Sailfin Tang Fish Care and Breeding Guide

A hobbyist with the desire to have an amazingly beautiful addition to the home tank could try the Sailfin Tang Fish. Among its various attributes is the overwhelming beauty coupled with its peaceful nature. It easily acclimatizes to most tank conditions and has very simple needs which makes it a good fish for beginner hobbyist.


Sailfin Tang

The sailfin tang is disk shaped, with a body similar to most surgeon fish. The dorsal as well as anal fins are huge, and are approximately the same size as that of the body. Whenever the fins of this fish are extended, the total height and length are almost the same. Like other fish of the same family, the snout is extended.

The sailfin tang has small yet beautiful alternating stripes of yellow and darker bands. The bands extend and eventually blend into the anal and dorsal fins. These dark bands have markings on them, and some dots.

The head of this fish is entirely white and it has yellow spots with a darker band running all the way to the eye. Behind the same eye is a very dark band too. All these bands have yellow lines and dots. On the caudal fin is a bright yellow color.

At the base of the tail are sharp scales that are raised when it senses danger. An approaching enemy can be stung using these scales.

The juveniles look like the adults with the only difference being that the younger sailfin fish has a more pronounced color.

An adult sailfin tang is approximately 40cm or 15.7 inches.

Origin of Sailfin Tang

The sailfin fish is native of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They majorly inhabit sea-weed reefs and lagoons. Some of the countries with the fish include Japan, Honolulu, Tuamotu and Australia.

During their juvenile stages, the fish prefer to lead solitary lives hidden under corals or rocks. When they are mature, they can be spotted with partners. Some however, stick to their solitary lifestyles.

In the wild seas, they can swim up to depths of 16-19 feet. They enjoy strong ocean currents and are often seen either singly or in twos.

Tank Requirements

The sailfin tang enjoys wide swimming necessitating plenty of water in its environment to be happy. The following tank conditions should suffice for it to be healthy:

  • A sizeable tank that contains at least 70 gallons of water or more
  • A temperature range of between 72 and 78 degrees is a plus for its survival
  • A pH of 8.1 to 8.4 is important to make its habitat accommodative
  • Being a heavy algae feeder, a huge presence of algae is necessary
  • Enough gravel is necessary

Being wide swimmers, they require strong movement of water. The sailfin fish loves to feel rushing water ruffle its gills. Some water pressure can be applied in one side of the tank more so if there are other tank-mates. Plenty of rocks should be provided as they love to enjoy lonely moments in hiding. The rocks can have enough crevices where they are likely to hide into.

In the wild, this fish is used to lots of light. A good LED lighting with normal lighting conditions can be provided so long as there are certain places which are dimly lit.


They are primarily herbivores though they consume meaty foods too. In their natural habitat, they are known to feed leafy algae. To ensure their diet is closer home, the following meals are recommended:

  • Vegetable such as boiled or frozen lettuce, broccoli, spinach or zucchini
  • Provide an overgrowth of algae
  • Frozen formulas of spirulina, mysid shrimp and brine are another specialty
  • Nori (a Japanese weed) and other kinds of seaweed mainly found in ocean basins
  • Macro algae like chaetomorphia can be cultured in the tank to provide extra nutritional needs

Vitamins are another nutritional necessity. They should be provided to fulfill the nutritional needs of this fish. Remember, without vitamin c in its diet, chances of Lateral Line Erosion are just too high. It can be added into the water or soaked in dried pellets. The fish can be fed at least three times a week or more depending on its demands.

Breeding and Reproduction

In most fish species, distinguishing between males and females is often difficult. However, in the saiflin tang, males grow fairly larger than the females making identification easy. Most successes with reproduction in this fish are reported in public aquariums. Some hobbyists have also reported they were able to breed them at home, though such cases are extremely few.

Social Behavior

They do not exhibit strange or unique behavior, making them an ideal tank addition. They have mild temperaments and can peacefully survive with plenty of other fish species. They however bully fish of their own genus.

Most hobbyists report that when new tank mates are introduced into the aquarium, the old members chase them around, giving them little peace. To avoid this kind of scenario, introduce many of the preferred species into the tank at the same time. In case another one is to be brought in later, changing the structure of the aquarium is necessary. At least this denies it the sense of possessiveness.

Health Conditions to be Wary of

Generally keeping the sailfin tang is easy. It is able to handle a variety of water conditions so long as consistency is maintained. It does well in a reef only setting or where corals are available. It rarely interferes with the coral reefs.

The fish is disease resistant and can withstand lots of conditions. If one notices there is some change in behavior, seek treatment. Before doing so, ensure all the conditions are suitable. Check on the state of water, aeration, lighting and the pH. They have beautiful colors that are maintained by proper feeding. In case the color changes and it becomes dull, check on its feeds and make changes if necessary.

They consistently need cleaning once in a while. Introducing the cleaner shrimp into the tank to do this is very important. The sailfin tang fish is a delight in a home aquarium. It is a worthy pet to keep.

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