Hawaii Yellow Tang (Lau 'ï-pala)
Hawaiian Name: Lau 'ï-pala
Length: Up to 8 inches (20 cm)
The yellow tang is a thin, delicate fish with a pointed snout. The fish is completely golden yellow except for the white sheath of its small tail spine. The bright color of the yellow tangs allows them to be identified from shore as they swim in the shallows, particularly along the Kona Coast. The fish also inhabit deeper waters to about 100 feet (30 m).
Yellow tangs are often seen feeding and hiding among branches of finger coral or swimming in calm waters near shore and feeding on filamentous algae. Adult
Large schools of yellow tangs are seen only in Hawaiian waters, though the fish is seen in smaller numbers as yellow tangs congregate in schools, unlike the juveniles of the species. Juveniles are also are notable for their elevated anal and dorsal fins. far away as Guam and southern Japan.
The yellow tang is the most popular Hawaiian reef fish captured for export in the aquarium fish trade. This has heavily impacted the populations of the fish around the Hawaiian Islands.
The yellow tang's Hawaiian name, lau'ïpala or la'ïpala, meaning "yellow ti leaf" (la'ï is a contraction of lau kï, or "leaf of kï." Kï (Cordyline fruticosa, ti) is a Polynesian-introduced plant.