Saltwater Tang or Surgeonfish Photos

Tropical fish Sohal Surgeonfish
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The Sohal Tang (Acanthurus sohal) is also known as the Sohal Surgeonfish and Red Sea Clown Surgeon. It is found in the Red Sea, to the Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Sea.

Sohal Tangs are very aggressive and should not be kept with other Tangs or Wrasse species.

  • 01 of 20

    Scopas Tang (Zebrasoma scopas)

    Brown tang (Zebrasoma scopas) marine tropical fish
    kazakovmaksim / Getty Images

    The Scopas Tang (Zebrasoma scopas) is also known as the Brown Scopas Tang. This fish is aggressive towards its own species or tangs in general, and best kept with only one per tank.  It will grow to the size of 12" and needs a 125 gallon or larger tank.

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  • 02 of 20

    Blue Eye Tang (Ctenochaetus binotatus)

    twospot surgeonfish grazing on rock in Tahitian reef
    Philippe Jouk / Getty Images

    The Blue Eye Tang (Ctenochaetus binotatus) is also known as the Two Spot Bristletooth Tang. Growing to a maximum size of 8" and is aggressive towards other Tangs, but peaceful with other fish.

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  • 03 of 20

    Kole Tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus)

    Kole Tang Or Spotted Surgeonfish Or Goldring Surgeonfish Or Yellow-eyed Tang Fish Ctenochaetus Strigosus Swimming In Water
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    The Kole Tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus) is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and, in ancient times, was a delicacy and thus was considered to be "royal food", only to be consumed by royalty. If a "commoner" was caught eating a Kole, that person would be executed.

    The Kole Tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus) grows to a maximum size of 8" and is an excellent consumer of brown diatom algae.

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  • 04 of 20

    Achilles Tang (Acanthurus achilles)

    Achilles Tang - Acanthurus achilles marine fish
    TatianaMironenko / Getty Images

    The Achilles Tang (Acanthurus achilles) also known as the Red-tailed Surgeon, or Achilles Surgeonfish, is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and grows to a maximum size of about 9". Normally found in the surge zones on the reef, it requires plenty of swimming room and a tank of at least 125 gallons for adults.

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  • 05 of 20

    Hybrid Achilles Goldrim Tang (Acanthurus achilles x Acanthurus nigricans)

    Hybrid Achilles Goldrim Tang (Acanthurus achilles x Acanthurus nigricans)
    Keoki & Yuko Stender

    In the wild, both the Achilles and Goldrim Tangs prefer the highly oxygenated waters of the surge zone on top of the reef. They also prefer a habitat with plenty of hiding places. As with other Surgeonfish, they will tolerate other Tangs, but prefer to be with their own species. 

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  • 06 of 20

    Powder Brown Tang (Acanthurus japonicus)

    Powder Brown tang
    vojce / Getty Images

    The Powder Brown Tang is a somewhat shy fish, the Powder Brown Tang should be provided with ample room to move around and lots of places to hide. Does best in a well-established aquarium with an ample growth of algae present to graze on at its leisure. 

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  • 07 of 20

    Pacific Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)

    Paracanthurus hepatus
    JaysonPhotography / Getty Images

    The Pacific Blue (Hippo) Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) is a very active fish and should be provided with plenty of room to move around, and an ample supply of live rock to graze on at its leisure is beneficial. 

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  • 08 of 20

    Purple Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum)

    Yellowtail tang - (Zebrasoma xanthurum) on the coral reef
    mirecca / Getty Images

    The Purple Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum) is also known as the Yellowtail Sailfin Tang, Yellowtail Surgeonfish, and the Blue Surgeonfish. It was originally thought to be found only in the Red Sea, but it is now found in the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and in the waters off Sri Lanka. Growing to a maximum size of 10", it requires plenty of swimming room in an aquarium, so a tank of 125 gallons or larger is recommended.

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  • 09 of 20

    Sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma veliferum)

    Sailfin Tang
    Yiming Chen / Getty Images

    Like most fish in the Surgeon Fish Family, the Sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma veliferum) is a fish that does not play well with other Sailfin Tangs. They are very territorial, so if you put two of them together they will fight. Because of the razor/spur by the tail, when they fight they will cut each other up. We advise not putting more than one to a tank.

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  • 10 of 20

    Naso Tang (Naso lituratus)

    Naso lituratus - barcheek unicornfish
    antos777 / Getty Images

    The Naso Tang (Naso lituratus) is a herbivore, with a diet preference for brown macroalgae. Some specimens may be reluctant to eat anything else, but for the most part, this species will usually accept the basic tank fed diet for Tangs & Surgeonfishes.

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  • 11 of 20

    Blonde Naso Tang

    Male Blonde Naso Tang - sea tropical fish
    mirecca / Getty Images

    The Blonde Naso Tang is also known as the Clown Surgeonfish, Liturate Surgeonfish, Lipstick Tang and Orangespine Unicornfish.

    This is a fish that once adjusted to aquarium life has a great personality. It can be trained to eat food right out of your hands. It is one of the more aggressive Surgeonfish species when it comes to territorial disputes with other Surgeonfishes, especially of its own kind, but generally will get along with other fish tank mates and invertebrates. It is an interesting trait that they will attack each other, considering that they do congregate in small groups or schools in the wild.

