The Purple Tang was known to inhabit only the coral reefs of the Red Sea, but it is now found in the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and also in the waters off Sri Lanka. It usually lives singly, but can sometimes be found in pairs or in schools. Purple tangs inhabit rocky and coral-rich reef areas where they forage and can duck under cover for sleep and safety. They are very fast and agile, often seen darting in and out of coral holes and crevices, tending to remain close to the reef, and rarely straying into open water areas. They ingest principally micro-algae, secondarily macro-algae, as well as material (associated invertebrates, fish eggs) taken incidental to these. Although its common name is "Purple Tang", the color of its body is almost always dark blue. Xanthurus means "yellow tailed" in Greek.
This picture was taken in the Cleveland zoo, in August 2003.
Life on Earth