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Top 6 Tangs For Reef Tank

by Brian Dunleavy
Top 6 Tangs For Reef Tank

If you're a reef tank enthusiast, you know that a beautiful and thriving reef tank requires a lot of attention and care. One of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy reef tank is choosing the right tangs. Tangs are a type of saltwater fish that come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, and they play a crucial role in keeping your reef tank clean and free of algae. 

In this article, we'll explore the top tangs for reef tanks and provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. 

Are Tangs And Surgeonfish The Same?

Tangs and surgeonfish are often confused for being the same, but they are actually two different types of fish. Both are members of the Acanthuridae family, which is a group of marine reef fish, but they have their own distinct characteristics. Tangs are typically smaller and more colorful than surgeonfish, with a rounder body shape and a single dorsal fin. Surgeonfish, on the other hand, are larger and more elongated with a distinct blade or spike on their tail that they use for defense. 

There are over 80 different species of tangs and surgeonfish, each with their own unique traits and characteristics. Some are more docile and peaceful, while others can be aggressive and territorial. It's important to research and understand the specific needs and behaviors of each species before adding them to your aquarium. 

The Best Tangs For Reef Aquariums 

With so many tangs to choose from, it can be overwhelming to determine which ones are the best for your specific tank. 

Yellow Tang 

If you're looking to add some vibrant color to your reef tank, the yellow tang is a fantastic option. These beautiful fish are known for their bright yellow coloration and active personalities, making them a popular choice.

Yellow tangs are relatively hardy and easy to care for, making them a great choice for beginners as well as experienced aquarists. They can grow up to 8 inches in length, so you'll want to make sure you have plenty of space in your tank for them to swim around. They also prefer a diet that includes plenty of algae, so be sure to provide them with plenty of greens to munch on.

One thing to keep in mind when considering a yellow tang for your reef tank is that they can be aggressive towards other tangs and similar species. It's important to make sure you have plenty of hiding places and territory for each fish to establish their own space. 

Powder Blue Tang

If you're an avid aquarium enthusiast, you must have heard about the powder blue tang. This stunning marine fish is a popular choice for reef tanks due to its bright, powder blue color and yellow dorsal fin that adds a pop of vibrancy to any aquatic environment. The powder blue tang is a member of the surgeonfish family and is known for its unique shape and vibrant personality. 

But before you decide to add a powder blue tang to your reef tank, it's essential to consider a few things. This fish requires a spacious tank with plenty of live rocks and corals to keep it engaged and happy. They are also known to be territorial, so it's best to keep them with other non-aggressive species. 

In terms of diet, powder blue tangs are herbivores, and their diet should consist of a variety of algae and seaweed. You can also supplement their diet with frozen food or flake food formulated for herbivorous fish. 

Achilles Tang

The achilles tang is one of the most popular fish species for reef tanks among aquarists. This beautiful fish is known for its striking appearance, with a dark blue-black body and a bright orange tail fin. However, this fish is not for beginner aquarists, as they require specific care and attention to thrive in a reef tank.

The achilles tang needs a larger tank with plenty of swimming space and hiding spots. Additionally, they require a diet that includes a variety of vegetables and meaty foods.

Despite the extra care needed, these fish bring a stunning pop of color to any reef tank and are a great addition for experienced aquarists looking for a new challenge.


Lipstick Tang 

The lipstick tang, also known as the naso tang, is a popular addition to many reef tanks. This gorgeous fish is known for its vibrant coloration, with a powder blue body, yellow pectoral and dorsal fins, and red/orange lips. But beyond its stunning appearance, the lipstick tang can also play an important role in maintaining a healthy and balanced ecosystem within your tank.

As an active herbivore, the lipstick tang is constantly grazing on algae and other plant matter, helping to keep your tank clean and free of unwanted growth. Additionally, this fish is known for its peaceful nature, making it a great choice for community tanks with other non-aggressive species.

When adding a lipstick tang to your reef tank, it's important to ensure that the tank is large enough to accommodate its size and swimming habits. You'll also want to provide plenty of hiding places and other structures for the fish to explore and feel secure within. With proper care and attention, a lipstick tang can be the perfect addition to your thriving reef tank.


Sailfin Tang

If you're looking to add some color and personality to your reef tank, the sailfin tang is an excellent choice. This striking fish is known for its vibrant blue and yellow stripes and spots, as well as its long, flowing fins. But the sailfin tang isn't just a pretty face - it's also a hardy and adaptable species that can thrive in a variety of tank environments. 

One of the most appealing things about sailfin tangs is their active and playful nature. They love to swim and explore, which can make for a lively and engaging addition to your tank. However, it's important to keep in mind that sailfin tangs can grow quite large - up to a foot in length - so you'll need to make sure you have enough space to accommodate them. 

When it comes to feeding, sailfin tangs are omnivorous and will eat a variety of foods. You can offer them a mix of algae, seaweed, and meaty foods such as brine shrimp or mysis shrimp. It's important to be mindful of their diet and make sure they're getting all the nutrients they need to stay healthy. 

Clown Tang 

Known for its vibrant colors and playful personality, the clown tang is a popular choice among aquarium owners. With its striking blue and yellow stripes, this fish adds a pop of color to any reef tank. 

But beyond its attractive appearance, the clown tang is also a hardy fish that can thrive in a variety of conditions. It's important, however, to ensure that your tank is large enough to accommodate this active fish. 

Additionally, be sure to provide plenty of hiding places and live rock for the clown tang to explore and claim as its own. If cared for properly, this fish can live up to 10 years in captivity. So, if you're looking for a fish that is both visually stunning and entertaining to watch, consider adding a clown tang to your reef tank.



The best tangs for your reef tank are the ones that are the right size, have the right temperament, and have the right dietary needs. When choosing the best tangs for your reef tank, it's important to keep in mind the type of aquarium you have and how you plan to use the fish.

As you decide on the best tang for your tank, make sure you choose one that has the right personality for your tank. Some fish may be more aggressive than others, so it's important to choose a fish that will fit well into your tank's ecosystem.

by Brian Dunleavy