Clown Surgeonfish

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Species group:

Other common names: Lined Surgeonfish; Striped Surgeonfish; Clown Tang; Blue-Banded Surgeonfish; Pyjama Clown; Lined Tang; Blue-Lined Surgeonfish

Scientific name: Acanthurus lineatus

The basics:
The Clown Surgeonfish has a reputation for being hard to keep in captivity. Surgeonfish are continuous feeders and are primarily herbivorous. The Clown Surgeonfish is more fussy and difficult to feed than other Surgeonfish. Sometimes juvenile Clown Surgeonfish that do not eat properly are unable to adjust well to aquarium life.

The Clown Surgeonfish has a bright yellow to orange base color on the upper three quarters of its body. On it are horizontal lines of blue outlined by black. Its upper body seems as if it is alternately banded with black-edged blue and yellow stripes. Its belly is a grey-blue color and it has large razor-sharp peduncle spines.

15-16 inches

The Clown Surgeonfish is one of the more aggressive species of Surgeonfish and it has larger caudal peduncle spines than most other Surgeonfish. It is also prone to be quickly aggravated and it does not hesitate to use its caudal peduncle spines. They will be aggressive towards other Tangs, Surgeonfish, and fish with similar body shapes, color, and feeding patterns. They can be territorial, especially with new additions to their aquarium. Ideally, only one Clown Surgeonfish must be kept per aquarium. Surgeonfish can handle themselves well with more aggressive fish like Triggers, large Wrasses, and Puffers. In the wild, Clown Surgeonfish live singly or in small groups with a territorial male and several females.

The Clown Surgeonfish can be housed in a 150- to 180-gallon or larger aquarium. Surgeonfish are quick agile swimmers and need plenty of swimming room. They also require plenty of rocks and corals to hide in and to wedge themselves into at night for sleeping. The Clown Surgeonfish like a moderate amount of water turbulence as opposed to a placid aquarium. They thrive with good water movement because they need a lot of oxygen, and they enjoy water rushing over their gills at times. They do not harm corals or invertebrates in general, however, the Clown Surgeonfish may nip at large polyped stony corals if underfed. Surgeonfish graze on algae and are, therefore, useful in a reef environment. Normal lighting conditions are acceptable because the Clown Surgeonfish is found in areas with sunlight. Surgeonfish are susceptible to bacteria resulting from organic buildup, which deteriorates water quality. Vigorous filtration, protein skimming, and regular small water changes are, therefore, very essential.

72.00-78.00 °F


55.000-110.500 mg/L


active species, experienced enthusiasts, striking tangs, Expert


Acclimation, minimum tank size, swimming space, tank mates, extremely large tank, stress


brine shrimp, meaty food

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