Physical description: Varing in size from 1/4" to 8", bright yellow fins and body are the trademarks of the yellow tang. Small, tightly packed scales on the body give the fish a velvety appearance. The sharp spines near the tail are used for defense and as an anchor in the rocks when sleeping.
The yellow tang is a grazing fish with a diet of almost anything that is green (ie. alge, grass, lettuce...). It is not unheard of for the fish to eat meat. Even though this fish is generally an herbivore the tang has been known to eat shrimp and other smaller animals. This varying diet may even include excrements from other fish. This small fish is very territorial; especially in the presence of another tang fish. The yellow tang is also in the sergeant fish family.
The tang fish does not require a lot of space in which to live. But please take in mind when using the tang in an aquarium that it needs a constant flow of water. Not much but some, it helps the fish stay in shape and keeps the fish in good health.
Special anatomical, physiological or behavioral adaptations:
The short snout has evolved for the specialized task of grazing on algae which grows on rocks. The mouth and surrounding skin has toughened to withstand the impact with the rough reef surface. Like other fish in the sergeant fish family they have a number of small spines protruding near their tail. The spines near their tail is how they got their name, also commonly called the scalpel fish. As mentioned above the spines on the tail serve dual purposes as a means of defence and as an anchor while sleeping
Comments about the yellow tang of the Fort Worth Zoo:
This has become a very popular fish in aquariums as of late. There is only one other tang that is more popular, the purple tang. They are eazy fish to take care of and will add plenty of color to any environment. But anyone who wants to add the tang to their aquarium should be forewarned that the tang is prone to ich. An external parasite that can eventually kill the fish. Almost every tang contracts this parasite at one time or another.
This seems to be a calm fish in regards to others in my observations, except to other tangs. They also are extremely quick and dart from place to place, never hovering in one place too long; at least the males always seem to keep moving. Their striking color makes them a fun and interesting fish to watch. It has also been said that people who own aquariums with colorful fish lead less stressful lives.