Scientific Name:
Naso unicornis
Other Common Names for the Unicorn Tang:
Unicornfish - Unicorn Surgeonfish - Short Nose Unicornfish - Bluespine Unicorn Tang


Unicorn Tangs can be found throughout the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. As a juvenile, the Unicorn Tang is blue-green to olive in color, with a blue edge on the dorsal and anal fins. Two bright blue dots appear at the peduncle spines near the tail. These tangs will use their spines as a weapon against other fish that threaten them. The horn on the head of the Unicorn Tang starts developing when the fish reaches a size of approximately 6 inches. Take care if moving this fish in a net as their caudal spines and the horn could get tangled in the netting. A Unicornfish can reach up to 24 inches in length and requires an aquarium of at least 250 gallons with live rock and plenty of room to swim.


Tangs, in general, are primarily herbivores. They need rocks to graze on as their diet is primarily marine algae. For tanks on the smaller side that have less live rock to grow algae, you will need to supplement your tang’s diet with Nori or other vegetable matter like Nori, Romaine lettuce, spinach leaves, or broccoli. They also will accept flake foods and sometimes small meaty offerings like Mysis shrimp. A good variety of foods will keep your tang healthy and vibrant. A well-fed tang won’t pick at your corals, but there is always a possibility if there is no algae or Nori present. Also, a well-fed Tang has less chance of developing HLLE (Head and Lateral Line Erosion). HLLE can be fatal depending on severity and can leave lasting scars on the tang.


As stated earlier, a Unicorn Tang can reach up to 24 inches and requires an aquarium of at least 250 gallons with live rock and plenty of room to swim.  Tangs, in general, will spend their days swimming from one side of the aquarium to the other, picking on any algae growing on your live rock or frag plugs. In the ocean, tangs swim great distances every day. This should give you an idea of how much swimming space a tang will need to be satisfied in your tank. It is also recommended that your tank be wider than it is tall, to allow them more space to swim. Without ample space to swim, a tang can become stressed and will be very prone to diseases like Ich.

Unicorn Tangs can be aggressive to other tangs, but are usually peaceful with other non-Tang species after they establish their place in the pecking order of the tank.  With the spines built into their tails, they are usually at the top of that pecking order. Keeping your Unicorn Tang well-fed will reduce aggression in your reef. If you intend to keep fish, a netted lid is recommended.


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