Sohal Tang: A Guide to Care and Maintenance

The Sohal Tang, a magnificent marine fish native to the Red Sea and Western Indian Ocean, is known for its striking appearance and captivating beauty. With contrasting stripes that alternate from light to dark and fins outlined in electric blue, this saltwater aquarium fish is sure to catch your eye.

However, don’t let its beauty deceive you. This species is quite territorial and requires specific care in a home aquarium setting. As you explore the world of Sohal Tangs, prepare to learn about their unique requirements, suitable tank mates, and the key to maintaining their health and wellbeing in your aquatic environment.

Species Overview

The Sohal Tang is a striking marine fish, known for its vibrant coloration and territorial nature. In your aquarium, it’s essential to provide appropriate care and tank mates to ensure a harmonious environment. Below is a table summarizing key information about the Sohal Tang:

Property Value
Scientific name Acanthurus sohal
Common names Sohal Tang, Sohal Surgeonfish, Arabian Tang
Distribution Red Sea, Western Indian Ocean
Size Up to 16 inches (40.6 cm)
Diet Herbivore
Temperament Aggressive
Minimum tank size 250 gallons (946 L)
Water hardness
Care level Moderate
Filtration/Water Flow
Water type
Breeding Has not been bred in captivity
Breeding difficulty High
Compatibility Reef safe; keep with suitable tank mates

To keep your Sohal Tang happy and healthy, consider its natural habitat and provide plenty of hiding places. Remember that it can grow quite large, so a spacious tank is essential. This fish’s aggressive nature means it should only be housed with compatible tank mates that can hold their own against its territorial behavior. With proper care, this eye-catching species can become an exciting addition to your aquarium.

Sohal Tang Basics

Origins and Natural Habitat

The Sohal Tang, also known as the Sohal Surgeonfish or Arabian Tang, originates from the Red Sea and western Indian Ocean. They thrive in shallow waters, predominantly around coral reefs. In their natural habitat, these fish can be found grazing on algae-covered rocks.

Size and Shape

Sohal Tangs can grow quite large, reaching up to 16 inches (40.6 cm) in length. They have a compressed, oval-shaped body, which is well-suited for their active, highly mobile lifestyle. Their pectoral and anal fins are large, allowing them to swim with incredible speed and maneuverability.

Color and Markings

The Sohal Tang boasts a striking appearance with contrasting and sometimes vermiculated stripes that alternate between light and dark colors. The majority of their fins are jet black with electric blue outlining them. These vibrant colors and patterns make them an eye-catching addition to any saltwater aquarium.


With proper care, a Sohal Tang can have a long and healthy life in your aquarium, but it is essential to provide the necessary environment and diet for them to thrive. Their average lifespan is around 10 years, although some individuals have been known to live even longer.

Remember to provide a large enough tank, ideally 250 gallons (946L) or more, as well as a diet that consists primarily of marine algae, seaweed, and plant material. By doing so, you will greatly increase the chances of your Sohal Tang living a healthy and long-lasting life.

Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Sohal Tang a diverse and balanced diet is crucial to keep them healthy and thriving in your aquarium. Their preferred diet consists primarily of algae, so it’s important to provide them with a variety of high-quality algae-based foods. Your Sohal Tang will especially appreciate Sargassum and filamentous green algae.

To ensure they receive the other nutrients they need, also incorporate an omnivore diet that includes a large vegetable component. This combination will make your Sohal Tangs happier and healthier as they graze on the mix of vegetation and algae.

Remember to feed them in small amounts, but consistently – about three times per day. This will help them digest and obtain the most nutrients from their food. Keep this feeding pattern, and your Sohal Tang will have a balanced and satisfying diet to support their growth and well-being.

Behavior and Temperament

Sohal Tangs, scientifically known as Acanthurus sohal, are known for their semi-aggressive temperament. They usually inhabit sandy areas around coral reefs and can be found at depths of up to 100 feet. These fish have the potential to injure and even kill other fish, especially those that resemble them in appearance.

To ensure a harmonious environment in your aquarium, it’s essential to provide ample space for your Sohal Tang. Keep in mind that a minimum tank size of 180 gallons is recommended, as they can grow up to 16 inches in size. The water conditions should be maintained within the ideal parameters of 72-80° F, specific gravity of 1.020-1.025, and pH levels between 8.1 to 8.4.

As your Sohal Tang acclimates to the aquarium surroundings, monitor its interactions with tank mates to prevent any aggression. Remember, their behavior can be unpredictable, so it’s crucial to keep a close eye on them and adjust the aquarium environment if necessary.

With a friendly approach and careful observation of your Sohal Tang’s behavior, you can ensure that your fish thrives in its tank.

Care and Tank Requirements

Tank Size

Your Sohal Tang (Acanthurus sohal) will need a tank with a minimum size of 250 gallons (946 liters) to ensure it has ample space to swim and grow. As it can reach a size of up to 16 inches (40.6 cm), providing sufficient room is essential for its well-being.

Water Parameters

To maintain a healthy environment for your Sohal Tang, keep the following water parameters in your tank:

  • Temperature: 75-82°F (24-28°C)
  • pH: 8.1-8.4
  • Salinity: 1.020-1.025 specific gravity
  • Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels: As close to 0 ppm as possible

It’s crucial that you regularly monitor these parameters and make adjustments as needed to avoid stress and health issues for your fish.

