Fun Achilles Tang Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Achilles Tang Facts For Kids

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The Achilles tang, also known as the redtail surgeonfish or the Achilles surgeonfish, has the scientific name Acanthurus achilles. It is an oval-shaped fish that is found in coral reefs in the western Pacific and the eastern central Pacific marine range. They are just one of many surgeonfish that are found in the wild and they are exotic fish that can also be found in aquariums and tanks. They must only be owned by experienced aquarists as they are extremely difficult to care for and keep.

Achilles tang fish has a distinct bright orange spot on their anal, dorsal, and caudal fins which is extremely eye-catching and gives these fish an amazing look of distinction from other relative surgeonfish and tangs. They are usually a peaceful species and will rarely bother any of their tank mates as they just like to graze in the wild or an aquarium and will simply mind their own business. Since they are reef-safe, they can co-exist with any invertebrates! The best possible tank mates for them are clownfish, Chromis fish, butterflyfish, and the smaller lionfish.

If you like these facts about the Achilles tang fish, then you'll surely like these facts about the pinfish and the convict cichlid too!

Fun Achilles Tang Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?


What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?


How long are they?

3-9.8 in (7.6-22.8 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Black with orange patterns

Skin Type

Wet, slimy scales

What were their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them?

Ocean Reefs And Shallow Waters


The Western Pacific And The Eastern Central Pacific Ocean









Achilles Tang Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Achilles tang?

The Achilles tang (Acanthurus achilles) belongs to the Acanthuridae family, which mostly consists of surgeonfish or tangs. These fish are mostly found in coral reef regions and they feed on algae. Achilles tang fish are not suited to novice pet keepers as these fish are extremely delicate and require precise care and attention when kept in captivity. Once they settle into their aquariums, they are amazing pets as their black and orange color is attractive and a delight to look at!

What class of animal does an Achilles tang belong to?

The Achilles tang belongs to the class of Actinopterygii, as they are ray-finned fish.

How many Achilles tangs are there in the world?

The exact population count of these dark-colored Pacific fish is unknown. Achilles tang are found worldwide in captivity, due to them being a great addition to an aquarium or a water tank habitat. They have been bred in large quantities by breeders who sell or export them to other countries, and this keeps the population of these fish at a stable rate in captivity.

Where does an Achilles Tang live?

Achilles tang (Acanthurus achilles) fish are found in coral reefs in tropical marine regions where the water flow is swift through surge channels.

What is an Achilles Tang's habitat?

This species of fish gather around rocky shores with an exposed coral reef and an abundance of algae, as this is a major part of their diet. They live in tropical regions and thrive in free-flowing water through surge channels.  

Who does Achilles Tangs live with?

The Achilles tang is a peaceful but territorial species of fish. Males have a feeding territory with lots of food and live here with a group of females. They get aggressive when other males trespass into their territory and will often fight and show their aggressive nature to get rid of a trespasser. They do not like to share their food resources (such as algae) that they graze all day to find!

How long does an Achilles Tang live?

This species of fish has a lifespan of around 30-45 years! This long lifespan can be prolonged even further in captivity through a healthy diet and a well-looked-after habitat in their aquarium or fish tank. Since these fish are one of the toughest and most demanding fish to keep in an aquarium or fish tank, they are not suited to novices and are only recommended for an expert aquarist. Not providing a good tank setup will shorten the lifespan of tangs and cause them to die prematurely.

How do they reproduce?

During a spawning season in the wild, a female will release a cloud of eggs, and the male swims through it, fertilizing the eggs. These eggs slowly rise to the surface of open water and drift in this open water until they hatch. The larvae, after hatching, develop into juveniles and they will separate from their parents and live the rest of their lives in a reef habit that has an abundance of algae and other sources of food.

It is impossible to breed these fish in a private aquarium or fish tank as they cannot be provided with the required conditions that mimic a reef habitat (algae, live rocks, and other marine fish).

What is their conservation status?

The Achilles tang is listed as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN Red List and can be found in abundance in coral reef habitats with a large concentration of algae. These fish have a low chance of getting anywhere close to extinction or danger as they are one of the most popular aquarium fish that an aquarist can get his hands on! Due to this popularity, this species is bred in large numbers and is part of a thriving fish trade worldwide.

Achilles Tang Fun Facts

What do Achilles tangs look like?

Achilles tang (also known as Achilles surgeonfish) have a flat wide body, which is roughly oval and is compressed from side to side. They have a dark brown to purple coloration and have bright highlights of orange around their anal, dorsal, and caudal fins. A white marking can be seen on their gill covers and their most dominant feature is the teardrop-shaped orange pattern on their tail.

