In this article, I will show you 13 of the best tank mates that are suitable for the Purple Tang.
The Purple Tang is a highly desired saltwater fish but not as common as the Yellow Tang.
These fish can grow up to 8-10” so a large tank of 100-125 gallons is required.
Some people may not want to keep the Purple Tang with certain tankmates due to their aggression.
While that is true, there are several tank mates that will get along just fine with a Purple Tang.
Purple Tang Tank mates overview
When choosing the proper tank mates for a Purple Tang, it’s important that you follow a few rules that will increase your chances of success.
Purple Tangs will generally not get along with another Purple Tang. If there are only 2 of them in the tank, it won’t end well.
But if you have a large tank, it’s possible to get away with more than 2 if they were added at the same time.
Purple Tangs are known to be aggressive with any other tangs that are similar in size and colors.
It’s not a good idea to add a Purple Tang to a tank with smaller non-aggressive fish. They will get bullied.
Many people will say that a Purple Tang will not get along with other tangs at all. I disagree with that. In my experience, provided you have a large tank with multiple tangs that are active and the same size or larger, they will get along fine.
A Yellow Tang and a Purple Tang together in the same tank is not a good idea if you only have 1 of each. There are exceptions but as a general rule, plan on them not getting along together. Have multiples of each in a large tank for them to get along.
A great trick that works well for aggression in tangs, is to add a mirror onto the glass of the tank. They will see their reflection and this can amazingly calm down their aggression. It works really well. It’s a simple and cheap trick that can really save your fish.
Here are some great options for Purple Tang tank mates.
- Coral Beauty Angelfish
- Blue-Green Chromis
- Vlamingi Tang
- Sailfin Tang
- Naso Tang
- Melanurus Wrasse
- Orange Shoulder Tang
- Clown Tang
- Lyretail Anthias
- Foxface Rabbitfish
- Emperor Angelfish
- Mandarin Goby
- Six-Line Wrasse
- Yellow Tang
- Flame Angelfish
- Cleaner Wrasse
- Yellow Tail Damsels
Purple Tang Tank Mates
Coral Beauty Angelfish
This dwarf angelfish has amazing colors and is reef safe. The Coral Beauty Angel will get along with other tankmates providing they are not similar angelfish like the Bi-color angel. Makes a great tankmate for the Purple Tang.
These fish are small, colorful, peaceful, and do best in a group of 5 or more. They will mostly swim together in a school close to the top of the tank. They also like to swim around rocks and make a great addition to any saltwater tank. The Blue-Green Chromis only grow to around 2” in size so they can do well in smaller tanks. Although if you are keeping them with a Purple Tang, they will appreciate the extra swimming space in the larger tank.
One of the reasons why the Vlamingi is my favorite tang is they will get along with many other fish. There are a huge variety of fish you can keep with them. The Vlamingi Tang is another active fish and not aggressive with other fish in the tank. They don’t bother others but they can hold their own if needed. They are not normally bullied and don’t bully others. They can grow to 24” so a very large tank is needed to keep them. The Vlamingi is a great choice to keep with a Purple Tang.
Another very large tang, the Sailfin can grow up to 12” and should only be housed in a tank of 125 gallons or more. This is a very common fish to see in saltwater tanks and is reef safe. They can be aggressive with other tangs that are similar to them but should get along fine with the Purple Tang.
The Naso Tang is a stunning saltwater fish that will grow long streamers as they mature. They can reach 10-12” in size and make a great tankmate for the Purple Tang. These fish are generally peaceful but they are known to be aggressive towards other surgeonfish. They are an active fish that love to swim in caves and around rocks so plenty of live rock in the tank is important.
Another popular Wrasse to keep with a Purple Tang is the Melanurus Wrasse. These fish are very colorful and have stunning markings. They are a very fast-moving fish and add a ton of personality to your tank. This fish will grow to around 5” and will swim throughout all areas of the tank.
The Melanurus Wrasse is reef safe and won’t bother any corals in the tank. These fish love to bury in the sand so it’s important to have a decent sized sand base.
Although the Melanurus Wrasse is a peaceful fish, they are commonly kept with various tangs including the Purple.
Orange Shoulder Tang
The Orange Shoulder Tang is one of those fish that look completely different as juveniles compared to adults. When young, they are mostly yellow and tan-colored without the orange shoulder they are famous for. As they mature, they will change color to a mix of grey and blue with a pronounced orange shoulder. They can grow to be larger than the Purple Tang and are generally peaceful towards other fish. Including the Purple Tang.
Another tang that makes a great tank mate is the Clown Tang. This fish is a very colorful and active fish that needs a large tank of around 180-250 gallons. They can grow to be 15” and are very active swimmers. They move around constantly. They are not a beginner fish and their tank mates need to be chosen wisely.
