For most hobbyists, coloration and good décor are absolutely key when you are building up an established tank, or simply starting out on your aquarium journey. However, not only are colors and aesthetics important when picking the right fish and coral for your reef community, there is a lot more that goes into it, like fish compatibility, feeding or environmental preferences, and much more. Although, having beautiful fish with stunning coloration is still incredibly important!
When you are looking for the perfect fish to join your community, a brilliant option would be the Clown Tang, which also goes by the name of Clown Surgeonfish, Lined Surgeonfish, or Blue-banded Surgeonfish. This absolutely remarkable fish is covered in bright, horizontal striping that encompasses their bright yellow or orange bodies, accompanied by large peduncle spines. This member of the Tang family, or Surgeonfish family’s natural habitat are the waters of Fiji, the Maldives, and New Caledonia.
Tangs as a species have started gathering somewhat of a reputation for perhaps not being the friendliest of fish especially with one another, and the clowns are no different, notorious for being one of the more aggressive types of Tangs. It is always a good idea with aggressive Tangs to keep them singularly, they tend to be happier alone, and keeping them away from other types of Tangs sharing similar shapes and sizes would also be a smart idea. You will find as you venture further down your hobbyist journey having a “tank bully” is kind of an inevitability, and the Clown Tang will usually become just that, even if they are smaller than the average adult-sized fish.
Much like other Tangs, Clown Tangs have a sharp spine running along both sides of the caudal fin, which is typically used by them to defend themselves and their territory – so be careful when handling them, and look out for, and avoid touching this fin!
The reasons for the Clown Tangs having such distinctive, almost disc-shaped bodies are because of the dorsal and anal fins being much larger in these types of Tangs. When the fins are at full extension, the height of the fish measures almost the same as the length of them.
Clown Tangs are definitely not a small fish, growing to around 15 inches (40 cm) in length when an adult, this means that it is incredibly important to keep them in a large and suitably sized tank/aquarium. They also require plenty of spaces to hide, but also enjoy swimming around and will likely occupy all areas of your tank.
Tank Requirements and Additional Clown Tang Information
The minimum recommended tank size is 250 Gallons which is 950 Liters.
Unfortunately, much like their Purple Tang counterparts, the Clowns are prone to disease, meaning that it is incredibly important to provide your fish with the right diet, accompanied by a clean, and well looked after tank. The typical diseases include Ich (Ick) and HLLE (Head & Lateral Line Erosion).
A question commonly asked when talking about fish, and especially tropical fish is “are they beginner compatible”, often the answer isn’t always straightforward because ownership of any fish can come with many challenges, but also the more experience you have under your belt, the easier the process will be. Unfortunately for beginners, the Clown Tang is not for you, it is strongly advised for beginners to pick either another Tang that is more manageable for first-time hobbyists, or a different kind of fish all together.
As mentioned previously, they tend to grow to around 15 inches, which is 40cm.
These Tangs are reef compatible, and once they reach a larger size, can be added to a predator tank too.
The pH levels of the tank range anywhere between 8.1 to 8.4, and the preferred temperature of the water should be between 24°C to 28°C (75F to 82.5F).
Again, the Clown Tangs certainly thrive as individuals, and our advice is to have them kept singularly, although, if you really do want to mix them with other types of Tangs, do so with caution. They will usually not harm or destroy invertebrates and smaller fish.
When it comes to feeding them and what food they eat it is important to understand that they do require a special diet and have certain requirements. They will spend most of their days nibbling at the seabed and also on rocks, they will also graze on algae, seaweeds, diatoms, detritus, and filamentous algae too.
When it comes to the food you will be feeding them, they accept a mix of frozen, live, and algae-based foods. They need a varied diet in order to stave off any of the diseases they are susceptible too. This means that mixing in vegetable-based foods with live, frozen, and flake foods is essential. They are, however, extremely quick eaters, so you must ensure that the whole tank is being fed, and not just the Tangs.
In terms of acclimatization, you will need to place the fish in a bucket and then drip acclimate for 1 hour (60 minutes) at a rate of 3 drips per second, which will then bring the Clown Tangs water parameters in line with your tanks.
After the Tang has been acclimated, gather the fish with a net and place it gently into your tank, it is important to not mix any of the water the fish came in with into your own tank water! The lid to your tank must be on tightly and securely, this fish has been known to jump, especially when initially introduced to a brand-new environment.
A good question posed by many is “can you keep the Clown Tang with other Tangs?”, and as mentioned several times already, due to their aggressive nature and territorial tendencies, it is not advised to have them in a community with other Tangs. They are, however, compatible with most other living beings that you would find in mixed reef aquariums. As far as being a “tank bully” goes, this is unfortunately what will happen 8 times out of 10. However, I suppose all tanks need a bully, right?