Lifespan, Diet, Mates and Tanks

The Chevron Tang is an amazing species of fish that is popular among aquarium enthusiasts. These fish are known for their vibrant coloration, especially in the juvenile stage, as they change color as they age. They have a distinctive pattern, with diagonal lines that resemble a chevron.

Although they can be difficult to care for, with the right setup and attention they can thrive in a home aquarium. We hope this maintenance guide provides you with everything you need to be successful as a new Chevron Tang owner, enjoy!

Species Summary

Chevron Tangs are a relatively rare species and one of the more passive members of the surgeonfish family. Known scientifically as Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis, these fish are native to the central Pacific Ocean, particularly the waters surrounding Hawaii. They are herbivores that provide valuable cleaning services in your tank.

Chevrons, also called Chevy And Black surgeonfishreach depths of 200 feet below the surface and live in different reef ranges throughout their lives. Young Chevrons stick to deeper areas among the corals, while adults inhabit rockier regions closer to the surface.

These Tang begin life as loners before spending their adult lives in pairs or small groups. It is relatively rare for divers to spot them due to the preferred depths of juveniles and the excellent natural camouflage of adults.

The species is moderately active and feeds on algae found in its reef. Rafters are unique tank dwellers that undergo drastic changes in appearance as they age while co-existing happily with other peaceful fish. They are ideal for community tanks as their soft colors contrast brilliantly against their flashier tank mates.


Chevrons differ from many species of fish because their colors become duller and darker as they age. Juvenile Chevrons are brilliant red-orange hues with a network of blue or purplish V-shapes on their bodies that form lines, giving them the nickname Chevron. Adults are black with a network of green Vs that are only noticeable up close. The color change begins once the young fish reaches about 3 inches.

Author’s note: This change is related to defense. Young Chevrons live and feed among the corals. A bright coloring allows them a better camouflage. As they age, the rafters come to life among the rockier areas of the reefs. Darker tones hide them better. These Tangs are peaceful, which makes effective camouflage vital. Male and female Chevron Tangs are indistinguishable.

Chevron Tangs have flat disc-shaped bodies characteristic of surgeonfish. Their dorsal fin extends from the head to the caudal, and they have branded tips emerging from the peduncle. Their muzzles are short and stubby, creating an almost sulky expression. This feature helps them use their 30 teeth to scrape and turn algae.

A chevron tang swimming in a saltwater tank


With proper care and optimal tank conditions, Chevron Tangs can last up to 15 years.


In adulthood, a Chevron Tang can reach an average height of 11 inches or 28cm

Chevron Tang treatment

Chevrons have many of the same quirks as other Tangs, including susceptibility to disease and intolerance of members of their species. However, these fish are among the easiest for Tangs to care for and adapt well to aquarium life.

tank size

Experts recommend a minimum tank size of 150 gallons for a Chevron Tang. They are natural grazers that need room to swim and forage for the algae they crave. These fish do best with a tank of 4 feet or more.

Water parameters

  • Water temperature: 73 to 80°F
  • pH levels: 8.1 to 8.4
  • Water hardness: 8 to 12 dKH
  • Specific gravity: 1.020-1.025

Tank configuration

The tank should contain live rock and sand. These formations create optimal conditions for the growth of your Chevron’s food sources. Space the rock far enough apart to provide fish with crevices to escape into when they feel shy or intimidated, but close enough to allow enough open space for the fish to swim unrestricted.

A Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis looking for food


The tank needs a filter capable of handling the large volume of water that the Rafters require. Of equal importance, you need to invest in a powerhead to create a strong current within your installation. Wild rafters seek out reef breaking areas. Your Chevron will thrive in oxygen rich water resulting from high water movement.


Like all fish, Chevron Tangs should be matched to their original tank using the slow drip method. They are relatively hardy and ship well, but are very prone to disease. All specimens are wild caught. Therefore, it is essential to quarantine and monitor your Chevron before introducing it to your aquarium.

Are Chevron Tangs Reef Safe?

Yes, luckily your Chevron Tang is reef safe! They voraciously comb your aquarium for algae without harming the coral polyps or other invertebrates that make up the reef. Their craving for diatoms and green algae helps keep your aquarium clean and your reef healthy.

Possible common diseases and prevention

Like many saltwater species, these Chevron Tangs are susceptible to Marine Ich because they have no mucus coating. The disease results from parasites. You can spot Marine Ich by the white spots it creates on the fish’s body and fins. The infection causes fatigue and labored breathing.

When you recognize the disease, it is best to assess water conditions and restore them to optimal levels as quickly as possible. You can also start treatment with antiparasitic medications and monitor your fish. The earlier you catch the infection, the more likely your Chevron is to fully recover.

Author’s note: Disease prevention relies on maintaining proper tank conditions, actively monitoring water quality, and maintaining your fish content. Stress and malnutrition are the biggest contributors to fish disease.

Food and diet

Rafters are herbivores that eat smaller algae than most other Tangs that prefer string algae. Your fish will scour your aquarium for microorganisms and plant material with its brush-like teeth. They are nicknamed Silk tooth tangs for this unique anatomy and feeding method.

You can offer them chopped aquatic plants and nori seaweed to supplement their diet. Dried plant foods or flakes are acceptable options.

Author’s note: Experts also recommend providing occasional meaty foods like mysid shrimp and brine shrimp to promote nutrition and fortify the fish.

It’s best to feed your Chevron two or three times a day, offering smaller portions and watching to make sure he’s eating. Only provide protein meals twice a week. The variation in their diet allows the fish to eat and meet their nutritional and caloric needs.

Behavior and temperament

Rafters are more peaceful than their Tang comrades. Although territorial with members of their species, they are docile and live in peace with other species.. Unfortunately, their laid back nature makes them vulnerable to bullying. Rafters are active swimmers and you will observe them exploring the rocks and sandy substrate in search of detritus and microalgae.

Their mouths contain rows of teeth that form comb-like filters. You’ll probably be able to spot their lip marks on the walls of your tank or anywhere they find algae. However, their mouths are not strong enough to damage the tank.

Chevron Tang Tank Mates

Rafters get along well with most other peaceful reef fish that can tolerate strong currents. It is better to avoid aggressive and predatory fish, which can easily intimidate these passive inhabitants. Interesting options include:


Biologists believe that wild Chevron Tang breed in mated pairs. Successful captive breeding has yet to occur. As a result, all Chevrons available for purchase are wild-caught.

The tank size requirements, the difficulty of establishing a mixed pair of Chevrons, and the chances of successfully isolating fertilized eggs make captive breeding unrealistic in a home setup.

A type of surgeonfish swimming with other herringbone tangs


Caring for a Chevron Tang can be a rewarding experience for aquarium enthusiasts. They need a carefully kept environment and a diet that mimics their natural habitat. It is essential to maintain excellent water quality and provide enough space for these fish to thrive. With proper care and attention, your Chevron Tang can provide years of enjoyment and beauty in your home aquarium.

Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have or even to share your success stories! We wish you the best of luck and hope your saltwater aquarium looks great with the addition of this lovely fish.

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