Tangs and Surgeons

Tangs, also known as Surgeons or Doctorfish, do not heal or mend other fishes but they can cut them up! Using the extremely sharp “scalpels” or spines that are found near their tails on both sides of their bodies, they slash at other competitors when fighting for food or territory.

Orangeshoulder Tang Fish

Orangeshoulder Tang Fish – Acanthurus olivaceous picture

These weapons are also employed to defend themselves from predators. In captivity, Tangs have been known to cut the hand that feeds them, so they need to be handled with care.

They are also more prone to get Ich and other diseases without specific aquarium conditions. In spite of this, these vibrant, colorful fishes can be wonderful additions to your marine aquarium if cared for properly.

Found near coral reefs throughout the world, most Tangs are herbivores and feed on algae and other plant life. They are often found in schools or sometimes in pairs. Tangs vary in size; the smaller species growing to 6 inches and the largest reaching over 2 feet.

In the home aquarium, Tangs need a lot of swimming space and very clean water. Powerful, efficient filters and regular water changes are a must. They should also be provided with some rockwork and caves to hide in. Preferably live rock should be used so that they have a supply of algae and other flora and fauna to graze on.

Tangs will usually accept all types of food but their diet should primarily consist of vegetable matter such as dried seaweed sheets, lettuce, spirulina pellets and other specially prepared food for herbivores. If not fed properly, Tangs can develop head and lateral line erosion due to a lack of vitamins A and C. Most Tangs are very territorial and will fight with other Tangs and similar looking fishes. For this reason, they should be kept one per tank.

TankConditions: 72-78°F; sg 1.020-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4; dKH 8-12

Compatibility: Wrasse, live corals, invertebrates, live rock, sand.

Lemon Tang

Lemon Tang

Family: Acanthuridae
Species: Acanthurus pyroferus
Size: 10 in (25 cm)
Diet: Herbivorous
Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Captive breeding of Tangs is extremely difficult. With most species, there are no external differences between the sexes. The fry go through a very long and complex larval stage that makes them quite difficult to feed and rear in captivity.

Powder Blue Tang

Powder Blue Tang
Family: Acanthuridae
Species: Acanthurus leucosternon
Size: 9 in (23 cm)
Diet: Herbivorous
Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Mustard Guttatus Tang

Mustard Guttatus Tang

Family: Acanthuridae

Species: Acanthurus guttatus
Size: 9 in (23 cm)
Diet: Herbivorous
Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Whitecheek Tang

Whitecheek Tang

Family: Acanthuridae

Species: Acanthurus nigricans
Size: 8 1/4 in (22 cm)
Diet: Herbivorous
Temperament: Peaceful

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