Animal-World > Marine - Saltwater Fish > Surgeonfish > Orangespot Surgeonfish

Orangespot Surgeonfish

Orange Shoulder Tang ~ Orangeband Surgeonfish ~ Orange-epaulette Surgeonfish

Family: Acanthuridae Picture of an Orangespot Surgeonfish or Orange Shoulder Tang - Acanthurus olivaceusAcanthurus olivaceusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Greg Rothschild
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I have a beautiful tang! It skims bubbles off the surface and passes them through his gills. He is kept and has been kept with a sailfin tang in my 135 gal for two... (more)  BARRY GALLIVAN

   The Orangespot Surgeonfish is fairly hardy, has a very interesting color pattern, but is not always as available as some of the other commonly kept tangs.

   The Orangespot Surgeonfish is also known as the Orange Shoulder Tang, Orangeband Surgeonfish, and Orange-epaulette Surgeonfish. Each of these names point to the distinct and interesting feature that makes this species stand out, the bright orange horizontal band with a broad blue edge on its side.

   Not only is this fish quickly recognized by its orange spot or band, but it also goes through a fascinating color change as it matures. As a juvenile is solid yellow with just the slightest hint of blue edging the anal and dorsal fins. The adult looks quite different. The front half of a mature specimen is a light gray and the back half is a dark gray-blue, and its caudal fin becomes lyre shaped. In each case it still retains its shoulder marking, but the orange spot does becomes more brilliant with age.

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

Geographic Distribution
Acanthurus olivaceus
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Acanthuridae
  • Genus: Acanthurus
  • Species: olivaceus
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Adult Orangespot Surgeonfish in captivity

This very wise aquarist has housed his Orangespot Surgeonfish in a 300 gallon tank with appropriate tank mates. These are relatively easy to care for Acanthurus, unlike many others in this genus as long as the tank is large enough, it is well fed and doesn't have aggressive tangs in the tank with it. Males are smaller and several inches shorter than the 13.8" female. At 4 to 5 years, a female will be 11," so if your tang is several inches shorter by then, you have a male!

ORANGESPOT SURGEONFISH (Acanthurus olivaceus) juvenile
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Juvenile in captivity.

This is a great video of a juvenile Orangespot Surgeonfish (A. olivaceus)! These little guys are JUST barley starting to get their distinctive orange shoulder or spot and you can see some darkening in the back of the dorsal and anal fins. These fish will grow very quickly, becoming 11" in about 4 years, so putting them in the needed 180 gallon tank as a juvenile is the least stressful for them and will help them stay civil. Smaller tanks can cause them to become aggressive so be careful not to buy a large specimen from a fellow aquarist that has kept an adult in a 4' tank, or you will be dealing with the rage in your tank! They are much hardier than others in this Genus, being said to be closer to the Naso tang in durability.

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Habitat: Natural geographic location:

   Orange-epaulette Surgeonfish, Orange Shoulder Tang or Orangeband Surgeonfish are found in the Indo-Pacific from the eastern Indian Ocean to Japan, Hawaii, and the Marquesas Islands at depths of 4 to 45 meters.

Maintenance difficulty:

   The Orangespot Surgeonfish is moderately easy to keep once it becomes acclimated.


   It is important that you feed Tangs a good variety of live, frozen, and prepared formula foods with emphasis in vegetable and spirulina. Best to feed small amounts several times a day.


   Mainly found grazing on diatoms (brown algae), detritus, and filamentous algae.

Social Behaviors:

   Can get territorial especially if another tang is added to a tank with an already established tang.

Sexual differences:


Light: Recommended light levels:

   No special requirements.


   Probably will not be accomplished in captivity. See the description in the Breeding Marine Fish page.


   No special requirements. Normal temperatures for marine fish is between 75 and 79 degrees.

Length/Diameter of fish:

   Orange-epaulette Surgeonfish, Orange Shoulder Tang or Orangeband Surgeonfish adults can grow to 25 cm (10 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:

   A minimum 100 gallon aquarium is recommended.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong

   No special requirements.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom

   Swims all over the aquarium. Picture of an Orangespot Surgeonfish or Orange Shoulder Tang - Acanthurus olivaceus


   This fish is occasionally available at retailers and is fairly inexpensive. They are priced about $30.00 USD and up.

Lastest Animal Stories on Orangespot Surgeonfish

BARRY GALLIVAN - 2006-01-29
I have a beautiful tang! It skims bubbles off the surface and passes them through his gills. He is kept and has been kept with a sailfin tang in my 135 gal for two years now. He is my favorite fish!

  • Clarice Brough - 2013-05-22
    I bet he's a great fish to keep. I haven't kept this particular Tang, but surgeonfish in general are some of my very favorites. I have a Bristletooth Tomini Tang (Ctenochaetus tominiensis) and he's awesome:)
pat - 2009-12-14
The Orange Shoulder is a great addition to a fish only or reef tank. This is my second one (sold a previous one when I moved and couldnt take along my 120 gallon)and both have had the same great personality traits. They are inquisitive and intellegent; will eat from your hand and actually recognize you. I've had guests at the house and the tang was apprehensive in coming out from his rock work because he didn't 'recognize' the new face in his world. They will stay in or circle the end of the tank that you may be sitting at (surely waiting for some little 'treat' from you). I haven't found them to be aggressive to any other fish or tang for that matter, even though e is the biggest in the tank (approximately 6"). He will ocassionally 'spread his fins' as he passes others at times, but hasn't used his tail agressively with any other inhabitants. As a previous post mentioned, they will eat anything! If its in the water, they'll eat it. My tang actually over-indulges at times .. as I've seen him actually regurgitate algae after gorging himself on it! Very hardy, very personable .. an excellent choice for your tank!

Juan - 2008-10-13
I currently have an orange shoulder and a powder blue and asside from the initial introduction they get along just fine. The my orange shoulder is a very confident docile fish.

stuart - 2008-07-24
I wonder if you would be able to keep an orange spot together with a powder blue.