What Do You Feed Yellow Tangs? 10 Important Facts (Explained)

What to Feed Yellow Tangs

The yellow tang fish is one of the most visually appealing tropical fish. Their vibrant yellow hue makes them stand out in any aquarium, and their flaming demeanor adds to their allure. Like any other pet, you must provide the proper nutrition for your yellow tang fish to be healthy and flourish. 

The yellow tang is predominantly herbivorous in the wild but omnivorous in captivity. In the wild, yellow tangs feed on algae and other marine plant products, and while in captivity, the fish feed on plant and fish-based aquatic food or meat.

By the end of this post, you’ll know what to feed your yellow tangs and some other intriguing facts about the yellow tang that you probably didn’t know.

What Do You Feed Yellow Tangs?

While yellow tangs eat algae and other aquatic plant material in the wild, the fish diet alternates between meat or fish-based aquarium food and plant-based marine food in aquarium tanks.

Although yellow fish is mainly a herbivore, there is no information on the long-term negative health consequences of feeding the yellow tang meat occasionally.

Furthermore, it is unlikely that a balanced diet containing both plant and animal material would be detrimental to tangs.

The following foods are recommended for your yellow tangs:


Yellow tangs contribute to the cleanliness of marine turtles in the wild by eating algae off their shells. Additionally, the yellow tang’s algal diet benefits corals by preventing them from completely covering themselves in algae.

Because algae make up a sizable portion of the yellow tang natural diet, the fish should also consume a sizable portion of algae-based meals in your aquariums. Nori is among the most recommended types of algae to feed the yellow tang while in the aquarium.

You can either buy the nori sheet or make one. While feeding the nori sheet to the fish, you should secure the nori with a clip. Some people fold the sheets before clipping them, while others clip them as-is. Whichever you choose, ensure you attach the nori with a suction cup to your aquarium.

Spirulina flakes

Another invaluable source of nutrition for the yellow tang is spirulina flakes. Spirulina contains the highest potency and combination of nutrients of any plant. Additionally, it is high in protein and vitamin density.

Spirulina flakes feature organic color enhancers that enhance the yellow hue while stimulating the immune system. 

Flake food

The yellow tang also consumes flake food. Flake food is a manufactured fish meal that many invertebrates consume. 

While many bottom-dwelling fish consume flake food as it settles on the bottom, it is best for top- and mid-water fish.

How Often Should You Feed Your Yellow Tang?

It would be best if you fed your yellow tang daily. Yellow tangs require greens consistently to keep their metabolisms working.

However, you can give them enough food in each meal to last them at least three days. It enables you to feed them twice a week for convenience if your schedule is tight. 

All in all, ensure that the fish constantly has food to avoid starvation and malnutrition, which could lead to the death of the fish.

For occasional meat-based recipes, you can alternate between plant-based and animal-based foods. However, keep in mind that their meat consumption should not exceed your plant-based consumption.

Important Facts About the Yellow Tang

A few facts about the yellow tang that your should know are:

1. How does Yellow Tang Look Like?

The yellow tang is a vivid yellow fish that lives up to its name. It has a wide mouth and an oval body. Their wide mouth helps them graze on algae and seaweed.

The yellow tang’s spine is shaped like a scalpel on both tail sides. Sharp spines on the anal fin assist the fish in defending itself against predators.

On their backs, yellow tangs feature a white stripe that changes color at night, dubbed the ‘nocturnal stripe.’ The white stripe may also represent stress.

2. Life expectancy

Yellow tangs are courageous surgeonfish with long, robust lives. In the wild, they can live up to 30 years. However, this fish has a shorter life expectancy in captivity, seldom exceeding ten years in an aquarium.

Yellow tangs have a shorter lifespan when kept in aquariums due to their susceptibility to bacterial diseases such as saltwater ich. 

Maintaining a clean reef tank and a separate tank for algae growth can help lessen the chance of developing these bacterial diseases and possibly increase their life span in an aquarium.

3. Reproduction

Yellow tangs breed almost all year on reefs, peaking between March and September. Males and females have a polygynandrous mating mechanism, meaning they can mate with a large number of fish.

Male yellow tangs mate numerous times during a single mating session, whereas female yellow tangs spawn monthly. The yellow tang tends to swim to a greater depth during spawning. Male fish alter their coloration and shimmer to attract female fish before mating.

The yellow tang can reproduce in schools or pairs. As with most other fish, fertilization occurs when females and males release their eggs and sperm in the water.

A female yellow tang can release up to 40,000 eggs in a single session.

4. Conservation status

Yellow tang’s population has remained relatively stable over time. Since 70% of yellow tangs found in marine waters are protected, the population of the yellow tang is not in immediate danger.

5. Communication

Yellow tangs stretch their fins when threatened or attempting to caution other fish of threats. Additionally, the elongation of the fins of this fish can be used to indicate aggression.

The male fish also adjust their color and shimmer when trying to attract the female yellow tang.

6. Size

This fish species is considered small to medium-sized that can grow to a length of 20 cm. Their bodies also grow to a maximum thickness of between 0.4 and 0.8 inches.

7. Self-Defence Techniques

Yellow tangs in the wild are preyed upon by sharks, larger fish, and other carnivorous marine critters. Their tails are coated in sharp spines to shield themselves from these predators.

Additionally, the yellow tang may camouflage with the coral reefs on which it lives to protect itself. As a result, the brilliant hue enhances their beauty and protects them from harm.

8. Yellow Tangs Should Not Be Fed Lettuce

Never feed lettuce to your tangs. Although this is especially prevalent in pet businesses, they are most likely attempting to save a few dollars by doing something they should not. Lettuce is nutritionally inert and will harm the fish more than it will help.


Take into consideration that yellow tangs require an aquarium with enough mature rock for grazing. The point is that they must be fed frequently. Additionally, the yellow tang requires considerable space, so the tank should have at least 50 gallons of water and be large enough to allow the fish to explore every inch of the tank. 

Conduct comprehensive research on how to care for the fish before committing to keeping them. Nonetheless, the yellow tang does not require much effort and is seamless to keep as a pet.

Needless to say, the tank should be kept clean with fresh water.