Achilles Tang

Updated August 3, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
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The Achilles Tang is an amazing looking tang that gets to about 9 inches as adults but they have a very bad track record in aquariums over the years. They have a similar reputation as the Powder Blue Tang for their short life spans due to not adjusting to aquarium life, not being fed often enough with the correct foods and the onset of cryptocaryon (marine ich).

Achilles Tang Achilles Tang - white belly


They can be very difficult to get on foods, especially the common fish foods like pellets, flakes and thawed fish foods. Many authors recommend giving them nori (algae sheets) a few times a week. For a new introduced Achilles Tang I would offer it to them all day every day to make sure they have they are eating.

Achilles Tang Achilles Tang grazing

The Achilles Tang is often found near seaward reefs where the water flow is highly turbulent. High and turbulent water flow with high levels of dissolved oxygen in the aquarium are recommended. They may not get on well with conspecifics or even other tangs. Keep them in a 120 gallon aquarium or larger and feed often.

They are seldom, if ever available in local reef shops due to their difficulty but you can find them to buy online for $200 to $300. An expensive fish that might be quite demanding and difficult to keep. Leave this one be until you get lots of experience in keeping tangs or leave it on the reef.

Achilles Tang face Achilles Tang profile view

Achilles Tang Care

Scientific Name : Acanthurus achilles

Common Names : Red spot surgeonfish, Redtail surgeonfish

Care Level : Difficult

Life span : 7 years or longer

Size : 9 inches (26 cm)

Water Parameters : pH 8 - 8.4 | Temperature 78°F - 82°F (26°C - 28°C) | Specific Gravity 1.022 - 1.026

Origin / Habitat : Western Pacific, Hawaiian and Pitcairn islands - found near seaward reefs often alone or in small groups

Temperament / Behavior : If you have a big enough tank you can keep multiple tangs but do not keep conspecifics in the same tank to avoid aggression.

Breeding : Extremely difficult, open water egg scatterers

Aquarium Size : 120 gallon minimum - active swimmers

Tank Mates : One to a tank, may tolerate other tang species like the Zebrasomas in larger setups.

Reef Tank Compatible? : Yes

Disease : Saltwater Fish Disease Freshwater, pH adjusted dips of a minute or two may help. These tangs are known as "ich magnets". Keep a cleaner shrimp like the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp in with them.

Diet / Foods : Primarily an herbivore that needs to be fed algae (nori sheets) on a regular basis. You need live rock too for better results because they will pick at it in between meals. They will also accept flake, pellet foods and of course live foods but give them lots of greens for best results.

Tank Region : All over the aquarium

Gender : Unable to determine by external characteristics

Forum : Tang Forum

Photo Credit : Bryan Harry National Park Service

Photo Credit : Photos copyright

References :

"Acanthurus achilles". FishBase. Ed. Ranier Froese and Daniel Pauly. November 2005 version. N.p.: FishBase, 2005.
Michael, S. W. (2001). Marine Fishes, 500+ Essential to Know Aquarium Species. T.F.H. Publications.

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