Tangs & Surgeons

The name „Surgeonfish“ originates from „Scalpel“ – a small blade that the fish carries at the end of tail fin. This is spread in defence and used as a weapon. Surgeonfish is found in many oceans of the world and live in or on the coral reefs. Most of the surgeonfishes reach a final size of 30cm-40cm which is a very large size for an aquarium while some species remain smaller. What stands out here is the Japanese surgeonfish (Acanthurus japonicus), Randalls surgeonfish (Acanthurus randalli) (upto 18 centimeter) and the smallest species of Tomini-bristle tooth surgeonfish (Ctenochaetus tominiensis) which at 12cm remains very small.




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Really special fish!

"Surgeonfishes love green food - en masse! "

Surgeonfishes have a very deep jaw with a somewhat longer upper jaw. Some of them have a specially adapted snout for the food, for example angel fish- surgeonfish or Zebrasoma-species which with its extended snout can even reach algae in small columns. Some surgeonfishes have a juvenile stage and change their colour when they grow up.

Good swimmers!

Surgeonfishes are very good swimming fishes whose several specimen should be kept in a sufficiently large aquarium. It should also be noted that surgeonfishes can be extremely aggresive with each other. If a surgeonfish is replenished, then this must be integrated immediately by a swimming school otherwise it might be killed by the old stock.

The scalpels of surgeon fish

The scalpels arose due to the conversion of a scale and are razor-sharp. Usually they remain quiet but attack by tailwhips when in danger. The scalpels are pure defensive weapon which are used against other fishes and predators as well as in case of intra-species conflicts. Few species have additional protein glands with toxic effect – the popular Palette-surgeonfish has a poison gland on the dorsal fin-spine.

Breeding of surgeonfishes

Very less is known about the breeding of surgeonfishes and it is also very difficult to find out since the larvae have a planktonic stage. However attempts have been made in Taiwan to breed the yellow surgeonfish and white-throated surgeonfish. The breeding of palette- surgeonfish is already successful. The first breeding success has been reported by the very much popular yellow Hawaii- surgeonfish Zebrasoma flavescens. However the breeding is so complicated due to the larvae stage, that they, if at all breed, can be operated successfully only by the experts of aquaculture.

Feeding the surgeonfishes

While most of the surgeonfishes feed on zooplankton in the larval phase, their feed changes very soon to algae, plants and detritus. So most of the algae of reef rock are grazed: Thread algae, red-and brown algae, green algae, also coralline red algae belong to the primary feed of surgeonfishes. In the aquarium, the surgeonfishes also feed on Mysis und Artemia – however a high plant- content should determine the nutrition since otherwise it may lead to deficiency symptoms very soon: Nori-algae, salad, banana, spinach etc.are very common food types.

Buy surgeonfishes- what should be considered?

When buying the animal make sure you get a stable and fixed-feed surgeonfish. On our marine online shop, we sell only fixed-feed fishes and fishes accustomed to aquarium life. Please inquire about the maintenance conditions of the fishes and the necessary feed before buying them – we would be more than happy to assist you with support and advice. Remember that surgeonfishes are very good swimmers and should be kept in groups mostly. So the aquarium must provide sufficient space and must be very well structured.

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