Chevron Tang - Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis Profile

Juvenile Chevron Tang. Keoki Stender

Scientific Name:

Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis (Randall, 1955)

Other Common Names:

Hawaiian Black Surgeonfish, Hawaiian Black Kole.


The juvenile stage of the Chevron Tang is very colorful. In captivity, the Chevron Tang Seems to retain its juvenile colors for quite a while longer than it seems to in the wild. We know of several cases where the Chevron retained its juvenile colors for over 3 years, whereas in the wild, the Chevron seems to shift to its adult colors after a year.

However, once in the adult stage the red and purple colors fade and it becomes dark brown, almost black, with the sides of the body and head marked by many fine, horizontal, yellowish-gray lines. Because the adult stage of the Chevron Tang is similar in appearance to that of a Kole (Yellow-Eye Surgeonfish) Tang, it is referred to as the Hawaiian Black Kole. The differences are that it does not have the yellow ring around the eye, the body is darker in color, and its pectoral fins turn a dark brown color, where the Kole's pectoral fins are almost transparent.


The distribution of this fish extends from Hawaii southeastward to eastern Polynesia, southward to central Polynesia, westward to the Marianas Islands, and doubtless to many other adjoining areas. The adults inhabit the shallower oxygen enriched waters close to the surge zone of the reef where rocks and crevices are found, often collecting in schools.

The juveniles prefer the deeper, finger coral inhabited waters and live singly.


This fish is a herbivore, with its main diet consisting of marine microalgae growth. To learn more about the overall characteristics, compatibility and feeding of this fish, refer to our Tang & Surgeonfish Family Profile.

The Chevron Tang is excellent for keeping the Brown (diatom) Algae and Green Hair Algae from over running your aquarium.


This is not an overly aggressive fish, so it may get picked on by more aggressive surgeonfishes. It will usually get along well with other tank inhabitants, with the exception of its own kind, and it rarely bothers sessile invertebrates.


The Chevron Tang, like other Surgeonfish, is pelagic (a "free-spawner"), spawning in groups. The female ejects her small eggs in the water column after which the male swims over and through the egg "cloud", fertilizing as he goes. The female produces hundreds of eggs at a time a number of times per year, usually in the spring and summer months.

The clear fertilized eggs float to the surface and join the stream of plankton where the larva feed and develop into miniature adults, lacking the orange/red dot at the base of the tail. The juvenile Achilles eventually descend onto the reef where they take refuge and grow to maturity.

Care Rating:

We give the Chevron Tang a 5 STAR Care Rating Level. If you can get one of these fish in the juvenile stage, great. They are beautiful and do well in tank life, but be aware!

They will loose their juvenile colors as they grow into adults and become much larger. Even so, as an adult it is a nice looking fish, as well as a good algae eater.

Notes From Your Guides:

When we saw and caught our first juvenile Chevron Tang, we had no idea what it was. We had never seen one before and our Tinker book did not have a juvenile photo or description. We called it a "Flame-Kole", because its colors looked so much like a Flame Angel and it had the shape of a Kole Tang. Perhaps we had discovered a new species of fish? Knowing it was a Surgeonfish we were going to name it something like Acanthurus hauteratus. We were a little disappointed to find out we were not going to have fish named after us, but we were excited to have actually caught one of these fish that we had heard so much about.

While we saw a number of juvenile Chevron Tangs off the coast of Moloka'i, we were only able to capture one due to the type of coral (Staghorn) the fish was hiding in. It was very frustrating chasing them through the coral only to see them pop up a few yards away from the net.