Tangs and surgeonfish are stunningly picture-perfect. Nature has benevolently endowed them with bright colors, shapely bodies, beautiful eyes, and little mouths. All this together is cuteness overloaded. Their appeal transforms your marine aquarium into a masterpiece of aquatic beauty. Some of them lend an undeniably next-gen look that is difficult to ignore.

The variety in this species will spoil you for a choice. These mesmerizing beauties come with a few caveats, species-wise and overall.

By the end of this article, you will know everything about tangs and surgeonfish, their general care, and some popular types of tangs for home aquariums you can select.

What are Tangs

Tangs are also called surgeonfish or doctor fish. However, it seems to be customary to use both names together. They belong to the Acanthuridae family, along with the unicorn fish.

All species under this family have spines at the start of their tail fins on both sides. While some species have fixed spines, others have eject able spines, which are foldable into an outer covering.

Their spines resemble sharp knives (scalpel-like) with small blades used by surgeons, explaining their names surgeonfish/doctor fish. The type and number of spines vary species-wise.

The below diagram represents the Acanthuridae family. We shall discuss some more details in the upcoming sections.

Aquarium Tang Species Family Classification

Broad Differences in Aquarium Tang Species

As per the diagram in section 1.0 above, the Acanthuridae family includes Prionurus, Acanthurus, Ctenochaetus, Zebrasoma, Paracanthurus, and Naso genus. Of these, Prionurus are uncommon in aquariums.

That leaves us with five popular genres found in aquariums. The below chart explains their broad differences:

Characteristic Acanthurus Ctenochaetus Zebrasoma Paracanthurus Naso
Found in Indo-pacific and Atlantic oceans Indian, Pacific, Indo-Pacific oceans Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans Indo-Pacific ocean Indo-Pacific ocean
Number of Species 38 9 7 1 20
Popular Name _ Bristletooth/ Combtooth Sailfin Tangs Blue/Hippo/ Regal tang Unicornfish/Naso Tang
Unique Feature (if any) Single, foldable spine on each side before the tail fin.   Most aquarium tangs belong to this genus Rows of 30 well-lined up (comblike) flexible teeth to scrape and pick food   Single, foldable spine on either side before the caudal fin Large tail fins (like the sails of a ship)   Size of the tail fin equals its body size _ Few species have a tiny horn/lump on the forehead (like unicorns)     Narrow caudal/tail fin   Long (not circular) body   Two spines (fixed, not foldable) on each side before the caudal fin.

15 Types of Tangs and Surgeonfish

Tangs are available in local pet stores/online. Their prices vary according to size, availability, quality, variant, and offers.

1. Yellow Tang

Yellow Tang - Most popular aquarium tangs
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Zebrasoma Flavescens
Difficulty Level: Easy
Adult Size: Up to 8 inches
Tank Size: 100 gallons

They are one of the most popular aquarium tangs. Being strong, they are less prone to skin diseases than other variants, as long as the aquarium is well-maintained, making them apt for beginners.

The white spine on each side is easily visible on their bright yellow bodies. Their color fades at night into a brownish shade. Maybe this acts as a natural protection from getting preyed on in the dark. The color brightens during the day.

Males look larger than females and change to a shimmering color before mating to attract their female counterparts. The Oceanic Institute bred them successfully in captivity, though the success rate post-larvae stage is still a challenge (refer to section 6.2).

They look adorable with their small pouty mouths, large black eyes, and thin but large, disc-shaped bodies.

Did you know? The Philippines and the Republic of Djibouti (Africa) have issued yellow tang stamps.

2. Sailfin Tang

Sailfin tang resembles Zebrasoma Desjardinii (Red sea sailfin tang)
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Zebrasoma Veliferum
Difficulty Level: Easy
Adult Size: Up to 15.7 inches
Tank Size: 180 gallons

They are the largest of the Zebrasoma species. True to their name, their fins are like large sails. Specimens in this genus assume different colors and patterns on their bodies (like stripes, dots, random wavy lines, or a combination of these). These patterns extend to their entire bodies (including eyes), except the tail fin.

Their bright and light-colored bodies with contrasting colors and patterns make them majestic.

Sailfins come in shades of yellow, black, brown, blue, beige, and white. The spines on each side are in a tad darker spot. Their color darkens under stress.

