Ctenochaetus Hawaiiensis (Chevron Tang)

Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis

Last updated on September 7th, 2022 at 02:00 pm

The Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis, also known as Chevron Tangs, Sailfin Tangs, or Hawaiian Surgeonfish, are reef-dwelling fish found in the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Indo-Pacific region, from Japan and Papua New Guinea to Hawaii, Tahiti, and to Australia and Rapa Nui. They are typically about 9 inches long but can grow up to 11 inches.

They are also known as the Hawaiian butterflyfish and are part of the family Acanthuridae (Surgeonfishes). They originate from the Indo-Pacific region, where they can be found in the tropical waters of Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Palau, New Caledonia, Marshall Islands, and Hawaii among others. The species name literally means Hawaiian spine, which refers to their spine patterns along their lateral line and on their caudal peduncle (underneath their tail).

Chevron tangs, Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis, are colorful marine fish that are hardy and adaptable to most aquarium conditions, making them one of the most popular saltwater fish available in the aquarium trade today. Yet they’re not the best choice for all aquarists; they are considered difficult to keep by many due to their specialized dietary requirements and their aggression towards other tank mates.

Ctenochaetus Hawaiiensis has become increasingly popular in home aquariums due to their stunning coloration and hardiness in captivity. Unlike their cousin, the yellow tang, this species can be difficult to find at local fish stores and online retailers, so if you’re thinking about adding them to your tank, you may want to keep reading!

Origin and descriptions

Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis

Ctenochaetus is one of two genera of surgeonfishes native to Hawaii. These two Hawaiian species, Ctenochaetus basalis and Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis, are most commonly referred to as chevron tangs or Hawaiian surgeonfishes. Like many other members of their family, they possess venomous spines along their anterior margins on both pectoral and dorsal fins.

Since these can be injurious if handled improperly, care should be taken when working with either species. In addition to possessing venomous spines, chevron tangs also have sharp incisors in their mouths which can also cause injury. For novice aquarists concerned about such possibilities, it is best that only advanced hobbyists attempt to keep Ctenochaetus species.

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Species profile

Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis

Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis, or Chevron tang as it is affectionately known in reef-keeping circles, is a beautiful fish that inhabits tropical marine waters in and around Hawaii. It gets its name from its distinctive yellow and black zebra-like stripes along its body. This striking pattern helps camouflage it from predators.

The vibrant colors also help to communicate its fitness and health to other fish. Being part of the surgeonfish family, Ctenochasetus hawaiiensis has an interesting feeding behavior that allows it to graze on coral polyps using special serrated teeth instead of chewing off pieces of coral like other herbivores do.


Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis (also known as Chevron tang) is endemic to Hawaii. This species lives in depths of 9-55m and is usually found hiding among the rubbles. Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis is one of three members of its genus that live in Hawaiian waters. It can be found throughout deep areas of reefs and ledges from Oahu to Lana’i, but it can also be seen on outer islands such as Moloka’i and Ni’ihau.

Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis has been known to congregate with other herbivores near nightfall or when currents are stronger. They are nocturnal and eat algae during daylight hours. Since they remain stationary during much of their day, they rely heavily on their camouflage for protection instead of swimming away from potential predators like some other fish species might do when threatened.

Chevron tang size

They can grow to a maximum size of 28 cm (11 inches) in length.

Chevron tang tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 135 gallons.

Tank set up

Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis

Due to their size and long-term care requirements, they are not well suited for home aquariums. At maturity, they can reach a maximum length of 18 inches (46 cm); but in captivity, ctenochaetus hawaiiensis will only grow to around 10–12 inches. They should be kept in aquariums of at least 135 gallons with plenty of caves and crevices.

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Live rock is essential. Like all tangs, they require highly oxygenated water as well as a mature tank with very low nitrates (<20 ppm). Their diet should consist mainly of algae and a high-quality spirulina flake or pellet food plus lots of macroalgae like Caulerpa. However, make sure you take algae out regularly because algae become toxic if left uneaten for too long.

