Aquarium & Tropical Fish Site

Acanthurus achilles
Achilles Tang, Achilles Surgeonfish

 Age of Aquariums > Saltwater Fish

Photos & Comments

Acanthurus_achilles_1.jpg (9kb)
Photo Credit: Shawna in CA

Name: Acanthurus achilles
Origin: Indo-Pacific Oceans

Size Behavior Reef
30 cm Loner Safe


A truly beautiful fish, definitely one of my favourites. However, one of the most difficult fish to keep successfully, mainly due to them needing large areas to swim. Most swim back and forth pining away. Many develop Ich and whitespot very easily. I work in an aquarium, and every time we have got them in they usually die within 2 weeks, therefore I would not recommend keeping this fish.

Contributed by Tom

As you can see from the photograph, the Achilles Tang is very distinctive with its black body, large bright orange spot, and other white and orange markings. It is hard to mistake this fish for any other. It is a common fish found in Hawaiian waters, but the distribution of this species extends from Hawaii southward to central Polynesia and westward through Micronesia and Melanesia, but it apparently does not extend to the Philippine Islands, the East Indies, and the Indian Ocean. Both adult and juvenile Achilles prefer to inhabit the oxygen rich waters in the shallower surge-zone area of the reef. They like rocky areas that have large cracks, caves and crevices to hide in. However, on one occasion we did find a small group of adults at a depth of 17-20 meters, and many times find juveniles residing in deeper waters outside the reef at depths of about 12-14 meters where they live amongst long finger coral. Because of its close relation to the Goldrim Tang, this fish is usually found living with, or in the same vicinity as this species. On a few rare occasions we have found hybrids of these fish, a mix of an Achilles Tang and a Goldrim together, which makes them truly a unique and rare fish. The adults can grow to an average length of about 30 cm.

Contributed by Kyle Wainstein

I've owned an Achilles before and am currently looking for another one. Mine survived quite well until I moved my tank (they do not respond well to this under normal circumstances). When I got him, I quarantined him for about 5 days and medicated my display tank with Ruby Reef's Kick Ich. This medication is wonderful because it is effective and can be used with all corals and inverts as well as fish (while doing this I would only run my skimmer every other day). I acclimated him and after a while he schooled with my coral beauty angelfish. After 14 days of heavy treatment I replaced my carbon filtration and he seemed to be very happy. What you'll find online is that they need a lot of space with good water quality and high water movement, rich in oxygen. What I've found is that you must obtain a healthy specimen and I wouldn't try it with out the Kick Ich, seeing as they will initially catch it and freshwater dips cause a lot of stress for both parties. Direct your water current to create an isolated path of high water movement. Buy it early so it can adjust without being picked on. feed high volumes of algae and greens with some frozen meaty food. I tested water every day. Water quality is vital and an aquascape containing caves and plenty of open water is key. If you've kept a powder blue or something high maintenance before, you should be able to support an achilles but, for the sake of the fish and the species, wait until you're ready. They are very hard to keep and there's no reason to kill specimens just because you're not ready. Good luck if you try to house one. Please research relentlessly prior to obtaining the animal.

Contributed by James Gage

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