Purple Tang

Purple Tang Zebrasoma xanthurum

Type of Animal:

Reefs, coral-rich areas, rock crevices, rocky slopes, found at depths of 6.6-65.6 ft

Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea

Purple w/ yellow tail, large dorsal/anal fins, extended snout, black spots on head

Algae, seaweed, nori, diatoms, detritus, greens, vegetables, fish, fish eggs, brine shrimp, mysid shrimp, krill

Status in Wild:

Breeding in aquaculture, aquariums, & zoos. Captive breeding reducing demand for wild-caught fish.

Schools of 2-40 fish, juveniles often solitary

Additional Info:

Young: Acronorus
Group: School
Male: 8 oz
Female: 6 oz
1 day 

Life Span:
10 years in captivity, 30-45 years in wild

Male: 7-10 in
Female: 4-7 in
Body Length:
Male: 7-10 in
Female: 4-7 in
Young: 0.5 in

Main predators are larger fish, sharks, crabs, & octopus.
They’re very agile swimmers.
Active during the day (diurnal).
Besides using tail scalpels in defense, they’ll also use them in territorial fights.
Sometimes seen schooling w/ other fish species.
Important in keeping reefs healthy due to algae-eating diet. Without these fish, algal overgrowths can occur.
Juveniles are very secretive.
Sometimes hybridize w/ other members of Zebrasoma genus.
They’re broadcast spawners, w/ spawning occurring in groups & females releasing eggs/males releasing sperm in open water simultaneously.
After hatching, clear pelagic larvae develop among plankton, entering acronurus larval stage where oval body/dorsal & ventral fins/spines develop. Enter planktonic stage at 2.5 months old, letting waves carry them. Maturity reached around a year old.
Females can produce tens of thousands of eggs per month.
During spawning, males court females by shimmering.

Fun Fact(s):
Fairly popular saltwater aquarium fish but very difficult to breed in captivity.
Like other Zebrasoma species, they can store fat in body cavities enabling them to go through periods of non-feeding.
Also called Purple Surgeonfish, Yellowtail Surgeonfish, Yellowtail Tang, & Yellowtail Sailfin Tang.
Get surgeonfish name due to sharp tail scalpel, which can cause nasty wounds. In younger fish, scalpel venomous.
When dorsal/anal fins extended, height can almost equal length.

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