Natural Wild Life | Tang | The tang is a small to medium sized fish that is found in the warmer coastal waters of the tropics. Tangs are well know for their bright colours and are closely related to surgeon fish and unicorn fish. There are 80 known species of tang, that inhabit the tropical waters of the southern hemisphere, including the largest species of the tang group, the white margin unicorn fish that has been known to grow over a meter long.
Tang are found around shallow coral reefs where there is an abundance of food and plenty of places to hide from approaching predators. The tang is named after the razor-sharp scalpel (also known as tang) at the base of their tails. When the tang feels threatened, it hides in a crevice in the coral or rocks and anchors itself in using this scalpel. The scalpel at the base of the tang's tail can also be used to defend itself if it is caught. Although the tang is an omnivorous animal, it has a predominantly vegetarian diet. Tang mainly feed on algae and other plants around the coral reefs as well as picking the larger food particles out of the plankton in the water. Later species of tang also feed on small invertebrates and fish. Due to the tang's love of algae, tang can often be seen with sea turtles as they swim along with them cleaning the algae off their shells.
Due to it's small size, the tang has many predators in it's shallow ocean environment including larger fish, eels, sharks, crustaceans and large invertebrates such as jellyfish. Tang are also preyed upon by human who mainly catch them to keep in artificial aquariums. Tangs are known to breed all year round in the tropical regions, beginning with a male tang securing himself a temporary breeding territory that includes a pair or group of female tang. The female tang release an average of 40,000 eggs into the water which are then fertilised by the male tang. The baby tang are known as fry and hatch in less than a week. Tangs however are reported to breed as well when in captivity.
The tang is one of the most popular species of marine fish to be kept in tanks and aquariums around the world. People are charmed by the peaceful and gentle nature of the tang, along with it's bright colours and the fact that tangs can live for a long time (average is between 12 and 15 years), especially compared to other species of marine fish of a similar size. Tang are not recommended to be kept in small aquariums as tang have the potential to get pretty big. The most common type of tang kept in salt-water aquariums are the yellow tang and the bright blue regal tang but despite the fact that the tang is popular fish to keep they need to be well looked after and have specific water conditions maintained.