FAQs on Achilles Tangs
Related Articles: Acanthurus Tangs,
Related FAQs: Acanthurus Tangs 1,
Achilles Tangs 2, & FAQs on:
Achilles Tangs Identification, Achilles Tangs Behavior, Achilles Tangs Selection, Achilles Tangs Systems, Achilles Tangs Feeding, Achilles Tangs Disease, Achilles Tangs Reproduction, & Acanthurus Tangs 2, Acanthurus Tangs 3, Acanthurus ID, Acanthurus Behavior, Acanthurus Compatibility,
Blue Tangs, A. sohal,
A. nigricans & A.
japonicus, Surgeons In General, Tang ID, Selection, Tang
Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease,
Surgeonfishes: Tangs for Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Achilles Tang 10/27/17
Greetings WWM Crew!
I hope all is well. I have been wanting to keep a small (~4") Achilles tang in
my 5-ft. mixed reef tank. I understand I will have to move the Achilles at some
point, but I think I will be able to enjoy a small one for a couple of years.
<At least... if raised from small, a five foot long system might do for several
My aquascape is open with swim throughs. Strong, non-linear flow. I have an
efficient nutrient export system where my nitrates (<5ppm) and phosphate
(<0.03ppm) are low.
All my inhabitants are healthy and happy with an occasional spat between the
purple & yellow tangs.
I have a lot of wrasse for pest control & aesthetic reasons: 3 leopard wrasses
(bipartitus, meleagris, and choati) ~4" each, red Coris wrasse ~7", 2 different
fairy wrasses ~ 4" each, yellow Coris ~4", melanurus wrasse ~4"
2 Zebrasomas for algae control: purple tang ~6" and yellow tang ~4"
2 cleaner shrimps
10-12 peppermint shrimps for Aiptasia control
My husbandry in terms of feeding is 4-5 different types of algae based pellets
in the morning and then LRS, Rods, & PE Mysis at night.
My main concern is aggression with the Zebrasomas, particularly with the yellow
tang. He is just territorial with a particular cave in my reef
tank, otherwise he does not bother anyone. I can always use my acclimation
box and/or mirror on the side of the tank trick to reduce aggression, but
re-aquascaping is highly unlikely due to my corals. So, I want your
opinion if it is a good, worthwhile endeavor to try a small achilles tang?
<If the Achilles is small; as you state, about four inches overall or less,
you should see only minor "jousting" twixt it and the Zebrasomas>
Many thanks in advance.
<As many welcomes. Do please write back w/ your observations. Bob Fenner>
Re: Achilles Tang 11/1/17
Hi Bob or Crew at WWM,
Thank you for the quick response with my last correspondence and your invitation
to report back on my quest to find an Achilles tang. As you know, the Hawaiian
legislation is making the search difficult with all my LFS. Luckily, I just
found a suitable size, 3 ½ inch Achilles at LiveAquaria.
<Ah yes, and good>
I have the following questions regarding the quarantine process:
1. I have a 15 gallon quarantine tank that has served me well in terms of
acclimating difficult to keep fishes like my leopard wrasses. What are your
thoughts in terms of a 3 ½ inch Achilles, would it be more beneficial to have a
short QT period (~ 1 week) vs. a full QT period (2+ weeks)?
<Likely somewhere either one or two weeks; only to be determined by your
observations of the fish's apparent health, stability>
The thought here is to get the Achilles in a larger, surging display tank with
stable water parameters asap.
My methodology is always to observe and then react based on how the fish is
<Mine as well>
2. When it comes to treating delicate fishes with medication, I do not treat my
QT tank if the fish does not show any sign of parasite/disease. I think copper,
etc. will cause undue stress and maybe more deleterious, especially when it is
<Very harsh on this species. I would resort to other (albeit less effective
treatment moda: extreme drop in spg... 1.010; perhaps consecutive pH adjusted
freshwater dips/baths, and moves to re-set up system... to exclude intermediate
I may perform a preventive dip prior to transferring it to the main display
<Yes I would; as well as one on the way into quarantine from shipping>
I use Blue Life Safety Stop, it is a 2-parts dip (part 1 is formalin and part 2
is Methylene blue).
