Vampire Tang

Common Name: Vampire tang, Lieutenant Tang, Doubleband Surgeonfish
Scientific Name: Acanthurus Tennenti
Reef Safe: Yes
Temperament: Semi Aggressive
Care Level: Moderate
Max Size: 10 inches (8 to 9 inches is more common)


The vampire tang will range in color from light tan to white with an almost black border around the edges of the body.   They are also known to have a really nice blue outline around the head and fins.  Once the vampire tang reaches adult size, the tailfin will also develop some very nice blue and white coloring and take on a lyre shape.  And of course, there are the two dark blue to black markings on the shoulder area just behind the head.  As juveniles, they will have a horse shoe shaped marking on their side which will separate into the two dark marking once they start to reach adulthood. These adult markings will also have a very vibrant blue outline to them. 

May people find these marking to look like vampire teeth while others will believe the markings look closer to the rank insignia for an army lieutenant. This is how the two most common names for this fish had developed.

Below are a few pictures of my vampire tang. I would guess he is fully grown as he has reached 9 inches in length and has stayed that way for about 2 to 3 years now. My photography skills do not allow me to truly show you how nice this fish really looks.  The body on my vampire tang is almost white in color making it hard to me to get a good picture as his body reflects the blue tones of the aquarium lighting which gets picked up by the camera.

Environment and Temperament

Vampire tangs can become semi-aggressive when kept with other tangs of a similar shape, size, and color to them and can also become aggressive with other vampire tangs in the same aquarium.  This behavior would be fairly common with most tangs.  The vampire tang however is a great fish for a community tank as they will peacefully co-exist with any other types of fish.  They are also completely reef safe.

The vampire tang would need an aquarium size of 150 gallons, but would do best in a 180 gallon (or larger) aquarium. The reason for that recommendation is not only based on their average adult size of around 10 inches (give or take), but on their typical behavior as well.  They are a very active fish requiring a lot of open swimming space in the tank.   This can also make the vampire tang a very entertaining fish to have in a properly sized set-up.

The vampire tang will do best when there are a few suitable hiding spots so they can claim one as their own.  As with most tangs, they like to go a hide when they get scared or startled.  Having a good amount of live rock in your tank will not only help you to maintain good water parameters, but also provide a more natural environment for the vampire tang.

Recommended water conditions / parameters:

I would refer you to the below article for the typical water conditions that vampire tangs will do best in:


As with most tangs, the vampire tang will accept almost any food you may offer it.  However, they are herbivores and will require a diet consisting mostly of sea algaes with some other verities of food on occasion.  A good quality flake or pellet food meant for marine herbivores is also a good option for the vampire tang’s main diet.

A reference to consider


2 thoughts on “Vampire Tang”

  1. Steve Clarke

    Hi Cliff, i bought a tiger cowrie about a month ago, and since its been in the tank some of my corals have started to reduce in size. Could it be the cowrie eating them ?


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