Yellow Eye Kole Tang – A Jewel for Your Marine Aquarium

By Sofia Hall

Kole Tang Ctenochaetus Strigosus: A Striking Addition to Your Saltwater Tank

The Yellow Eye Kole Tang, scientifically known as Ctenochaetus strigosus, is a captivating saltwater fish highly sought by aquarium enthusiasts. With its distinct coloration, excellent algae-eating abilities, and relatively easy care requirements, it has become a popular choice for both beginners and experienced hobbyists.

In this article, we will explore the various aspects of keeping and caring for the Yellow Eye Kole Tang, providing you with all the information you need to create a thriving environment for this amazing fish.


Quick Stats

  • Scientific name: Ctenochaetus strigosus
  • Common names: Yellow Eye Kole Tang, Striped Bristletooth Tang, Goldring Bristletooth Tang, Spotted Surgeonfish, Yellow-eyed surgeonfish
  • Minimum tank size: 70 gallons (some recommend 100 gallons or more)
  • Maximum size: 17 cm (7 inches)
  • Diet: Herbivore
  • Breeding: Egg scatterer
  • Reef Compatible: Yes
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Care level: Easy to moderate
  • Life span: 6-10 years or longer
  • Taxonomy: Order: Perciformes, Class: Actinopterygii
  • Natural habitat: Hawaiian reefs, lagoons



The Yellow Eye Kole Tang is a peaceful and hardy fish that adds both beauty and functionality to your saltwater aquarium. Its oval-shaped body features a sharp spine at the base of its caudal fin, which is used for self-defense and aggression. The body coloration ranges from brownish purple to light blue and yellow horizontal stripes, with distinctive yellow rings around its eyes. Small blue spots adorn its head, adding to its overall allure.

One of the main reasons for the popularity of the Yellow Eye Kole Tang is its classification as a “Bristletooth” tang. These fish have specialized comb-like teeth that help them browse various types of detritus and algae, making them excellent grazers for maintaining a healthy tank environment.

Despite its beauty, the Yellow Eye Kole Tang remains a relatively small tang species, growing to only about 7 inches in length. This makes it suitable for slightly smaller-sized reef tanks compared to larger Surgeonfish species.


Appearance and Coloration

The Yellow Eye Kole Tang showcases a mesmerizing combination of colors and markings. Its body is predominantly brownish purple, with light blue to yellow horizontal stripes running along its sides. The most distinctive feature is the pale yellow ring encircling its eyes, giving it the name “Yellow Eye” Kole Tang. The head is adorned with small blue spots, further enhancing its visual appeal.


Housing and Aquarium Care for Yellow Eye Kole Tang

The Yellow Eye Kole Tang, with its remarkable beauty and unique characteristics, requires proper housing and aquarium care to thrive in a marine environment. Here are some essential guidelines to ensure suitable habitat for this stunning fish:


Tank Size and Setup

To provide ample space for the Yellow Eye Kole Tang to swim and thrive, it is recommended to house them in a spacious aquarium of at least 75 gallons (284 liters) or larger. A larger tank will offer better water quality and minimize territorial disputes among tankmates.

It’s important to create a well-established, reef-like environment with plenty of live rock for hiding places, grazing, and algae growth. Ensure the tank has secure lids or covers to prevent the fish from jumping out.


Water Parameters

Maintaining stable water conditions is crucial for the health of the Yellow Eye Kole Tang. The recommended water temperature should be kept between 75°F and 82°F (24°C – 28°C), with a pH range of 8.1 to 8.4. It is important to regularly test and maintain appropriate levels of salinity, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite to ensure optimal water quality. The ideal specific gravity should be around 1.022 to 1.025.


Filtration and Circulation

A robust filtration system is essential to maintain water quality and remove excess waste. A combination of mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration methods, such as protein skimmers, canister filters, and activated carbon, can help maintain a healthy and clean environment for the Yellow Eye Kole Tang. Additionally, ensure adequate water circulation using powerheads or wavemakers to simulate natural ocean currents.



The Yellow Eye Kole Tang does not require intense lighting, but it does benefit from a moderate level of lighting to promote the growth of algae and enhance its natural coloration. Consider using a combination of full-spectrum fluorescent or LED lights to provide a suitable light spectrum for both the fish and any photosynthetic organisms in the tank.



