Chevron Tang: Your Guide to a Vibrant Aquarium

The Chevron Tang is a stunning tropical fish species that holds a special place in the hearts of aquarium enthusiasts. Known for their striking coloration and distinctive chevron pattern, these fish add an unmistakable touch of beauty to any saltwater tank.

As you explore the world of the Chevron Tang, you’ll learn about their intriguing color changes as they mature. In their juvenile stage, they boast a vivid orange hue with violet markings, which slowly transforms into an olive-brown color with delicate lines as they age.

In this article, we will guide you through key aspects of caring for a Chevron Tang, including their lifespan, diet, suitable tank mates, and how to properly set up a thriving environment that meets their needs. Happy fishkeeping!

Species Overview

The Chevron Tang (Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis), also known as the Hawaiian Bristletooth or Hawaiian Surgeonfish, is an attractive saltwater fish species prized for its vibrant coloration and unique chevron pattern. Juvenile Chevron Tangs display bright orange colors with violet markings, while adults tend to have darker shades and bolder patterns.

These fish are dedicated algae eaters that spend most of their time grazing on various surfaces inside the aquarium. They require ample sand and rock to thrive and can be relatively easy to care for with proper water conditions and a suitable environment.

Below is a table including important information you need to know about the Chevron Tang:

Property Chevron Tang
Scientific name Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis
Common names Chevron Tang, Hawaiian Bristletooth, Surgeonfish
Distribution Pacific Ocean, Hawaii
Size 6 inches (15.2 cm)
Lifespan 8-10 years
Diet Mostly vegetarian, algae eater
Temperament Peaceful community fish
Minimum tank size 75-gallons (283.9 liters)
Temperature 73-80°F (23-27°C)
pH 8.1-8.4
Water hardness dKH 8-12
Care level Moderate
Filtration/Water Flow Moderate to high
Water type Saltwater
Breeding Group spawning
Breeding difficulty Difficult
Compatibility Compatible with non-aggressive saltwater species

By maintaining these specific conditions in your saltwater aquarium, you can ensure the health and well-being of your beautiful Chevron Tang.

Chevron Tang Basics

Origins and Natural Habitat

Chevron Tangs, also known as Hawaiian Bristletooth or Hawaiian Surgeonfish, originate from the Pacific Ocean, specifically around the Hawaiian Islands. Their natural habitat consists of reef environments with plenty of hiding places, rocks, and open swimming areas.

Size and Shape

These fish are characterized by their oval body shape which aids in their fast and agile swimming abilities. As an adult, the Chevron Tang can reach sizes of up to 10-12 inches. When considering keeping one in your home aquarium, ensure that there is ample open space for swimming and hiding places for them to thrive.

Color and Markings

Juvenile Chevron Tangs are known for their vibrant orange coloration, which gradually changes to a more subdued combination of green, yellow, and blue as they mature. They have distinctive markings on their body, particularly diagonal lines resembling a chevron, which gives them their name.


When well taken care of and provided with a proper diet and living conditions, Chevron Tangs can live up to 5-7 years. To ensure their longevity, make sure to maintain excellent water quality, provide a balanced diet, and give them a stress-free environment in your aquarium.

Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Chevron Tang a varied and balanced diet is crucial for their health and happiness. Primarily, their diet should consist of vegetable matter. Offering marine-based seaweed and algae will strengthen their immune system, reduce aggression, and improve overall health. To do this, you can tie dried seaweed to a rock or use a veggie clip, feeding at least 3 times per week.

Additionally, provide your Chevron Tang with high-quality flake food, preferably containing spirulina and a good amount of vitamin C. You may also offer them noori, which they love to feast on. Use a vegetable clip or clothes-pin to keep the noori from drifting around in the water.

To keep your Chevron Tang healthy, remember to:

  • Feed a vegetable-based diet, with seaweed and algae
  • Offer high-quality flake food with spirulina and vitamin C
  • Include noori in their diet using a clip to prevent drifting
  • Provide small amounts of food 3 times per day

By following these diet and feeding guidelines, you’ll ensure your Chevron Tang thrives in your aquarium.

Behavior and Temperament

Chevron Tangs, scientifically known as Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis, are one of the more passive members of the Surgeonfish family. As a reef enthusiast, you should be aware that they are relatively rare species, hailing from the waters around the Hawaiian Islands.

When you’re observing your Chevron Tang swimming around your reef tank, you’ll likely notice that its temperament is more peaceful compared to other tangs. As it matures, the adolescent bright orange hue and violet markings will transform, showcasing bold and remarkable patterns.

It’s essential to provide a suitable environment for your fish. Ensure that your tank is big enough to give your Chevron Tang the space necessary to swim freely and comfortably. Meeting these conditions will help support a harmonious and stress-free habitat.

While these fish have a pleasant temperament, it’s always a good idea to be mindful of potential tank mates to prevent conflicts. Selecting compatible companions will help maintain a calm and thriving environment in your aquarium.

Care and Tank Requirements

Tank Size

When keeping a Chevron Tang, ensure you have a proper tank size for it to thrive. A minimum of 125 gallons is recommended, giving your fish enough space to move around and stay healthy.

Water Parameters

To keep your Chevron Tang in excellent condition, maintain these water parameters in the tank:

  • Temperature: 73 – 80°F (23 – 27°C)
  • pH: 8.1 – 8.4
  • Specific gravity: 1.020 – 1.025

It’s essential to provide a stable and oxygen-rich environment for your fish.

