Kole Tang - Ctenochaetus strigosus

Updated July 30, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
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The Kole Tang is collected from Hawaii for the aquarium trade and is highly sought after because of their constant algae grazing, reef tank friendliness and good demeanor.

This tang has a yellow highlight around it's eyes with a purplish or brown body composed of horizontal stripes. The head region has many fine dots or "freckles" as I like to call them.

The common name is pronounced a couple of different ways including 'coal-eh' or 'coal-ee'. Use the scientific name Ctenochaetus strigosus. Ctenochaetus is pronounced 'ten-o-kee-tus'. That will sound more impressive around your friends.

Kole Tang Ctenochaetus strigosus

An interesting thing to note about them is that they exhibit cleaning behavior in the ocean and they are often observed cleaning sea turtles.

They will race around the tank all day long, so a large tank that can provide plenty of swimming room will be needed. Live rock will provide hiding places, a place to sleep in at night and grazing opportunities for algae in between meals. Feed them dried marine seaweed (like ocean nutrition brown algae or sprung's sea veggies) using a clip at least every other day, if not more often. They will eat flakes, pellets and defrosted marine origin foods (like rod's foods - very good stuff). The bulk of their diet should be comprised of greens though.

Ctenochaetus strigosus Kole tang

For reef tank keepers, they are considered reef tank friendly but some hobbyists have reported that they have caught them picking at their LPS corals. Watch them closely at first to be on the safe side.

They are rather good community tank dwellers but as always, use caution when stocking them with other tangs, especially conspecifics. Don't plan on keeping multiple Kole Tangs in the same tank unless it's a very large tank. If you do plan on keeping multiple tang species, introduce them all at the same time to limit aggression.

Standard saltwater parameters are needed (see below) including high flows to keep the water oxygen saturated. Drip acclimate them slowly for an hour or longer depending on the difference in water chemistry from the tank they came from. A cleaner shrimp is always recommended when you have a tank with tangs in it because they are thought of as ich magnets.

Getting one for your reef tank may pose a problem in the future. The state of Hawaii has impending legislation (2012) that will restrict the exportation of many saltwater fish species. This species is supposedly on the list of species that are to have "new bag limits". Many feel that this legislation will pass and that means that the price on this tang and others will go up. This debate is getting pretty heated and it's interesting to watch how it develops.

Ctenochaetus strigosus Ctenochaetus strigosus

Kole Tang Care

Scientific Name : Ctenochaetus strigosus

Common Names : Spotted Surgeonfish, Yellow Eye Tang, Striped Bristletooth, Goldring Bristletooth, Yellow-eyed surgeonfish

Care Level : Easy to Moderate

Life span : 5 years or longer

Size : 5 to 6 inches (13 to 15 cm)

pH : 8 - 8.4

Temperature : 75°F - 82°F (24°C - 28°C)

Specific Gravity : 1.022 - 1.026

Origin / Habitat : Regularly found near Hawaii and Johnston Island, western central Pacific: Australia

Temperament / Behavior : Avoid keeping them with conspecifics.

Breeding : Group spawners, open water egg scatterers

Aquarium Size : 70 gallon minimum, the bigger the better because they are such active swimmers.

Tank Mates : Generally peaceful but will fight with other tangs.

Reef Tank Compatible? : This tang is reef tank compatible.

Disease : Saltwater Fish Disease doesn't seem to be as prone to saltwater ich like many of the other tangs, but proper diet, quarantine and a slow drip acclimation are recommended.

Food : The Kole is an herbivore so be sure that you have lots of live rock for them to munch on. Also supplement their diet with a good quality flake food or pellet food (new life spectrum is good). Feed them dried marine seaweed (nori) using a lettuce clip.

Tank Region : All over the aquarium

Gender : Not able to determine by external characteristics

Forum : Tang Forum

Photo Credit : Photos copyright JJPhoto.dk

Site References :

References :

"Ctenochaetus strigosus". 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.

Kole Tang Comments and Tips

From: Tom
I picked up my kole on sale for $15 at my reef shop. Mine gets fed the algae sheets a couple of times per week along with omega one pellets daily and it is doing great. It picks at the glass more often than the live rock in my tank and leaves littel kiss marks all over my glass. Leaves my corals alone. My corals are more important than the fish LOL!

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