<Ah yes; am very familiar>
If the Achilles shows no sign of parasite/disease, should I even use the dip at
<I would dip unless the fish is shaky from being moved>
Again, I want to minimize as much stress as possible.
Being in this hobby for years, I always appreciate your work & contribution to
help hobbyists like myself and further this niche, challenging, but rewarding
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Q re: Tang behaviour, compatibility. Incl. Achilles f'
Hello crew. Firstly, thank you so much for existing! You guys do a
fantastic job for our community. Truly invaluable.
<We're so glad/fulfilled to find our efforts of use to you, fellow
To the point. I've been reefin' for about 14 years. At present I have a
180g (6'x2'x2') reef with about a 2" sand bed and about 150lb of live
The inhabitants thus far include an assortment of small fish (4 - BG
Chromis, 3 - lyretail Anthias, 2 - yellow watchmen, 2 - clownfish, 1 -
mandarin dragonette), a one-spot foxface and a yellow tang. I recently
lost a Naso I had had for about six years and, after what felt like an
appropriate mourning period and approval through my domestic
I decided to get a tang I'd always wanted - an achilles. I decided to
purchase it from LiveAquaria in hopes of procuring a genuinely healthy
specimen. My question is about compatibility and 'normal behaviour'
twixt surgeon fish genera.
<Ah yes; a concern with these and their related (the Foxface/Siganids)
families of fishes. >
You see, my yellow tang was perfectly content living with the foxface
and the Naso, but with the similarly size/shaped achilles it seems to
have something to prove. I'm confused though; anytime I've seen fish
dislike each other, it has been abundantly obvious and relentless. With
these two it actually feels like they are just... sorting out a pecking
<Yes... to degrees...>
Is that a real thing amongst tangs?
<Indeed it is... they are constantly looking, testing, challenging what
they consider competitors... for feeding area>
They swim together, and they can eat in relatively close proximity to
one another with no issues. But they also have intermittent spats of
posturing and the occasional light crossing of tails. They, along with
the foxface are in an extended time-out in my 80g bare bottom QT with
some copper to knock back some ich I saw after Styx was introduced to
the main display. They have several lengths of 3" PVC (they stinking
love that stuff, swim in and out for hours - I like watching them in the
QT as much as in the main display...) and seem to be doing fine with the
near constant exposure to
In your near-infinite experience, is this a situation that would be best
ended now by trading my yellow tang for something less confrontational,
or is establishing a hierarchy likely?
<Mmm; if it were me/mine, I'd try introducing the new/Achilles with all
present. DO select for a small specimen.... 3-4" overall length if
possible... Such that it will be subdominant to the current
I had also thought to re-introduce the foxface back to the main display
first (in about 2 more weeks), then the achilles a day or so after, and
then the YT to kind of take the YT down a peg. I thought that Zebrasoma
and Acanthurus would differ enough to tolerate each other, but now I'm
not so sure. Advice?
<As stated. You will see more "jousting", but as long as there's not
physical damage, I would not be concerned>
Thank you so much,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
New Achilles Tang Getting Pestered
Good Day Crew,
<And you John>
I have a 7 foot, 350 gallon reef tank that's been established for
over a year. I designed the landscape of the tank, water chemistry, and
water flow around the needs of the Achilles Tang, which I knew from the
onset would be the main attraction of the tank one day. I have, what I
think would be considered a medium to heavy bio-load in the system.
Current inhabitants are Naso Tang, Desjardinii Sailfin Tang, Kole Tang,
Hippo Tang, Magnificent Foxface, 4 Anthias, 5 Chromis, Tomato Clown,
Lemonpeel Angel, Black Ocellaris Pair, Midas Blenny, Mandarin Goby. All
inhabitants get along very well, and because I knew from the get-go
that I wanted my Tang variety to be the focus of the tank, I've
been careful to pick specimens that were reared with other Tangs around
them at all times and that seemed to demonstrate good temperament
around other fish. From what I've seen and read, I have been quite
fortunate to have such peaceful Tangs.
