Purple Tang - Zebrasoma xanthurum

Published July 31, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
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The Purple Tang is one of the pricier and certainly one of the prettiest tangs. The body is a purplish blue with dark striped patterns and sports a yellow tail. These tangs can usually be had for around $120 online (as of 2009) but will be even more expensive if purchased locally. Obviously when you shell out this kind of cash you want to be prepared.

Let's go over some things that will help you in the care of the this tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum).

Zebrasoma xanthurum Zebrasoma xanthurum

The first thing you need is a big tank. Tangs in general are very active swimmers and they appreciate a lot of live rock in the tank so they can graze on algae in between the meals that their waiter (you) provides. This tang also grows to around 8 to 10 inches (20-24 cm).

Tanks less than 100 gallons (380 liters) might be ok in the very short term when they are small but for long term success you need a bigger tank (100 gallons plus) to keep them.

Tank mates for them are another very important consideration. In the ocean they are often seen in pairs and groups but in the confines of our mini-reefs they will fight! They will also fight with other similarly shaped tangs like the very commonly kept yellow tang for example. When stocking multiples in large tanks introduce them at the same time. This gives each the opportunity to start on equal footing. Let's reiterate though that it is a good idea to keep just one per tank.

Feeding wise, Purple Tangs primarily are algae eaters. They graze the reef for filamentous algae. In a reef tank they can be considered somewhat utilitarian but the small amounts of algae they would get from most aquariums is not going to be enough to keep them happy.

There are plenty of dried marine algae (also called nori) on the market now that you can use with a veggie clip or placed under a rock. They will tear this stuff up and it's fun to watch them eat the dried algae. The purple tang will also go after nearly everything you feed the other fish as well, but try to give them plenty of greens.

Zebrasoma xanthurum Zebrasoma xanthurum

Acclimation is another important consideration. Don't just do the floating bag thing and then plop them into the tank. Do a slow drip acclimation over an hour or so. Then put them into a quarantine tank.

These saltwater fish have to go through a long chain of custody before they reach your tank. Many species are susceptible to disease and you can bet that if you don't qt them they will develop ich or go on hunger strike or similar. Put them into a quarantine tank for 2 weeks to a month, watch for and treat any signs of disease, pamper them by feeding the appropriate foods frequently, get their strength up and then introduce them to your well established main tank. Lots of water movement is needed too. This helps keep the tank saturated with oxygen. Yes, a protein skimmer will help oxygenate the water but power heads that break up the water surface will help as well.

Also be careful when using a fish net with tangs. They have a scalpel like appendage on the caudal peduncle that they use for aggressive or defensive purposes that can easily get tangled in a net. Use a bucket or a plastic fish box to move them.

This is a beautiful and expensive saltwater fish. Take your time, research them as much as you can before buying them, give them a big tank and the right tank mates and foods and they should be with you for a long time.

Zebrasoma xanthurum Zebrasoma xanthurum


Purple Tang Care

Scientific Name : Zebrasoma xanthurum

Common Names : Yellowtail Tang, Yellowtail Surgeonfish

Care Level : Moderate, needs slow acclimation, appropriate tank mates and proper foods.

Size : 8 to 10 inches (up to 25 cm)

Life span : 10 years or longer

Water Parameters : pH 8.1 - 8.4, Temperature : 74°F - 82°F (24°C - 28°C), Specific Gravity : 1.021 - 1.025, Carbonate Hardness (dKH) : 8 - 12°

Origin / Habitat : West Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, the Maldives and spotted in several other locales.

Temperament / Behavior : They may be aggressive with other tangs in smaller tanks, especially other similarly shaped tangs like the yellow tang. Might be ok in multiples in

very large tanks.

Breeding : Very difficult to breed in captivity.

Aquarium Size : 100 gallon (380 liters) minimum and would do better in larger tanks. They need lots of swimming space.

Tank Mates : Use caution when selecting tank mates. Avoid keeping them with other species of tangs.

Diet / Foods : Mostly an herbivore feeding on filamentous marine algae in the wild. Try to give them a variety of marine foods but predominantly marine origin algae. Aquascape the aquarium with lots of live rock for them to graze on. They should accept vitamin enriched flake foods, frozen and definitely live foods. Small frequent feedings are better than larger infrequent feedings. This is a very active fish and needs appropriate foods.

Tank Region : All over

Gender : Difficult to determine the differences between males and females by external features.

Forum : Tang Forum

Photo Credit : Photos copyright JJPhoto.dk

Site References :

Purple Tang Comments and Tips

From: Tom
My purple is really aggressive. He is kept in a 180 gallon reef tank with about 100 pounds of live rock and lots of sps coral frags. He is very reef safe but is not fish safe. Mine bullies fish much bigger than itself, especially at night when the lights are off. I can see him right now chasing all the other fish to the opposite side of the tank. My tang hasn't always been this aggressive but his behavior seems to get worse the bigger he gets. I paid a lot for him but will not hesitate to get rid of him if it gets much worse. Because they are so rare in shops these days I'm sure one of my reef buddies will give me at least $100 for him.

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