The Yellow Tang lives in the Pacific plate, north of the equator from Japan to Hawaii, but it has also been reported off the coast of Florida in the Western Central Atlantic. In nature it occurs singly or in pairs in lagoons and along outer reefs in dense coral growths, where it browses on filamentous algae. Even though this fish is generally an herbivore it has been known to eat shrimp and other smaller animals. The sharp spines near the tail are used for defense and as an anchor in the rocks when sleeping. The short snout has evolved for the specialized task of grazing on algae that grows on rocks. The mouth and surrounding skin has toughened to withstand the impact with the rough reef surface. The Yellow Tang is very territorial, especially in the presence of another tang fish. This is a popular specimen in aquarium tanks.
This picture was taken in the Chicago Aquarium, in August 2004.
Life on Earth