<Mmm, you have been careful, well-planned... and the size, shape of
your system is propitious>
I should mention that they are all between 4 and 6 inches in length,
and in order to maintain good water quality I change 15% of the system
When I say I made my water chemistry and flow around acquiring the
Achilles, I mean that I keep Nitrates at around 1ppm, Phosphates nearly
undetectable, salinity stable at 1.025, 10x turnover through the sump
to keep oxygenation high, pH between 8.2-8.4, and an additional 15x
turnover within the display via a combination of korolas and
The display is disease free, has been since I set it up last summer. I
also arranged the almost 350lbs of live rock in an open arrangement so
that all 21 sq. ft. of surface area is swimmable space for the
I keep them well fed, and as I've mentioned have never witnessed
aggression from any of them towards the others.
Now fast forward to 7 weeks ago. I acquire a semi-juv Achilles Tang
specimen of my dreams (4'' in length). Great coloration, eating
Nori, spectrum pellets, mysis, formula 1 and 2 flakes, no signs of
parasites or damage to body or mouth. The tang was also being held and
acclimated at my dealer's facility in the same tank as a Naso Tang,
Sailfin Tang, and 2 Hippo Tangs (a freakishly similar situation to what
I've got going on now). I quarantined the fish in a 75 gallon long
for a full 7 weeks to observe behavior and feeding habits. Everything
seemed perfect, so this morning I slowly acclimated the new specimen to
my main display. He seems to be doing OK, though to finally get to my
issue, the Kole Tang is showing signs of aggression toward the
<These two share similar bio-niches/habitats....>
It's not so much of a chase as it is just an outright pecking at
and "backing into" the Achilles. I'm guessing the backing
up motion is an attempted to use its rear scalpel to spear the
On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being aggression to the point of death, I
would say the Kole is displaying a 3 or 4 toward the Achilles, who
oddly enough does not seem too bothered by the Kole's advances.
He'll just swim away to another dark crevice to rest, and maybe 10
to 20 minutes later the Kole will catch sight of him and do another
little dance for a minute or so.
My question is whether I should leave them be for now and let them
establish their pecking order (which I'm sure the Achilles will
eventually win) or whether to remove the Kole and place him in the
refugium (only 40 gallons) or in the QT (75 gallons) for an attitude
<I would definitely leave all as is... NOT move either>
All other inhabitants seem oblivious to the presence of the new
Achilles, but I worry that even this mild pestering of the Kole will
stress the Achilles to the point of an Ich outbreak, which I've
miraculously been able to stave off up to this point.
I understand that some people may think 5 tangs together in a 350 is
too much, though I have a slightly different philosophy that I feel has
worked well up to this point and I'd like to complete my vision of
the tank with this one last addition. If you can help me do this, I
would greatly appreciate that. Of course, if I feel I cannot meet the
needs of the Achilles within a short period of time I will make a
decision to either remove the Kole or the Achilles in the very near
re: New Achilles Tang Getting Pestered 7/29/11
<Still me John>
Thank you kindly. I always appreciate the time and energy you guys/gals
put into making WWM the life-line that it is.
I will surely be following up in the next few days if circumstances
require further expertise.
<Do drop us a proverbial line re your experience, observations.
Second opinion on keeping two tangs in
a 4x2x2 6/22/11 6/23/11
Asking for a second opinion on keeping two tangs in a 4x2x2.
