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Tangs Fish Care Guide – Feeding, Diet, Tankmates, Breeding

When it comes to home saltwater aquariums, a fish that is by far one of the most popular among home aquarists or fish tank keepers is the Tang fish. The most common of them being the Blue and Yellow Tang fish.

These two are usually at the top of any list that concerns large saltwater fish tanks. Blue Hippo Tang is another name that is used to describe the Blue Tang and is part of the surgeonfish family.

"Dory" from the hit animation movie "Finding Nemo" is credited with helping popularize these fish even further. Aside from the clownfish, not many other fish are as popular as the Tang in the hobby of reefkeeping.

When it comes to marine fish, most of them come in elegant shapes and have beautiful patterns and coloration. However, what sets the Tang species apart from other marine fish is the fact that it has an almost dog-like personality.

They are normally aware of when their owner is present and can sometimes even tell the difference between who's a stranger and who's the owner. Also, along with there mellow personalty as well as their aesthetically pleasing appearances, they happen to be voracious algae eaters.

They love hanging around live rock while they gorge themselves on plant matter, undesirable hair algae or any algae in general.

These fish are natives of the Indo-Pacific ocean. However, because they happen to be such an extremely popular fish among home aquarists and the like, you'll almost always be able to get your hands on one from any local pet shop.

There blade-like fins located near their tail-fins is the main reason why they were assigned the alternative name known as Surgeonfish, according to fishkeepingadvice, and it's something they use on those rare occurrences when they're quarrelling with each other or settling disputes.

What Does A Tang Fish Look Like?

On each side of the Tang fish's tail are extremely sharp spines that usually look quite similar to a surgeon's scalpel, according to ​nature.org

They normally stay flat against the body of the fish and only extend outwards when the fish is alarmed or threatened. The side to side thrashing of the tail gives the Tang the ability to inflict severe damage on anything or anyone it deems an enemy.

Blue and yellow refer to the color of the particular Tang fish in question and that usually changes as the Tang gets older and older. Tang fish of tender ages usually start off bright yellow accompanied by blue spots located next to their eyes.

As the fish matures, almost all of their body turns blue with only the tail retaining the bright yellow color. Those that have fully matured into adulthood have a bright blue color scheme from their head to their tail accompanied by narrow dark lines that run through their entire body.

Full grown adults measure an average size of around twelve inches long and live singly. They are a solitary fish by nature, Nevertheless, they can still live in pairs or a group that can sometimes be as large as ten to twelve fish. They will, on occasion, form these large groups when they're in the wild, hanging around the reefs.

What Are The Tank Requirements For Them?

If you want your Tang fish to feel comfortable and at home in a home fish tank or aquarium, you'll have to consider getting a tank that can hold at least one hundred and fifty gallons of water or more. The bigger it is, the better it will be for your fish.

Many beginner aquarists or fish tank keepers will buy a twenty gallon tank and stuff their Tang inside it due to the fact that they probably bought it when it was considerably small in size, measuring about two inches or less. We're here to inform you that this is more often than not a terribly bad idea.

This is in large part because the tang fish is, unfortunately, a very fast grower and it only takes a matter of months for it to grow a few inches longer. It will outgrow a small tank in the blink of an eye.

So, what will happen when you put a Tang fish in a tank that is too small for it? Well, this will lead the fish to becoming extremely stressed as well as agitated constantly. Imagine all of a sudden having to spend the rest of your natural life having to live inside a cramped box because this is exactly the kind of stress your fish will begin to experience.

They also become very aggressive when they aren't provided with sufficient room in which to roam around in. The Tang isn't a shy fish by any means. Actually, they're an "open" swimming fish species which demands for plenty of swimming space. An appropriate amount of swimming space is usually about six feet.

When getting an aquarium or fish tank that is large enough to comfortably house a Tang fish, placing plenty of live rock in the main tank as well as in the refugium is usually a very good idea.

This is because Tang fish normally have high bio-load amounts and can tend to dirty the water pretty fast in the event enough live rock is lacking in the tank, Not only does this live rock help keep the water clean, it also provides a surface for plant matter and algae to grow on which, in turn, means more food for your Tang fish to feed on. But, remember not to fill the aquarium up with too many rocks because this could eat up some much needed swimming space.

What Do They Eat?

Even though this fish can be solitary at times, when in the wild, they can tend to form large groups of up to as much as twelve fish which spend a majority of their time cruising the reefs in search of any algae they can chow down on along the way.

Despite the fact that this fish is primarily a herbivore when not in captivity, when fully acclimated to the home aquarium or tank, these type of fish will eat practically anything you put in front of them.

