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Fish of the Month
Issue: March 2010

Acanthurus sohal

(FORSSKÅL 1775)

FOM T 0310

Iggy Tavares

Common Names: Arabian tang, majestic tang, Red Sea clown surgeonfish, sohal surgeonfish, sohal tang, soho tang, zebra tang, etc.

Type Locality: N/A

Range: Red Sea to the Persian Gulf

Taxonomic Troubles: Originally described as Chaetodon sohal. May also be found misidentified as Acanthurus carinatus, Aspisurus sohar, and Ctenodon ruppelii, as well as various misspellings of these.

Size: 40 cm (16 inches).

Preferred Water Chemistry: Tropical marine. Since this is a Red Sea endemic, it is best to keep the specific gravity high and stable—aim for 1.025.

Difficulty: An uncharacteristically hardy tang. Usually considered reef safe.

Tank Setup: This is a very large and aggressive fish that must be housed accordingly. The aquarium must be huge, with plenty of wide, open swimming space but also sufficient live rock or other cover, both for tankmates to get out of the way and to provide nighttime h

Feeding: An omnivore, but most of the diet should be algae-based. Description: Overall bluish white with black horizontal stripes. The fins are dark, and the scalpel-like peduncle spine (which gives all surgeons or doctorfish their common name) is orange.

Breeding: This species has not been bred in captivity, and the difficulty of maintaining more than one specimen in a tank will remain a major stumbling block.

Description: Although the large size and aggressive temperament of the sohal tang limits its suitability for home aquaria, this fish otherwise has it all. It is gorgeous, with an engaging personality, and is very hardy, unlike most other tangs. It is sure to be the dominant specimen in just about every system, but provided its tankmates are sturdy and have plenty of hiding spots it does not usually harass them excessively. Such is not true with conspecifics or similar-looking Acanthurus, however, and the most common result in these cases is the death of one of the fish. The somewhat higher price this animal commands is well worth it if you have a suitable setup for one. 

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