Achiles Tang

Scientific NameAcanthurus achilles
Common Name(s)Achilles tang
OriginIndian and Pacific Oceans
Temperature Range78°F
Water ParametersdKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Adult Size10in

Achilles Tang Facts:

1.  Named after the Greek hero.

2.  Tang means knife or dagger.

3.  The spike of the fish was made for fishing lures.

Achiles Tang

Species Overview:

Tangs are almost always a much sought after fish for the home aquarium.  Usually they are quite docile and make good tankmates.  Then Achilles Tang is no different and is quite striking in appearance.

Physical Characteristics

The Achilles Tang as a full adult can grow to about 10 inches.  They are quite beautiful with a black background lined with orange and white around the fins as a juvenile.  As an adult they grow a large teardrop shape near their tail.  When agitated, they will raise their dorsal fins to give the appearance of being larger.  They also have a barb on either side of their spine near the tail that will protrude and be used as a weapon.  They are found in the waters of the Pacific from Oceana to Hawaii. 


Tangs are herbivores and the Achilles loves their algae.  A single Achilles Tang can devour a 5×5 sheet of algae in a day.  But when in captivity, they will eat meaty shrimps.  But they will remain happier and healthier with a robust diet of algae.  As a substitute, you can use romaine lettuce as they will nibble on the leafy part.  A veggie clip is an essential tool to have in your tank if you are going to keep Tangs.  Tangs have hardy appetites so if you notice one in your tank that isn’t eating, something is wrong.  Juveniles are known to be finicky eaters, and therefore, hard to keep.  So best stick with adults when populating a tank.

Achilles Tang in Aquariums

Overall, the Achilles Tang has a poor survival rate in aquariums.  The water quality has to be spot on before the Tang will be happy.  Usually, the water needs to be a few degrees cooler than normal, about 78 degrees, is where the Achilles Tang will thrive.  There also needs to be a turbulent water flow so that the oxygen level will be increased.

Overall the Achilles, like most Tangs, is docile and makes a good tankmate.  However, keep them away from other Tangs because they will become aggressive and can cause injury with their barbs.  In addition to the barbs, aggression in the tank can cause stress and lack of appetite which can lead to disease and death. 

The Achilles Tang is most likely left for the experience aquarist.  With demanding water quality and finicky eating habits, the beginner may be endangering their entire tank if the Tang should become sick or infected.  But if you have pristine water quality, a strong circulation of water, no other Tangs in the tank, and plenty of algae sheets, I would feel confident that I could make my Achilles Tang a happy Tang.