Sohal Tang Care Guide: Diet, Mates, Tank Size & Breeding

The Sohal Tang, also known as the Sohal Surgeonfish or Arabian Tang, is a magnificent marine fish that requires specific care to thrive in a home aquarium. They are quite territorial especially with those of the same species so it is best to keep them alone or in a large enough tank with lots of hiding places. 

To provide the best care it is crucial to pay close attention to the water quality and maintain a varied diet that includes high-quality marine flakes, pellets, and fresh vegetables. So, let’s get started and learn more about how to care for this magnificent fish!

Species Summary

Acanthurus sohal is the scientific name of the Sohal Tang; a member of the Acanthuridae family which includes various types of surgeonfish. It is a tropical aquatic animal that inhabits the sandy areas around coral reefs at depths of up to 100 feet.

They originate from the reef flats in the Western Indian Ocean between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. They require adequate space, feed, and proper tankmate selection to ensure that they thrive in their new environment.

Author Note: Tangs are very active swimmers and should be fed 3 – 4 times per day. They consume a lot of food to maintain their energy. Nori sheets (sushi wraps) broken or cut into tiny pieces are an excellent treat to give them that is also very nutritious.

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Sohal fish have bodies that are elongated and ovoid-shaped. Their color is luminescent with wavy black and white horizontal lines running the length of the body. There are splashes of bright yellow on their pectoral fin and tail. Their brilliant shimmering color helps them stand out from other fish in the aquarium.

Three things that you can’t miss about these fish are their triangular-shaped heads, with large eyes and small mouths. Their beautiful color, and their “scalpel”, a sharp spine located at the base of their tail fin, make these fish a wonderful addition to any tank.

A sohal tang swimming in a saltwater aquarium


Typically, sohal tangs have a lifespan of 15 years but can live longer (20 years) if they receive the proper care and nutrition. Their health and their environment play a big part in their longevity. If their tank conditions aren’t “just right”, they won’t live as long as they could. The requirements for them to have a long, happy life are nutritious food, water that is the right temperature, and the proper saline and p.H. balance in their aquarium. They are not the easiest fish to maintain, but they will give you years of enjoyment.

Average Size

The average size of a mature sohal tang is about 16 inches, making them one of the biggest species seen in aquariums. Providing them with ample room to swim and explore not only ensures their physical well-being but also promotes good mental health.

When it comes to selecting an appropriate tank size for your Sohal Tang, there are various factors at play – including other fish in the tank and available living space. But perhaps most importantly, choosing a tank large enough for them allows these majestic creatures to thrive and live out their best lives possible.

Sohal Tang Care

Proper Sohal Tang care involves ensuring the tank is the appropriate size, maintaining ideal water parameters, providing a nutritious diet, and minimizing stress. Caring for these fish might be difficult, but with commitment and close attention to every aspect, they can have long and healthy lives.

Author Note: One important step is ensuring the tank is large enough to accommodate these fish. They are extremely active swimmers, so a bigger tank gives them more room to swim around and less chance of becoming stressed or injured from bumping into things.

Other crucial elements include:

  • The highest quality water
  • A nutritional diet high in micronutrients
  • Mild-mannered tankmates
  • Optimal lighting, temperature, and filtration

Tank Size

The recommended tank size for a sohal tang is 250-gallons. They need lots of room and are very active, but will bully other fish. Having space to get away, and live rock to hide in, is essential for your other fish.

A tank that is 8 feet or longer is recommended to give them the maximum amount of space for swimming. A long tank is preferable over a shorter one, but 8 feet is the minimum size recommended. Tangs spend the majority of their time swimming and foraging for algae. The increased length will benefit all your fish by not crowding them too tightly together.

Water Parameters

  • pH: 8.1-8.4
  • Temp: 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Salinity: 1.020-1.025

Water temperature

The temperature range for the Sohal Tang is between 22 and 25 degrees Celsius (72-78 degrees Fahrenheit). This range mimics the warm tropical waters they are used to, making it comfortable for them. Being temperature-sensitive fish, they can become sluggish and more susceptible to bacterial and fungal diseases if the water is too cold.

pH levels

The pH of your water is an important indicator of the health of your aquarium. The ideal range for this is 8.1 to 8.4, however, the precise figure will vary depending on the type of fish you have, their diet, and other factors like temperature or lighting.

Author Note: You can purchase a test strip kit to test the water yourself. Adjust your water if it does not hit the right parameters. If you’re not sure how to use it, call a pet store or your fish vet for instructions on how to get the readings right.

Water hardness

The hardness of the water should be around 420 ppm, with a pH between 7.8 and 8.4.

Specific gravity

The gravity, or level of salinity should be between 1.020 and 1.025. You’ll need to test this frequently to make sure it is within these two levels. Lower salinity means their health could be at risk. Purchase a salinity meter to test your water.

