Gem Tang (Zebrasoma gemmatum): Ultimate Care Guide

The gem tang is a breathtaking fish originating from the western Indian Ocean.  Their disc shaped bodies go very well with their dark blue color and sprinkle of white spots. The gem tang has a yellow anal fin, adding a very bright and eye-catching hue. Common names for the gem tang are gemmatum tang, mauritius tang, and spotted tang, along with its scientific name which is Zebrasoma gemmatum.

Gem Tang Care

Gem tang grow up to 8.7 inches (or 22 centimeters) in length. The lifespan of the gem tang is roughly 30 years. Great care and keeping can give your pet a long and happy life. These fish are typically found 33-200 feet and love plenty of room to swim. Gem tangs are saltwater fish and are also very active swimmers. This makes these curious fish a great entertainment to their keepers. To those of you who are wondering, the gem tang comes from the kingdom Animalia, phylum Chordata, class Actinopterygii, order Acanthuriformes, family Acanthuridae, genus Zebrasoma, and species Z. gemmatum. For those of you wanting information on how to care for a gem tang, what to feed it, what its origin is and more, dive right into the next few paragraphs about extensive gem tang care.

Taking care of Gem tang is a very rewarding hobby. These are hardy fish if they are properly taken care of. A healthy specimen will be very lively and active. Tank size for the gem tang should be at least 180 gallons. It is important to get the biggest tank possible for your new pet. This is because the gem tang loves to swim, explore, and graze. Gem tangs need lots of places to hide. This can include rocks or any sort of fish cave you can find at the pet store. Gem tangs are reef safe. This means you also have the choice of adding a reef or even corals. It is good to note that gem tangs can be shy at first, so give them some time. A new environment can be a very big thing. Know that this is completely normal.

Gem Tang (Zebrasoma gemmatum)
Gem Tang (Zebrasoma gemmatum)

Gem Tang Tank Setup

Although it is important for your gem tang to have many places to hide, you do not want to crowd your tank. Gem tangs are very lively swimmers and need plenty of free space. The main goal is to provide your fish with everything it needs so its stress level will be as slow as possible. It is already stressful to be placed in a brand new environment. You want your gem tang to be as stress free as possible to avoid health problems.

Gem Tang Food & Diet

Gem tangs are herbivores. They can be fed by adding live rocks for your gem tang to graze over. However, if you have another herbivore in the tank you are going to need to do a little more. Gem tangs eat broccoli, zucchini, and nori.

Gem tang feed throughout the day. Make sure you feed them more than once a day, keeping a sharp eye out for any health issues. If your gem tang starts showing signs of sickness, one cause may be a lack of nutrition. It is also acceptable and recommended to add some meat to your fish’s diet. Even herbivores need all the nutrition they can get. Shrimp and brine are excellent for this. Proper diet will strengthen the immune system of your gem tang and possibly reduce aggression.

Breeding Gem Tang

Breeding gem tangs is not an easy task. It’s a lot of work to take care of just one of these beautiful fish. Male and female gem tangs are almost impossible to tell apart. This is one of the reasons that breeding may be harder than one may think. Another reason is that, in the wild, male and female gem tangs release their eggs and sperms onto the surface of the water. A tank, no matter how big it may appear to the owner, is not an ideal place for this to occur. As a matter of fact, no one has ever bred gem tangs in a tank of any kind. Gem tangs are not the right choice if you plan to start a simple fish breeding operation.

Gem Tang Tank Mates

Gem tangs typically do not like each other, however, gem tangs are compatible with many other fish. There are many fish that do not typically like to nip at other fish and many who normally do not have tendencies to be aggressive. Fish that can live in the same tank as a gem tang include: assessors, dartfish, gobies, and blennies. Fish with a similar shape as the gem tangs will more than likely not be welcome into your tank. Gem tangs do not like any fish that looks like another gem tang. It is good to note that gem tangs are not compatible with purple tangs or with any other fish in the zebrasoma genus. It is very important to know what fish your gem tang will accept and which ones they will more than likely fight. Fish that do not live well with gem tangs include: the batfish, rabbitfish, pipefish, triggerfish, and seahorses. Fish that share similar diets should not be put in the same tank as your gem tang. As a result of this, one of them will more than likely starve to death.

Gem Tang Disease

If you are going to take on the responsibility of being the owner of one of these fine creatures, you must be aware of the warning signs to watch out for. Signs your gem tang in not feeling well include: odd swimming or lack of swimming, lack of eating, torn fins or new spots on their bodies. Be aware that if you own a juvenile, their physical appearance will change as they get older. Pay special attention to their behavior and eating habits if you suspect new spots are not normal in color. The groups of diseases to look out for are as such: environmental diseases, nutritional diseases, social problems, and trauma.  Environmental diseases can be caused by too much heat or not enough heat possibly due to the aquarium lamp being on too long or too short of a time. Nutritional diseases can be avoided by assuring your fish has enough food and is given the proper, recommended amount. If your fish does not have proper greens and even meat, it can develop a nutritional issue. Social diseases can occur if your fish is being bullied or physically injured by other fish. This is why it is crucial to be aware of the fish that should and should not be put in with your gem tang. Gem tangs are prone to something called marine itch. It is very important to make sure your fish gets proper treatment and care from an expert if this occurs. Proper and prompt care will more than likely prevent further problems.

Where to Find Gem Tang for Sale

Gem tangs are mostly found in Mauritius, particularly around the surge zones. Unless you are planning a trip to the Indian Ocean any time soon it is necessary to know where you can find these beauties for sale. A quick search online will show you where gem tangs are for sale near you. These are very rare and special creatures and should be handled with much care. It is important to look for a place that provides you with all of the information you desire, not just the cheapest price. Gem tangs are delicate creatures and should be well taken care of.

Gem tangs range in price from around $1,000-$6,000. The reason why Gem tangs are so expensive because it is difficult to find them, capture them, and ship them by plane to their destination. All of the transportation needed for such expeditions is quite pricey. The care and equipment needed where they are being shipped is expensive as well, but well worth it. Since gem tang have not yet been bred in a controlled environment, each buyer must compensate for the long ride from the western Indian Ocean. This is not the only reason the lack of breeding has affected the price. Since gem tang are mostly found in the western Indian Ocean, and breeding in captivity is not yet an option, low supply and demand is a huge factor in pricing. Their high price is not an effect of endangerment. Gem tangs are not an endangered species, however, they are quite hard to capture. Although these fish are quite expensive, they are nowhere near the most expensive saltwater fish around. Many rising above the gem tang include: the peppermint fish (approximately $30,000), the masked angelfish (ranging between $15,000-$20,000), and the peacekeeper maroon clownfish, bladefin basslet, australian flathead perch, and golden basslet (all ranging from $7,000-$9,000).


Despite their price and maintenance, gem tangs are a true treasure to have. Whether you just want a rare and beautiful friend to keep you company of a bright attraction for your customers to see, gem tangs are truly the right pick for you. Their beauty and curiosity will put everyone in awe. Gem tang are truly a perfect addition.