The Acanthuridae family contains the fish that are known as Surgeonfish, Tangs, Unicornfish, and doctorfish. The popular 'unicornfish' are from the Naso genus, and are called the unicornfish because some of the species have a horn-like projection on the forehead like the one in the video. The name "surgeonfish" is derived from their possessing erectable razor sharp spines called 'scalpels' at the base of their bodies just in front of the tail fin. These spines or scalpels are very sharp and can cut like a knife. They have oval bodies that are very compressed laterally and small mouths adapted for nibbling and scraping small organisms from the rocks and coral. Most varieties of Surgeonfish can be kept together, but sometimes they can be territorial. It is best to add all your specimens at the same time or rearrange the rockwork when adding a new species to an aquarium already containing a resident surgeonfish. Read about each species to learn about its size, adaptibility, beharior, diet, and especially compatibility with its own species as well as any other species.
This video shows an acceptable mix of several tangs with what sounds like pirate music, making it interesting to watch. While it cannot be determined what the tank size is, it does look large from front to back. The Achilles Tang appears to be the largest in the tank, and is sharing nicely with a Yellow Tang, Hippo Tang, Yellow Eye Kole Tang, and a juvenile angelfish that comes in toward the end. All of these tangs from different genus which makes it work. If you watch carefully you will see a snowflake eel appear around 1:11 in the background.
While you may first think this tang is in a tank that is too small for it, be assured this is a temporary visit for filming! The Achilles Tang, Acanthurus achilles, needs about 180 gallons, many places to hide, serious water flow, lots of food for their high energy swimming habits and good oxygen levels. My only experience in a 6' long tank was a fat, happy and healthy Achilles Tang.... until a 4 year old boy decided to slap the side of the tank really hard with both hands! My tang was dead that night, so I suppose a heart attack? These fish are prone to crypt (saltwater ich) and tend to share their white spotted disease freely with their tank mates, so a quarantine tank is essential for these fish.
The Blue or Hippo Tang, Paracanthurus hepatus, is another surgeonfish that needs a lot of room to swim! They need 180 gallons, lots of strong water movement, plenty of veggies and appropriate tank mates. They will become quite belligerent in smaller tanks and will go after other tangs and fish if they feel crowded. They are one of the easier tangs to care for, aside from being the most popular fish sought after by new saltwater aquarists due to the movie Finding Nemo. Sadly, newbies quickly find that their 55 gallon tank is not going to cut it, as the Blue Hippo Tang will grow to 12," besides producing a lot of waste. Their need, like other tangs, to swim very quickly and aggressively means a 6 foot tank is minimum.
This video is breathtakingly beautiful, almost making the most sensible saltwater aquarist want a shoal of Blue Hippo Tangs! When logic kicks in, most of us realize our 180 gallon tank, which should be at least 6 feet long, will really only house one adult! Yes, in the wild they shoal, but the ocean is a really BIG aquarium! They are hardy, and if yours is quite aggressive as an adult as mine became, then it is more than likely a male! Females are much more reserved than males. These fish grow to 12," and need strong water flow, lots of greens and places to hide.
The Caribbean or Atlantic Blue Tang, Acanthurus coeruleus, is quite feisty as a juvenile. In the wild, they are solitary and protect their area of the reef from some aggressive damselfish! I had a juvenile chase a Solar Fairy Wrasse up and out of a tank! They would spar often, although I never saw this behavior in an adult tang. Gladly, as they get older they mellow out and become quite calm. They lose their yellow coloring and turn a beautiful blue, with some keeping the yellow tail fin and others just turning all blue. They are a nice alternative to the Hippo Tang, which grows to 12!" The Caribbean Blue Tang grows to 9" and need a tank that is 6 feet long, and at least 150 gallons.
This Caribbean Blue Tang, or Atlantic Blue Tang, Acanthurus coeruleus is in a 330 gallon tank, and looks great! The owner wondered why there were scratches in the acrylic only to find that his full grown 9" tang was "playing" with his reflection! The video is a great example of the high energy that tangs have! They need lots of "veggies" like nori and other seaweed sheets to nibble on during the day. This adult has lost all of his yellow and the Caribbean Blue Tang is a much more durable fish from this genus. Minimum tank size is 180 gallons, which is at least 6 feet long.
One thing nice about this video is that we get such a good look at the Clown Tang! The beautiful multicolor stripes, white belly and lemony yellow fins! These are wonderful tangs with high energy, needing a tank that is at least 250 gallons that is highly oxygenated and very clean! These tangs are for experts only due to their need to be in a very clean tank with serious water movement and filtration that can rival their massive output of poo! The Marshall Islands Clown Tang has a different coloring.
The Clown Tang or Lined Tang, Acanthurus lineatus, comes in various color morphs depending on location. This beautiful fish is from Sri Lanka and has much more blue and what looks like even green and orange in their coloring which is different from the yellow and blue Marshall Island variant. If you have a 250 gallon tank or larger with great filtration, low nitrates, serious oxygenation, and you are an expert aquarist, I highly suggest picking one up! The basket is used for several days to acquaint the fish with others in the tank and make sure it is feeding properly before adding to the main display. GORGEOUS!