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  • 12 of 20

    Clown Surgeonfish (Acanthurus lineatus)

    Clown Tang (Acanthurus lineatus)
    vojce / Getty Images

    The Clown Surgeonfish (Acanthurus lineatus) prefers to inhabit the oxygen and marine algae enriched shallower waters of the reef. Being in the Surgeonfish Family it has all the typical traits, such as the characteristic sharp razor-like spur or spine on the caudal peduncle, it does not get along well with other same or similar species, it needs plenty of open room to move around, but also requires ample cover for hiding. The difference between this Surgeonfish compared to others is that it is one of the more aggressive species, it has larger caudal peduncle spurs than most other Surgeonfishes, and it does not hesitate to use them!

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  • 13 of 20

    Chevron Tang (Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis)

    Colourful Juvenile Chevron Tang or Hawaiian Bristletooth Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis, Big Island, Hawaii
    ifish / Getty Images

    The Chevron Tang is not an overly aggressive fish, so it may get picked on by more aggressive surgeonfishes. It will usually get along well with other tank inhabitants, with the exception of its own kind, and it rarely bothers sessile invertebrates.

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  • 14 of 20

    Juvenile Chevron Tang (Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis)

    Colourful Juvenile Chevron Tang or Hawaiian Bristletooth Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis, Big Island, Hawaii
    ifish / Getty Images

    The juvenile stage of this fish is very colorful. However, once in the adult stage the red and purple colors fade and it becomes dark brown, almost black, with the sides of the body and head marked by many fine, horizontal, yellowish-gray lines. Because the adult stage of the Chevron Tang is similar in appearance to that of a Kole (Yellow-Eye Surgeonfish), it is referred to as the Hawaiian Black Kole. The differences are that it does not have the yellow ring around the eye, the body is darker in color, and its pectoral fins turn a dark brown color, where the Kole's pectoral fins are almost transparent.

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  • 15 of 20

    Goldrim (Whitecheek) Tang (Acanthurus nigricans)

    Whitecheek Surgeonfish
    Hal Beral / Getty Images

    It is a very shy fish, but once acclimated to its surroundings it becomes very active. It is best kept singly. If you insist on having more than one of these fish they should only be kept in a very large tank with ample cover, and not be kept with other more aggressive Acanthurus species. In general, this fish will get along with other unrelated fishes but may be become aggressive towards other similar in appearance or food competing species.

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  • 16 of 20

    Powder Brown Tang (Acanthurus japonicus)

    Acanthurus japonica
    marrio31 / Getty Images

    The Powder Brown Tang is also known as the Powder Brown Surgeonfish, Japan Surgeonfish, and White-faced Surgeonfish. It inhabits the Indian Ocean area and will reach a maximum size of 8".

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  • 17 of 20

    Desjardini sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma desjardini)

    Desjardini sailfin Tang in an aquarium
    Marianne Purdie / Getty Images

    The Desjardini Sailfin Tang is also known as the Indian Ocean Sailfin Tang, Desjardin's Sailfin Tang, or Red Sea Sailfin Tang and can be found in the waters of Africa, Maldives and Sri Lanka.

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  • 18 of 20

    Orangebar Tang (Acanthurus olivaceus)

    Orangebar Surgeon Fish
    mlharing / Getty Images

    The Orange Shoulder Tang is a very overlooked fish. Its colors are not very bright, but with the brownish-olive two-tone coloration accented by the bright orange bar on its shoulder, it is actually a very beautiful fish to have in an aquarium. The body of this fish during its juvenile stage is bright yellow, lacking the orange spot which develops as it matures.

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  • 19 of 20

    Powder Blue Tang (Acanthurus leucosternon)

    Aquarium Fish, Acanthurus leucosternon
    KonovalikovAndrey / Getty Images

    The Powder Blue Tang (Acanthurus leucosternon) is a very popular fish with aquarists, but one that is not easy to care for as the Powder Blue Tang requires much attention. It is highly susceptible to contracting ich and can have problems with HLLE. It can be aggressive towards other surgeonfishes, particularly those of the same shape and color. It is best housed as the only tang present in an aquarium, with the possible exception of a larger system. The more "houses" or hiding places that this fish has in a tank, the better it will do with other tank mates. Females are considerably larger than males. Can often be delicate to acclimate. This fish is very susceptible to ammonia burns in its gills and on its fins. When purchasing this fish examine it closely for "burnt" (ragged) fins and rapid gilling which is a sign of potential gill damage.

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  • 20 of 20

    Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)

    Fish, Yellow Tang, Zebrasoma flavescens
    Antagain / Getty Images

    The Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) is one of the most popular fish in a saltwater aquarium. Their bright yellow colors and easy nature with other fish make them an easy choice for beginning aquarists.

    A vast majority of the Yellow Tangs collected for aquarium use are harvested from the Kona (west) Coast on the Big Island in Hawaii. The easterly currents that flow up the west side of the Big Island from the nutrient-rich depths of the Pacific Ocean provide the perfect environment for breeding and growing this pelagic fish.