Sailfin tang resembles Zebrasoma Desjardinii (Red sea sailfin tang), which hails from the Red sea. Besides, the latter has unique random white dot markings in the frontal part, distinguishing it from Zebrasoma Veliferum, which hails from the Indo-Pacific Ocean.

They are a good option if you have a collection of large fish(es) or a large tank to house one. You can start with a 125-gallon tank for a juvenile.

Did you know? Kazakhstan, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Ethiopia, and Sharjah have released sailfin tang stamps.

3. Achilles Tang

 Achilles Tangs (the Greek hero of the Trojan war) and are apt for experienced hobbyists.
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Acanthurus Achilles
Difficulty Level: Difficult
Adult Size: Up to 10 inches
Tank Size: 120 gallons

They are named after Achilles (the Greek hero of the Trojan war) and are apt for experienced /expert hobbyists. Their dark-gray to black bodies have bright outlines in white, orange, and bluish colors/hues in varying shades. The tail fin is dual/tri-colored.

As they mature, they develop a beautiful orange spot on their bodies before their tail fins start. Their spine is at the end of this round-leaf-shaped orange spot.

They will stand out in any aquarium with their fusion of striking colors, making them desirable.

Did you know? Maldives, Micronesia, and the Republic of Guinea (West Africa) have released achilles tang stamps.

4. Naso Tang

Naso Tang - It is also known as barcheek, orang-spine, or lipstick tang unicorn fish
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Naso Lituratus
Difficulty Level: Difficult
Adult Size: Up to 18 inches
Tank Size: 300 gallons

It is also known as barcheek, orang-spine, or lipstick tang unicorn fish. They have light brown and gray bodies with black, yellow, white, and blue outlines in various parts and beautiful orange lips (mouth), justifying the name lipstick tang.

Their forward hooked spines are always in orange, explaining the name orange-spine. They are elongated in shape, unlike other variants. I feel that the part between their eyes and mouth is shaped like the top half of a bar glass, giving the name barcheek.

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They do not have a tiny horn on the forehands (like other species of unicorn fish). They are relatively peaceful with the same/different species in the same aquarium. The challenge would be their sizes and your experience level.

As they mature, their colors darken. Naso tangs which retain lighter body colors even as adults, are called blonde/elegant naso tangs in the fish trade.

Did you know? Micronesia and the Republic of Guinea (West Africa) have released naso tang stamps.

5. Gem Tang

Gem Tangs are the most expensive species
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Zebrasoma Gemmatum
Difficulty Level: Medium
Adult Size: Up to 8.7 inches
Tank Size: 180 gallons

They are the most expensive species, thanks to their bejeweled looks. Owning one would be any pet owner’s pride.

They come in both – oval and circular-shaped bodies with large anal and dorsal fins. A few specimens have small fins. However, all gem tangs have a unique white-dotted pattern all over their bodies (except tail fins).

Their bodies are dark blue, black, or brown. White dots on the dark bodies look like small gems, explaining their name. Gemmatum in Latin means jeweled.

Their almost fan-shaped tail fins are light gray, blue, yellow, or green, with rays of darker lines spreading along the fan. Tail fins have a light-colored outline towards the end. Small pouty mouths complete their looks.

These naturally ornamented tangs are irresistibly beautiful. Watching them is a treat to the eyes.

6. Scopas Tang

Scopas Tang
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Zebrasoma Scopas
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Adult Size: 12-16 inches
Tank Size: 125 gallons

Other popular names are – brown tang, two-tone tang, or brush-tail tang. These are the most difficult tangs to identify due to the various colors/patterns they assume within the fish trade.

They come in yellow, gray, brown, black, purple, etc. colors. As the name suggests, the original tang is supposed to be brown with shades across their bodies (explaining the name two-toned), without any patterns.

The varieties offered seem to be hybrids. Whether they spawned naturally with different species or were intentionally cross-bred is unsure. Some tangs are sold as hybrids, while others as scopas.

They have long pouty mouths, large anal and dorsal fins, and circular bodies. The tail fins are relatively small and fan-shaped. The lower half of their bodies assume lighter shades of the same color against the darker upper bodies.

Long mouths are their USP. The extra length enables them to eat algae growth on difficult/far-off spaces, which other tang species may not be able to reach. Hence, they are popular in saltwater aquariums.

As a word of caution, the cross-bred species may change colors drastically as they grow. Be prepared for some surprises.

