Orange Shoulder Tang – Complete Care Guide

Also known as the Orange Spot surgeonfish and Orange Bar surgeonfish, the Orange Shoulder Tang is one of the most desired by saltwater hobbyists.

As a juvenile fish, they have a full yellow color body with a blue line around their anal and dorsal fins. As they grow and mature, they will completely change color and develop the signature orange shoulder that is not seen when young. The yellow body will fade away and become a light grey with a blue outline around its body.


Orange Shoulder Tang Juvenile


Of course, the orange shoulder becomes very vibrant and easily sets them apart from the other tangs.

They will become the centerpiece of any large tanks that can suitably house them.


orange shoulder tang care chart


Tank requirements


As a juvenile fish, the Orange Shoulder tang can be housed in a standard 4-foot aquarium. Either a 75-gallon or 90-gallon is suitable when young. But these fish will grow quite quickly to around 14” in size and will require a 6-foot tank of 180-gallons or larger. 

It’s important to have plenty of rock and open swimming space as these fish are active swimmers and will use up all available tank space.


Water parameters


Temperature – 75-82F

PH – 8.1-8.4

Specific Gravity – 1.021-1.025

Orange Shoulder Tang Young Adult




If you plan to have multiple Orange Shoulder tangs in your tank, you should introduce them together at the same time as juveniles. Adding additional Orange Shoulders once they are mature can be hit or miss. 

If housed in a large tank with plenty of space, they can be kept with other tangs that are not aggressive. The Orange Shoulder is not considered to be aggressive and has a mild-mannered temperament.

They can be very shy when first introduced to the tank, but it won’t take long for them to get comfortable. Keeping them with aggressive fish is not a good idea.

Keeping them with other species is generally ok and they will not bother corals or invertebrates. 

Orange Shoulder Tang Adult



The Orange Shoulder Tang is a herbivorous fish. They need lots of algae to pick on so having plenty of live rock is beneficial. They can be seen grazing on anything in the tank that has algae on it. They will gladly accept algae pellets and flakes. Provide them with dried algae sheets and frozen foods for herbivores. 



Like many saltwater tangs, it’s common for the Orange Shoulder tang to get ich or white spot disease. Always quarantine new fish before adding them to your main tank. It’s a great idea to add a cleaner shrimp and cleaner wrasse to the tank. 




The Orange Shoulder tang is commonly found in saltwater fish stores and online for purchase. The average price for a juvenile is about $40 and larger ones can sell for over $100. Check out for current pricing. 




If you can provide a large enough aquarium for these fish and meet their requirements, the Orange Shoulder tang makes a great fish to keep. They are one of the larger tangs that are peaceful and really don’t bother much in the tank. Remember that they are herbivores so you may have to feed them separately from others if you have various tankmates with different diets.