Yellow Tang likes to go to the bottom of the water to graze algae off the reef structures. So, if you are keeping them, you must pay special attention to the bottom of the tank. You can add dark-colored pebbly substrate or plants to the tank. Also, you can put lots of rocks and corals.

In addition, you can put cute decorations where the fish could hide or simply rest after swimming all day. 

How Many Yellow Tang in 50 Gallons of Water?

In 50 gallons of water, you must put not more than 2 yellow tangs. Remember that this fish species likes to swim in a broader area. That means if you keep more than 2 fish in 50 gallons of water, none of them would be able to grow to their fullest. 

Water Parameter for Yellow Tang

This section discusses the water temperature, pH level, water hardness, etc. 

Water Parameter for Yellow Tang

Water Temperature 

The ideal water temperature for Yellow Tang is between 72 to 82 F.

pH Level

The perfect pH level for the Yellow Tang tank is 8.1–8.4.  

Water Hardness

The ideal water hardness for the Yellow Tang is 420 ppm. You must check the water hardness every week to ensure its level. If you add reefs with Yellow Tang in the tank, the water hardness can be between 380 to 450 ppm. 

Yellow Tang Landscape

The first thing you need to keep yellow tang is a bug tank, approximately 50 gallons. You can add biological filters to keep the tank clean. Also, you should be specific about the substrate because this fish species likes to go to the bottom of the water. You can put lots of rocks and corals.

Yellow Tang Tank Landscape

Best Plant for Yellow Tang Tanks 

Yellow Tang can live comfortably with almost all the plants. That means you can add plants like anubias but make sure that it doesn’t block direct sunlight; else, it can impact the Yellow Tang’s growth. 

Worst Plant for Yellow Tang Tanks

Avoid adding small plants to the tank as yellow tangs are known to feed on plants. 

Decoration for Yellow Tang Tanks 

You can add small decorative items to decorate the yellow tang tank. Also, you can put medium-sized decorative pieces where fish can relax after swimming. 

Lighting for Yellow Tang

If you plan to keep yellow tang, you should keep the lighting at moderate. For better growth, you can keep a day-night lighting cycle. 

Feeding Yellow Tang

The Yellow Tang fish is herbivorous and it mostly feeds on algae when in the wild but will also feed on algae growing on live rock in the aquarium. After acclimation the fish can eat pellet and other artificial fish foods as well as live or frozen foods.

You can feed the fish krill, mysis & brine shrimp, and also flake food too. Other quality foods that you can offer your yellow tangs can be Nori, Julian Sprungs and sea veggies.

Best Diet for Yellow Tang

Most of the food for yellow tang comes from grazing algae present on the rocks. But if you do not have enough algae in the tank, keep your fish happy by adding seaweed to the tank. 

How Often Should You Feed Yellow Tang?

You must feed your yellow tang fish every day. Each time you put food, make sure that it can last for around 4 hours. Since yellow tang likes to graze on the rock’s surface, adding frequent food can keep them up on the water surface for a few hours. 

Yellow Tang Behavior and Temperament

Yellow Tang fish is a very peaceful fish that will not show aggression to other tank fish. This makes them a good community fish although it is best to only keep them with members of its own species.

Yellow Tang Behavior and Temperament

They have great personalities, and also, they are great swimmers. While they don’t show aggression towards other fish, they require some time to get friendly. And once they are comfortable, they will start showing their personality. 

You can put yellow tang with most types of fish as it can easily get along. But it is known to show aggression towards its kind. 

You might know that this fish has a unique oval-shaped body and pronounced dorsal fin. But did you know that this species uses its dorsal fin to maneuver through rocks? Also, they have white razor-like spears that they use for protecting themselves. 

Are Yellow Tang Lone or Societal?

Yellow Tang can easily get along with other fish. So, it’s a societal fish species. 

Yellow Tang Tank Mates

As you know, yellow tang gets along with so many kinds of fish. But this does not mean that they can be kept with every fish species. 

Yellow Tang Tank Mates

If you do not want your yellow tang to get injured or eaten by any fish, consider the list of compatible and bad tank mates. 

Ideal Yellow Tang Tank Mates

Yellow Tang does best with small fish, like Vlamingi Tang, Clownfish, Sailfin Tang, Blue Tang, Copperband Butterfly, Cleaner Wrasse, Royal Grandma, Mandarin Dragonet, Nase Tang, and more. 

Bad Tank Mates for Yellow Tang

If you do not want your fish to get killed at midnight, avoid keeping it with big fish like sharks, crabs, lionfish, etc. 

Breeding Yellow Tang 

When it is time for breeding, the male and female fish will court in a bizarre ritual. 

Breeding Yellow Tang

The female usually releases her eggs during this ritual, and the male fertilizes them. However, breeding the fish in captivity is very difficult, and even experienced people have not had success breeding the fish while in captivity. 

Yellow Tang Breeding Level

Honestly, it’s not easy to breed yellow tangs because they can’t be bred in a home aquarium. That means breeding yellow tang is not easy. 

Yellow Tang Sexual Dimorphism

To distinguish between male and female, look at the rear of the scalpels on the tail. Mature males have patches of raised scale, but females don’t have them. 

Yellow Tang Common Diseases and Treatments 

Like any other fish, the yellow tang is also likely to develop certain diseases. So, if you want to have a healthy and plump fish, make sure you treat those diseases on time. 

Yellow Tang Ich

Have you noticed a white spot on your fish’s body? It can be a sign of ich infection, which can make the fish ill. After spotting such a fish, transfer it to a separate hospitable tank with no invertebrates. Then offer it the proper treatment. 

Besides this, the yellow tang is known to suffer from environmental, nutritional, and social diseases. 

Facts About Yellow Tang

  • The yellow tang is a friendly fish species known to be an algae feeder. 
  • This fish species has a scalpel-like spine near its tails, protecting them. 
Facts About Yellow Tang

Is Yellow Tang Right For You?

If you are a beginner, you can consider keeping yellow tang in the tank. When you have them in the tank, try to add several decorative items and the right substrate like rocks and corals as they like to swim at the bottom. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How fast does yellow tang grow?

The growth rate of yellow tang depends on the environment and diet. But their general growth rate is slow. 

Do yellow tangs sleep?

Surprisingly, yellow tangs do not sleep. They go into the slow down mode, where they find a proper place to bunker down. However, they always stay alert. 

Can yellow tang lose color?

Yellow tangs can lose color if they lack nutrients in their diet. 

Are yellow tangs shy?

When first added to the tank, yellow tang can be shy. However, the fish can quickly become friendly when given some time. 


The yellow tang is one of the first choices among tank keepers as it is bright in color. Also, this fish species is quite friendly, and it can get along with fish. However, you must avoid keeping yellow tang with its kind as it can get aggressive.

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