7. Convict Tang

Convict Tang
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Acanthurus Triostegus
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Adult Size: Up to 8 inches
Tank Size: 100 gallons

They are also known as Manini. Some species may grow up to 11 inches. Their light silver bodies, with a golden hue on the upper portion, are covered with six bold, black vertical stripes (like prison bars), explaining their name.

Their striped look with bright colors makes them appealing in any aquarium.

Did you know? Micronesia has released convict tang stamps.

8. Clown Tang

Clown Tang
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Acanthurus Lineatus
Difficulty Level: Medium
Adult Size: 12 – 15 inches
Tank Size: 250 gallons

They are also popular as striped/zebra/blue banded/blue-lined surgeonfish and pyjama tang.

They have slightly elongated light bluish-gray bodies. Three-fourths of their bodies from the top have brown, yellow, blue, and black stripes. The lower one-fourth part of the body line is plain, light blue/gray with a black tinge.

The stripes make a random pattern in the frontal portion and are horizontal on the rest of the upper bodies. The fins are dark green with a bright blue outline on the lower bodies and the tail fins, justifying the name blue-lined tangs. The ends of their tail fins are pointed and form a deep u-shape.

Their large-size makes them more aggressive/territorial with tankmates. The colorful stripes lend them a spectacular appearance.

9. Powder Brown Tang

Powder Brown Tang
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Acanthurus Japonicus
Difficulty Level: Moderately difficult
Adult Size: Up to 8 inches
Tank Size: 100 gallons

They are also called Japan/white-faced/white-nose surgeonfish and gold rim tang. They have a unique white marking between their eyes and mouths, explaining the names white-faced/white-nose tangs.

Their bodies are brown/bluish-black with a bright yellow/ golden, u-shaped line contouring their upper and lower bodies, justifying the name gold rim tangs. The ones with a blackish color are called powder black tangs. Spines on each side are easily visible in the yellow tinge.

The dorsal and anal fins are black. There is a red marking on the dorsal fin. Both anal and dorsal fins have bright blue outlines.

Their pectoral fins are dark gray/brown with a yellow/yellowish-green spot at the bottom. Their tail fins are blue/gray with a yellow tinge and a bluish-white outline.

They can change their posterior bodies to yellow colors to camouflage themselves in the environment or as per their moods.

This outburst of colorful contrast makes them irresistibly alluring.

10. Kole Tang

Kole Tang
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Ctenochaetus Strigosus
Difficulty Level: Easy
Adult Size: Up to 6 inches
Tank Size: 70 gallons

They are popularly known as spotted surgeonfish/goldring surgeonfish, yellow-eyed kole tang, striped bristletooth, or bristletooth tang. Their bodies are blue or brown in color. Thin, horizontal, yellow, or light blue lines of contrasting colors cover their entire bodies (including the tail fin).

The pattern in the front part (around the eyes and mouth) is dotted, hence the name spotted surgeonfish. Their black eyes are covered with a distinct yellow ring, explaining the name yellow-eyed/gold ring. The lunate tail fin has pointed edges and the pelvic and pectoral fins have a tinge of yellow or orange.

The pattern develops better as they grow. Hence, juveniles may not look as awesome. They eat algae from the shells/bodies of sea turtles, with whom they share a symbiotic relationship.

They make an interesting addition to any aquarium with their striped look and yellow eyes. Their size makes them perfect for a home aquarium.

Did you know? The Ahihi Kinau nature reserve area in Maui (Hawaii) is a grooming station for sea turtles. They regularly visit this area with a high kole tang population, and patiently wait till the tangs eat their unwanted algal growth before leaving!

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11. Unicorn Tang

Unicorn Tang
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Naso Unicornis
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Adult Size: Up to 27.6 inches
Tank Size: 360 gallons

They are the largest tang species, best suited for public aquariums or experienced hobbyists having large aquariums.

Other common names are – bluespine/short-nose unicorn fish. Their local names are kala (translates to thorn), dawa, and ta in Hawaii, New Caledonia, and Fiji.

Their bodies are light bluish-gray. There is a yellowish tinge on their lower bodies and tail fin.

A bluish outline covers all the fins. Their skin is leathery, unlike other variants (having scales).

Unicorn tangs have two spines on each side, which are slightly darker, and a small horn (resembling unicorn fish) on their forehead (in front of their eyes). Their horns start growing when they grow around 5 inches, though it has no known functionality. Some specimens have a golden ring around their eyes.