Pellets, brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, krill-the Tang fish eats it all. Seeing as how algae constitutes a large part of the fish's general diet, it'll be a good idea for you consider providing them with a sufficient amount of fish food that is algae-based as well. A good example of fish food that has a good amount of algae contained in it is Nori.

The price of the brand will largely depend on the particular one you choose. Julian Spunges Sea Veggies is one of the brands some home aquarists feel is quite pricey even though it's of pristine quality and has a considerable amount of algae found in it.

It also comes in flake form as well which makes the feeding process a lot more convenient. Thankfully, there happens to be numerous brands that churn out Nori particularly for human consumption. Nori sheets need to be secured using some kind of clip, according to ​pethelpful. You can make one at home by yourself or buy a commercial type one.

The next best thing would be to find Formula Two. This are high quality algae-based mixes designed for herbivores. These are basically products that have extra amounts of algae matter alongside a good blend of vitamins, trace minerals, seafood and much much more.

It can be bought in form of frozen cubes, pellet or flake food. The above mentioned food are some of your best bets when it comes to getting the appropriate fish food for your Tang. However, if your looking for a very good all rounder and one that contains a proper ingredients balance then they don't come any better than New Life Spectrum pellets.

One thing that you should never feed your Tang fish is lettuce. This usually happens quite a bit in most local pet stores and they're probably doing this because they want to save a few bucks.

Lettuce basically offers very minimal to no nutritional value at all. It shouldn't have any place in your Tang's diet. Feeding it to your Tang fish is a large waste of time and will not help your fish in the slightest.

Is Breeding Them Easy?

Getting captive bred Tang fish is a difficult, and sometimes even nearly impossible, thing to achieve. This is especially so because when they are babies they happen to be particularly sensitive to water conditions.

These type of fish are naturally very prone to contracting certain diseases and in such a closed, small space, considering that they're used to living in the spaces of the planet's vast oceans, it's certainty quite difficult to try and mimic or create the perfect copy of the environment need for the successful development of juvenile Tang fish.

However, if you've got your heart set on breeding while in captivity, what you'll need is two tangs, one male and one female of course, a tank that can hold about two hundred gallons of water at the very least, which lacks the presence of other predator fish and create near perfect water conditions required for effective development.

Learning how to identify the gender of a Tang fish isn't very had. If you want to know which one's a male, at their tail behind the scalpels look for raised scales. If you find any that'll be your confirmation that that's a male.

For females, that region of their body will typically be really smooth. Another thing is that the males will generally be much larger in size compared to their female counterparts. This is usually another thing that makes it relatively easy when identifying the gender of the Tang fish.

What Is Their Behaviour Like?

The tang, like we've mentioned earlier, is a considerably big fish. Nevertheless, even though it's quite big, it happens to be equally naturally very peaceful. This is largely why it makes them so perfect as well as ideal for most saltwater aquarium set ups.

Typically, most or rather all the aggression and hostility kept by the tang is reserved for the other members of its clan of surgeonfish. However, size is the most common factor in aggression in almost everything and that goes for this scenario as well. If you intend on keeping multiple Tangs then you'll need to invest in a very big fish tank in order to avoid potential aggression.

Another very common trigger among this type of fish is where territory is concerned. The need for them to have vast spaces in which for them to occupy usually translates into not being too friendly to visitors, intruders and those that are attempting to encroach their area.

This normally happens when you introduce another fish into their environment or when other fish gets to more threatening body sizes. Fortunately, there's a way you can remedy these bouts of aggression with these four easy steps:=

  1. Remove and quarantine your fish
  2. Rearrange your aquarium
  3. Give other fish about two to three days in order to allow them to establish territories of their own.
  4. Step Four- At night, return the Tang fish.

These simple strategies can prove to be some of the best options when dealing with Tang fish that happen to have overly aggressive personalities. The idea behind this strategy is to award every other fish the chance to establish and define their own territories before reintroducing the Tang back into the environment.

What this will do is it will give the Tang that "new kid on the block" vibe which will eventually translate into reduced territorial tendencies. However, others and particularly the Yellow tang can have overly aggressive personalities for no apparent reasons. Placing a picture of itself or a mirror by the tank will take a lot of the Tang's edge off.

What Are Their Water Requirements?

You can't skimp when it comes to the water conditions required by these fish. And forget the idea of just dumping regular salt into the aquarium water because that simply what do. You must meet their specific parameters.

Even though its possible to produce your very own saltwater right there at home, it's advised you get some from your local pet shop. They'll probably have some stocked.

Once you've established your water, there are a few other things you'll need to make sure you do in order to maintain a healthy and thriving aquarium. Some of these things include the monitoring of the levels of calcium, nitrate, ammonia, alkalinity and pH, phosphate and of course salinity.

