Profile of the Powder Brown Tang Fish

Acanthurus japonicus

The Powder Brown Tang is a popular fish that demands meticulous maintenance. It is best kept as the lone Tang in an aquarium. When the Powder Brown feels threatened, it thrives in a big tank with numerous of potential "houses" or hiding spots. Although the Goldrim or Whitecheek Tang (Acanthurus nigricans), which is similar, is likewise delicate, it is more resilient.

Breed Overview

Common Names: Powder Brown Tang, Powder Brown Tang, Powder Brown Surgeonfish, Powder Black Surgeon, Japan Surgeonfish, White-nose Surgeonfish, White-Faced Surgeonfish

Scientific Name: Acanthurus japonicus

Adult Size: 8.3 inches

Life Expectancy: 7+ years


Family Acanthuridae
Origin Western Pacific.
Social Peaceful except with other Surgeonfish
Tank Level All levels
Minimum Tank Size 100 gallons
Diet Herbivore
Breeding Group spawner
Care Difficult
pH 8.1–8.4.
Temperature 72–78 degrees Fahrenheit

Colors and Markings

The Powder Brown Tang features a black dorsal fin, blue anal fins, a red dorsal fin, and yellow lines along the length of its body. It has a mainly white face. Its body, despite all of its color, is the dark brown hue for which it is named. If your Powder Brown Tang's back suddenly turns yellow, it's likely that it's been startled or scared.

Powder Brown Tangs look a lot like Whitecheek Surgeonfish Acanthurus nigricans, and it's conceivable that yours is a Whitecheek rather as a Powder Brown because they're commonly marketed under the same name. The quantity of white on their faces is one distinction between them (the Whitecheek, oddly, has less white on its face than the "official" Powder Brown Tang).

Origin and Distribution

The Powder Brown Tang may be found in the seas of southern Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, the Hawaiian Islands, and New Caledonia, as well as other parts of the Indo-West Pacific. It gets its name from the fact that it's frequently spotted off the coast of Japan.


Powder Brown Tang is a calm Surgeonfish that may be kept in a reef or community tank if the tank is large enough (they need a great deal of space to move, and can be very messy with their food). Clownfish, Goby, Blenny, Anthias, and Fairy Wrasses are all viable tankmates for this species, and it may be an excellent tankmate for a wide range of fish of any size.

There are a few exceptions to this rule: Powder Brown Tangs, like other Surgeonfish, can be hostile toward other members of their genus and are readily agitated by more aggressive fish. While it's good to maintain your pet alongside a variety of different fish and marine critters, it's preferable to confine your tank to just one Surgeonfish. Triggerfish, Lionfish, Puffers, and Grouper are all violent fish to avoid.

Powder Brown Tangs are ideal reef fish since they feed on algae rather than coral or crustaceans. However, their algae-nibbling can cause modest damage to coral and clams, putting invertebrates under stress. These problems may often be avoided by feeding your pet a varied and healthy diet.

Power Brown Tang Habitat and Care

Powder Brown Tang that are caught in the wild might suffer from a variety of problems. It's possible to get sick from stress, parasites, or illness. It's preferable to choose a fish that has been in confinement for a few months and appears to be at peace in its aquarium, eating. Once you've chosen a Power Brown Tang, you'll need to carefully prepare its surroundings because it's a delicate fish that may easily become upset.

The tank for your new pet should be as big as feasible (ideally 125 gallons), and it should be a stable environment; a spanking new tank is likely to present issues for your Tang. Provide a sandy substrate for the Tang to enjoy while seeking for food by blowing sand with their lips. Fill the tank with nooks and crannies, reef features, and plants, leaving plenty of open space at the top. Choose a high-performing filtering system with plenty of water circulation to provide adequate oxygenation. Avoid using activated carbon since it has been related to Tang head and Lateral Line Erosion.

It's a good idea to keep the tank at a low temperature (less than 78 degrees Fahrenheit) for a variety of reasons. Lower temps, for starters, imply more oxygen for your Tang. Second, Tangs become ill at temperatures between 79 and 83 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Powder Brown Tang's "sword," "spur," or "scalpel" at the base of the tail is not as large or dangerous as some other Surgeonfish, such as the Naso Tang (Naso lituratus) or the Achilles Tang (Acanthurus achilles), but it is still large and sharp enough to inflict a serious wound, so be careful when handling this fish.

The Powder Brown is prone to gill and fin ammonia burns, unlike other of the tougher Surgeonfish like the Naso Tang. Excess ammonia accumulation during ocean collection or shipment can cause "ammonia burns" to the gills, which can be highly dangerous and even lethal in the most acute cases. When buying a Powder Brown Tang, make sure the vendor shows you that the fish is eating (lack of appetite is the first symptom of a problem with a fish) and what it is consuming.

Powder Brown Tang Diet

The Powder Brown is primarily a herbivore that grazes on filamentous micro and certain varieties of smaller fleshy macroalgae. It should be fed at least three times a day on a diet of frozen and dried meals ideal for herbivores that include marine algae and Spirulina (blue-green algae). Supplement its food with zucchini, broccoli, leaf lettuce, and nori (dried seaweed). To assist supply extra protein, meaty dishes should be served many times each week. A vegetable clip with dried seaweed hung from the tank's side makes it easy to keep the Powder Brown Tang supplied with macroalgae.

Breeding the Powder Brown Tang

Powder Browns are a type of group spawning fish, meaning that their eggs are fertilized at the same time as they are released and float on the water's surface. Because caring for the larval Tangs is extremely challenging, practically all captive Power Brown Tangs are wild-caught.

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