They change their color to darker greenish-gray/bluish-gray to gel with their environments in the wild. Their colors darken when they are stressed/aggressive. Males change their horn colors before breeding to attract female tangs and ward-off competitors.

12. Orange Shoulder Tang

Orange-band surgeonfish or the orangebar tang
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Acanthurus Olivaceus
Difficulty Level: Medium
Adult Size: 10-14 inches
Tank Size: 135-180 gallons

Other popular names are – orange-band surgeonfish or the orangebar tang. They assume different colors as they mature, making them desirable in an aquarium.

Juveniles have yellow bodies with a bluish tinge on the anal and dorsal fins. An orange band develops on their bodies (right above the gills), and their color starts assuming darker shades when they become 3 inches long. Without the orange patch, the younger species look totally different.

Adult orange shoulder tangs have grayish-brown bodies. Their anal and dorsal fins are long, ending with an outward curve near the black spine on either side. The distinct yellowish-orange band-like patch with a darker black/purple outline above the gills is fully developed, justifying their name.

Mature tangs have an orange line on the inner sides of their anal and dorsal fins. A blue outline runs through all their fins. Pectoral and pelvic fins have a dash of black.

All of them have a vertical line (colorless) on the center of their bodies. The frontal portion ahead of this line is lighter in color, while the posterior part is darker.

Some specimens also display color variations like light and dark green bodies, white and off-white body halves, and the orange band is sometimes yellow with a blue outline. Female tangs grow larger than male tangs.

They will surely stand out in any aquarium, given their distinctive colorations with multiple shades. Color changes give a refreshingly new look to your aquarium with the same collection.

13. Chevron Tang

Chevron Tang
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Ctenochaetus Hawaiiensis
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Adult Size: Up to 6.3 inches
Tank Size: 180 gallons

Other common names are – black/Hawaiian surgeonfish and Hawaiian bristletooth/kole. Interestingly, the colors and patterns on their bodies change as they grow.

They have broad anal and dorsal fins on oval-shaped bodies.

Younger tangs have yellowish-orange bodies covered with a random pattern of small, thick, light bluish-gray lines. These lines resemble broken noodles/chevron marks (inverted v-shaped lines indicating the distance between two vehicles), explaining their name.

The orange color smoothly smudges into their black anal and dorsal fins. Vertical black/dark gray lines run through both fins. Their spines are gray. Orange tail fins turn light green towards the end. Their black eyes have an orange and a dark blue ring around them.

Against this, adult tangs have dark brown bodies covered with dense, thin, horizontal lines that are yellow or blue. The pattern on the front portions (around the eyes and mouths) forms continuous random lines.

All the fins are black with a bluish tinge and horizontal lines (similar to the body patterns). Spines and eyes are black. Their eyes have a dark black ring around them.

The spines of chevron tangs are smaller than other tang species.

14. Purple Tang Fish

Purple Tang Fish
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Zebrasoma Xanthurum
Difficulty Level: Medium
Adult Size: Up to 10 inches
Tank Size: 125 gallons

They are also known as yellow tail tangs. True to the zebrasoma family, they have large anal and dorsal fins.

Specimens have either oval-shaped or disc-shaped (circular) bodies. Their dark blue or purple bodies have typically yellow tail fins, justifying their nomenclature.

Horizontal black lines cover the upper center half of their bodies, along with the anal and dorsal fins. Other body portions (excluding tail fins) have a dotted pattern. Pectoral fins invariably end with a yellowish tinge. Their bodies are a tad darker in the center.

Purple tang fish originate from the Red sea and are also present in the Mediterranean and Arabian seas, unlike most tangs that hail from the Indo-Pacific, Indian, and Pacific oceans.

Shades of yellow and purple lend them a royal look, setting them apart in aquariums.

15. Pacific Blue Tang (PBT)

Pacific Blue Tang (PBT)
Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name: Paracanthurus Hepatus
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Adult Size: Up to 12 inches
Tank Size: 100 gallons

Other popular names are – regal tang, palette/blue/flagtail surgeonfish, royal blue tang, hippo tang, blue hippo tang, and pacific regal blue tang. It is casually referred to as PBT by a few in hobbyist forums.

Do not confuse the PBT with the blue tang (Acanthurus Coeruleus) that hails from the Atlantic ocean. The PBT hails from the Indo-Pacific Ocean. It is best to use the correct species name while purchasing.

