Tang tank size

Tang tank size DEFAULT

Tangs, also known as surgeonfish, are probably the most popular fish in the reefkeeping hobby next to the clownfish. Tangs come in a variety of colorations, from a striking contrast of blue, yellow, and black (as is with the blue hippo tang) to the subtler blend of brown and yellow (as is with the kole tang).

Naso Tang

Let’s face it though – most marine fish have beautiful colorations and patterns. What sets this species apart from other fish, however, is that they act almost like dogs; they’re aware of their owner’s presence and might even be able to tell apart their owners from strangers. Apart from their attractive appearance and personality, they’re also voracious algae eaters, continuously swimming around live rocks and feasting on undesirable hair algae and other algal or plant matter.

Because of the desirable qualities mentioned, a lot of novice aquarists often make the mistake of buying a tang for their first tank, only to have it die in less than a month. Whether you’re planning to purchase a tang or are simply curious about this interesting species of fish, this guide shall fill you in on the details you need in terms of tang origin, life span, care, feeding, and breeding.


Tangs are mostly found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, though due to their popularity, most tang species are available in local pet stores. They have blade-like fins near their tailfins that they use when they quibble with each other, hence the alternative name, ‘surgeonfish’.

Life Span

When taken care of properly, tangs can live for up to 30 years! A lot of aquarists have reported their tangs living for approximately 25 years, after which they become more prone to diseases like ich. Unfortunately, a lot of beginners can’t seem to keep tangs for more than a few months or even days. On that note, the next section talks about how to take care of a tang properly.

General Care

All species of tangs require large tanks due to reaching 6-12 inches in size when fully grown. Compared to clownfish or gobies that normally don’t need a lot of swimming space, tangs are used to swimming a couple of miles a day in the vastness of the ocean. They don’t host anemones, nor do they perch on live rock or dig caves to hide in; they explore trenches, crevices, and other places in the ocean that could possibly contain algae and other types of food.

Yellow Tang Care

This means that in order to house a tang comfortably, one would need at least a 150-gallon tank or bigger. A lot of novice aquarists end up buying a tang and stuffing them in a 20-gallon tank just because they bought them at a particularly small size (usually about1.5 inchesor less). Unfortunately, tangs are fast growers and could easily grow a few inches in just a few months, given that they survive the stress of living in such a small space.

The unfortunate side-effect of putting a tang in too small a tank is that they become extremely stressed; imagine suddenly being forced to live in a box for the rest of your life – that’s the kind of stress tangs experience. Apart from that, tangs become highly aggressive when not given enough space to roam around. In any case, a longer tank is better than a taller tank – usually at least 6 feet of swimming space is sufficient.

If one obtains a large enough tank for a tang, it’s a good idea to put a lot of live rock rubble both in the refugium and the main tank, as tangs have quite a high bio-load and can quickly foul up the water without sufficient amount of live rock. Having a lot of live rock inside the main tank also gives algae or any other plant matter more surface to grow on, and consequently, more food for the tang to graze on. Take care, however, not to fill the tank with so much rocks that it doesn’t give the tang enough space to swim.

While tangs are generally hardy once established in a large, stable marine aquarium, they are prone to all sorts of diseases when stressed, especially due to their naturally thin slime coat. A lot of factors could easily lead to stress, including: small tank space, overcrowding, lack of food source, and poor water conditions. In any case, it’s a good idea to quarantine newly bought fish for at least a month in order to make sure that they’re disease-free and won’t introduce parasites into the main tank. A biweekly 10% water change may be enough for tanks that do not have sensitive corals and other invertebrates. If, however, one plans on introducing SPS corals and other sensitive corals then it’s important to invest in a quality skimmer rated for at least twice the tank water volume. One may also need to invest in an RO/DI unit to ensure that the water is free from organic impurities.


Pencilled Tang

As mentioned before, tangs love algae and will thrive in an aquarium with a lot of it. Unfortunately, however, lush algae growth is often a sign of high nitrates and phosphates, which are detrimental to coral health. Also, for relatively small tanks, tangs may easily decimate algae in less than a day, therefore making it necessary to feed them vegetable matter. You can look for nori in any Asian grocery store, as tangs usually love them. Make sure, however, that you purchase an unseasoned one. Tangs can also eat Mysis shrimp, chopped scallops, and other types of meaty food.


To date, it’s almost impossible to get captive bred tangs because of how sensitive the babies are to water conditions. As mentioned before, tangs are quite prone to disease, and in such a small, closed space (relative to the ocean), it’s rather difficult to produce the perfect environment for the development of the baby tangs. Your best bet is to get a pair of tangs, place them in at least a 175-gallon system without any other predators in place, and produce nearly perfect water conditions (0 nitrates, 0 phosphates, etc.).