<<So a standard 120 US gallon set up.>>
Im planning on keeping a Purple Tang with a Achilles
Tang would this work if I added them at the same time
<<The purple tang being one of the smaller of the Zebrasoma genus
(get up to 22cm in the wild but most captive specimens average about
10-12cm) could work in this set-up provided you don't overcrowd it
with a full wall of live rock or decorations (translation: leave as
much surface area open for swimming as possible while still providing
hiding/grazing places). I would avoid two tangs in this 4 foot long set
up, and I would especially avoid the Acanthurus achilles. There are
success stories here and there but in general these fair poorly in
captivity, this tank size isn't suitable for an adult especially
when you consider the psychological crowding with another tang (yes
aggression). If you do go with a tang from the Acanthurus genus there
are far better/more responsible choices.>>
Do you have any ideas that might stem aggression thanks.
<<Space, lots of space, and even then there is no guarantee but
certainly your chances of avoiding aggression between the two would be
increased with more available area, I wouldn't do it in this set up
however. Cheers, - Adam J.>>
Decision re: Achilles Tang transition, comp.,
I love your site, very valuable information. I am hoping you can help
me to make a decision regarding the transfer of an Achilles Tang.
<I will try...>
I currently have a well established 150g reef occupied by 2 Anthias, 2
Clowns, 1 Bannerfish, 1 Banggai Cardinal, 1Yellow Tang and 1 Powder
<The Powder Brown is not compatible with the Achilles>
Soon I will be picking up my new/used 270g tank which comes with an
Achilles Tang. My question is regarding his care until the 270g tank is
ready, should I keep the Achilles in a QT tank (40g breeder) or try to
introduce him to the Yellow and Powder Brown in the 150g, or ?
<This is a difficult choice you have here, Tracey. If you quarantine
the Achilles for too long then he will suffer, unless you can do so
with plenty live rock, difficult in a 40. It really depends on how long
it is going to be in there, and how big he is. He will definitely do
better in the reef tank, but is he going to fight with your present
fishes? I give you good odds that he will>.
The Achilles has been in his current tank for 9 months, he eats well
and is bigger than my Yellow and Powder Brown Tang.
<Assuming you are happy this Achilles comes from a system without
parasites, I would set up the 40, with live rock, ready. Try the
Achilles in the 150. If there's trouble, then you will have to
remove one of the fishes to the 40. But maybe this fish should be
quarantined anyway, before introduction to your others?>
Thanks for your help.
<No problem, and be aware that these might not even work together in
the 270. Be prepared to make a choice between them somewhere down the
Weird Achilles Tang behaviour... incomp. with
Zebrasoma flavescens 6-15-2009
Hi WWM Crew,
I think my Achilles Tang dislikes yellow. It has been with me for more
than 2 yrs & just recently it stress/starve my yellow tang to
death. It's a prolonged torture for my YT as my AT don't chase
it all the time, only occasionally & not too aggressive, but it
prevented the YT from eating during feeding time, to the extend that it
eat very little itself and both turned very slim. This lasted almost
half a year
<... for what reason/s did you allow this to continue?>
and I tried feeding more, but it's no use. Now that the yellow tang
is gone, my AT is eating well and slowly gaining weight again. I know
most fingers will point to the fact that both are from the same tang
family, but I've a blue tang and previously, yellow eye Kole tang
and they're like good friends, absolutely no animosity between
<These two are not found in overlapping ranges and have different
feeding strategies... unlike the Yellow...>
Before the yellow tang, I kept a golden butterfly and similar
aggression happened, but that time the golden butterfly managed to get
more food and survived until I passed it to a friend when I decided to
I like yellow fish, especially golden butterfly, but I know I'll be
putting my corals at great risk. Is there a solution to my problem?
I'm contemplating getting two yellow tangs to divide my AT's
attention. Do you think it'll work?
Thank you very much!
Naso, Achilles Tang/Compatibility, sys.
Hi everyone including Bob,
I have a 110G 5 foot long reef tank that has about 50lbs.
<50lbs of what?>
I currently have a 4" Naso Tang I've had for about 7months
including smaller fish like a pair of small Maroon Clownfish, Purple
Firefish, and a Royal Gramma. Since there is only 50lbs of live
<OK, 50lbs of live rock.>
there is good swimming room from one end to the other. My local fish
store has a juvenile 3.5-4 inch achilles that appears very healthy.
