The Yellow Tang Is Now Aquacultured!

By: Michael Phife

Yellow Tang

It has finally happened. Yellow tangs have successfully bred in an aquarium setting, thanks to wholesalers Segrest Farms and Quality Marine. Before this, they were initially bred this past October by the Oceanic Institute of Hawaii Pacific University… that’s a long title for a school. In case any of you are unsure why this is exciting news, then it’s because yellow tangs have NEVER bred in an aquarium setting before 2015. The way we get them into the hobby is by taking them out of their native home in Hawaii and shipping them across the globe. Unlike fish in most other families, yellow tangs to not find aquarium life appropriate for breeding.


Why They’re So Difficult to Breed in Aquariums

Yellow tangs, or all tangs for that matter, must feel at home or in a completely stress free zone to being mating, which is only half of the issue. The reason for this is because tangs are very sensitive to their surroundings, and it is even why there are so many outbreaks of ich when tangs are introduced into an aquarium itself. The second issue is that adult tangs in the wild will release their offspring into the oceanic currents, which is unpredictable to time and even harder to find when it happens. The spawn are translucent, and most will not make it to adulthood by being preyed upon by other fish. In their fry (baby) stages, they are even more so susceptible to health issues and mortality ratings to top that off. They are very skiddish or finicky when being put in an unknown environment, especially when just being taken out of the ocean when they have not had a chance to rationalize their current surroundings. On that note, please don’t try breeding them yourself or go out into the Pacific island and catch surgeonfish spawn. It will not work and the tangs will fight each other. This had to be done in a scientific setting first, and took decades to prove any type of success. Also as you all probably know with tangs, they need a ton of swimming room in order to give each other space and time out areas.

What This Means for Hobbyists

Successful captive breeding of these tangs results in more readily available fish for your aquarium! As you have probably noticed in your local aquatic stores, some fish can be put on reserve or special order and it can take weeks or months for them to come in. Part of this is due to supply and demand, and what can be found out in the wild. If there has not been a high fluctuation of gamete production, then the stores will suffer in low carrying supply for these particular fish. It is also the reason you may see some fish valued at a couple hundred dollars, whereas captive bred or aquacultured fish can be at a low price range and more readily available at any given time of the year. Perhaps with this feat in breakthrough, we can also see some harder to come by fish become captive bred in the near future, too. So wrapping up, look forward to seeing more yellow tangs in shops near the end of this year!