Chevron tang tank mates

Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis can be kept with other tangs, but you should always provide plenty of open swimming rooms. It may also be housed with its own kind. Be aware that Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis is prone to fin nipping and bullying. This species should not be housed with smaller fish or slow-moving inverts like starfish and sea urchins.

Some other good tank mates are damsels, gobies, and blennies. The key is to pair fish of similar temperament and swimming level.

Breeding Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis

Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis

They are best kept in a mature aquarium of at least 135 gallons with robust filtration and multiple hiding spots. Stable water chemistry is required for successful spawnings and can be achieved by targeting specific gravity values to within .002 increments with frequent, small water changes. Water parameters are best maintained in a specific gravity range of 1.023 to 1.025 and pH between 8.1 and 8.4.

Ctenochaetus Hawaiiensis eggs are easy to spot under good lighting due to their size, but will often hatch over several days if large enough. It’s best not to disturb them during incubation as premature removal may cause death or encourage egg-eating behavior.

Females may produce several hundred eggs per spawn. Eggs are most easily removed using an airline and siphon once they have become clear.

Incubation temperature should range from 78° to 82°F while salinity remains stable at 1.021-.022 SG. Larvae should be fed frozen Mysis shrimp, Cyclopeeze, chopped meaty fish food, rotifers, and other similar-sized foods upon hatching until they begin eating flake food readily on their own; it usually takes about two weeks before they reach this stage.

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Are Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis aggressive or peaceful?

The Chevron Tang is actually known for being relatively peaceful, which will make them a good addition to most fish communities. But that doesn’t mean they won’t start fights with others in their tank, particularly fish of similar body shape or size. It’s also important to know that they have been known to react aggressively when first placed into a new tank and need time to adjust.

Chevron tang care

Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis

The Chevron tang requires good water quality, but is forgiving and will live in a wide range of conditions. They prefer moderate light and aren’t demanding when it comes to food. While they can be kept with other peaceful fish, caution should be used if there are any species that inhabit or cross over mid-water levels. When maintained with other fish in a reef tank, keep them at least 6 inches away from seahorses and pipefish as they may eat them.

Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis diet

Like many herbivores, Ctenochaetus Hawaiiensis are opportunistic feeders. This species eats phytoplankton, zooplankton, and algae in a reef aquarium. They also will eat soft corals (if you have these) but only as a last resort. Most importantly, Ctenochasetus Hawaiiensis needs supplemental food at least 2 times per day for optimum health.

Water parameters

Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis

The water temperature should be between 77-83 degrees F (25-28 degrees C) with a pH of 8.1-8.4, and specific gravity of 1.021-1.025, which is medium-hard and slightly alkaline. These fish are reef safe and should be placed in an aquarium with live rock for grazing, but there is no need for a sand bed as they will harm no coral or invertebrates in your tank.

Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis lifespan

The lifespan of Chevron tangs in captivity is 10 years. However, they can sometimes live upwards of 15 years or longer if given proper care and feeding.

Parasites and diseases

While most tangs are hardy and disease resistant, Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis is quite susceptible. A large number of pathogens can affect these fish, including bacteria (Aeromonas and Pseudomonas), flukes (Pseudamphistomum truncatum), and monogeneans. Some of these diseases have no known treatment other than medicated foods.

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While Ctenochaetus Hawaiiensis (the Chevron tang) may be small, it has a few tricks up its sleeve. Its tiny size does not mean that it is without protection, however. This fish has predators to keep an eye out for such as Yellow-head Jawfish. These species have been observed eating Chevron Tangs but only when they can get them alone.

Do Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis make good pets?

Yes. For aquarium owners wanting a fish that looks different from anything else in their tank, it is hard to go wrong with a Chevron tang. They are beautiful and easy to care for. While they may seem rare, they are actually one of the more common species of tangs found at most pet stores today.

When choosing a pet chevron tang, you should pick out one that appears healthy and alert. When purchasing them you should ask how old they are, as well as how often they have been fed.