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Yellow Tang Yellow Tang
Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Class: Osteichthys Family: Acanthuridae Genus: Zebrasoma Species: flavescens
Scientific name: Zebrasoma flavescens 
Common name: Yellow Tang
Hawaiian name: Lau’ipala

Yellow tang are among the most common shallow water fishes on Turtle Reef and are usually found in groups and frequently in association with other fish. They are strictly diurnal, retiring to shelter at night amongst the coral caves and crevices of the reef. At night their bright yellow coloration dims and a white bar on their side, barely visible during the day, becomes apparent.

Yellow tang occur most frequently in more sheltered conditions from near the surface to 150 feet in depth wherever rocks are covered with filamentous algae and diatoms upon which they feed. This is one of the two most common species of surgeonfish that browse on algae attached to the turtles – particularly over the skin of the head, neck and flippers.

Sometimes one can find males defending small territories on the reef and accosting, courting and mating with females as they pass by. Yellow tang eggs and larvae develop in the plankton.

[Back to Reef Species Guide]