Published July 31, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
The Unicorn Tang is one of the largest of the available surgeonfishes with adult specimens reaching almost 24 inches (61 cm) in size. The Unicorn Tang will need at least a 250 gallon tank (946 liters), preferably larger, to allow for adequate swimming space and water quality.
They can be fairly hardy once acclimated and should play nicely with other non-tang species but may get bullied by more aggressive fish such as Triggers. You will also need highly oxygenated water provided through increased surface agitation (multiple power heads) along with the use of a protein skimmer to help aerate the water.
These tangs are nicely colored with a white, gray or sometimes light green-blue body and the signature unicorn like horn projecting from the head. To our knowledge, marine biologists have not yet determined the function that the horn plays on these fish.
Unlike most other tangs which have only 1 set of retractable blade like spines at the base of the tail, this tang has two sets of retractable blade like spines for defending territory and protecting themselves. They can easily get caught in netting, so be careful transporting this fish to avoid damaging the fins. It's advisable to use a large container instead of a net when moving this fish.
These tangs should primarily eat nori (marine algae) and having lots of live rock in your tank will provide grazing opportunities in between meals. Try to give them a varied diet and supplement their diet with marine seaweed using a veggie clip.
The Unicorn Tang can come down with most saltwater fish diseases. Use a quarantine tank before introducing them into your main tank. Keep them in the hospital tank for two weeks or so and watch for obvious saltwater diseases, like marine ich.
Unicorn Tang Care Details
Scientific Name : Naso unicornis
Common Names : Bluespine Unicornfish, Unicorn Tang
Care Level : Easy to Moderate, can be quite hardy once acclimated.
Size : Up to 24 inches (61 cm)
Life span : 10 years or longer
pH : 8.1 - 8.4
Temperature : 75°F - 82°F (25°C - 28°C)
Specific Gravity : 1.020 - 1.025
Carbonate Hardness (dKH) : 8 - 12°
Origin / Habitat : Indo-Pacific, Hawaii, Red Sea and given its large adult size, considered a food fish in Fiji
Temperament / Behavior : They may be aggressive with other unicorns in smaller tanks but may do ok in multiples in extremely large tanks. They also are constantly on the move during the day and will need a larger tank for swimming space.
Breeding : Very difficult to breed in captivity.
Aquarium Size : 250 gallon (946 liters) minimum
Tank Mates : Avoid keeping them with other species of tangs.
Reef Tank Compatible? : This saltwater fish should do fine in a large reef aquarium.
Diet / Foods : Primarily an herbivore and feeds on marine algae in the wild. Try to give them a variety of marine foods but predominantly marine algae and spirulina. Having plenty of live rock for them to graze on helps. They should accept vitamin enriched flake foods, frozen and live foods.
Tank Region : All over
Gender : Difficult to determine the differences between males and female unicorn tangs but in adult specimens the horn may be more pronounced in males.
Forum : Tang Forum
Photo Credit : Photos copyright JJPhoto.dk
More Tang & Surgeonfish Profiles
This is another tang that is considered very difficult to keep because it doesn't adapt very well to aquarium life. Hard to get on foods and is known as an "ich magnet". Definitely keep this tang with a cleaner shrimp species.
The Black Tang is an extremely rare tang that goes for ridiculous prices, anywhere from $600 to $1,500 or higher depending on the size. Considered just as hardy as the other Zebrasoma tangs.
Another tang that needs lots of swimming room. They are always on the move and look fantastic. Try not to buy the very small ones though, they don't seem to adapt to the aquarium as well as those 2 inches plus in size.