News / Species Spotlight / Popular Piscines - White Cheek Tangs (02/03/15)

Popular Piscines - White Cheek Tangs

In the Wild

Acanthurus nigricans is a fish that is common all over the Pacific and is even found in a limited range in both the Indian Ocean and on the West coast of Mexico. They are usually tropical reef associated and found anywhere from the surface down to 180 feet.

A. nigricans feeds predominantly on filamentous algae and associated micro fauna. They are reportedly monogamous but also fairly frequently hybridize with both Achilles Tangs (A. achilles) and Powder Brown Tangs (A. japonicus). Both these fish look and act similar to the White Cheek Tang, but are somewhat more rare with smaller ranges.

They have a maximum adult size of around 8" and are commonly taken as a food fish by subsistence fishermen.

In the Aquarium

The White Cheek Tang is likely the best Acanthurus for marine aquariums. They are very hardy, if given good conditions and a a fairly low stress environment. They are commonly mistaken for the less hardy Powder Brown tang, but can easily be differentiated from them by the short white bar on the cheek of a. nigricans, vs a full white bar from eye to mouth on A. japonicus.

They eat a wide variety of foods very readily, but we suggest feeding them a large proportion of vegetable matter, along with a good supply of protein and nutrient dense food like New Life Spectra Pellets.

Among all the fish in the genus, the White Cheek is probably the least likely to cause problems by picking fights with other fish. That being said, once established, it is unlikely to receive food source competitors without hazing them.

Scott W. Michael, Reef Aquarium Fishes, 1st ed. (T.F.H. Publications Inc, New Jersey, 2005).

Quality Marine Internal References:
Eli Fleishauer, Adam Mangino