The yellow tang is arguably one of the most popular reef and aquarium fish in the world, and now it has finally been bred in captivity. Just last week we updated you on the most recent successes of the Oceanic Institute’s work with Zebrasoma flavescens which has been in progress for about ten years. Now we have the great pleasure of helping to announce the first captive bred yellow tangs in history.
Many saltwater fish have been bred in captivity, we’ve been crossing clownfish species so selectively, for so long, that there is now a thriving cottage industry in breeding ‘designer clownfish‘. So why should you care that yellow tangs have been bred in captivity?
Well first of all, this is the first time that surgeonfish have been bred out of the wild, in captive aquariums. Sure there was that one account of regal blue tangs been raised in Taiwan, but this is truly the first substantiation of a captive breeding success that has been well documented in the public eye.
The reef aquarium hobby has an insatiable demand for yellow tangs for fish only and coral reef aquariums. So if we can source some or most of our Zebrasoma flavescens from captive breeding efforts, it would make our beloved aquarium hobby that much more sustainable.
Better yet, with Finding Dory slated to be released next year, newcomers to the marine aquarium hobby will clamor for ‘Dory Fish’ (regal blue tangs) the way they clamored for ‘Nemo Fish’ (percula clownfish) when Finding Nemo came out. If the methods for raising yellow tangs can be clearly shared and applied to captive breeding of blue tangs in a hurry, we could conceivably start breeding Paracanthurus hepatus in anticipation of the public reaction to what is sure to be a blockbuster Disney movie.
But let’s be clear now, there’s still a lot more work to be done to go from initial successes at getting a few yellow tangs to settle out of the larval stage, and scaling up to producing thousands and thousands of fish for the aquarium market. We sincerely hope that the recipe for successfully breeding and raising surgeonfish in captivity is possible and practical to reproduce in other aquarium systems; ten years of trial and error and knowhow by the Oceanic Institute is not likely to be easy to pick up.
This new milestone in captive breeding of marine fish was possible only through sheer will, determination, and plenty of blood, sweat and financial support. With all those caveats out of the way, we want to congratulate the entire team who has worked to captive breed yellow tangs in aquariums, also being the first to breed a species of the Zebrasoma genus, and the Acanthuridae family.