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Related FAQs: AcanthurusAcanthurus Tangs 2Acanthurus Tangs 3, Acanthurus ID, Acanthurus Behavior, Acanthurus Compatibility, Acanthurus Selection, Acanthurus Systems, Acanthurus Feeding, Acanthurus Disease, Acanthurus Reproduction, Surgeons In General, Tang ID, Selection, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease

This Article Began as Part 1: Tangs of the Genus Acanthurus

Related Articles: Tangs, Surgeons, Doctorfishes, family Acanthuridae, species of Acanthurus: A. leucosternon (Powder Blue), A. sohal, A. nigricans & A. japonicus, other tang genera: Ctenochaetus, Naso, Paracanthurus, Prionurus, ZebrasomaThe Surgeon Family, Acanthuridae

/The Conscientious Marine Aquarist

The "Bad", Unknown and Just Too Dang Big Tangs, Surgeons, Doctorfishes, of the Genus Acanthurus, Part 3

To: Part 1, Part 2

By Bob Fenner

Acanthurus olivaceus

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here


by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Bad Acanthurus Species:

What makes a tang species bad besides dying easily in captivity; NOT dying easily... but helping your other livestock do so. Honestly, some individuals of the fishes listed below will try to kill all their tankmates. If you are set on trying one of the designated "bad boys", do provide plenty of hiding spaces and tough, tough, tough space-sharers (triggers, basses, morays, puffers)... and even then keep your eye on them.

Acanthurus. achilles Shaw 1803, Achilles tang. Widely distributed from Hawaii westward through Micronesia and Melanesia, an area called Oceania (also reported from Mexico's Baja tip). Though the best specimens do hail from U.S.s 50th state success with this species can only be had by securing a healthy specimen, providing a large well-established living space, with high, consistent specific gravity and oxygen concentration. Shown below, a juvenile and adult Hawaii specimen and one in the Cooks
   
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The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Acanthurus bariene Lesson 1830, the (Black) Eye-Spot Surgeon, is collected from Australia and the Solomon islands. Reportedly feeds largely on algal film on bare rocks. Juveniles are found in shallow protected reefs, typically amongst soft corals. This can be a quarrelsome fish, that ultimately requires a large (hundreds of gallons) system. To one foot in length. Here in Mabul, Malaysia. 

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The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Acanthurus blochii Valenciennes 1835, the Ringtail Surgeonfish. A larger (up to seventeen inches) schooling species, often found shoaling over sandy areas. Found widespread throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific. Note the white bar across this species caudal peduncle. Shown, a juvenile and adults in Hawai'i.

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The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Acanthurus leucopareius (Jenkins 1903), the Whiteband or Whitebar Surgeonfish, tends to be a picky feeder, hard to train off its favored food, filamentous algae. To about eight inches overall length. Pacific; Southern Japan to Noumea over to Hawai'i.  Hawai'i images of a juvenile, sub-adult and adult.

Acanthurus leucosternon Bennett 1832, the Powder Blue Tang. I can hear some of you screaming, "this isn't a difficult fish!" "I've known people to keep the Powder Blue for years!" Most specimens don't make it even through capture and shipping. Those that are well received and cared for sometimes do live for a good long time. Two maxims for success: One to a tank, and lots of live rock with algae.  Link to Bigger Pix

    

Acanthurus lineatus (Linnaeus 1758), the Striped, Pajama/Pyjama, Clown Surgeonfish. Indo-Pacific; with exception of Red Sea (replaced by similar Sohal). An aggressive species that causes trouble often with growth in aquariums. To fifteen inches in length. Lives along reef edges of high water movement, and oxygen concentration. At right: in Nuka Hiva, Marquesas, Polynesia. Below: Specimens from the Seychelles, Maldives, Australia, and Fiji.

