sample species description from Hawaii's Fishes
YELLOW TANG • lau-i-pala
Zebrasoma flavescens (Bennett, 1828)
     Except for a white tail spine, these beauties are entirely bright yellow. Along the calm Kona Coast they can frequently be identified from shore as they graze in the shallows. Underwater, schools of these golden fishes flowing over the reef are a sight unique to Hawai`i; although ranging as far as Japan and Guam, the species is abundant only here. Juveniles, thin and delicate as wafers, have greatly elevated dorsal and anal fins. They do not school like adults, and are especially common in stands of finger coral. Hawaii's most popular export, Yellow Tangs do well in captivity, although they cannot easily be kept with their own kind. Their mouths are adapted for browsing soft filamentous algae, and they may have difficulty with large chunks of solid food. The species name means "yellow," the Hawaiian name, "yellowed ti-leaf." To almost 8 in. Hawai`i, Marshall Islands, Mariana Islands, Southern Japan. Photo: Hanauma Bay, O`ahu, 40 ft.

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  Text and photos copyright John P. Hoover