Are you thinking of Dory? The forgetful fish from the movies Finding Nemo (2003) and Finding Dory (2016) by Disneyland productions. Yes, Dory is a pacific blue tang.

They have oval-shaped blue bodies with invariably yellow tail fins. Their lower bodies and the end of the pectoral fins have a yellowish hue. The yellow spine is clearly visible on either side. Their anal, dorsal, and tail fins have a black outline.

The upper half of their bodies have a unique, big black marking/pattern from their eyes to the start of the tail fins. This pattern resembles a painting palette or numeric nine written horizontally with an extended upper portion. Their base blue body color is visible from the wide oval-shaped hollow between this black marking.

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Male tangs are larger than females. Refer to section 6.2 for breeding.

Pointed mouths with perfectly geometrical and strikingly colorful bodies make them adorable, next-gen fish. Any fish lover would love to flaunt the iconic Dory in their aquarium.

Are Tang Fish Aggressive

As discussed earlier, groups of different varieties of tangs and surgeonfish swim and graze together in the ocean waters peacefully.

However, in captivity, they become territorial and aggressive. The aggression is higher with the same-species fish. They may injure themselves/other fish(es) during fights with their sharp spines. It may be fatal at times.

Many fish lovers have maintained reef aquariums with different types of tangs. Learnings from them:

Species Overview

Origin and Habitat

Tangs are saltwater fish originating from the Indo-Pacific ocean. They are present in the tropical parts of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans.

These schooling fish thrive in shallow waters with reefs, corals, and rocks. Most species are herbivorous. Large schools of the same and different varieties swim together peacefully in the wild. They prefer waters with ample sunlight, as it assures them abundant food. They are active swimmers and like hiding spaces.

The word “tang” originates from the German word see tang (meaning seaweed). Thus, their popular name, “tang” represents their eating habit.

Lifespan and Size

Tangs and surgeonfish have an average lifespan of 30 years in the wild. In aquariums, they live up to 20 – 25 years, with slight variations in different species.

Their sizes vary from 6 to 20 inches on average, depending on the variant. The larger species can grow up to 40 inches and are unsuitable for aquariums. Medium-sized tangs are apt for public aquariums or large home aquariums.

Physical Appearance

Surgeonfish have slim, flat, circular bodies with strikingly bright colors. Some species are mono-colored, while many have two-three different contrast colorations on their bodies.

They come in 80 colors ranging from yellow, blue, orange, brown, purple, gray, white, black, or combinations of these in varying shades. Some also have patterns (like zebra stripes, horizontal, vertical, or random wavy lines, random dots/markings, etc.) of contrasting colors on their bodies.

Keeping aside the specific differences, all share the same anatomy shown below.

Surgeonfish Physical Appearance
Surgeonfish Physical Appearance
  • A continuous dorsal fin on the upper body till the tail fin starts.
  • A pair of pectoral fins near the gills.
  • A small pelvic fin on the lower body, followed by a continuous anal fin till the tail fin starts.
  • Spine(s), on the portion connecting the body with the tail fin. The spines have darker/different colorations among varieties.
  • Small (sometimes cute, pouty) mouths.
  • Clear round eyes. When their eyes move, the eye socket on the top is slightly visible, though the eyes are not popping out.
  • Some species have yellow or blue eyes. A few species have golden, blue, or black rings around the eyes.
  • Their tail fins end in a broad semi-circle (moon-crescent-like) shape. This type of tail fin is called the lunate fin.

General Care Tips for Tangs and Surgeonfish

Their spines can wound you while handling them. Wear gloves and use a closely knit fine net to catch them.


Surgeonfish are herbivorous and voracious algae-eaters. They eat (graze) the algae growth on reefs/dead corals, zooplankton, seaweeds, etc.

In captivity, they accept all vegetarian foods. They eat the foods offered to other tankmates as well. Thus, they eat frozen/live Mysis and Brine shrimp. Marine Algae, Spirulina Powder, Nori (Japanese seaweed), Spinach, Lettuce, Zucchini, Peas, etc., should form a large part of their food.

Many owners leave Nori sheets tied to veggies or a rock for the tangs to graze it all day long.

Observe what they enjoy eating and feed them accordingly. Feed them once a day. Offer a variety of foods in the rotation for nutrition. Always use good quality/home-cooked food. Thaw frozen food before feeding. Avoid overfeeding.