They are reef safe and can be kept in fish only or reef tanks. Keeping a Clown Tang with a Purple Tang won’t be a problem, just ensure that there is plenty of live rock in the tank for them to swim around. Keep in mind that these fish are very fast-moving and large, so your rocks need to be very secure to avoid being knocked over.
As a juvenile, they are not aggressive, but as they grow they can become quite aggressive depending on the tank mates in the tank. They will get along with other tangs but might chase slower moving fish. They won’t bother the Purple Tang and vise versa.
One of the most popular schooling fish for a saltwater tank is the lyretail Anthias. These fish have amazing colors and are fun to watch. They are a peaceful fish but can sometimes be territorial. They will grow to around 5” in size and should be kept in groups of 5-8 or as a single fish. There should only be 1 male in the group and the rest females. The Lyretail is not a fish for beginners as they have specific water and feeding requirements. They get along with most other fish including the Purple Tang.
Clownfish make a perfect tank mate choice for the Purple Tang. There are many different species of clownfish available and whichever type you choose, will make a good match. Certain clownfish are known to be aggressive towards other clownfish but generally won’t bother other fish in the tank. The colors of the Purple Tang and clownfish make a great mix and will look great in your tank.
There are many different types of Clownfish available that are great choices to keep with a Purple Tang. Examples of Clownfish that will get along with the Purple Tang include the Occelaris, Percula, Tomato, Maroon, and many others.
The Foxface Rabbitfish makes a great addition to any saltwater tank that is big enough to house it. Although it will only grow to around 6-8”, it will require a tank of 125 gallons or more. They are similar in size as the Purple Tang but different in shape and colors. These fish are unique as they have venomous dorsal fin spines. You need to be very careful when handling these fish. They will get along with most other tangs in the tank and keeping a Purple Tang with a Foxface won’t be a problem.
The Emperor Angelfish has a mix of stunning colors and can grow up to 12” in size. They are semi-aggressive and can be territorial towards other fish that are similar in appearance. They may also eat very small fish that are peaceful. Choosing the proper tank mates is important for them and the Purple Tang makes a great choice. These angelfish also have a long lifespan and can live up to 20+ years.
The Mandarin Goby is very unique and is not recommended for beginners. The Mandarin requires a well established and mature tank with a healthy supply of copepods for them to eat. They are difficult to feed and most will only eat copepods. It’s common for them to starve to death in newer tanks. The Mandarin Goby is one of the most colorful fish you can have in a saltwater tank. They are enjoyable and fun to watch. They also make a great tank mate for the Purple Tang.
Six Line Wrasse
The Six Line Wrasse is a fast-moving fish that loves to swim in all areas of the tank. They are considered to be semi-aggressive and reef safe. They are very colorful and have nice markings. Although they only grow to about 3” in size, they will get along just fine with a Purple Tang.
I mentioned above that a Yellow Tang and Purple Tang generally won’t get along. While this is true, it’s more of a concern if you have 1 of each. Provided you have a very large tank with multiples, you should be fine. The Yellow Tang is also an aggressive tang depending on what tankmates are in with them.
If you plan your stocking right, the Yellow Tang will get along with many other fish including the Purple Tang.
The Flame Angelfish is one of the most popular fish in the saltwater fish hobby. They are very colorful and can make a showpiece in your tank. These fish will only grow to be around 4” so they can be kept in a variety of tank sizes. The Flame Angel is not aggressive with other fish unless it is another Angelfish. They will swim around all areas of the tank and are fast-moving. The Purple Tang won’t bother with the Flame Angelfish and they make great tank mates.
These fish are very common and most people who keep tangs will have a Cleaner Wrasse as well. They are known for cleaning and eating dead scales and parasites off of other fish.
Many fish including the Purple Tang can get a parasite called ich. The Cleaner Wrasse will help clean the fish of this and will actually set up a cleaning station and other fish will swim over to be cleaned.
They are very beneficial to have and the Purple Tang knows how important they are to keep around. They won’t bother the Cleaner Wrasse and they are a perfect match to keep together.
Yellow Tail Damsels
Yellow Tail Damsels are a very small fish that are semi-aggressive but not as aggressive as some other types of damsels. These fish are reef safe and will get along with most tang species. Although they are somewhat the same color as the Purple Tang, they generally won’t bother with each other. It is one of the very small fish that can be kept with a Purple Tang.
As you can see, there are plenty of saltwater fish that make great tank mates for the Purple Tang. This list is not complete, and there are many other options as well. It’s important to monitor any fish that you introduce to your tank to ensure there won’t be any problems. It’s never guaranteed that a certain fish will get along with another, but if you choose any of these fish to live with a Purple Tang, you should have success.