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Types of Saltwater Tang Fish

Surgeonfish or better known as Tang is usually the first choice of fish selected as pets for any marine aquarium. The name “surgeon” given to the fish actually comes from its base tail fin appearance that resembles a scalpel, which could actually inflict a deep cut to the handler when threatened. Other than the sharp fin, tang fish is also different from other marine species based on their special oval shaped body appearance which when you look from the front, is actually very thin. Other than that, the mouth region is also protruding out and all these features make them easily identifiable.

Tang can be classified into one large group or family known by its scientific name as Acanthuridae which also includes the Unicornfish. From the table below, you will find some of the most common tang fish species in high demand and sought after among fish lovers. Note that each individual species can be identified based on their different shapes, color appearance and sizes.


Common Name

Scientific Name

Chevron Tang
Chevron Tang
Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis

Yellow Tang

Yellow Tang
Zebrasoma flavescens

Blue Hippo Regal Tang
Blue Hippo/
Regal Tang
Paracanthurus hepatus

Blue Powder Tang
Powder Blue Tang
Acanthurus Leucosternon

Achilles Tang

Achilles Tang
Acanthurus achilles

Sailfin Tang

Sailfin Tang
Zebrasoma veliferum

Yellowtail Purple Tang
Yellowtail Purple TangZebrasoma xanthurum

Taking care of your tang can be a very tedious process because they require constant feeding due to their active nature. Rather than one large heavy meal of spirulina algae feed, they prefer the food to be spread around to different meals, usually 4 times a day. Other than that, they are also sensitive to changes in water quality and because of that they are highly susceptible to contacting parasitic saltwater fish disease, which could spread to other tank mates. Even when you are performing water change, it should be done with extreme care because temperature shock can be also one of the cause leading to sick tang fish. Tangs if properly cared for can grow up to more than a foot in length and as such, because of their large size marine hobbyist usually keep one individual tang species in a single tank and partly this is also due to their aggressive behavior.

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