Aquarium Fish

Purple Tang

posted: 05/15/12
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Purple Tang
Courtesy of Drs. Foster and Smith
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The Purple Tang, also known as the Yellowtail Sailfin Tang, Yellowtail Surgeonfish, and the Blue Surgeonfish, is blue to purple in color with a yellow tail and yellow accents on the pectoral fins. This fish was formally known only to the coral reefs of the Red Sea, but it is now found in the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and in the waters off Sri Lanka as well. It usually lives singly, but can occasionally be found in schools in the southern Red Sea. Adults can reach a size of 10 inches.

The Purple Tang is one of the most prized specimens of all saltwater fish. If housed properly, it is a rewarding and attractive addition to any large fish-only tank. If keeping them, be sure to provide good lighting, lots of free swimming space and plenty of potential hiding spots. They can be very aggressive and do not fare well with tank mates of similar body shape, especially other Tangs of the genus Zebrasoma.

They will graze on algae in the aquarium as well as accepting other prepared foods both frozen and dried. Purple Tangs need vitamin supplements that are high in beta-carotene, to help prevent lateral line disease.

Fish Facts

Name: Purple Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurus, Zebrasoma xanthurum)

Family: Acanthuridae

Range: Red Sea

Size: Up to 10 inches

Diet: Herbivore

Tank Set-up: Marine: Coral or rock, plants

Reef Compatible: Yes

Tank Conditions: 72-78°F; sg 1.020-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4

Minimum Tank Capacity: 100 gallon

Light: High

Temperament: Aggressive

Swimming Level: No specific level

Care Level: Moderate

Reproduction: Group Spawner

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