Can Yellow Tang and Purple Tang Live Together in the Same Tank?

A reef tank can be a very rewarding hobby, especially when you spend a lot of time choosing the right plants, decorations, and fish to put inside your tank. However, no matter how much care you put into choosing the creatures that you want there is always one thing that you should consider: will they get along?

It does not matter how pretty two different types of fish look together, if they are hostile toward one another, or simply just do not get along then you are not going to have an easy time looking after your tank. The aggressiveness toward each other means that you can very easily end up with diseased or even dead fish.

Here we will tell you everything that you need to know about keeping yellow and purple tangs together in the same aquarium.

Can you have multiple tangs in one tank?

Although the answer is yes, the actual task of keeping multiple tangs in one tank is not easy. That is because tangs are very territorial fish and so they can easily become aggressive if they feel like their space is being encroached upon. 

Obviously, the bigger your home aquarium the easier it will be to keep multiple tangs. This will allow each fish to have their own space without their territories overlapping. 

Although in general tangs are considered to be rather docile fish in the grand scheme of things, just like people, each fish will have its own personality. This means that you can have several tangs that get along perfectly fine together and then have one that is a troublemaker. 

The best solution to this is to keep a close eye on your tank to better understand how they all interact with each other and then act accordingly.

Can yellow and purple tangs live together in the same tank?

Yes, you can keep both yellow and purple tangs together in the same tank. However, if this is your plan then it is best to introduce them both at the same time into your home tank. This will allow each fish to allocate territory without bothering the other.

If you already have one of the two in your home aquarium then it is not a good idea to introduce another at a later date. This is because your first tang will have already determined their territory, making it significantly more difficult for the second tang to adapt.

If the second tang is introduced into your home tank a lot later than the first then it may not understand the already determined territory, causing fights and aggressiveness between the two tangs.

What fish can live with yellow tangs?

Because yellow tangs are particular docile fish they will get along well with a whole host of other fish. Even more aggressive and larger fish will not bother your yellow tang because of their sharp spine. 

A few examples of fish that will get along fine with yellow tangs in the same tank:

  • Other tangs (in a large tank or introduced at the same time)
  • Angels (large or pygmy)
  • Lionfish
  • Clownfish 

Beyond this as long as the other fish is not overly aggressive then you should not have any problems between your tang and the other fish.

Can a yellow tang kill other fish?

Although yellow tangs are very relaxed and easy fish to keep in terms of aggressiveness toward others you will need to keep an eye on them. They will not kill other fish, but because of their territorial nature, they will fight others if they encroach on their domain. 

So, if your yellow tang is in too small a tank with another tang you may find that they nip at each other and demonstrate aggressive behavior. Although they will not actually directly kill other fish, their fighting can cause diseases if not properly treated.

Which tangs are the least aggressive?

Although most tangs are calm fish by nature they do differ slightly in levels of aggressivity. So, here are few examples of some of the calmest tangs:

  • Naso
  • Convict tang
  • Chevron
  • Orange shoulder
  • YB hippo and hippo

Some of the more aggressive types of tang are:

  • Powder blue
  • Powder brown
  • Achilles
  • Clown
  • Sohal

Yellow and purple tangs are toward the more aggressive side for tangs but are still very calm fish on the whole.

Tank size for tangs

If you are planning on keeping more than one tang in your tank it is important that you make sure that your home aquarium is large enough to comfortably house them both. By giving each tang enough room you will reduce the friction between them as their territories will not overlap.

For example, yellow tangs can be up to 8 inches in length. So, if you want to keep your tang for the duration of their life then you should look into getting a tank of a minimum size of 100 gallons. Obviously, the bigger the better so that they can have as much room as they need, but 100 gallons should be the bare minimum.


Yellow and purple tangs, and most other Surgeons, are wonderful fish to keep in your home reef tank. Their vibrant colors and docile nature makes them a great addition. Not only are they not aggressive toward other fish but even larger and more aggressive fish will leave them alone thanks to the sharp spine by the bottom of their fin. 

The main thing to consider is giving them enough space. Because they are territorial creatures they will not want to share their space with any other fish.

So, if you want to keep more than one tang in the same tank (regardless of its type) then you should ensure that they have enough space to themselves (i.e. that your tank is big enough to house them both) and also that they are introduced at the same time.

This will allow both tangs to adjust to their new surrounding simultaneously, removing any of the power play that would otherwise happen.

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