Best Tangs for a Reef Tank
Fish are often an excellent option to keep as a recreational hobby. Fish can be much more than just decoration. They help to bring joy to everyday life through activities such as petting and watching them swim around.
What are tangs and why should I add them to my aquarium?
Commonly called surgeonfish (or doctorfish), tangs are some of the most popular and sought-after fish for any reef tank. They’re colourful, hardy and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. But with so many choices on offer, how do you know which tang to choose? Let’s take a look at some of the best tangs available today that you should consider adding to your home aquarium!
10 Best Tangs for a Reef Tank
There are several types of tangs to choose from, so it’s important to pick which one is right for you. You will first want to consider the types of fish that thrive in a reef tank before purchasing your new companion. You will need to make sure that they can coexist with other inhabitants and that they won’t kill them by instinct.
Some tangs are better suited to particular reef tanks, so make sure you know what kind of tank and accessories you have to get the right tang. Talk to your aquarium specialist or aquatic vet if you’re unsure.
Most popular best tangs include:
The yellow tang, or Zebrasoma Flavescens, is a fish that typically reaches around eight inches in length and should be fine in tanks of 75 gallons. They are compatible with invertebrates when small but can become aggressive towards other fish after maturing.
The yellow tangs originated in the Pacific Ocean and are commonly found in reefs off Hawaii. It’s a common species that are easy to find and one of the most popular tangs for the reef.
Their bright yellow colour is very striking and they are visually stunning as adults. They should be fed a diet of algae-based pellets and flakes as this will help maintain their beautiful colour. But don’t expect them to remain yellow all the time. When night falls your bright yellow tang may look a dull greyish-yellow with a white lateral line. Don’t be concerned, they’re perfectly fine. Their nightly colour is to protect themselves from predators. Unfortunately, their beautiful yellow colour does fade over time.
The yellow tang will cost around $200.00 and it would be best to buy one that is around eight inches long or larger.
Powder Blue Tang
The powder blue tang, Acanthurus Leucosternon, should be kept in tanks of 100 gallons or larger due to their size. They are very hardy and can live for over ten years if given the proper care.
The powder blue tang is a saltwater fish that typically has a bright blue colour when mature. They are known to lose some of their vibrant blue coloration as they age. It’s also common for the colour to change as they become larger and older.
The powder blue tang has a unique shape, especially young specimens. It’s one of those fish that look quite different from others in the same family because they have such a distinct body shape.
The powder blue tang can cost you around $120.00 to add one to your aquarium and there are several types to choose from. It’s also best if you purchase a young specimen or juvenile so that you won’t be disappointed with the coloration.
The achilles tang, Acanthurus Achilles, is a saltwater fish that typically reaches around ten inches in length. It should be kept in aquariums of 160 gallons or larger due to its size and aggressive nature.
The achilles tang is often described as one of the most beautiful fish in the sea. It is a dark brown or purplish fish with bright areas of orange and white around its fins?and gill covers. It also has yellow eyes with a unique shape that capture attention. Juvenile specimens are one of the most colourful tangs available but will suffer from fading. This can be somewhat disappointing for some hobbyists and it should be noted that the change in colour is normal.
The achilles tang is an omnivorous fish that feeds on various types of small invertebrates and algae-based foods. They’re not picky eaters and should be able to adapt to most aquariums but they will need plenty of space due to their large size.
Achilles tang will eat corals and invertebrates when young but their diet changes as they age. They’re very aggressive towards other fish once they mature and will attack smaller fish to defend their territory.
You can buy achilles tang from any pet store costing around $350.00. With several options available, it’s best if you purchase a juvenile specimen so that you won’t be disappointed with the coloration.
Royal Blue Tang
The royal blue tang, Acanthurus Coeruleus, is a saltwater fish that typically reaches around twelve inches in length. It should be kept in aquariums of 200 gallons or larger due to its size and aggressive nature.
Royal blue tangs are popular for their bright blue coloration. But unlike powder blue tangs, royal blue tangs are bright when they’re young. Their colour usually fades away as they mature, which will diminish their colourful appearance.
Royal blue tangs can be aggressive and are reasonably large in size. They can grow up to twelve inches in length so it’s important to ensure there is plenty of space for them in your reef tank.
This species will cost you around $120. If you’re keeping a pair, make sure that they have similar colouring or the difference will stress them out and decrease their lifespan. They are best kept with other tangs of similar size.
Yellow Eye Kole Tang
The yellow eye kole tang, Ctenochaetus Strigosus, is a saltwater fish that is durable and should be kept in tanks of at least 75 gallons. They are very peaceful when they’re young but can become aggressive with age.
The yellow eye kole tang has a bright yellow coloration with blue highlights. They have a dark spot near the middle of their body, which some say resembles an eye. The yellow-tipped tail provides them with increased speed when they need to escape from predators, such as moray eels or larger fish.