Since this is one of the most rarest fishes I've come across in
person, I couldn't pass up the chance to place a deposit and put
him on hold. I want to see how he does in the store captive enviroment
<environment> and have seen him feed. Will the Achilles behave
with my Naso which is my greatest concern.
<Nope, and your present tank will soon be too small, if not already,
for the Naso Tang.>
I know in the long run, a 110G wont be large enough for the Achilles
and especially the Naso, but I'm hoping for peace and longevity for
the next 2 years as I save for my grand tank.
<Julie, doing this is just asking for trouble. I'd put that
money toward that "grand" tank and read here.
Thank you so much.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Tang Acanthurus addn. Question
02/12/06 Hello, Love the
site!!! I have a quick question for you. I have a 100 gallon reef
system with 2 powder blue Chromis, a yellow tang, a purple tang (they
get along great!!) Mandarin goby, and two Percula clown fish that live
in my bubble tip!! I was wondering if I could add an Achilles Tang to
the mix. <Doubtful> I know tangs can get nasty, but I just love
the way the fish looks and would love one. Please let me know if this
would work, or if not, what other "show" fish I could put in
with the "gang"
Jeormy P.S.-Keep up the good
work <Thanks. Not a hardy species... not good in this setting. Bob
Achilles tang I was hoping you could answer a couple
question for me. I have a 75 gal reef tank with about 80lbs of LR. I
have a Tomatoe clown, 3 shrimp and lots snails/hermits. I have a purple
tang (3 inches) in quarantine. My local fish store told me I could add
an Achilles tang. I have them both in quarantine with a tank divider.
Is this going to work? <IMO, no. Your tank is too small for these
two to peacefully coexist.> I thought tangs were good together as
long as they were the same species (Zebrasoma). I read something on
your web page about the Achilles make your other tank mates die- Could
you explain further?- Thanks Anjanette <Have a nice evening. -Steven
Achilles and Powder Blue
Tang'¦Together? -- 06/30/08 Can an Achilles and a Powder
Blue get along in a system of 800 gallons...if both the same size and
added at the same time? <<I have mixed Acanthurus species, and
seen others do so, in displays of some several hundred
gallons'¦so yes, in systems of size such as yours it is my
estimation you could do this. In fact, in a tank this size I suspect
you could even get away with pairs of the same species. And just a side
note'¦these fishes enjoy, even require, a LOT of water
movement. Regards, EricR>>
achilles tang... comp. NNSpeaker who refuses to
cooperate - 7/1/08 hello so you said that pairs of
achilles and powder blue can go in an 800 gallon tank.. well I heard
these fish are quite hard but am determined so can you please tell me
some information on how to keep these. I have read a lot but cannot
find the absolute ideal environment. your opinion is greatly
appreciated.. thanks Tommy <... Please learn to/use your English
spell- and grammar-checker... and our indices and search tool. Your
answers are all posted: For here: http://wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm
scroll down and READ. RMF>
Achilles and Purple tang Tang Compatibility
1/14/09 I will be upgrading my 75 gallon to a 240 within the
next year. Still in the planning stages. I would like to have an
Achilles Tang, I understand the difficulty of this fish and want to
take appropriate actions. I recently bought a small Purple Tang, about
2.5 inches from nose to tail. I understand that purple tangs get very
aggressive when they mature, my question is if I get the Achilles Tang
that is bigger than the purple can they coexist, or should I remove the
purple? <I do not know what your experience level is, but success in
keeping the Achilles requires experience near the expert level. And if
I were to do this, I would not want any other tangs in the tank which
will aid in reducing stress. Both the Achilles and Purple Tang are
aggressive toward other tangs. Be forewarned, your odds of losing this
fish are very good. Do read here.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/badacanthurusaq.htm James (Salty
Surgeonfishes: Tangs for Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available
by Robert (Bob) Fenner