Species of Tang and Surgeonfish

Powder-blue surgeonfish (Acanthurus leucosternon)

Surgeonfish, tangs, and unicornfish are members of the Acanthuridae family of marine fish. Due to their beauty, typically non-offensive demeanor toward other fish species, and forgiving needs, they are among the most popular saltwater aquarium fish. The term surgeonfish originates from the fish's scalpel-sharp bony protrusions at the base of their tails (the meaning of Acanthurus is Spiny-tail). Scientific names, common names, distribution, maximum size, features, compatibility, nutrition and feeding, minimum tank size, and reef tank appropriateness are included in these brief descriptions of some of the most popular Tangs and Surgeonfish.

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    An Achilles tang fish in the ocean

    The Achilles Tang (Acanthurus achilles), one of the more difficult Acanthuridae species, demands a lot of attention. It is very sensitive to Cryptocaryon protozoa infection and can suffer from HLLE. It can be hostile to other tangs, particularly those of its own species. These fish may have to be maintained in the aquarium as the only tang. It grows up to 10 inches long and lives in the tropical seas of the Pacific Ocean. This beauty will require a 120 gallon aquarium or more.

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    Black Longnose Tang

    With a full black body, black eyes, a long snout, broad sail-like fins, and white razor-like spines on both sides of the caudal peduncle, the unusual Black Longnose Tang (Zebrasoma rostratum) stands out. It lives in the South Pacific and may grow to be 10 inches long, therefore it requires a big aquarium of at least 120 gallons.

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    The Chevron Tang (Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis) has a vibrant juvenile stage. The red and purple hues diminish in the adult stage, and it 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 stage looks similar to that of a Kole (Yellow-Eye Surgeonfish) Tang. It originated in the Pacific Ocean, around Hawaii, Micronesia, and Pitcairn Island. It reaches a length of 10 inches and should be kept as the lone tang in a big aquarium.

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    Clown Surgeonfish


    The Clown Surgeonfish (Acanthurus lineatus) favors the shallower waters of the Indo-Pacific reefs, which are rich with oxygen and marine algae. It belongs to the Surgeonfish family and possesses all of the family's characteristics, such as the sharp razor-like spur or spine on the caudal peduncle. Other fish of the same or similar species do not get along with it. Because the Clown Surgeonfish may grow up to 14 inches long, it requires lots of open space as well as protection for hiding. Only 180 gallon aquariums or greater are recommended.

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    Convict Tangs (Acanthurus triostegus), commonly known as Hawaiian Manini, are schooling fish that live in the deeper, oxygen-rich waters of Indo-Pacific reefs where fine filamentous algae thrive. This occurs in regions where there is little coral but plenty of pebbles or stones, allowing the algae to thrive with plenty of sunshine. They eat the algae that has grown on the rocks. They are tiny tangs that grow to be 8 inches long and may be housed in aquariums of 100 gallons or bigger.

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    Goldrim Tang

    The Goldrim Tang (Acanthurus nigricans) is a shy fish that becomes quite active once adjusted to its environment. It's best to leave it alone. If you insist on having more than one of these fish, keep them in a very big aquarium with plenty of cover and avoid keeping them with other Acanthurus species that are more hostile. They come from the Pacific Ocean and may reach a length of 8 inches.

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    Hybrid Achilles-Goldrim Tang

    This fish is only found in Hawaiian waters and is the product of an extremely unusual natural occurrence in which an Achilles Tang (Acanthurus achilles) and a Goldrim Tang (Acanthurus nigricans) interbred during pregnancy. It's one of the few reef fish that can hybridize in Hawaiian waters. In Hawaiian waters, the Goldrim Tang is uncommon, while the Achilles is only found there. It might grow to be 8-10 inches long.

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    Kole Tangs (Ctenochaetus strigosus) are excellent algae eaters. It's also a fantastic choice for compatibility with other less aggressive, unrelated species. It only grows to be 6 inches long, making it suitable for 70 gallon aquariums. It comes from the Indo-Pacific.

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    Naso Tang

    Naso lituratus (Naso lituratus) is a herbivore that prefers brown macroalgae. Some individuals may be hesitant to consume anything other than the basic food for Tangs and Surgeonfishes, but for the most part, this species will accept the standard diet for Tangs and Surgeonfishes. An individual may pick at large-polyp corals on rare instances. It is a huge tang that may reach 18 inches in the Pacific Ocean, thus a 300 gallon aquarium or greater is required.

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    Orange Shoulder Tang

    The minimum aquarium size recommended for the Orange Shoulder Tang (Acanthurus olivaceus) is 150 gallons due to its big size (up to 14 inches) and frequent roving behavior. A juvenile and an adult can be maintained together as long as the aquarium is large enough. It gets along with most non-aggressive tank mates, however if you want to keep this species with other Surgeonfishes, introduce this fish first, or if they're the same species, put them in the aquarium at the same time. It originated in the Indo-Pacific Ocean.

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    The Pacific Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus), well known as Dory from the film Finding Nemo, is a popular option for aquariums all around the world. Unlike other tangs and surgeonfishes, which require a constant diet on algae, the Pacific Blue Tang requires meaty meals to meet its zooplankton dietary requirements. It may reach a length of 12 inches and requires a 180-gallon tank.

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    Powder Blue Tang


    The Powder Blue Tang (Acanthurus leucosternon) is a popular aquarium fish, but one that requires a lot of attention. It is very sensitive to Cryptocaryon infection and may have HLLE issues. Other surgeonfishes, especially ones of similar forms and colors, can be hostile. It may reach a length of 9 inches and requires a 90-gallon tank or bigger. It originates in the Indian Ocean.

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    The Powder Brown Tang (Acanthurus japonicus) is a herbivore that feeds on filamentous microalgae and certain smaller fleshy macroalgae. It should be fed a diet of frozen and dried foods containing marine algae and Spirulina that are good for herbivores (blue-green algae). Supplement its food with zucchini, broccoli, leaf lettuce, and nori (dried seaweed). At least three times a day, the Powder Brown Tang should be fed. It is native to the Indo-Pacific region, from Japan to Taiwan, and may reach a height of 8 inches.

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    The Sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma veliferum) adapts well to aquarium life, readily accepting common tank meals such as flake food, shrimp, and nori (dried kelp sheets), to mention a few. They consume almost everything, but because they are herbivores, they favor greens. They originate in the Indo-Pacific region and may grow up to 15 inches long, necessitating aquariums of 150 gallons or more.

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    Unicorn Tang

    The Unicorn Tang (Naso unicornis) has a range that stretches from Hawaii to middle Polynesia, westward through Micronesia and Melanesia, through the East Indies, and across the Indian Ocean to the African coast and the Red Sea. It reaches a maximum length of 28 inches.

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    Yellow Tang

    Yellow Tangs (Zebrasoma flavescens) are herbivores that graze on algae and other plant life. It thrives in an aquarium with abundant algae growth, where it earns its keep by assisting in the cropping of the algae. It eats nori (dried or roasted seaweed), other green vegetable matter, and vitamin-rich flakes, although it will also consume dried shrimp and other meaty foods. They can reach a length of 8 inches. They're common in the Hawaiian islands.

Tangs and Surgeonfish are attractive and popular marine fish, but they require special care and huge tanks. The ideal strategy is to keep one specimen in an aquarium with other varieties of fish.