Tangs And Surgeonfish. (Acanthuridae)

Tangs And Surgeonfish Family Characteristics:

Members of the Surgeonfish family are characterized by their high profile and laterally compressed, oval bodies and their very sharp "scalpel like" erectile spines on the caudal peduncle (hence the name "surgeons"). These spines can be used during inter territorial disputes and in defense. The dorsal and anal fins are long based and the eyes are set high on the head. The scales often end in a small protuberance, giving rough feel to the skin. In their natural habitat these fishes may grow up to 16 inches, but aquarium specimens usually attain only up to half the size of their wild counterparts.

Although there are no drastic color changes between juveniles and adults in most Tang species, the Caribbean Blue Tang (Acantburus coeruleus) has a yellow juvenile form. Since the adult color occurs at no predetermined age or size, small fish can show adult coloration while larger specimens retain their immature colors.

Although external differences between the sexes are normally rare, some darkening of the male's colors during breeding is quite usual. Size is not a reliable indication of the sex of the fishes; sometimes the male is larger, sometimes the female. The pelagic (free-floating) eggs that result from the typical ascending spawning actions of two fishes (or a group of fishes) take a long time - possibly months - to pass through the planktonic stage. This means that, although spawning in captivity may occur, rearing the fry may prove to be much more difficult.


Diet And Feeding:

Surgeons and tangs need to be fed several times each day, especially if there is insufficient algal growth for them to browse upon. In fact, algae are such an important element of their diet that you should not introduce them into an algae-free aquarium.

Young fishes grow very quickly and will starve if denied ready nourishment. Although many species are herbivores, others will eat small animals too, which means that once they will take many of the established dried, frozen and live foods.

Aquarium Behavior:

Surgeons and tangs live in shoals around the coral reefs or the world. In the aquarium, however, they forsake this gregariousness and will quarrel among themselves, unless you provide a suitably spacious tank. Established species often resent new fishes introduced into the aquarium; smaller fishes may well get off with a warning but similarly sized fishes may suffer attacks. Young surgeon and tang specimens, whose scalpels are, fortunately, not as dangerous as those of adults, mount threatening motions against newcomers, but, thankfully, these displays are generally short lived.

All members of this family are somewhat prone to Oodinium and White spot infection, especially in less than perfect water conditions. Unfortunately, the copper-based medications that are used to treat such infections generally preclude the suitability of these fishes in mixed fish and invertebrate aquariums.

List Of Popular Aquarium Tangs And Surgeons:

  • Achillies Tang (Acanthurus achilles)
  • Blue Tang (Acanthurus coeruleus)
  • Goldrim Tang or Powder Brown Tang (Acanthurus glaucopareius)
  • Powder Blue Tang (Acanthurus leucosternon)
  • Clown Surgeonfish or Blue Lined Surgeonfish or Pyjama Tang (Acanthurus lineatus)
  • Zebra Surgeon or Majestic Surgeon (Acanthurus sohal)
  • Lipstick Tang or Naso Tang (Naso lituratus)
  • Scopas Tang (Zebrasoma Scopas)
  • Regal Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)
  • Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)
  • Sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma veliferum)
  • Purple Sailfin Tang or Emperor Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum)
  • Kole Yellow Eye Tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus)
  • Convict Tang (Acanthurus triostegus)
  • Orangeshoulder Tang (Acanthurus olivaceous)
  • Lieutenant Tang (Acanthurus tennenti)
  • Bristletooth Tomini Tang (Ctenochaetus tominiensis)
  • Powder Brown Tang (Acanthurus japonicus)


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