Can You Really Breed Yellow Tangs? (Here’s What We Found)

Yellow tang ready for breeding

Yellow tangs are peaceful saltwater reef fish species. They coexist well with other fish and are easy to handle.

But how do you breed yellow tangs?

Breeding Yellow Tangs

Aquarists have failed to breed yellow tangs in aquariums. Yellow tang larvae are too fragile, need a special rearing tank, and have a high maintenance cost. However, Hawaii Pacific University’s Oceanic Institute has made a breakthrough in successfully breeding yellow tangs, giving hope to many aquarists.

Let’s now understand more about yellow tangs’ breeding.

How Do Yellow Tangs Breed in The Wild?

Like most tang species, yellow tangs are group spawners.

In the wild, these fish travel alone or in loose schools and spawn around the time of the full moon.

When the breeding season approaches, yellow tangs start courting.

Spawning usually occurs between March and September, but some yellow tangs spawn at any time of the year.

During spawning, the female tang releases her eggs in the open water. An average female tang can lay about 40000 eggs.

The male tang then releases his sperm in the open water to fertilize the eggs.

The current disperses the eggs around until they’re ready to hatch.

The eggs hatch rather quickly, around 22 hours after being laid. Tangs lack parental instincts and don’t guard their eggs.

After hatching from their eggs, pelagic larvae develop in the plankton, where they enter the acronurus larva stage.

In this stage, they develop an oval body, spines, and ventral and dorsal fins.

These fish enter the planktonic stage at around ten weeks as they get carried to a coral reef by the ocean current.

In the coral reef, the young tangs continue to grow and mature into young yellow tangs.

Why Is It Difficult to Breed Yellow Tangs in Aquariums?

Yellow tangs are hardy fish that can survive slight variations in aquarium conditions.

But it’s difficult for fishkeepers to breed them successfully in captivity.

Given below are some reasons why it’s difficult to breed yellow tangs in aquariums.

1. High Mortality Rate

Yellow tang in good health

The newly hatched larvae of yellow tangs are 1.5 mm, which is considerably smaller than other marine fish species.

After hatching, the highly undeveloped and positively buoyant larvae spend the first day at the aquarium’s top before their mouths and eyes develop for feeding.

During this stage, even a slight variation in the water conditions can be fatal for the tiny fish larvae as they’re highly susceptible to changes in the water conditions.

2. Need for Larval Rearing Tanks

Another challenge is developing a suitable larval-rearing system for the newly hatched yellow tang larvae.

The yellow tang eggs show rapid embryonic development in 22 hours.

Raising these tiny, fragile larvae requires specialized larval rearing tanks to maintain excellent water quality and provide a minimal turbulent environment.

Without a specialized tank, it isn’t easy to create a conducive habitat that can maintain pristine water conditions, which diminishes their survival chances.

3. High Cost of Breeding

Marine aquariums need stable water quality as most marine species are sensitive to changes in water conditions.

So the maintenance cost can rise exponentially depending on the kind of fish you have and whether they need any special equipment.

Breeding tangs can push the cost even further because the tang hatchlings need special care to survive.

All of this can be challenging for aquarists and increase the overall cost of breeding yellow tangs.

4. Need a Lot of Time and Effort

Fish need chemically balanced, nature-like surroundings for optimum health and longevity.

The absence of suitable conditions can be fatal.

Keeping an aquarium clean and healthy requires a lot of time and effort.

However, to breed yellow tangs, you must constantly monitor their development even if the conditions are perfect.

As young tangs are too fragile, any turbulence in the water conditions can be fatal.

So despite all the time and effort, there is no guarantee of success while breeding yellow tangs.

Can You Breed Yellow Tangs in A Home Aquarium?

Yellow tangs can’t be bred in home aquariums because of their complex breeding requirements. Many aquarists have failed to breed them in a captive environment. The larvae of yellow tangs are microscopic and need a sub-microscopic diet, making it challenging to raise them in captivity.

However, Hawaii Pacific University’s Oceanic Institute has made a significant breakthrough.

It has successfully bred and raised the world’s first aquacultured yellow tangs.

These fish were initially displayed in aquariums and zoos across the US.

It has created a new avenue for aquarists to buy aquacultured yellow tangs that can be less susceptible to infections.