Zebrasoma xanthurum

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Common Name
Purple Tang
Binomial Name
Zebrasoma xanthurum
Zebrasoma xanthurum 1.jpg
Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Acanthuridae
Genus: Zebrasoma
Species: xanthurum

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Common Names

  • Purple Tang
  • Yellow Tailed Tang



The Purple Tang is very distinct and isn't often confused for other species. The main body is dark blue with striking yellow caudal and pectoral fins. As a juvenile they show dark horizontal stripes through the body which often fade with age.

Maximum Size

Up to 22 cm (10 inches) [1]

Associated Organisms

The Purple Tang does not have any particular associations with other marine organisms


Generally a peaceful species, but can become aggressive towards other similarly shaped Tangs. The Purple Tang also does not seem to appreciate the company of its own kind unless kept in a large group. It is advised that if more than one Zebrasoma tang is to be housed together then they are both added at the same time to prevent dominance issues from the original fish.

Captive Care

Tank Size

The general consensus seems to be the minimum size for the Purple Tang (and most Zebrasoma species) is a 4 foot tank - 400lt approximate volume. The Purple Tang does not generally exhibit the 'pacing' behavior many other tang species making it one of the most suitable tang for those with tanks around this 4ft size.

Water Flow

Tangs in general enjoy lots of water flow. They can often be seen swimming directly into the flow from a power head or wave maker enjoying the rapid flow of water across their gills.


Purple Tangs do not seem to have a preference to lighting and are found at varying depths on the reef commonly at depths between 2-20 meters.


In the wild Purple Tangs will spend their day grazing on algae. In an aquarium they will also exhibit this behavior but will also accept meaty fare with gusto. To ensure optimal health you should ensure they get a good amount of green stuffs in their diet and this is commonly gained through feeding sheets of nori (the dried seaweed used to wrap sushi rolls).

Growth Rate

How quickly it will grow under various conditions.


Once settled into an aquarium, the purple tang is considered a hardy species although it can be susceptible to developing Head and Lateral Line Erosion (HLLE) if their environmental conditions and/or diet is poor and lacking sufficient quantities of green foods.


Addition things / items that are important for care in captivity.




Should not be housed with its own kind unless in large groups. In smaller tanks they can become aggressive towards fish with similar body shapes or coloring.


The Purple Tang is considered reef safe.


This fish is compatible with most common invertebrates kept in home aquaria


Little is known about their reproduction in captivity

Local Ecology


Primarily found in the Red Sea but has been found as far east as the Persian Gulf


Where it is found on the natural reefs, the reef zone.

Additional Information

Some additional notes on it that don't fit in the above sections.



  1. (http://www.fishbase.org): Froese, R., Pauly, D. Fish Base, World Wide Web electronic publication, 2008, Retrieved: 26 March 2011, http://www.fishbase.org/summary/speciessummary.php?id=12023.