Profile of the Chevron Tang Fish

Colourful Juvenile Chevron Tang or Hawaiian Bristletooth Ctenochaetus

If you can obtain one of these lovely fish when they are young, that is ideal. When they're young, they're really ornamental, and they do well in tanks. Be warned that when chevron tangs mature and get larger, they will lose their juvenile coloring. It's still a nice-looking fish as an adult, and it eats algae nicely.

Breed Overview

Common Names: Regal Angelfish, Royal Angelfish, Empress Angelfish, Blue-Banded Angelfish

Scientific Name: Pygoplites diacanthus

Adult Size: 10 inches

Life Expectancy: 15 years


Family Acanthuridae
Origin Pacific Ocean, throughout most Oceania from Micronesia, Wake and Marcus Islands to the Hawaiian Islands and Pitcairn Island
Social Semi-aggressive
All areas
135 gallon
Diet Herbivore
Breeding Egg scatterer
Care Moderate
pH 8.1 to 8.4
Hardness 8 to 12 dGH
72 to 78 F

Origin and Distribution

This fish's range ranges from Hawaii southeast to eastern Polynesia, south to central Polynesia, west to the Mariana Islands, and certainly to many additional regions in between. The adults congregate in schools in the shallower oxygen-rich waters near the reef's surge zone, where rocks and crevices may be found. The juveniles prefer to dwell alone in deeper, finger coral-infested environments.

Colors and Markings

The chevron tang's juvenile stage is extremely vivid, with rich purple, orange, and red markings. The chevron tang appears to keep its juvenile coloration in captivity for far longer than it does in the wild. The chevron has been seen to keep its juvenile colors for more than three years in numerous cases, but in the wild, the chevron appears to transition to adult hues after a year.

The red and purple colors disappear as the animal matures, and the coloration turns dark brown, nearly black, with many fine, horizontal yellowish-gray lines running down the sides of the body and head. The chevron tang is also known as the Hawaiian black kole because its mature form resembles that of a kole (yellow-eye surgeonfish). It lacks the golden ring around the eye, has a darker body, and its pectoral fins develop a dark brown hue, whereas the kole's are virtually translucent.


Because this fish is not particularly aggressive, it may be preyed upon by more aggressive surgeonfish. With the exception of its own species, it gets along nicely with other tank residents and rarely bothers immobile invertebrates. Its diet makes it an excellent partner for other peaceful surgeonfish like the yellow tang or Pacific sailfin tang, however compatibility must be checked.

In the wild, a cleaner wrasse would normally keep a tang parasite free. Alternatively, you can add neon gobies or cleaner shrimp to your home tank to help them remove parasites that might crop up.

Chevron Tang Habitat and Care

The minimum aquarium size suggested for this fish is at least 135 gallons. It is a big swimmer and needs a lot of space.

You'd think that because it's one of the tiniest and least active surgeonfish, a smaller aquarium would be ideal, but it requires a lot of area for algae to develop and for them to harvest on their own. They require a lot of organically formed algae and debris. They'll need a large aquarium with enough of live rock to suit their nutritional requirements. With the addition of living sand, they will profit much more.

They lift and sift through various types of pebbles, sand, and other surfaces using their teeth, then suction up the algae with their lips. Where algae used to be in the aquarium, you'll typically see small lip lines on the glass.

They are susceptible to bacteria resulting from organic buildup which deteriorates water quality. They will need vigorous filtration, protein skimming, and regular small water changes.

Chevron Tang Diet

Although this fish is mostly a vegetarian in the natural, it may be fed shrimp and other meaty meals in captivity. Vegetable matter will make up the majority of their diet. The chevron tang is good at controlling brown (diatom) and in your aquarium.

Because of its eating habits, this fish is sometimes referred to as a bristletooth tang. Rather of the filamentous algae consumed by other tangs, they eat debris that contains minute algae with bristle-like teeth. The Ctenochaetus species, often known as bristletooth or combtooth tangs, have a protruding pouting mouth and multiple rows of short flexible comb-like teeth (up to 30 teeth).

Lots of marine algae, frozen formulations with algae or spirulina, frozen brine and mysid shrimp, and flake meals are also good options. Attach Japanese nori seaweed to the aquarium glass with a veggie clip. Instead of feeding a huge quantity once a day, feed three times a day in smaller quantities. They will gain from this because they are constant grazers. This will also help to maintain the water quality higher for longer.

Sexual Differences

This species does not seem to have any unique identifying characteristics between the sexes. Males will assume brighter courtship colors during mating periods.

Breeding the Chevron Tang 

The chevron tang, like other surgeonfish, is a pelagic species, meaning it eggs in groups and is a free-spawner or egg-scatterer. The female ejects her little eggs into the water column, and the male swims over and through it, fertilizing the eggs as he passes. Several times a year, generally in the spring and summer, the female lays hundreds of eggs at a time.

The clear, fertilized eggs float to the surface and join the stream of plankton where the larva feed and develop into miniature adults. 

More Pet Fish Breeds and Further Research

If chevron tangs appeal to you, and you are interested in some compatible fish for your aquarium, read up on:

Check out additional fish breed profiles for more information on other  fish.