Tank Setup

The most important thing is that your aquarium is properly set up before adding fish or corals–this means that all filters are working correctly, water chemistry has been tested and adjusted as needed (you don’t want too much salt or other minerals), etcetera. If something goes wrong after adding the fish, it could be fatal for them!

The best type of tank is a glass or acrylic aquarium, although they are more expensive than other options. If you’re on a budget, consider buying an older model used aquarium at a garage sale or thrift store. Before adding live rock, check the glass for leaks and ensure it is free of chips and cracks. Also, make sure to use the appropriate lights and filter.


Sohal Tangs require moderate lighting, but avoid intense or direct light. You can use fluorescent lights (such as T8 bulbs) no less than 6 inches above the water surface or LED strip lights that come with numerous colors and brightness settings. It’s important that these fixtures are close enough to not overheat and burn out prematurely, but still far enough away from your Sohal Tang’s body not to burn it!


To keep the water pure and well-oxygenated, a strong filtration system is required.


When introducing a new Sohal Tang to your tank, it’s important to acclimate them slowly to prevent stress and shock.

Are Sohal Tangs Reef-Safe?

These fish are generally reef safe and will not eat your coral polyps. However, they can be aggressive towards other Tangs and new tankmates. To minimize territorial behavior, it is recommended to introduce them last into the aquarium. Only one Sohal Tang should be kept per tank.

Acanthurus soha looking for food

Common Possible Diseases & Prevention

Sohal Tangs are not always prone to diseases, but they can develop bacterial and fungal infections, as well as “ Head and Lateral Line Erosion”. This is characterized by tiny, pitted holes that start around the eye and spread outward around the head and on the back. This is most often caused by poor water quality and an improper diet. It can be cured if caught and care is given in a timely manner.

Keeping the tank clean and stable is key to preventing disease. If you do notice signs of illness, consult with a veterinarian or experienced fishkeeper for treatment options. Prevention is the key to keeping your Sohal Tang healthy.

Here are some recommendations for disease prevention:

  1. Keep the water quality high: Change the water in the tank on a regular basis to keep it tidy and maintained.
  2. Quarantine new fish: Before adding any new fish to the tank, quarantine them in a separate tank for a few weeks to ensure they are healthy.
  3. Feed a varied and balanced diet: Providing a balanced diet that includes both dry and frozen foods will help keep your Sohal Tang healthy.
  4. Avoid crowding: Fish that are crowded can become stressed and ill. Ensure that your Sohal Tang has enough space in the tank to swim and thrive.

Food & Diet

These guys have a big appetite and require plenty of food to keep them healthy and happy. Sohal Tangs are primarily herbivores and require an algae-heavy diet. Offer frequent daily feedings of algae-based foods, such as frozen herbivore formulations, herbivore pellets, dried marine algae, spirulina-based commercial foods, and vegetables like lettuce, peas, and spinach. Supplement their diet with nori, enriched brine shrimp, krill, and enriched mysis shrimp

Author Note: To guarantee sufficient nourishment, make sure you feed them at least three times every day.

Behavior & Temperament

Sohal Tangs are territorial and can be extremely aggressive towards other fish. They may bully other fish and are best kept with large tankmates, or alone. It is best to introduce them last in the tank and monitor their behavior closely. Nori seaweed with garlic extract can help curb aggression and strengthen their immune systems.

Sohal Tang Tank Mates

While the Sohal Tang is a great addition to a saltwater aquarium, it’s important to choose the right tankmates to avoid any conflicts or aggression. Here are some suitable tankmates for Sohal Tangs:

To maintain a peaceful tank environment, it’s best to avoid keeping Sohal Tangs with other aggressive or territorial fish, such as Triggerfish or Lionfish. They do not seem to be intimidated by fish that are bigger than they are. Avoiding tank aggression is preferred for the health and safety of all the fish in your aquarium.


Sohal Tangs in captivity can be a challenging task as they are not known to breed readily in home aquariums. In fact, most Sohal Tangs available for purchase are wild-caught specimens, as opposed to captive-bred ones. While they are a monogamous species and mate for life, it is difficult to keep more than one in a tank.

Author Note: Due to the complexity and difficulty of breeding Sohal Tangs, it is not recommended unless you are determined to have offsprings. The process is difficult and requires significant expertise and available resources. Do your research and speak with knowledgeable breeders if you’re interested in breeding these fish to get the greatest outcome possible.

In the wild, Sohal Tangs broadcast spawn their eggs during the summer months, and the larvae are carried by ocean currents until they settle in a suitable habitat. Unfortunately, the survival rate of Sohal Tang larvae is very low, and many do not make it to adulthood.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, caring for a Sohal Tang can be a rewarding experience for any saltwater aquarium enthusiast. By maintaining a clean and stable environment, providing a varied diet, and monitoring their behavior, you can help your Sohal Tang thrive and live a long and healthy life in your aquarium. 

With the proper care and attention, your Sohal Tang can bring beauty and joy to your aquarium for years to come. Remember that you can always reach out to us especially to let us know how well you did 😉

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