The Purple Tang is also known as the Yellow-tail Sailfin Tang, Yellow-tail Surgeonfish, and the Blue Surgeonfish, is blue/purple in color with a yellow tail and yellow accents on the pectoral fins.

This fish is found in the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and in the waters off Sri Lanka as well. It usually lives singly, but can occasionally be found in schools in the southern Red Sea.

Purple Surgeonfish
Purple Surgeonfish

These beautiful disc-shaped fish are one of the more aggressive tangs, and as result should be housed in your aquarium singularly, with no other fish a similar shape. Reefers have seen success in adding multiples of the species in one go.

Care should be taken when handling these fish, they have a sharp “scalpel” like spine running along each side of the caudel fin. They will use this to defend themselves and their territory.

The dorsal and anal fins are much larger in these Tangs, which is what gives them the disc-shaped appearance. When the fins are fully extended the total height of the fish is roughly the same length as the fish.

These fish will grow to a reasonably large size, they should only be kept in a suitably sized aquarium. They occupy every inch of your tank, they enjoy open swimming but require lots of bolt holes should they feel the need to hide.

Tank Requirements & Facts

Juvenile Purple Tang
  • Minimum tank size: 125 Gallon (475 Litres)
  • Prone to disease: Yes, Ich (Ick) & HLLE (Head & Lateral Line Erosion)
  • Beginner Compatible: With Caution
  • Adult Size: 10 inches (25.4cm)
  • Reef Compatible: Yes
  • Predator Tank Compatible: Once at a larger size
  • Care Level: Some special requirements
  • pH: 8.1 to 8.4
  • Temperature: 24°C to 28°C
  • Preferred Tank Level: All over
  • Lots of hiding places required
  • Number to a tank: To be kept singularly. Can be kept with other Tangs with caution. Generally considered invertebrate and smaller inhabitants safe.


These fish have special requirements with feeding. They spend their day pecking at the sand beds and rocks grazing. A mix of frozen, live and algae based foods is required.

  • These are omnivores
  • A varied diet made of predominantly vegetable based foods is a must to help prevent the onset of HLLE
  • They are fast eaters, ensure you are feeding enough for the entire tank and not just these tangs
  • They will graze on algae, seaweeds, diatoms, detritus, and filamentous algae throughout the day and readily accept other foods at feeding times
  • Live foods, frozen foods, flake and nori will all be appreciated.


Place your fish in the bucket and then drip acclimate for about 60 minutes at a rate of 3 drips per second. This should bring the fishes water parameters in line with your tanks parameters.

Once your fish has been drip acclimated, catch the fish with a net and place it gently into your tank. Do not put any of the water the fish originally came in, into your tank.

Care should be taken after adding the fish to ensure there is a tightly fitting lid on the aquarium at all times. These fish are known to be jumpers and they are more likely to jump when first introduced to an aquarium.

Can you keep the Purple Tang with other Tangs?

These stunning fish are one of the more aggressive and boisterous Surgeonfish (Tangs). They are generally considered to be compatible with most living beings commonly found in mixed reef aquariums, but they may become the tank bullys.

If you are planning on keeping the Purple Tang with other members of the Surgeonfish family, the Purple Tang should be the last of the Tangs added to the aquarium, this is to allow other fish to establish a territory.

As long as you have a big enough and well established tank, these fish can live with other Tangs, they do best with Tangs that are not the same shape as them, and are not from the Zebrasoma genus of Tang.

Purple Tang


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