When selecting tankmates for the Yellow Eye Kole Tang, it is important to choose compatible species that share similar requirements and temperaments. Avoid housing them with aggressive or territorial fish that may intimidate or harm the Kole Tang. Suitable tankmates can include other peaceful community fish, such as clownfish, gobies, wrasses, and other tang species. Introduce tankmates gradually to reduce stress and aggression.



Being herbivorous, the Yellow Eye Kole Tang primarily feeds on various types of algae and marine vegetation in the wild. In a home aquarium, provide a varied diet that includes dried seaweed, spirulina-based flakes or pellets, and frozen herbivore preparations. Regular feedings throughout the day are recommended to satisfy its fast metabolism and prevent aggression.

Supplement their diet with occasional live or frozen meaty foods like brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, or finely chopped seafood. Feed Kole Tang small, frequent meals throughout the day to mimic their natural grazing behavior.


Breed Overview

The Yellow Eye Kole Tang, also known as the Yellow Eye Tang or Ctenochaetus strigosus, is a species of surgeonfish belonging to the family Acanthuridae. It is native to the Indo-Pacific region, specifically the reefs of Hawaii, Fiji, Tonga, and other islands in the South Pacific.



The Yellow Eye Kole Tang has a distinct and eye-catching appearance. It has a sleek and elongated body with a small mouth and a sharp, blade-like spine on each side of its caudal peduncle, near the tail fin. Its overall coloration is a vibrant blue-gray, with a yellow eye ring and a contrasting yellow tail. Juvenile specimens often have additional markings, such as vertical yellow stripes on their bodies.


Origin and Distribution

The Yellow Eye Kole Tang is found in various locations throughout the Indo-Pacific region. Its range extends from the coasts of East Africa and the Red Sea to the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, and from the Philippines to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.


Colors and Markings

Adult Yellow Eye Kole Tangs display a blue-gray body coloration with a yellow ring around their eyes. Their tails are predominantly yellow. Juveniles exhibit vertical yellow stripes along their bodies, which gradually fade as they mature.


Habitat and Care

The Yellow Eye Kole Tang inhabits coral reefs, lagoons, and outer reef slopes with strong currents. To replicate its natural habitat, provide a spacious aquarium with ample swimming space, live rock formations, and hiding spots. The tank should have a well-established biological system and stable water parameters, with temperatures ranging from 75°F to 82°F (24°C – 28°C) and a pH level of 8.1 to 8.4.


Sex Differences

Sexual dimorphism in the Yellow Eye Kole Tang is not easily distinguishable. Males and females have similar physical characteristics and coloration. Therefore, it is challenging to determine the sex of an individual without observing breeding behavior.


Breeding the Kole Tang

Breeding the Yellow Eye Kole Tang in a home aquarium is a rare occurrence. These fish are known to be egg scatterers, with the female releasing eggs into the water column and the male fertilizing them. The eggs then float until they hatch. Successful breeding requires specialized setups, large aquariums, and meticulous attention to water parameters.



The Yellow Eye Kole Tang is a beautiful and fascinating fish that can be a valuable addition to a marine aquarium. With proper care, suitable tankmates, and a well-balanced diet, it can thrive in a home aquarium. However, its semi-aggressive and territorial nature requires careful consideration when selecting tankmates. If you’re lucky enough to observe breeding behavior, it is an exciting but challenging endeavor to breed the Yellow Eye Kole Tang in captivity.



Q: How large do Yellow Eye Kole Tangs grow?

A: Yellow Eye Kole Tangs can reach a maximum size of around 6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 cm) in length.

Q: Can Yellow Eye Kole Tangs be kept in reef aquariums?

A: Yes, Yellow Eye Kole Tangs can be kept in reef aquariums. However, caution should be exercised as they may nip at certain corals or sessile invertebrates.

Q: Are Yellow Eye Kole Tangs suitable for beginners?

A: While the Yellow Eye Kole Tang is a hardy species, its territorial and semi-aggressive behavior may make it more suitable for experienced aquarium keepers.

Q: How often should I feed my Yellow Eye Kole Tang?

A: It is recommended to feed your Yellow Eye Kole Tang multiple times a day, providing a varied diet of dried seaweed, spirulina-based flakes or pellets, and frozen herbivore preparations.

Q: Can I keep multiple Yellow Eye Kole Tangs in the same tank?

A: Keeping multiple Yellow Eye Kole Tangs in the same tank is generally not recommended. They can be territorial and may exhibit aggressive behavior towards each other.




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