Each one having a specific level that needs to be kept and maintained. Your fish's pee or urine is what gives rise to the ammonia in your aquarium, not forgetting the rotting uneaten fish food. Optimal ammonia levels should be a measurement of close to nil as possible, according to ​fishcareguide.

Unfortunately, for this to be possible, you'll need a fully functioning, top of the line, biological filter. This will also help keep the nitrate level as minimal as possible as well.

This happens to be something only a filter of this sort can achieve. Three hundred and eighty to four hundred and twenty parts per million of Calcium is the level it should be ranging at because that mineral is vital in maintaining the proper health of your coral.

What Make The Best Tankmates For The Tang Fish?

The other fish that are usually most compatible with the Tang fish are clownfish, puffers, angelfish, lionfish, hawkfish, eels and the like. All you need to remember is that you can't avoid paying close attention for any potential signs of aggression, violence and fighting. So if you are thinking of mixing them with a ​Moray Eel, think carefully first.

Yellow Tang fish have a particularly aggressive personality, especially toward newcomers to the aquarium environment. They have that big bully mindset and mentality. And even though most Tang generally don't like each other that much, the Yellow Tang hates other surgeonfish as well as Tangs in general a little bit more.

However, if you intend on keeping more than one tang then you have to have an extra large tank in which you'll be housing them in. In this case you might just get away with keeping more than one of them together in the same place.

Always remember to change out the decor and rock placements every time you plan on introducing a new fish into a mix that has Tangs in it,especially if the new fish is another surgeonfish.

When you notice them swinging their tail towards the newly introduced fish, this means that they aren't too fond of the newcomer and they probably might attack it, according to petponder. In reality, they rarely ever do but signs are something they'll definitely show. It's best to introduce multiple Tangs to an aquarium all at the same time because they won't have already established territories.

How Can You Keep Your Tank Clean?

Go through something known as "fishless cycles" whereby you keep the aquarium without fish for seven days or more while you carefully take care of it.

Not only is this a good maintenance practice, it also gets your tank replenished and rejuvenated each time you do this. Do this occasionally and you'll notice the difference this technique makes.

Most saltwater fish usually require attention and you'll need to keep a close eye on them. When spotting any potential ailment, illness or disease, you'll need to learn how to be extremely observant. You might even want to consider installing two separate filters for that extra tank cleanliness.

When you maintain a healthy and clean aquarium as well as taking good care Tang fish, eventually, this will translate into a colorful saltwater aquarium. Even though all fish eventually die doesn't mean that when yours does actually die you just collect it and send it down the drain of your loo.

Unlike "Finding Nemo", drains only lead to a pool of sewage and not the sea, according to wikihow. You should take your fish outside instead, place it in a water filled container and bury it in the yard.

What Are The Health Concerns Involved With Tang Fish?

Whenever your fish is actively swimming, its eyes are clear, the fins are intact and it's eating as much as it usually does, this normally means that your Tang fish is in pristine health conditions.

All is well with the world whenever your fish is maintained at these levels. However, whenever you notice a drastic loss of appetite or you notice fungus or spots on the body or near the mouth, consult your vet immediately as well as check the water specifications.

Some of the most common diseases the Tang fish, according to ​petponder, are prone to contracting are:-

  1. MARINE ICH: causes and symptoms include the presence of cysts on the skin, fins and gills, labored breathing and pale skin or excess mucus on the fish's skin. The treatment involved includes treating the entire aquarium using the help of a commercial parasite product to improve water quality and using dips designed for freshwater tanks can help dislodge and expel existing parasites as well.

  2. FIN ROT: causes and symptoms include disintegrating or frayed fins, and a red coloration usually found at the fins base. This is a disease that you can't handle on your own. Even though improving water quality is what is advised, you'll need to make sure you contact and consult your vet immediately. They will know exactly what to do. Playing around with this disease could mean the life of your Tang fish, according to petco.

What Is The Lifespan Of This Fish?

The Tang is a particularly hardy fish, especially the Yellow Tang. With proper care and maintenance these fish can live up to around a total of ten to twenty years of age. However, this will only be possible if you successfully recreate the environment it requires to not only survive, but thrive as well.


All in all, this fish is a wonderful saltwater aquarium fish and will add value to almost any large aquarium. They are relatively easy to take care of and are quite a lovable aquatic animal to have in your home.

It's certainly one you won't regret having. And with this Tang fish care guide, hopefully, you now know all you need to know about this fish.


Hey, thanks for passing by, welcome to the blog for Pet Fish fans. This is me, Wayne, and my son Theo. I started this journey after we bought him hist first Fish Tank of fish. Follow my site for my research and info on Pet Fish.