Powder Brown Tang
Updated July 31, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
The Powder Brown Tang comes from the Western Indo Pacific and is a better choice than the Powder Blue Tang because it adapts better to aquarium life. Depending on the lighting they are under, they can appear to have a gray or brown base with a white mark going from the eyes to the mouth which gives rise to the other common name of White Face Tang. It's often confused with the White Cheeked Tang (A. nigricans). The fish on this page (A. japonicus) has a much better track record in aquariums than A. nigricans. This is another one of those saltwater species where the pictures just don't do them justice. You have to see them in person to appreciate how incredible their colors really are.
Some consider the Powder Brown Tang to be one of the more passive of the tangs but having kept them I can say without a doubt, like a lot of species, it comes down the individual fish. Some are in fact rather passive and others have no problems asserting dominance. It's best to keep only one A. japonicus to a tank but they can be kept with other species of tangs with little to no issues. There may be bickering amongst the tangs (other non-conspecifics) at first, but they should settle down. If not be prepared to remove them.
Tangs can be rather sensitive to acclimation issues and the Powder Brown is no exception, so take your time here. I also recommend keeping them in with a cleaner shrimp species just in case. Feed them often. You can even keep a clip of seaweed (nori) out for them to graze on at all times, especially upon first introducing them to your tank. That will help bulk up their immune system and keep them healthy. They will even go after pellets, flake foods and other marine preparations. VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure you see the specimen eating at the store before bringing them home! If they are eating at the store they should do fine in your established saltwater aquarium.
They are reef tank safe and generally show no interest in corals, clams or other invertebrates. Keep them under normal reef tank parameters (below) and in tanks that are at least 120 gallons or larger since they are active swimmers.
Powder Brown Tang Care
Scientific Name : Acanthurus japonicus
Common Names : Powder Brown Surgeonfish, Japan Surgeonfish, White Faced Tang, White Nosed Surgeonfish
Care Level : Moderate
Life span : 7 years, likely longer
Size : 8.2 inches (21 cm)
Water Parameters : pH 8 - 8.4 | Temperature 75°F - 82°F (24°C - 28°C) | Specific Gravity 1.022 - 1.026
Origin / Habitat : Indo Western Pacific, Indonesia to the Phillipines - found in clear lagoons and near reefs and often in shallow areas in both small and large groups.
Temperament / Behavior : While they may found in groups in the ocean that doesn't mean they will play nicely with conspecifics (other Powder Brown Tangs) in the same tank unless you have a very large aquarium of several hundred gallons. May be fine with other species of similar temperament and can even be kept with other species of tangs. Watch for aggression if keeping with other tangs though.
Breeding : Tangs are considered extremely difficult to breed because they are open water egg scatterers.
Aquarium Size : 120 gallon minimum - active swimmers, needs lots of space
Tank Mates : One A. japonicus to a tank, may tolerate other tang species like the Zebrasomas in larger setups.
Reef Tank Compatible? : Yes
Diet / Foods : Does well when kept in tanks with pleny of live rock for them to graze on through out the day in between meals. Providing marine algae (nori) on a clip is a great idea and can form the bulk of their diet along with a quality pellet food like New Life Spectrum or similar.
Tank Region : They will roam the entire tank
Gender : Unable to determine by external characteristics
Forum : Tang Forum
Photo Credit : Photos copyright JJPhoto.dk
Michael, S. W. (2001). Marine Fishes, 500+ Essential to Know Aquarium Species. T.F.H. Publications.
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More Tang & Surgeonfish Profiles
A large and aggressive tang that needs a very large tank. It can be difficult to get them eating popular foods. Primary diet of seaweed fed daily.
This is pretty cool looking tang and often found schooling in the wild. They can be quite hardy too. They grow to around 8 inches (20 cm) as adults. Hard to find in local shops though.
Mimic Eibli Tang
This tang is not quite as common as some other species and loses it's markings as it matures.