Their most distinctive feature is the long spine located behind their head. This spine is covered in black and white spines, which act as camouflage.
Yellow eye kole tang generally cost around $150. They’re around six to ten inches in length, and they should be kept with other peaceful fish that aren’t smaller than them.
The sailfin tang, Zebrasoma Desjardinii, is a saltwater fish that can grow to be around fourteen inches in length. They should be kept in aquariums of 120 gallons or larger due to their size and aggressive nature.
Sailfin tangs are popular for their long fins and bright colours, with a distinct bright lime green covering their body and head. They have two black stripes running down the length of their body. Their fins are yellow with blue highlights.
Their name comes from the tall dorsal fin located behind their head. The only other fish that has this tall dorsal fin is the regal tang. Sailfin tangs are very hardy and can handle a variety of water conditions, but they don’t like sudden changes in temperature or pH.
They should only be kept with other tangs that have similar aggression levels and tank requirements.
The purple tang, Zebrasoma Xanthurus, is a saltwater fish that can grow up to fifteen inches in length. They are typically kept in tanks of 100 gallons or larger due to their size.
Purple tangs are known for their bright coloration at young age. The Purple Tang is blue to purple in color with a yellow tail and yellow accents on the pectoral fins. The purple tang can be found in The Arabian Sea, The Red Sea, coral reefs and waters off Siri Lanka.
They should only be kept with other tangs that have similar aggression levels and tank requirements.
If you are looking to add some purple tangs to your reef tank, it can cost you around $250.
The black tang, Zebrasoma Rostratum, is a saltwater fish that can grow up to twelve inches in length. They will need to be kept in tanks of 100 gallons or larger.
Black tangs are known for their bright coloration at young age. As they mature, their colour slowly fades away until they reach adulthood. They usually have a grey body with black highlights, including their fins and tail. Their most distinctive feature is the bright yellow colour on their pelvic and anal fins.
As you can see from the picture, they are one of the larger species of tang, growing up to twelve inches in length.
The cost of black tangs vary from $200 to $300. They are one of the rarer species so its availability and price may change.
The clown tang, Zebrasoma Flavescens, one of the larger species of tang, is a saltwater fish that can grow to be around thirteen inches in length. They should be kept in aquariums of at least 100 gallons or larger due to their size and aggressive nature.
Clown tangs are known for their bright coloration as juveniles. Their body is bright yellow or orange with bright blue horizontal stripes and black accents. As they mature, they lose their colour and become grey with black highlights.
They’re very hardy tankmates that are known for being low maintenance because they can adapt to differing pH levels. Just keep an eye on their swimming space because clown tangs can get aggressive when they feel crowded.
How much do these wonderful reef fish cost?
Well, it depends on what type or species the tang is and where you are purchasing them from. It largely depends on supply and demand as well as their rarity. You can purchase most types of tangs for $150-$1500 USD and upwards from there.
Things to consider before you choose Tang Fish for your reef tank
While tang fish are very colourful and, for the most part, quite hardy, there are some things you need to consider before rushing out and buying them:
The price of a tang can vary greatly depending on the species, but not all tangs are created equal. For example, you may find that aquarists charge a higher price for popular fish like the powder blue or the regal, while charging under $100 for less desirable fish.
It’s not only the cost of fish but also the cost of reef tank. You need to buy a reef tank set up first, because tangs love to swim and they need big reef tanks to live comfortably.
It is always important to consider the tank size. Most tangs have large demands for space. In a reef tank, they may not be comfortable living in the aquarium unless they have enough room to swim. For example, clown tangs require at least 200 gallons of water to live and plenty of swimming space. While some smaller species (like powder blue) can be kept in 100 gallons of water. So make sure you have a suitable tank size for your tangs.
While tangs are very colourful, they can be aggressive. The best choice for beginners is to choose larger species with relatively the same intensity as other species from the same genus. This also means that you should avoid putting multiple species together and, instead, choose one tang in the tank that can dominate all of the other fish.
Tang Fish Diseases and care
As with any fish, tangs can get sick. While they are often able to fight off diseases on their own with minimal help from the aquarist, there are some common problems that can occur.
A few fungal and bacterial infections are common in tangs but can be treated with methylene blue or a similar medication. More serious illnesses such as marine ich (cryptocaryon) and marine velvet are much more difficult to treat.
It’s important to know that tangs can get moody when they feel sick.. You should take care of your fish immediately if you notice signs of disease like white spots or cloudy eyes.
No Fish is Easy to Care For
Tangs are some of the most popular fish for reef tanks, and they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
But with so many choices on offer, how do you know which tang to choose? The best way is to consider your budget, available space in your aquarium/reef tanks, current inhabitants (if you already have other fish), and aggression level.
There’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to picking out a new addition for your home aquarium – but our team at Aquarium How can help!