Kole Tang

Ctenochaetus strigosus

The Kole tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus, Bennett, 1828) is one of the most beloved fish in the marine aquarium trade.  Their bright yellow eyes create an almost comical look, while their active behavior makes them a joy to watch. They are also kept due to their beneficial grazing behavior; they are one of the best fish for keeping algae-growth in-check.  Though these fish are endemic to Hawaii, they are relatively common in the industry.  Kole tangs are generally peaceful and accept many different types of prepared diets readily.  At the Sustainable Islands project, we feed our tangs our hatchery diet, Spirulina brine, mysis, and Nori.  These fish spend their days swimming briskly and actively searching for algae and other food items.  They do best in a tank with rockwork, as they use their teeth to scrape algae. They are generally disease-resistant, but like most tangs, can be susceptible to marine ich (Cryptocaryon) and other parasites.  Proper feeding and good water quality will help them maintain their optimum health.

Physical Description: Kole tangs are chocolate brown in color with lighter spots covering their face, and thin horizontal stripes spreading down the rest of their body.  Their dorsal and anal fins are rimmed in a very thin line of electric blue.  The most noticeable feature is the bold yellow that encircles their eye.  Kole tangs are a type of bristletooth tang.  The name describes their bristle-like teeth, which they use to scrape algae from hard surfaces, such as rocks or even the aquarium glass.

Temperament: These fish are relatively peaceful except with others of their kind, those with a similar body shape, or those that actively compete for the same food source.  Unless they system is large, avoid putting them other tangs or rabbitfish.  They will get along with other tankmates, both large and small and are reef safe.

Size: One reason for this fish’s popularity is their relatively small size.  They generally reach a maximum length of 7 inches or less and can be comfortably housed in an aquarium of 60 gallons or larger.

Distribution:  Kole tangs are native to the Hawaiian Islands.