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Achilles Tang (Acanthurus achilles).
The Achilles Tang is a must have fish known from clear seaward reefs and surge zones where it is usually observed in groups, feeding on filamentous and fleshy algae. However, this attractive, sought-after fish is one of the more demanding members of the Acanthurus genus and is suitable for advanced aquarists only. The aquarium must be spacious, mature, have a vigorous water flow, and contain plenty of live rock which the Achilles Tang will enjoy grazing Algae from. Include plenty of hiding places that are big enough for your fish to retreat into quickly should it feel threatened, at the same time aiming for an aquascape like aquaroche which allows plenty of open swimming space along the length of your saltwater reef aquarium for such a powerful swimmer. Achilles Tangs are not usually overly aggressive towards tank mates (although rogue specimens have been known), however they will show much hostility towards their own kind and towards other tangs - particularly other members of the Acanthurus genus - so for this reason it is best to house just one specimen per tank and not with any other tangs. It is recommended that the Achilles Tang is the last addition to a set up, as it can be a little territorial to newcomers, especially similar fish species. It is best to source a medium sized specimen as they are more likely to acclimatise well to life in captivity. Conversely, extra large specimens may have a difficult time settling in, so aim for a healthy-looking fish that is neither too small nor excessively large. Avoid any specimens that appear ‘pinched’ in the belly area, and do ask your retailer to show you that your chosen fish is feeding well prior to purchase. Achilles Tangs have a high metabolism and require small frequent feeds throughout the day. Powerful filtration/circulation and a high level of oxygenation are therefore essential for this energetic, voracious eater. Be sure to keep on top of water quality as this fish will not tolerate deteriorating water conditions. A large refugium with living rock can be most useful: macro algae can be cultured on this rock and these pieces rotated with pieces from the main tank, so that the Achilles Tang has a continual supply of natural foodstuffs to graze upon. Take care when handling this species, as the caudal spines are large and can inflict a very painful wound. A period of quarantine can be a valuable procedure for the acclimatisation of all livestock, and it is of particular importance for the Achilles Tang which can be fairly susceptible to developing marine white spot. This can be difficult to treat in the reef aquarium. Ideally the fish should be quarantined and carefully observed in a separate aquarium for at least a fortnight before being introduced into your main display tank. May also be seen on sale as the Red Tail Tang. Juvenile fish display an orange caudal peduncle spine; the large orange teardrop marking in this area appearing as the fish mature. In the wild, the Achilles Tang has been known to hybridise with the Gold Rim Tang (A. nigricans). Prior to purchase, please bear in mind that the Achilles Tang is a very demanding species that requires an aquarium planned around its well-being; the tang should be made the centrepiece of the tank, with all the other variables worked around to suit its specific needs.
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