Sours: https://fishkeepingadvice.com/tangs/

It’s hardly a surprise that people want to know the minimum tank size required for keeping a yellow tang. 

At least, those interested in getting into the saltwater aquarium hobby. 

I don’t know what, but there is something satisfying about watching these fish swim. 

Maybe it is the contrast they make with their beautiful vibrant yellow colors. Or the way they graze algae from the rocks. Or maybe, it is something else entirely. 

Whatever the reason is, these fish are certainly one of the most desired fish in the aquarium hobby. And, like with other types of fish, we do need to know their requirements, before we buy one. 

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about keeping tangs, including the size of the tank they need.

You’ll learn the size yellow tangs reach, why you can’t keep them in smaller tanks, and how fast they’ll grow in adults. In addition, we’ll answer some related questions, as well.

Let’s get started!

How Big Do Yellow Tangs Get 

The Yellow Tang is probably the most popular fish in the saltwater aquarium hobby next to the clownfish. 

Quite often, when beginners see these fish in person, they immediately fall in love and want to have them in their tanks. Many people fail victims of this, including myself. 

However, I am aware that I can’t keep them. At least, not yet. I can’t provide the right conditions for a yellow tang, so I’ll probably stay away from that idea. But, a man can only dream. 

Yellow tangs can get quite big, reaching sizes up to 8 inches. Fish with that size needs a lot of space for swimming and exploration. 

How Fast Do Yellow Tangs Grow

I’ve heard people debating about keeping baby yellow tangs in smaller tanks until they reach a certain size. 

While this approach might work with other types of fish, I wouldn’t recommend it doing it with tangs. Why you might ask? 

Firstly, people say that they will upgrade the tank when their yellow tangs outgrow it but they never do. 

At least, most of the hobbyists. To be honest, nobody wants to upgrade tanks every year to suit certain types of fish. The best practice is to make a stocking plan from the beginning, make a list of fish you want to keep, and from there buy according to that plan. 

With proper care, you can expect your yellow tang to grow about 1 to 2 inches yearly. Assuming the fish is in great health condition. 

However, despite that, there are a lot of different factors that can influence the yellow tang growth. Their diet, genetics, and environment can have an impact on the size, as well. 

Minimum Tank Size for Yellow Tang 

Yellow Tangs need at least a 100-gallon tank with a minimum length of 4ft. That’s the bare minimum, and it’s probably good only for a baby yellow tang. 

If you want to see your tang thrive consider setting up a 150 gallon or even 200-gallon tank. That way, you can truly enjoy watching these beautiful fish. 

With yellow tangs is more about length, than about water volume. Keep that in mind before you choose the size of your tank. 

They are strong swimmers, so naturally, they’ll be happier in longer tanks. Think about 5ft or 6ft tanks. Anything smaller will stress them out in the long run. And stressed tangs are more prone to diseases. 

What about people keeping yellow tangs successfully in smaller tanks? 

While I’ve seen yellow tangs successfully kept in smaller tanks, I wouldn’t recommend it doing it. 

Those cases are exceptions, not the norm. 

More importantly, don’t fell in the trap of some fish stores that will say anything in order to sell fish. It’s not rare to see stores recommending keeping tangs in tanks smaller than 100 gallons. 

Don’t listen to that advice, unless you want to end up disappointed. 

Related Questions 

Can you put a yellow tang in a 55-gallon tank? 

A 55-gallon tank is a way too small tank for a yellow tang. Consider upgrading to a larger size. 

How many gallons does a tang need?

A Yellow Tang needs at least a 100-gallon tank. 

Are yellow tangs good for beginners? 

Yellow tangs are not difficult to take care of. Assuming you provide it with the right conditions, a good diet, and a proper size of a tank, you can keep them even as a beginner aquarist. 

Can a yellow tang live in a 20-gallon tank? 

Yellow Tangs can’t live in 20-gallon tanks. Even baby yellow tangs need at least a 100-gallon tank in order to thrive. Adding a tang in that small tank will certainly end up with the death of the fish. 

Final Thoughts 

You should not keep yellow tang in a smaller tank. If you do, the Tang Police will get you! 

For those not familiar with that term, it is an internal joke among reefers. Kidding aside, the joke has its point. It’s good for beginners to be aware that they can’t keep yellow tangs in small tanks. 

Unfortunately, many people don’t follow the advice given by more experienced aquarists. Often, they buy a tang and add it to a smaller tank with a hope that it will live without any problems. 