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The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

 

Acanthurus nigricans (Linnaeus 1758) Whitecheek to science, Powder Brown Surgeonfish to aquarists. Formerly mis-identified as A. glaucopareius. Pan Pacific. To about eight inches maximum length. See article on this and the very similar, but more pet-fish-appropriate A. japonicus. At right in Nuka Hiva, Marquesas, Polynesia. Specimens below from Australia, the Cooks (Roratonga) and Baja, Mexico.  Link to Bigger Pix

Acanthurus olivaceus Forster & Schneider 1801, the Orange Spot/Shoulder Tang. A hardy fish out of Hawaii and elsewhere, but unfortunately, a behavioral terror in the ranks of A. lineatus. This is an active fish that grows to more than a foot in length. Place only with MEAN tankmates. A juvenile, sub-adult and adult pictured, Fiji, Hawai'i and Hawai'i respectively.
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Verticals (Full/Cover Page Sizes Available

The "Unknowns": Are these good/bad, or otherwise? Who knows. They're not often seen in the trade, or so poorly elucidated that I couldn't, wouldn't, didn't have enough confidence in my opinion to place them in either bad/good categories.

Acanthurus chirurgus (Bloch 1787), a/the Doctorfish; from the western Atlantic. Bluish to brownish in color, and though common in the wild, rarely offered in the trade. Always barred in appearance; though these may be light. Bonaire and Bahamas pix.

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The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.
Verticals (Full/Cover Page Sizes Available)
Acanthurus guttatus Forster 1801, the Spotted or Mustard Surgeonfish you might easily take for a Sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma) member for its circular outline, broad bars and active swimming behavior. I've encountered mixed results with this species; some batches living well others dying mysteriously. To about ten inches total length.

Acanthurus nigroris Valenciennes 1835, the Bluelined or Cuvier's Surgeonfish. Found throughout Oceania. To ten inches in length. A beauty that is often rare in the wild and absent in aquarium use. Hawai'i images, juvenile and adult individuals showing prominent black spot behind dorsal fins, and darker individual/subadult in the middle.  

Black-Eared Surgeon, Acanthurus polyzona,  Acanthurus melanosternon, Acanthurus tristis; Indian Ocean Surgeon, Acanthurus nubilis, the Pinstriped tang, and others I know only from sparse scientific accounts.

Disqualified Due To Size:

That is, too large for home systems. Ask the folks who collect surgeonfishes (All are wild caught, driven by scuba divers into mist/barrier nets mainly); they all have two key traits in common. High activity and copious defecation. "Emptying out" acanthurids is important before "tanking", definitely ahead of bagging and shipping. I intend that this points up the fact that tangs are continuous feeders and defecators in the wild... and for their size, in captivity as well.

The following Acanthurus species are purposely non-suggested for the fact that they attain big proportions. No, they will not "stay small", "due to the size of an aquarium".

Acanthurus auranticavus Randall 1956, the Ring-Tail Surgeon. Indo-West-Pacific; Seychelles, Malaysia, GBR. To 35 cm. total length. This one in Mabul, Malaysia. 

Acanthurus gahhm Forsskal 1775, the Monk Tang, from the Red Sea, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden. To 50 cm. This black shoulder-banded fish is almost identical Acanthurus nigricauda. See Randall (1987) for taxonomic help.

Acanthurus leucocheilus, the Pale-Lipped Tang. To only a foot in length, but an unsuitably aggressive aquarium species.

Acanthurus monroviae, the Monrovian tang; the only eastern Atlantic surgeon species. To 45 cm.

 

Acanthurus nigricauda Duncker & Mohr 1929, the Brown-Eared Surgeonfish (note the stripe behind the eye); the most carnivorous Surgeon. Found in close association with barracudas, even sharks in the Red Sea. Feeds on meat scraps and small demersal animals. Grows to a length of twenty inches. One off of Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia, another in N. Sulawesi, and last in the Maldives.

Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Acanthurus tennenti; the Lieutenant Surgeonfish. Also gets to 45 cm.

 
Acanthurus xanthopterus Valenciennes 1835, (pualu) the Yellowfin Surgeonfish. Similar to the Ringtail and Eyestripe Surgeonfishes, but lacks the other two's light caudal coloration. This is the largest member of the genus Acanthurus, to about 22 inches long. A specimen in the Cooks. 

Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

To: Part 1, Part 2,

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here


by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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