Yellow Tang Sharing My Experiences
The Zebrasoma flavescens, or more commonly known as the Yellow Tang has been a favorite fish of mine (one of many) since the beginning of my saltwater hobby. The bold yellow color along with the white scalpel like blade on the caudal peduncle (base of the tail) that can be used as a weapon for defending itself or its territory is one of the many great aspects of keeping these tangs. They can be quite hardy once they get used to the environment and make a great pet fish. There are some things to keep in mind though if your interested in keeping one of these Yellow Tangs in your saltwater aquarium.
The first and one of the most important things to mention is that they, like many saltwater fish species, can be quite susceptible to most of the common marine diseases. Upon acquiring one of these beauties, the use of a quarantine tank for several weeks is highly recommended. Keeping them in QT can help settle them down from the stresses of shipping, it can be easier to get them eating something with less competition and you can observe them easier for signs of disease in a bare quarantine tank.
I’ve kept 2 Yellow Tangs since starting this awesome hobby. The first one I bought for a 30 gallon fish only with live rock (FOWLR) aquarium and it didn’t do well, all because of my ignorance. I didnt quarantine this fish and it quickly passed on because of a severe ich infestation. The second one has done extremely well and Ive had him/her for several years now.
The second Yellow Tang did develop ich in the quarantine tank and I should mention that I didnt treat it with medication. I gave it the best diet I could which was lots of dried seaweed and high quality flakes and the ich soon subsided. After a week with no signs of ich I then left it in quarantine for about 3 more weeks with numerous (at least every other day) partial water changes. I think the great water quality through the frequent partial water changes and the good diet helped this fish fight off the ich. About a year later it developed ich again (after a too short QT period from some chromis) but its conditioned improved again quickly with no medications, just frequent water changes and the good diet.
Feeding this tang has not been a problem at all. They eat everything we put in the tank, from herbivorous flakes to dried seaweed to fresh gracilaria from the refugium. It is awesome to watch them attack the veggie clip that I use to hold the dried seaweed in the tank. Ive learned to keep the length of dried seaweed at about 2 inches with the veggie clip, since any longer and it quickly becomes detached by the voracious tearing and ripping done by the tang and gets pulled into a powerhead intake.
I try to feed this tang this dried seaweed daily and it grazes on the live rock and back tank wall for any algae growth it can find. It also gets a few pieces of the gracilaria from the refugium a few times per week. I’m trying to grow out the gracilaria in the refugium with the hopes of maybe giving some to friends. I started with about a fist sized clump of the gracilaria and its tripled in size in the last month. Once I get more of the gracilaria Ill start giving it to the tang more often. Ive heard of hobbyists calling this stuff tang heaven and can vouch that mine loves the stuff.
Care wise, I keep mine in a 110 gallon tank that has plenty of water flow with ample surface agitation along with a heavy duty protein skimmer. Everything you read about tangs mentions that they like to swim and that they need plenty of swimming space, so the bigger the tank the better.
Behavior wise, my Yellow Tang gets along well with the other fish in the tank, including a Powder Blue Tang (Acanthurus leucosternon). When first introduced to the tank the Yellow Tang established its dominance by chasing the PBT around the tank for a few laps but they’ve been doing well since then. A 110 is kind of pushing it for a PBT and it may get more aggressive with the Yellow Tang once it gets bigger, but then I will have to setup (I know you feel my pain, right?) that 300 gallon tank I’ve been salivating about. Ill be saving and planning until then.