Extends from Hawai'i southward to central and eastern Polynesia and Australia, then westward through Micronesia, Melanesia and the Philippines, through the East Indies, and across the Indian Ocean at least as far as Mauritius. Apparently this species does not inhabit this entire area, and specimens from various localities do appear somewhat different in structure and color within this area.
The body of the Hawaiian Kole Tang is brown in color and is marked with about 35 fine, light, longitudinal lines which continue onto the rear of the soft dorsal and anal fins at the back of the body. Indian Ocean specimens bear spots, rather then the distinctive stripes. The Hawaiian Kole's eye is encircled by a bright yellow ring, small blue spots cover much of the head, and the chin appears to be a purplish color. Some juvenile specimens have a greenish yellow color with blue markings and faint dark stripes.
Characteristics & Compatibility:
Even though the Kole Tang is one of the less aggressive Surgeonfishes, it will battle with its own kind, and possibly with close relatives. Because it is less aggressive it may also be picked on by other, more aggressive Surgeonfishes. For this reason it is best kept singly, one per tank, but it does make a good choice when it comes to compatibility with other more docile, non-related species. To reduce compatibility problems it generally helps to introduce them into the aquarium at the same time. Like all Surgeonfishes, the Kole has a very sharp spur or razor by the tail, so use caution when handling this fish.
Diet & Feeding:
The Kole Tang spends it day constantly grazing and eating, so providing it with an environment with plenty of algae growth is best. However, beware not to put one in a small reef tank, as it can do a lot of damage if you have delicate plants and algae growth that you want to keep. In a very large reef tank the plant growth can recover, as the Kole has so much to pick from. The Kole Tang adapts to tank fed foods very well. It likes nori (dried seaweed), flake foods made from dried marine algaes, and will even nibble on some meaty foods like dried shrimp