Acanthurus nigricans mainly come from the marine environment having Acanthurus genus and Acanthuridae family.

This fish is also known as the White cheek Tang, Whitecheek Surgeonfish, golden-rim surgeonfish, and yellow-spotted surgeonfish.

It loves to live in a reef-associated environment and is mainly found between the central Indo-Pacific area and the eastern Pacific coast, including Hawaii.

The fish needs high-profile care in an aquarium as it occasionally gets stable there. You must be intrigued by now to know more about this amazingly unique fish.

Let’s dive into the details, and we’ll also guide you on how to properly care for it. So read on.


Scientific Name: Acanthurus nigricans
Other Names: White cheek Tang
Habitat: Central Indo-Pacific area
Temperament: Sensitive
Behavior: Peaceful, but it gets territorial
Diet: herbivore
Lifespan: 30 years in a home aquarium
Max Size: up to 8.4 inches
Water conditions: Well-oxygenated, sterile, and clean

Temperature 72.0 to 78.0 F

Tank size: 70 to 125 gallons

The fish can grow up to 8.4 inches in size. The average lifespan of Acanthurus nigricans is 30 years in a home aquarium. However, the fish lives up to 30-45 years when it comes to the wild environment.

Appearance of Acanthurus Nigricans

Talking about the appearance, the fish has a body of black to purplish-blue color along with a small white mark on the cheek between the mouth and eyes. Moreover, the fish’s fins have dark blue color while the tail is also blue with a yellow bar on it.

The unique thing about this fish is a yellow stripe that runs along with the anal and dorsal fins, forming a distinct wishbone shape on the fish’s body.

These fish are also known as Scalpel Tangs, or Surgeonfish because it has spines on its body, effective in sparring and combat. They can also cause painful cuts on intruding fish or careless humans.

How To Take Care of Acanthurus Nigricans in a Home Aquarium

This species is desirable and unique among others; it requires a little extra care than the usual one, especially when keeping it in a fish tank at home. If you can do proper care for Acanthurus nigricans, only then should you bring it to your home.

The water should be well-oxygenated, sterile, and clean so that the fish stays stably in the home. Ensure it’s adequately fed as it serves as an attractive showpiece in the home because of its brilliant colors and incredible size.

Moreover, let us acquaint you with the aquarium’s care for this fish.

– Aquarium Size

You should prepare a large furnished aquarium for your Acanthurus nigricans, as they live their best in bigger spaces. Putting them in smaller tanks will result in aggressive behavior. The minimum size is 70 to 125 gallons, while the length should be 6 feet long.

– Tank Setup and Water Conditions

These fish need immaculate and stable water conditions as they are more prone to diseases than other species. Thus, the best aspect is to provide these fish with bigger room to swim and enjoy.

Moreover, the aquarium must be filled with many rocks so that the fish get chances and cases to retreat when feeling threatened. It is also suggested to keep a proper biological and chemical filtration system in the aquarium.

  • Temperature

The water temperature should be around 72.0 to 78.0 F which makes it 22.2 to 25.6 C. This is because lower temperatures offer higher levels of oxygen, and this is what these fish require a lot as they are active swimmers.

  • pH Range

The pH range of the water in the tank should be between 8.1-8.4.

  • Water Parameters

As told earlier, Acanthurus nigricans prefer to stay in a clean and healthy environment; therefore, the water should not be salty in any way. The water should be changed daily and have a well-established interaction system.

– Diet of Acanthurus Nigricans

Acanthurus nigricans is generally a herbivore creature, and therefore require a lot of diets consisting of herbs such as:

  • Marine algae
  • Spirulina
  • Dried seaweed
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce

However, although the fish is herbivorous, it also needs to feed on some meaty stuff when kept in the home aquarium. It’s needless to say that the amount of meaty food should be in traces and not make up a large portion of the fish’s don’t as it is herbivorous.

Make sure you are offering the fish a healthy herbivore diet. This way, the species’ immune system stays strong and helps stave off diseases and prevent some of its aggressive behavior.

– Suitable Tank Mates for Acanthurus Nigricans

Usually, the Acanthurus nigricans is a peaceful species, but it gets territorial regarding similarly shaped fish.

Thus, the best choice is to keep them with four or more tangs if you have a larger space to keep them. It will prevent them from becoming aggressive and territorial.

Breeding of Acanthurus Nigricans

Acanthurus nigricans breed in large aquariums, and they don’t promote captivity breeding. If you want successful breeding, you should ensure the aquarium is well-spaced as the species breed in a large display aquarium at home. Moreover, the larvae also are rare to rear.

The collection of larvae is a difficult chore for commercial production, and it’s been unsuccessful. The issue begins when the eggs of the fish hatch. The larva that comes out after hatching is very small and damaged easily. Moreover, the larva grows gradually.

Fun Fact: The male Acanthurus nigricans are smaller than the female ones.

The females of this species pair with the male fishes and stay together in groups. While the male Acanthurus nigricans change color to attract the females plus to warn other males.

In a large aquarium, the pair rise upward and release gametes. These floating eggs are spherical and carry only one oil globule to assist in their buoyancy dispersal.

When the time comes to egg hatching, the larva appears to be like tiny kites having a long snout with a small mouth opening. These larvae stay in such conditions for up to 42 to 68 days.

We should be fearful that at this stage, these larvae get eaten by mature fish and other animals. Once the larva size increases up to 1 inch, they come into the juvenile stage. This is the stage when the larvae can join the reefs and settle out of their columns and seek protection and food from the reef sources and seagrass habitats.

So this is how breeding is carried out in the home aquariums.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Acanthurus Nigricans

We have answered some frequently asked questions about the fish species.

– Are nano tanks suitable for Acanthurus Nigricans?

No, they are not. The species can’t live in a small tank.

– What are the Live Rock Requirements of Acanthurus Nigricans?

The tank must be filled with a suitable amount of rocks so the fish can have hiding places.

– Why do they need hiding places?

These places are required so that the fish that are stressed or need some time to relax can come and stay there for a while. However, make sure that these places are open from above so the fishes can easily come out and swim.

– What are this species’ lighting needs?

There should be moderate to standard lighting in the tank. This light is mainly for algae growth present in the aquarium as algae need normal to bright light for their growth.

Note that algae are necessary for Acanthurus nigricans as they mainly feed on them. Thus, it’s essential to take care of these herbs as well in the aquarium.

– What is the required water movement in the tank housing this species?

The water movement in the tank of Acanthurus nigricans should be strong. There should be good current and proper oxygenation as the fish needs clean water.


So we have written a lot about Acanthurus nigricans in this post. You must have learned much about the fish and must be ready to have it in your home, right?

Let’s put forward a list of takeaways so you can remember them at your fingertips and provide your new pet with the best of its requirements. Read on:

  • Make sure the tank water is not brackish for the Acanthurus nigricans.
  • Keep Acanthurus nigricans with no other species or tangs as they are territorial.
  • Provide clean and oxygenated water for the fish.
  • Keep the lighting of the tank up to normal or moderate.
  • Install a sound filtration system in the tank.
  • The water currents must be strong.
  • The fish tank should offer larger space to fish so they can swim actively.
  • The tank must be filled with rocks to offer hiding places to the fish.
  • Furnish the tank with a large number of herbs as these fish rely primarily on them, such as algae, etc.

That said, let’s bring this post to an end with the hope that you’ll take care of your fish with complete dedication.

Know that these fish are a bit sensitive and require extra supervision, and make sure you provide them with that.

Moreover, if you have any queries left in your mind, feel free to ask us below in the comment section.

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