Whitecheek Surgeonfish
Whitecheek Surgeonfish

Whitecheek Surgeonfish / Tang

Acanthurus nigricans

Whitecheek Surgeonfish
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Common name: Whitecheek Surgeonfish, Gold Rim Tang, Powder Gray Surgeonfish, Goldrim Surgeonfish
Scientific name: Acanthurus nigricans
Max size: 8.5 in / 21.5 cm
pH: 8.1-8.4
Salinity: 1.020-1.025
Temperature: 72-78ºF (22-26°C)

The Whitecheek surgeonfish is one of the smallest surgeon fish species available in the trade and as such one of the most suitable species for the home marine aquarium. Unfortunately however it is also one of the most aggressive surgeonfish species. It can be housed in smaller aquariums than most other species but you will still need a large aquarium. Whitecheek surgeonfish is not as demanding to keep as some other surgeon species and can be recommended to intermediate and advanced marine fish keepers.

Only buy healthy Whitecheek surgeonfish as they can be hard to nurse back to health. Always ask to see them eat before you buy them. The Whitecheek surgeonfish is only occasionally available and the very similar Powder brown surgeonfish / tang is much more common in the trade. If you can't find the Whitecheek surgeonfish for sale you might want to consider getting the Powder brown surgeonfish instead.

The most critical period for your Whitecheek surgeonfish is the first weeks after they have been introduced. When they have made themselves at home and started eating properly they will become less sensitive. This fish will however always be sensitive to poor water quality and is prone to attract marine ich.

The Whitecheek surgeonfish has a deep blue body. The base of the fins have a golden band which has given this species one of its other name: Goldrim tang.  The edges of the fins are bright blue. The tailfin is white and yellow.  

This is as earlier mentioned one of the most aggressive surgeonfish species and you should therefore only keep one whitecheek surgeonfish in the same aquarium unless the aquarium is very large. If you have a very large aquarium and want to try to housing several specimens you should introduce all of them at the same time. They are very aggressive towards similarly shaped fish and should not be kept with other surgeons or tangs. Whitecheek surgeonfish is best kept with other aggressive species.

The Whitecheek surgeonfish is an ideal reef fish with one reservation: if they are not fed often enough and/or not given enough food, they can pick at large polyp stony corals. If they are kept well fed this won't be a problem. They will not hurt invertebrates.

The Whitecheek surgeonfish has a very large distribution. It can be found throughout the Indo-Pacific Ocean from the African east coast to the western coast of Mexico.

The Whitecheek surgeonfish is also known as the Whitecheek tang as well as Gold rim tang, Powder gray surgeonfish, and Goldrim surgeonfish. Goldrim tang is the most common of these other names.

Whitecheek Surgeonfish care and aquarium setup

The Whitecheek surgeonfish is one of the smaller surgeonfish species but you will still need a relatively large aquarium to house them in. It will (like many other surgeon species) do best in a reef aquarium. This species should not be kept in aquariums smaller than 100 gallon /400 L. Decorate the aquarium so that numerous suitably sized caves and overhangs are created. The caves are ideally created using live rock. The whitecheek surgeonfish also likes a lot of open space to swim in. They prefer if the aquarium has a healthy growth of marine algae.

One of the most important things to consider when preparing your aquarium for the Whitecheek surgeonfish is to make sure that your aquarium offers enough water movement for them. They need strong and rapid water movements and well oxygenated water to do well. They become very sensitive if this need isn't met. Make sure that you keep the water quality very high and stable.

Feeding Whitecheek Surgeonfish

The whitecheek surgeonfish is an herbivorous species that mainly eats algae in the wild. In an aquarium they should be fed a lot of vegetable matter such as spirulina, zucchini, broccoli, leaf lettuce, and dried seaweed. They prefer an aquarium with a healthy marine algae growth as this allows them to graze on algae if they get hungry between feedings. The vegetable diet should be complemented with some meaty food to provide them with protein. They can for instance be feed mysis shrimp, brine shrimp and fine chopped sea food for extra protein. Feed your Whitecheek surgeonfish small meals 3-4 times a day. Only feeding them once a day can have a serious negative effect on their health.

Breeding Whitecheek Surgeonfish (tang)

Although the Whitecheek surgeonfish hasn't been successfully bred in aquariums it has occasionally spawned. No one has as far as we know managed to make the fry survive past the larval state. No one has as far as we know been able to figure out what triggered these spawnings. Sexing Whitecheek surgeonfish based on external sexual differences is not possible.

Surgeonfish - Tang Articles:

Achilles Surgeonfish – Acanthurus achilles
Atlantic Blue Tang – Acanthurus coeruleus
Blue Hippo Tang – Paracanthurus hepatus
Chevron Tang – Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis
Clown Surgeonfish – Acanthurus lineatus
Convict Surgeonfish – Acanthurus triostegus
Desjardinii Tang – Zebrasoma desjardinii
Kole Tang – Ctenochaetus strigosus
Mimic Surgeonfish – Acanthurus pyroferus
Naso Tang – Naso lituratus
Orangeshoulder Surgeonfish – Acanthurus olivaceus
Powder Blue Tang – Acanthurus leucosternon
Powder Brown Tang – Acanthurus japonica
Purple Tang – Zebrasoma xanthurum
Sailfin Tang – Zebrasoma veliferum
Scopas Tang – Zebrasoma scopas
Yellow Tang – Zebrasoma flavescens


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