They also have a scalpel-like spine which is found at the base of their tail, which gives their family the name of 'surgeonfish'. These scalpel-like spines can be exposed when the fish flexes its tail and can be used to thwart predators or competitors for mates or territories.

An Achilles Tang.

How cute are they?

Achilles tang fish are great fish to look at thanks to their dark body and the bright orange teardrop pattern on their tails! They love to swim around and spend most of their time searching for algae to feed on and are incredibly cute to watch.

How do they communicate?

These fish communicate with each other through sound, motion, color, smell, and bioluminescence. These methods are often used in navigation, alerting predators to stay away, as a call for spawning or breeding, and while fighting.

How big is an Achilles tang?

The Achilles tang is a large variety of fish and usually grows to 3-9 in (7.6-22.8 cm) long.

How fast can an Achilles tang swim?

Achilles tang fish swim in a relaxed state and are quite a slow fish species. However, due to a lack of data, their exact swimming speed is difficult to state.

How much does an Achilles tang weigh?

Due to a lack of data, the accurate weight of an Achilles Tang is hard to state.

What are the male and female names of the species?

No specific name has been assigned to either sex of the Achilles tang species.

What would you call a baby Achilles tang?

Like most fish babies, an Achilles tang baby is also a 'fry'. Female Achilles tang eggs are fertilized by a male. They lay their eggs in open water and these small eggs drift to the surface. After the eggs hatch, the larvae will end up living the rest of their life in the reef. Juvenile tangs lack the bright orange spot on their tail that adults have.

What do they eat?

The Achilles tang (Acanthurus achilles) has a diet that is mostly made up of algae! They swim around their reef habitat feeding on algae and will often get aggressive when other tang fish come into their territory to feed on their algae reserves. In captivity, they eat brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and whatever fish food is provided to them.

Are they dangerous?

No, they are not considered dangerous, However, the scalpel-like spine on their tail might inflict a cut or wound if they are handled dangerously without taking the proper precautions.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, they make good pets! However, they are not for beginners as they are an exotic breed of fish that requires specific and detailed care. Sadly, they will not survive if proper care and a comfortable habitat are not provided to them.

Did you know...

They are usually herbivores in nature but will eat shrimps in captivity!

Achilles tangs or redtail surgeonfish (Acanthurus achilles) are a rare breed of fish that are found in the marine coral reefs of the Hawaiian islands. They are one of the most challenging fish to keep as they are often shipped across long distances from their native areas worldwide and might suffer from displacement issues.

They require a lot of swimming space and live rocks to graze on.

The Achilles tang fish species is a species of surgeonfish. The most popular surgeonfish in recent entertainment culture is Dory from the movie 'Finding Nemo', who is a blue tang!

Why are Achilles tangs so expensive?

Achilles fish fall on the expensive scale of pets because they are a rare species and are typically owned by aquarists who have been collecting exotic fish for a long period. The Achilles tang price starts from $ 100  and can range anywhere from $ 200-400 for larger fish. Even more expensive, a showcase-quality Achilles tang can cost more than $ 400.

Having Your Own Achilles Tang

You should only get an Achilles tang (Acanthurus achilles) if you are an expert at keeping pet fish as these fish are not for beginners! An Achilles tang care routine is tough and you will need to follow a strict schedule to make sure they can survive in your tank or aquarium.

The Achilles tang is a delicate species of fish and is only suited to tank or aquarium life if they are maintained properly. You will need to replicate the tang's reef habitat in your aquarium or tank and will need a 6-7 ft (1.8-2.1 m) tank with 100 or more gallons of water in it, as these fish swim all day long. Algae is an important part of their diet, so make sure that you spread algae throughout your aquarium set up or they will get bored and may even die of boredom. You can also put some brine shrimp and other smaller fish in the tank with them. This will help them as they can feed on the parasites to help your tang stay healthy. These marine fish in captivity will reject any food that is not algae when it is first introduced to an aquarium, so you need to make sure you introduce new food to their diet slowly. Frozen food like Mysis shrimp is perfect for your tang.

There should be no other tang in your aquarium as this might upset the balance of the habitat and bring out the aggressive behavior of these fish. Caring for an Achilles tang can be a tiring job but it does come with its advantages as they are one of the prettiest fish you can add to your aquarium and will be a true eye-catcher!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including the glowlight danio or the three-spot gourami.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Achilles Tang coloring pages.

Written By
Moumita Dutta

Moumita is a multilingual content writer and editor. She has a PostGraduate Diploma in sports management, which enhanced her sports journalism skills, as well as a degree in journalism and mass communication. She's good at writing about sports and sporting heroes. Moumita has worked with many soccer teams and produced match reports, and sports is her primary passion.

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