Tank Setup and Decorations

Creating a comfortable environment for your Chevron Tang is crucial. The following tank setup will ensure your fish feels at home:

  • Substrate: Opt for a sandy substrate that replicates their natural habitat.
  • Live Rock: Include plenty of live rock to offer hiding spots and algae grazing surfaces.
  • Swimming Space: Although hiding spots are essential, don’t overcrowd the tank. Instead, leave ample open spaces for your fish to swim freely.

Filtration and Aeration

Since Chevron Tangs are typically found in oxygen-rich waters, it’s crucial to provide proper filtration and aeration in the tank. Think about investing in a robust and efficient filtration system. Additionally, consider using powerheads or air pumps to keep the water well-oxygenated for your fish, promoting a healthier environment overall.

Suitable Tank Mates

Chevron Tangs are known for their relatively peaceful nature, so it’s important to find suitable tank mates that won’t cause them any unnecessary stress. While they generally get along well with most other tank inhabitants, they tend to be incompatible with their own kind. Here’s a list of suitable tank mates to consider for your Chevron Tang:

  • Yellow Tang
  • Pacific Sailfin Tang
  • Lawnmower Blenny
  • Bicolor Blenny
  • Cleaner Shrimp
  • Neon Gobies
  • Other Zebrasoma Tangs (e.g., Sailfin Tang)

It’s worth noting that compatibility should always be monitored when introducing new tank mates to ensure everyone is getting along well. In the wild, cleaner wrasses would help keep Chevron Tangs free of parasites. In your home aquarium, neon gobies and cleaner shrimp can be added to assist with parasite removal. These species not only make great companions for your Chevron Tang, but they are also beneficial for tank health.

When selecting tank mates for your Chevron Tang, be careful to avoid aggressive or predatory fish, as they can intimidate and stress your peaceful tang. By carefully choosing your tank mates and ensuring compatibility, you’ll create a thriving, harmonious environment for your beautiful Chevron Tang and its aquatic companions.


Breeding Chevron Tangs is quite challenging, as they are pelagic fish that spawn in groups and free-spawn or scatter their eggs. In the wild, females release small eggs into the water column, and males fertilize them while swimming through the egg cloud. This occurs multiple times per year, usually in the spring and summer, with females capable of producing hundreds of eggs.

Unfortunately, captive breeding of Chevron Tangs has not been successful, and all available specimens are wild-caught. This is due to several factors, such as tank size requirements, difficulty in establishing a mixed-sex pair, and the challenge of isolating fertilized eggs in a home setup.

Additionally, it is believed that wild Chevron Tangs spawn in mated pairs. Despite various efforts, successful captive breeding remains unachieved, limiting the availability of captive-bred Chevron Tangs in the market. Overcoming the reproductive challenges of this species would require significant expertise, resources, and infrastructure when attempting to breed them in captivity.

Common Diseases and Treatments

Chevron Tangs can experience a few health issues, but with proper care, your fish can remain healthy. Here are some common diseases and treatments for your Chevron Tang.

Environmental Diseases: These diseases are often caused by unsuitable habitat conditions. To prevent such issues, ensure your tank has reef-quality conditions, as this is the natural habitat for Chevron Tangs. Maintaining the appropriate pH levels between 8.0 and 8.4 and providing ample space will help reduce the risk of environmental diseases.

Parasites: Be sure to keep your eyes open for signs of parasites like Ich or Velvet. Symptoms include white spots, excess mucus, and erratic behavior. In case you notice these signs, be sure to quarantine your fish and treat with a suitable medication, such as copper-based remedies or malachite green.

Skin Conditions: Unusual growths on your Chevron Tang’s skin might be a cause for concern, so it’s important to monitor their overall appearance. If anything seems off, consult an aquarium specialist for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

By being proactive and attentive to your Chevron Tang’s health, you can prevent and treat common diseases, ensuring your beautiful fish thrives in its aquatic environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for a Chevron Tang?

For a Chevron Tang to thrive, you should provide a tank that has a minimum capacity of 125 gallons. This will ensure that there is ample space for swimming and hiding among rockwork as they are known to be active swimmers.

Are Chevron Tangs reef safe?

Yes, Chevron Tangs are considered reef safe. However, they may graze on algae growing on your live rocks and aquarium glass. Keep an eye on their behavior to ensure that they do not cause harm to the corals or other invertebrates in your reef tank.

What does a Chevron Tang eat?

Chevron Tangs primarily graze on algae, making them beneficial for controlling algae growth in your tank. They also appreciate having supplementary herbivorous food like spirulina or dried nori seaweed. Make sure to feed them a varied diet to maintain their health and coloration.

Are Chevron Tangs aggressive?

While Chevron Tangs are generally peaceful, they can show territorial behavior, particularly towards other Tangs or similar-shaped species. It is advised to keep only one Chevron Tang per tank and to introduce them simultaneously with other fish to minimize the territorial disputes.

Can a Chevron Tang coexist with other fish?

Yes, Chevron Tangs can coexist with other fish species, as long as they are not too similar in shape or size. Ensure that you have a large enough tank and adequate hiding places to help avoid conflicts between fish.

How big does a Chevron Tang get?

Chevron Tangs can grow up to 10 inches in size when fully matured. Keep this in mind when considering tank size and tank mates so that your Chevron Tang has enough space to grow and thrive.