The Purple tang has been captive bred and it comes to fruition from a familiar player in the world of reef fish aquaculture, Bali Aquarich. It’s only been a couple years since the breakthroughs in breeding the closely related yellow tang by the Oceanic Institute and the purple tang is only the third species of surgeonfish to be fully captive bred.
The purple tang, Zebrasoma xanthurum is an endemic of the Red Sea characterized by a nearly solid purple color with a bright yellow tail, and a variable pattern of dark spots on the head and stripes along the body. The purple tang is highly conservative in its appearance, almost always with normal coloration, with very rare instances of solid purple specimens like ACI’s Purple-Purple Tang, and even more rare is the piebald variation so far only documented once.
For several years a Sri Lankan company has been collecting post larval purple tangs and rearing them to sellable size in captivity but Bali Aquarich’s recent milestone is the first complete closure of the larval cycle of Zebrasom xanthurum. This is very exciting for a number of reasons, especially since Bali Aquarich has a long track record of breeding and raising angelfish hybrids, so it would be a remarkable achievement if we ever saw hybrids of the purple tang with any number of Zebrasoma congeners.
The yield for this first successful clutch of captive bred purple tangs doesn’t appear to be very high but hopefully Bali Aquarich has success in refining the protocols and we see many more of these fish available to the reef aquarium hobby in the future.