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World’s First Commercial Shipment of Aquacultured Yellow Tang Debuts at SeaWorld Orlando

July 19, 2017
A very special school of fish made their public debut at SeaWorld Orlando on June 1.

June 17, 2016

A very special school of fish made their public debut at SeaWorld Orlando on June 1.  The 200 juvenile fish came from the Oceanic Institute of Hawaii Pacific University. The Oceanic Institute is the first facility in the world to successfully breed and rear yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens). This species is both one of the world’s most popular saltwater aquarium fish and a fish native to American coastal waters in Hawaii. Guests may see and learn about the yellow tang in the new Rising Tide Conservation aquarium in SeaWorld Orlando’s Shark Encounter exhibit. 

These fish represent a breakthrough in marine aquaculture nearly 15 years in the making. In 2001 the Oceanic Institute in Hawaii began its focus on breeding and rearing yellow tang in hope of establishing protocols to raise this iconic species through aquaculture. In October 2015, the Oceanic Institute successfully raised yellow tang past larvae to the juvenile stage. The project was made possible in part through the financial support of Rising Tide Conservation, a collaborative effort to advance technical ability and disseminate information regarding marine aquaculture. As a founding partner of Rising Tide Conservation, SeaWorld Orlando was one of only a handful of organizations given the opportunity to purchase part of the first commercial shipment of aquacultured yellow tang.

“This breakthrough success is much bigger than just yellow tang,” said Rising Tide Conservation President and SeaWorld Vice President of Research and Science, Dr. Judy St. Leger. “By sharing best practices for rearing yellow tang, the scientists of Rising Tide Conservation have identified a new foundation for the successful aquaculture of dozens of other marine ornamental fish. We are hopeful that this advance will be the catalyst for many more successes – that’s what’s unique about Rising Tide.”

The yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) is the iconic reef fish of the Hawaiian Islands and the most collected ornamental fish in Hawaii’s waters.

Rising Tide Conservation is dedicated to making breeding and rearing of marine tropical fish economically viable so that there are alternatives to wild collection. The program is focused on integrating efforts of display aquariums, the hobbyist industry, and academia to create a platform for the promotion and dissemination of information related to marine tropical fish aquaculture. Led by the efforts of SeaWorld’s Vice President of Research and Science Dr. Judy St. Leger, SeaWorld is working behind the scenes providing funding for research; providing fish, larvae, and eggs for aquaculture labs; providing expertise in fish management; and ensuring open communication between these diverse stakeholders. Additional information on Rising Tide Conservation may be found at