However, in many cases that don’t happen. The yellow tang dies, and they replace it with another. I would strongly advise you to not follow that practice. 

If you are interested in keeping tangs, do it the right way. Set up an appropriate tank from the start, and enjoy watching these beautiful fish. 

Otherwise, don’t even try.

Sours: https://www.aquaticpals.com/yellow-tang-tank-size/
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Surgeonfish (tangs) are easily one of the more popular and recognizable marine fish. Most tangs are primarily herbivorous, roaming the open coastal reef while browsing for vegetation. These very active swimmers cover huge expanses of the reef while feeding.

Many species of tang adapt readily to aquarium life, and can safely be added to a a reef tank. The goal of a responsible aquarist is to provide the optimum environment for the inhabitants of our piece of the ocean. While an optimum environment may never be achieved, the Team RC community has compiled a list of minimum aquarium sizes for the various species of tangs commonly offered to aquarists.

These recommendations are based on the experiences of a myriad of aquarists, both real-life experiences and through observation in the ocean. They are based on the goal of providing an environment that matches the active nature, feeding regimens and growth rates of the tang. If this goal is met, the reward to the aquarist (and more importantly the fish) is long-term health and beauty in the tank.

It must be remembered that tank size is only one factor in the equation. It should be a "given" that the tank provides adequate mature rockwork for grazing, aquascaping that provides both hiding/resting spaces and allows for straight-line swimming in open water, and tank mates that are compatible.

Min Volume

Min Length


Common Name



Acanthurus achilles1

Achilles Surgeonfish



Acanthurus coeruleus

Atlantic Blue Tang



Acanthurus japonicus

Powder Brown Tang



Acanthurus leucosternon2

Powder Blue Tang



Acanthurus lineatus2

Lined or Clown Surgeonfish



Acanthurus nigricans

Whitecheek Surgeonfish



Acanthurus olivaceus

Orangeshoulder Surgeonfish



Acanthurus pyroferus

Mimic Surgeonfish



Acanthurus sohal2

Sohal Surgeonfish



Acanthurus triostegus

Convict Surgeonfish



Acanthurus tristis

Indian Mimic Surgeonfish



Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis

Chevron Tang



Ctenochaetus striatus

Striated Bristletooth Tang



Ctenochaetus strigosus

Kole's Tang



Ctenochaetus tominiensis

Tomini Tang



Naso brevirostris

Spotted Unicornfish



Naso lituratus

Orangespine Unicornfish or Naso Tang



Naso unicornis

Bluespine Unicornfish



Naso vlamingii

Vlamingi Tang



Paracanthurus hepatus3

Pacific Blue or Regal or Hippo Tang



Zebrasoma desjardinii

Indian Ocean or Red Sea Sailfin Tang



Zebrasoma flavescens

Yellow Tang



Zebrasoma scopas

Brown Tang



Zebrasoma veliferum

Sailfin Tang



Zebrasoma xanthurum2

Purple Tang



1The Achilles Surgeonfish requires a very high flow level, and can pose even more health and feeding problems than other tangs.
2These species can be exceptionally aggressive, and require careful planning.
3These species are especially prone to infections, and should be watched very carefully in quarantine.[

Jonathan Bertoni

Sours: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1946079
FF#50 - Tang Police! Discussing Fish and Tank Size

Tang species are not made out of mold nor different individuals of the same species act identically; all have their own predilection for getting along, adapting to captivity. Some species (e.g. Acanthurus Sohal, A. Lineatus, A. Olivaceus…) are notorious for being super-alpha animals, but even the lowliest Yellow Tang can become a terror.

Choosing the best tang for your aquarium

Yellow tang in a reef tank

Picking out good Tang specimens involves a multi-prong approach.

Don’t buy just-arrived fishes. LEAVE them at your dealers for a few days to a week.

Last update on 2021-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

To ensure they will live, they are eating captive foods.

To give them time to show whether they have been sufficiently cleansed of external parasites by your dealer (do this yourself if there is any doubt), particularly Crypt and Flukes. I have never encountered a wild-caught (all are present, though efforts are afoot for producing captive specimens) tang that did not have these.

Look for damage to the mouth. Frayed fins, minor body markings are not a problem; indeed, they are to be expected; injury to the mouth, however, can be colossal trouble; resulting in cessation of feeding and death.

Sohal Tang

What Size Yellow tang Should I Get?