Tank Setup and Decorations

Your Sohal Tang will feel comfortable in a well-structured tank that mimics its natural habitat. Include live rock, caves, and plenty of hiding spots. Additionally, provide open areas for swimming. Sohal Tangs are herbivores, so incorporating some macroalgae in the tank setup can help them graze and meet their dietary needs.

Filtration and Aeration

Strong filtration is vital to keep the water quality high for your Sohal Tang. A high-quality marine canister filter or a sump-based filtration system is recommended. In addition to efficient filtration, ensure proper water movement and aeration with a powerhead and protein skimmer. This will help maintain optimal oxygen levels and keep your fish healthy.

Suitable Tank Mates

When selecting suitable tank mates for your Sohal Tang, it’s important to be cautious, as these fish can be quite aggressive. Carefully chosen tankmates can help minimize conflicts and create a more harmonious tank environment. Some suitable tankmates for Sohal Tangs are:

  • Angelfish (such as Emperor Angelfish)
  • Tuskfish
  • Triggerfish (like Picasso Triggerfish or Clown Triggerfish)

Keep in mind that you should avoid housing Sohal Tangs with other aggressive or territorial fish, such as triggerfish or lionfish. Additionally, avoid placing them with other tangs or any fish that resemble them, to minimize their aggressive tendencies.

It’s a good idea to add Sohal Tangs as the last addition to your tank, as this allows them to establish their territory, which can make them more aggressive towards newcomers. Doing so will help minimise aggression, making the tank a more peaceful place for all of its inhabitants.

When adhering to these guidelines and considering the temperament of your Sohal Tang, you’ll be able to create a vibrant aquatic community where all your fish can thrive.


Breeding Sohal Tangs in captivity is challenging and not common in home aquariums. Most of the Sohal Tangs available for purchase are wild-caught rather than captive-bred. Since they are a monogamous species that mates for life, it is difficult to keep more than one Sohal Tang in a tank.

If you are determined to breed Sohal Tangs, be prepared for a complex process that requires expertise and resources. Make sure to research and consult with knowledgeable breeders for the best chances of success. Remember, breeding should only be attempted if you’re truly committed to having offspring.

In their natural habitat, Sohal Tangs broadcast spawn their eggs during the summer months. Unfortunately, the survival rate of their larvae is very low, with many not reaching adulthood. This is another factor that makes breeding these fish a challenging endeavor.

By understanding the complexities of breeding Sohal Tangs and seeking advice from experienced breeders, you can give yourself the best chance of success in this difficult endeavor. Be prepared to invest time, effort, and resources in the process to ensure the well-being of these unique and beautiful fish.

Common Diseases and Treatments

Sohal Tangs, like other tangs, are susceptible to HLLE (Head and Lateral Line Erosion Disease) and other nutritional deficiency syndromes. It’s crucial to keep an eye on these beautiful fish and maintain proper nutrition in their diet to prevent such diseases.

To treat and prevent HLLE, you should:

  • Feed them a well-balanced diet: Offer a variety of high-quality herbivore foods, along with some natural algae in their tank.
  • Maintain water quality: Regularly test your aquarium water for proper parameters and perform partial water changes as needed.

In case your Sohal Tang shows signs of sickness, take these steps:

  1. Isolate the fish: Place the affected fish in a quarantine tank to prevent the disease from spreading to other tank mates.
  2. Apply appropriate treatment: Depending on the diagnosis, use the recommended medication or treatment to help your fish recover.
  3. Monitor: Keep a close eye on the fish’s progress and adjust treatments if necessary.

With your care and attention to their needs, your Sohal Tang should be able to stay healthy and thrive in your aquarium. Remember to always prioritize your fish’s well-being to prevent and manage diseases effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for a Sohal Tang?

Sohal Tangs can grow quite large, reaching up to 16 inches (40.6cm) in size. To accommodate their active nature and provide ample swimming space, it is recommended that you house them in a tank with a minimum capacity of 250 gallons (946L).

What do Sohal Tangs eat?

Sohal Tangs primarily have a herbivorous diet. They enjoy eating algae and other plant-based materials in their environment. Make sure to provide them with plenty of vegetation to graze on, as well as high-quality herbivore foods to ensure they receive proper nutrition.

Are Sohal Tangs reef safe?

Yes, Sohal Tangs are generally considered reef safe. They can coexist with a variety of corals and invertebrates in a reef aquarium setting. However, due to their territorial nature, it is crucial to provide ample hiding places in your reef tank to mitigate potential aggression.

How long do Sohal Tangs live?

Sohal Tangs can live for several years with proper care and in a suitable environment. The lifespan of a Sohal Tang can vary depending on factors such as diet, water quality, and overall tank conditions. By providing a well-maintained, spacious tank and a balanced diet, you can help ensure your Sohal Tang thrives.

Can Sohal Tangs be kept with other fish?

Sohal Tangs can be kept with other fish species, but they tend to be territorial and aggressive, especially towards their own kind or similar-looking species. It is best to keep only one Sohal Tang per tank to avoid conflict. If you are housing them with other fish, ensure that the tank is sizeable, has ample hiding spaces, and doesn’t contain any direct food competitors to minimize potential aggression.