If you’ve been wondering where all the big, vivid yellow tangs have gone the answer is that they’re still in the wild, most of us simply can’t get them since Hawaii shut down collection and exports from their waters. But despite popular belief Zebrasoma flavescens is not endemic to Hawaii and the yellow tang has a much larger natural distribution ranging across much of the central Pacific Ocean all the way to the northern Philippines.
The Ogasawara Islands fall within the natural range of the yellow tang and while they may not be nearly as common as they are in Hawaii there’s at least enough Z. flavescens for collectors to find a few large adult specimens. Aqua Gift is a saltwater aquarium store in Japan that has graced the webpages of Reef Builders many times over the years and they showed us a trio of large adult yellow tangs which are the first fresh specimens of this species we’ve seen collected in nearly two years.
While captive bred yellow tangs from Biota have leveled off at a very reasonable ~$165 these large show specimens of Ogasawara yellow tangs are not all that expensive by comparison, selling for 44,000¥ or around $330. We didn’t even know that it was legal to collect in the protected waters of Ogasawara but we hear that there are some exceptions for collecting shallow water fish such as wrought iron butterflyfish and the occasional yellow tang, but the holy grail Takeuchi angelfish which lives much deeper is off limits.