Like Goldilocks and porridge temperature, you want to buy your Yellow Tangs at the right size: Not too large (as in half of maximum size plus) nor too small (under 2-3 inches overall for most species), but “medium” is about right. Too big and tiny specimens get too damaged in the collection, handling, and shipping, and adapt poorly to captive conditions.

Evidence of neuromast destruction (Head And Lateral Line Erosion) does not qualify a purchase for me; as long as the pitting, whiting around the lateral line pores isn’t too deep, extensive all will heal with good water quality and nutrition in time.

If you’re a new hobbyist, choose of the hardier species of Tangs to try (e.g., bristletooth, Zebrasoma, some Acanthurus); and avoid the opposite end of the spectrum (Powder Browns, Blues, Achilles); as all Tangs are “ich magnets”; some much more so than others.

Avoid the “too mean” ones (Sohal, Orange Shoulder, Pyjama) unless you have an extensive reef or marine tank and much experience.

Avoid too-thin specimens; ones with pinched and bumpy bellies are fine, but being skinny in the flanks and head are out.

Intelligently stock your Tangs (and other livestock) in a systematic order, the less aggressive first, most aggressive last.

Tricolor 'Koi' Tang

Only buy Surgeonfishes when you presently have a system and spare room for them at the likely maximum size they’ll grow to be. The road to Heck is paved with good intentions, and way too many Tangs have lived short, miserable, harassed lives by being placed in too small and overcrowded, mis-stocked settings by folks who planned on upgrading. Buy them after you’ve got that new set up – not before.

As gone over in the Disease/Health section below, all Tangs should be isolated, quarantined for a week or two to give them time to rest up, you the opportunity to observe them for disease issues, ahead of introduction.

Additionally, I strongly advise the use of pH-adjusted freshwater dips/baths, with formalin if convenient or you’re processing many pieces (as in if you’re in the trade) to “knock off” a good deal of the external parasite load of newly acquired Acanthurids ahead of their introduction to main/display systems or shipping them on through the chain of custody in the industry.

As far as when to stock Tangs, due to their territoriality and penchant for algal searching/consumption, they are best placed as last or near-last fish specimens; in well-aged systems that have been up and running for at least a few months’ time.

Powder Blue Tang

What should be the yellow tang tank size?

For their size, Yellow tangs require a goodly amount of space, both to swim about and exercise in, but to feel comfortable mentally-emotionally. Limited space and/or crowded Tang is not a happy Tang.

Even the smallest Ctenochaetus and Acanthurus species need a four-foot-long system minimally; larger Acanthurus, Zebrasoma, and all Nasos an absolute minimum of six-foot runs. Jamming these animals into too-small confines or with too much other biota results in aberrant and overtly agonistic behavior, and their early demise; don’t do it.

Increasing usable space via an arrangement of rock, corals, et al. is essential. Rather than a giant wall taking up space, it’s far better to have breaks/gaps in the hardscape with these fishes, ideally, actually free-standing bommies that serve to break up the physical environment while providing visual barriers.

Though Yellow Tangs are fast and skillful swimmers, they have at times been known to get sucked onto strong pump intakes; for all’s sake, such points of entry should be screened, their suctions diffused to prevent such damage. Hiding powerful suctions behind rock work is one useful way to accomplish this; another is applying large open cell sponge material and oversized screens.

Surgeonfishes don’t mind overly bright settings but do require very brisk water movement and the high dissolved oxygen that is resultant. Strictly speaking, their environments cannot be over-circulated with tens of times turn over per hour appreciated.

There are a few celebrated groups/families of fishes that are susceptible to the vagaries of “metabolite poisoning,”; including Acanthurids.

Excessive waste build-up through over and misfeeding, poor skimming, over-crowding… often results in the neuromast destruction syndrome labeled “Hole in the Head,” or Head and Lateral Line Erosion (the contraction: HLLE) in these fishes. But know here that this “syndrome” is principally either lack of endogenous (internal) vitamin caused and/or external filth (in their water) related. Keep all ammonia and nitrite at zero, and nitrates below ten ppm in their systems.


Sean B.

Hi, my name is Sean, and I’m the primary writer on the site. I’m blogging mostly about freshwater and saltwater aquariums, fish, invertebrates, and plants. I’m experienced in the fishkeeping hobby for many years. Over the years I have kept many tanks, and have recently begun getting more serious in wanting to become a professional aquarist. All my knowledge comes from experience and reading forums and a lot of informative sites. In pursuit of becoming a professional, I also want to inspire as many people as I can to pick up this hobby and keep the public interest growing.
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Categories SaltwaterTags Surgeonfish, TangSours: https://theaquariumadviser.com/choose-the-best-surgeonfish/

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