It is difficult to distinguish male from female tangs till they breed. Tangs and surgeonfish are egg-layers. They spawn on a full moon day. Most variants are group breeders, while some breed in pairs.

They mate throughout the year and lack parental instinct.

Adult male tangs change colors (brighter and more vibrant) to attract female tangs for spawning. Groups of breeding tangs gather at the spawning spot. Female tangs release eggs into the water and male tangs simultaneously release sperm.

Watch this make tang change colors.

The sticky eggs flow with the waves. Fertilized eggs attach themselves to a surface till they hatch. Post-hatching, they metamorphose from the larvae stage to small tangs over time. In the earlier stages, they have alluring, transparent bodies.

Surgeonfish larvae

Breeding surgeonfish in captivity is challenging. Experiments by various organizations, experts, and aquaculturists have shown that survival from the larvae stage is the biggest challenge. Despite trying different fry foods, larvae have a high mortality rate. The best survival was 83 days from hatching.

One of the hobbyists succeeded in breeding blue tangs in a home aquarium after they grew 6 to 7 inches long. Unfortunately, he lost the entire batch while he was away from home on a trip and is trying a second breeding.

After years of failed attempts, researchers successfully bred 150 yellow tangs from the larvae stage out of a batch of 20000 eggs in 2015. They bred two more batches later on, proving it was possible. Taking learnings from their strategy to feed tang larvae, the University of Florida raised the first batch of 26 Pacific blue tangs in the same year (2015).

Feeding them protein-rich food is vital for them to breed naturally in captivity.

Surgeonfish have a long lifespan. Caring for them seems to be a better option than breeding them. Buy a pair of tangs if you plan to breed them.


Surgeonfish are prone to the diseases listed below. They eat a lot and generate a lot of bioloads. Hence top-notch aquarium maintenance is essential to keep them healthy.

  • Marine Ich, Crypt, Marine White Spot Disease, or CryptocaryonIrritans.
  • Marine Velvet or Coral Reef Disease
  • Lateral Line Erosion

Watch out for any wounds before they become infectious. Add a protein skimmer periodically to the aquarium water to ensure they get essential nutrients and retain good immunity.

Quarantine and acclimate every fish before adding it to the main aquarium.

Learn more about these diseases, their symptoms, and ways to prevent them.

Aquarium Setup and Maintenance

A reef aquarium setup works best for your tangs and surgeonfish. They eat algae, so the aquarium should be well-lit for algae growth. Switch off the aquarium lights at night.

Water Parameters
Temperature: 72 – 78 degrees F.
Salinity: 1.024 – 1.027
Hardness: 380 – 450 ppm
PH value: 8.1 – 8.4. The water
Tank Level All levels

Oxygen and Filtration

Tangs and surgeonfish require pristine water conditions. Use an efficient filtration system to clean their high bioloads. It should be suitable for the tank size (which varies species-wise).

Use an air stone and an air pump to keep the water well-oxygenated.

Regular partial water changes and filter maintenance are necessary to maintain good water quality.

Read here – Self-Cleaning Fish Tanks (Low Maintenance Care)

Surgeonfish are reef safe. They do not eat corals from the aquarium.


Different genera of tangs make a dedicated surgeonfish aquarium. Refer to section 4.0 for more info.

However, if you want to keep a single surgeonfish for added safety, Clownfish, Cardinals, Wrasses and Chromis, Cleaner Shrimp, etc., make good tank mates.

Final Thoughts

No wonder tangs and surgeonfish are highly sought-after saltwater aquarium fish. We covered only 15 popular types of tangs, but there are many more to explore and consider adding.

The best is there are variants for beginners too. You can start with a single small-sized tang having an adult size of up to 6 inches. After some experience, consider adding other variants.

A point to ponder is that most tangs are wild-caught due to limited captive breeding. It is a red flag leading to over-harvesting. Even the techniques used to catch them are risky for other aquatic life, including them.

 There are no regulations on catching/captivating tangs and surgeonfish. We need to balance our insatiable greed and curiosity with a sense of responsibility.

Hopefully, you know the tang fish better now. We wish you a happy surgeonfish parenting time!

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About the Author

Shelby Crosby

Shelby is a passionate fishkeeper who has been writing about fish for over 5 years. She is a pro aquarist and holds a BSc Honors Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries. She creates her own beautiful aquarium layouts and loves to share her knowledge of tropical fish with other hobbyists. Career Highlights: Has worked with several…

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