Mimic Surgeonfish / Tang
Mimic Surgeonfish / Tang

Mimic Surgeonfish / Tang

Acanthurus pyroferus

Mimic Surgeonfish / Tang
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Common name: Mimic surgeonfish lemonhead mimic tang, Chocolate tang, Chocolate surgeonfish
Scientific name: Acanthurus pyroferus
Max size: 10 in / 25 cm (usually smaller)
pH: 8.1-8.4
Salinity: 1.020-1.025
Temperature: 72-78ºF (22-26°C)

The mimic surgeonfish is like most surgeonfish known under many different names. Examples of commonly used names include Lemonhead mimic tang, Chocolate tang and Chocolate surgeonfish. The name Mimic surgeonfish alludes to the fact that juveniles of this species mimics dwarf angels. The juveniles can mimic a long row of different dwarf angels, including Eibl's Angelfish Centropyge eiblii, Lemonpeel Angel C. flavissimus, Herald's Angelfish C. heraldi, and Pearlscale Angelfish C. vrolikii.  Which species a particular Mimic surgeonfish mimics will depended on where it was collected. They mimic the most common dwarf angel in the area they are born in.

Juvenile Mimic surgeonfish can look in a variety of different ways depending on which dwarf angel your Mimic surgeonfish mimics. It can show completely different colorations and it can be hard to believe that two different juvenile specimens is the same fish if they mimic different angel species. The name Chocolate tang / surgeonfish describes the adults very well. They have a chocolate colored body. (But can also be yellowish brown to purplish black.) The head is more grey white a black field just above and in front of the pelvic fins. The fins are black. The tailfin has a yellow edge.

Adult Mimic surgeonfish are seldom seen in the trade and if you see one you should ideally refrain from buy it if it is newly caught as it can be very hard to acclimatize to aquarium conditions. Juveniles on the other hand are commonly available and adapt very well to aquariums. Fish can be somewhat sensitive until it becomes acclimatized to the tank, but that is seldom a problem with this surgeon species as it acclimatizes fast. Remember that this fish will stop looking like it does when you buy it and change into its adult coloration after a period in your aquarium. Only buy healthy specimens that you have seen eating in the aquarium.

The Mimic surgeonfish is one of the easiest surgeons to care for and its size also makes it one of the most aquarium suitable species. Although it can grow to be 10 in / 25 cm it only seldom reaches this length and 7 in / 17.5 cm is a more common size for adult mimic surgeonfish in aquariums. Although it isn't suitable for beginners it can be recommend to intermediate marine fish keepers.

The Mimic surgeonfish can be kept in a community aquarium with other semi-aggressive species. It will often be very aggressive towards other surgeons and tangs but will usually not be too aggressive towards other species. Only keep one Mimic surgeonfish in your aquarium unless the tank is very large.

The mimic surgeonfish is reef safe and will leave ornamental shrimps and other invertebrates alone. However, if they are hungry they might nip at large polyp stony corals. This will not be a problem if you keep your Mimic surgeonfish well fed.

Mimic surgeonfish is prone to attract marine ich and LLE (lateral line erosion).

The Mimic surgeonfish originates from the Indo-Pacific. It can be found from the Seychelles of the African east coast to the Community Islands, the Marquesas and Tuamotu. It can be found as far north as Japan and as far south as Australia.

Mimic Surgeonfish care and aquarium setup:

The Mimic surgeonfish is one of the smaller surgeonfish species. It is advisable to keep it in an aquarium no smaller than 75 gallon / 300L. Some guides will recommend a 50 gallon / 300 L marine aquarium, but that is a little on the small side in my opinion. They will do better in a 75 gallon / 300 L tank.

The aquarium should be decorated with plenty of caves among live rock while still leaving plenty of open water for the fish to swim in. The Mimic surgeonfish prefers a heavily circulated aquarium with a few calmer spots. They do not do well if inadequate circulation is provided. Well oxygenated water is also important. The Mimic surgeonfish is best kept in reef aquariums.

The Mimic surgeonfish is like all surgeonfish sensitive towards rapid changes of water values.

Feeding Mimic Surgeonfish

The Mimic surgeonfish is an herbivore. In the wild, they feed mainly on benthic algae (algae growing on the bottom). They are continuous feeder and you should ideally allow them to keep this feeding behavior in your aquarium. That means feeding them often but only a little each time. They should be fed 3-4 times or day or more. Also encourage natural algae growth in the tank. If mimic surgeonfish are fed too seldom their health might suffer. It is not enough to feed them once a day.

Mimic surgeonfish should be given a diet consisting mainly of vegetables but you should provide them with a little meaty food as well so that they get the proteins they need to grow and stay healthy.  Examples of suitable green Mimic surgeonfish food are spirulina, zucchini, broccoli, leaf lettuce, and dried seaweed. Suitable meaty foods can for instance be fine chopped sea food, mysis shrimp and brine shrimp.

Breeding Mimic Surgeonfish (tang)

We have no information on breeding or sexing Mimic surgeonfish.

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
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
Whitecheek Surgeonfish – Acanthurus nigricans
Yellow Tang – Zebrasoma flavescens


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