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Achilles Tang (Acanthurus achilles)

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Achilles Tang

Scientific Name: Acanthurus achilles
Family: Acanthuridae

About the Achilles Tang

Species Type: Saltwater Fish
Category: Tangs & Rabbitfish
Care Level: Very Difficult. Healthy specimens are nearly impossible to find. Ships and acclimates poorly to captivity. Often refuses all foods and starves to death quickly. May have special dietary requirements that can not be met in captivity. Otherwise healthy specimens often die overnight, for no apparent reason. Not recommended for any home aquarium, best left in the ocean.
Origin: Indo Pacific
Compatibility/Temperament: The Achillies Tang is typical of the Acanthurus genus. If successfully acclimated, they are generally a good community fish, provided they are given plenty of space and not kept with other members of the same genus. They also fare well in a reef environment with smaller fish that do not pose a threat. They will generally mix with Tangs outside of their genus, such as the commonly seen Sailfin Tang and Yellow Tang. When keeping more than one Acanthurus species of Tang, it is best to add them at the same time to a much larger aquarium.


The Achilles Tang will not bother coral or invertebrates, however it may eat desirable marine algae. One of the most difficult of all saltwater fish to acclimate to the home aquarium, the Achilles Tang is best left in the ocean, or best kept only by the most experienced saltwater fish keepers. For best chance of survival a quarantine period is an absolute must, and treating for internal parasites as a preventative is suggested.

To complicate the situation further, they are almost always loaded with ich at the time of purchase, and finding individuals for sale that are ich-free is nearly impossible. Even in situations where this species survives quarantine, it is not uncommon for a "thriving" fish to die overnight for no apparent reason, even after many months of success in the home aquarium.

Your best bet is to avoid this species. If you are looking for some orange color in a Tang, consider the Orange Shoulder or Tomini Tangs as much easier options.

Achilles Tang Diet

Feed a diet rich in vegetable matter including frozen herbivore foods, dried seaweed, or live macro algae. Freeze dried algae sheets should be offered daily.


The Achilles Tang reaches nearly 10'' in size as an adult. They are a very fast growing species and sufficient space should be given to allow them to reach adult size in your aquarium.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

125 gallons

Ideal water parameters for Achilles Tang

Marine fish are highly sensitive animals with very specific care requirements. Most all saltwater species will require similar water conditions, designed to replicate that of natural seawater. Ammonia and nitrite levels should absolute zero, temperature at 76F to 80F, and salinity at 1.024 to 1.026. Although some fish are tolerant of lower levels of Nitrate, the goal in every aquariums should be to keep Nitrate as close to zero as possible, and certainly under 20ppm. Finally, maintaining a stable pH of 8.0 to 8.4 is desired. Achieving this is made easier by monitoring alkalinity, which should be kept at 8-12 DKH, and calcium, which is targeted at 400 to 460ppm.

Contributing Members

The following members have contributed to this profile: Pasfur
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