Ctenochaetus strigosus

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Latin name Ctenochaetus strigosus - (Bennett, 1828)
Local name Spotted surgeonfish
Family Acanthuridae - Ctenochaetus
Origin Australia, Indonesia, East Pacific, Central/West Pacific
Max length 14 cm (5,5")
As aquarium fish
Minimum volume 400 cm (106 gal)
Hardiness Delicate
Suitable for aquarium Suitable with care
Reef safe Always reef safe
Aggressiveness Mostly peaceful but might be aggressive towards similar species
Recommended Microalgea (Eg. spirulina)
Macroalgea (Eg. seaweed / nori)
Mostly Small crustaceans (Krill, mysis, artemia...)
Beware of
Some individuals can present problems

Some individuals of this species can find it hard to acclimatize, but others are problem free.

Keep in mind
Well established aquarium with algae

These fish should be kept in a well run aquarium where they can "graze" algae from rocks and stones.

If there are insufficient algae on the rocks, it is important to feed more frequently and supplement with algae rich food e.g. Spirulina. 

Requires plenty of space for swimming.

This species revels in swimming and requires an aquarium with ample space.

Hiding places

This species requires places to hide, especially when newly introduced into the aquarium.

Algae Eaters

Even though these fish enjoy a diverse type of frozen foods, it is imperative that its primary food, is algae based, thus ensuring that the fish`s immune system remains healthy.

This can, for example, be plant based fish flakes, Nori seaweed or similar.

Ctenochaetus strigosus complex

There are 4 species in the genus Ctenochaetus which resemble each other closely. Together they comprise the Ctenochaetus strigosus complex.

C. cyanocheilus: Generally dark in colour and white on the tail. It lives in the central Pacific Ocean.
C. flavicauda: Has a white tail and caudul penduncle and lives in the south eastern Pacific Ocean.
C. strigosusHas a gold band around the eyes and lives around the Hawaiian Islands.
C. truncatus: Has blue or gold spots and lives in the Indian Ocean.

Descriptions and further reading

The colour and pattern can vary, depending on where the fish originates. Their colour becomes darker as they get older.

This species is known to chase Jewelled Blennies (Salarias fasciatus) so much so that it can kill it.

Genus description (Ctenochaetus)

The genus Bristletooth Tang (Ctenochaetus) contains a range of species, which are characterized by special teeth.
Like other Surgeonfish the Bristletooth Tang eats algae but with their specialized teeth they also scrape other organic material from rocks and stones. Ample sand and rocks are therefore imperative.

Overall the Ctenochaetus are peaceful and not quite as active, as many of the other surgeonfish. It is therefore suited to smaller aquaria.

Because of these their mild behaviour they are not a good combination with some of the more aggressive Surgeonfish.

Ctenochaetus are not so colourful as many other Surgeonfish. Some species are more vibrant in colour but this changes when they get to around 3 inch (7-8 cm).

Family description (Acanthuridae)

Surgeonfish (Acanthuridae) live primarily of different types of algae, making it a popular choice for coral aquariums, as they help to keep the aquarium algae free.

Most Surgeonfish have a scalpel by the caudal fin, used to defend themselves. It can cause some deep lacerations, so pay attention if the fish start to fight and when handling the fish.

When in the aquarium, they will spend most of their time swimming around and nibbling the algae from the stones. Surgeonfish will rarely irritate corals or invertebrates. Large Palettes/Blue tangs can be an exception.

The Surgeonfish are not typically aggressive towards other types of fish. If more Surgeonfish are added to the aquarium, they will establish a hierarchy. It is best to add the most aggressive species last and to ensure that there are sufficient hiding places, as they prefer to have their own individual sleeping area.

If multiple aggressive species are added to the same aquarium, one runs the risk of one of them dying due to stress. One must therefore be cautious about adding multiple Acanthurus species or Zebrasoma xanthurum into the same aquarium. A combination of the different genera will normally get along well, although the more aggressive species can still be challenging.

Aquarium trade Yes
Distribution Eastern Central Pacific: endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and Johnston Island. Western Central Pacific: Australia (Ref. 2334).
English common names Spotted bristletooth surgeonfish
Yellow-eyed surgeonfish
Goldring bristletooth
German common names Tüpfeldoktorfisch
Danish common names Guldringet kirurgfisk
French common names Chirurgien tacheté
References and further reading

About references

Henry C. Schultz. 2003. Is it a Comb or a Bristle (Surgeonfish)? The Genus Ctenochaetus - Reefkeeping Magazine - (English)
Bob Fenner. The "Bristle-Tooth" Surgeonfishes, Genus Ctenochaetus - Wet Web Media - (English)

James W. Fatherree. 2009. Aquarium Fish: Surgeonfishes, A.K.A. the Tangs - Advanced Aquarist - (English)
Bob Fenner. Surgeons, Tangs and Doctorfishes, Family Acanthuridae - Wet Web Media - (English)
2013. Kirurgfisk - Saltvandswiki - (Danish)