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FAQs on the Powder Blue Tang Environmental Disease  

FAQs on Powder Blue Tang Disease: PBT Disease 1, PBT Disease 2,
FAQs on Powder Blue Tang Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Nutritional, Social, Trauma, Pathogen (plus see Tangs/Rabbitfishes & Crypt), Genetic, Treatments

Related Articles: Powder Blue Tangs, Acanthurus Tangs

Related FAQs: Powder Blue Tangs 1, Powder Blue Tangs 2, Powder Blue Tang Identification, PBT Behavior, PBT Compatibility, PBT Selection, PBT Systems, PBT Feeding, PBT Reproduction, Acanthurus Tangs 1Acanthurus Tangs 2, Acanthurus Tangs 3, Acanthurus ID, Acanthurus Behavior, Acanthurus Compatibility, Acanthurus Selection, Acanthurus Systems, Acanthurus Feeding, Acanthurus Disease, Acanthurus Reproduction,

This species needs room (hundreds of gallons) and reef-quality water conditions

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine

Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

PBT... Hlth., env.      1/13/17
Hi I have a PBT that has been in my DRT for about a year….he started getting little hair like filaments coming off his body….looks like a man who has not shaved for a day… like stubble…. He also has some larger white masses on his fins that have come and gone….. He is eating…and it does not look like ich… you can see the little strings/stubble on his skin….any ideas…thanks
<Mmm; could you send along a well-resolved pic of this? Have you read re Paracanthurus disease on WWM? This reads like an environmental response issue rather than something pathogenic (a biological disease). What other life here? (always a good clue), foods, feeding... Water quality test results? Maintenance, set-up? Bob Fenner>

Thanks I will wait for my lights to come on.. 1.026.. n 1ppm . P says nd
<? Phosphorus is not detectable?>
but know I have some.. mag/ca/ are at Red Sea pro salt levels.. alk too.. ph is low 7.7-7.8..
<Yeeikes! This is critically dangerously too low. The pH scale is a base ten log... this IS the likely cause of your/Tang trouble>

run a ca reactor..
<? What is the effluent pH? NOT lower than 6.6-7 I hope/trust. You may need different, better media to melt down>
have a rsm 650.. do about 10 percent weekly changes.. but have been doing large changes past two weeks since this showed up.. did dose tank with prazzi..
<... I'd be sampling... first; not using an Anthelminthic>
I'll get you a pic when I can.. mates... clowns, tiny purple tang, hawk fish, Anthias, 2 cardinals
<.... Please read your emails, messages before sending them. BobF>
Pbt     1/13/17

Here are some picks about 1.5 weeks ago.. these seemed to resolve but more have shown up.. thanks
<.... Eric... the fish would be dead by now if this were pathogenic. READ on WWM re the husbandry of Acanthurids. FIX your water quality here; THIS is what's wrong with this fish... The mucus coming off of it is from poor environment. Bob Fenner>

Re: Pbt     1/14/17
Hi did you get to look at these
<Already responded re. See WWM Dailies if you didn't receive directly. B>
Pbt     1/14/17

Any ideas?? Is it ich? Thanks
<What? Read>
Re: Pbt     1/15/17

You indicated to read but nothing was attached
<Where you've been referred to on WWM. Search just Acanthurus leucosternon... read all. B>
Re: Pbt     1/15/17

Thanks when I search Acanthurus leucosternon on your site it comes up with stuff just on pbt.. sorry a little confused on what you are telling me to look at.. sorry just confused.. do you know what this is.. thx
<Mate; I've responded re this, and told you where to find the resp. twice on WWM. Either go there and read or go elsewhere. B>
Re: Pbt     1/15/17

Ok again not trying to be hard..but told me twice to look up info on Acanthurus leucosternon.. correct.. that is the name for pbt.. correct.. I was just trying to id what was on the pics I sent.. I'm not sure if we were talking about the same thing.. sorry for the confusion

Suicidal powder blue! High NO3, stung by a H. magnifica... in too small a sys.     9/1/12
Hi crew, firstly what a fantastic site! I have learned soooo much!!
Although I have now hit a problem with a tang that has behavioural issues!
Tank specs are as follows:
100 (UK) gal reef

Sg 1.0255
Temp 26.2
3 x Wavemaker
1800 Gph return
3x150w m/h 14000k
Aggressive wet skim vodka dosing @ 3ml/day due to high nitrate prob
Socked carbon in sump
Ammonia 0
Nitrate 40 ppm
<High by twice as much as I'd allow>

Nitrite 0
Tank mates are:
Sailfin tang
<Will need more room in time>

Flame angel
Pink spotted goby
Engineer goby/convict goby
Emperor cardinal
2 clowns hosting a "rescued" Ritteri
<Mmm, very stinging>

Mix sps/lps
After water change (5-6hours) the powder blue tang started swimming at the surface, breaking water, swimming awfully close to the nem, he seemed very friendly swimming around my hand to the point I moved him away from nem with my hand but he headed straight back in to flow of Wavemaker pushing him back towards nem, he got stung and grabbed by nem, I pulled him out and into my sump until I set up my hospital tank again, please help he is now breathing rapidly in the sump not moving much but buoyant at the top of the water
Many thanks in advance
I did a 30 gal change 2 days ago and another today to try bring down the nitrates
<Ah good. I suspect this A. leucosternon did actually encounter the Anemone strongly enough to suffer real damage... and/or that or there's a shortage of dissolved oxygen here (this species needs room, good DO), and/or there's something "internal" going on w/ this specimen... Other than moving it to other quarters, there's not much to be done. Bob Fenner>
Re: Suicidal powder blue!    9/1/12

Hi bob, thank you for your swift reply, as you suspected this fish has already succumbed to the sting unfortunately,
 I still fighting the nitrate battle and doing another 30 gal change in 2 days and another every 2 days, until the nitrates are down,
<There are other means... see WWM re>
I'm not seeing any improvement using vodka dosing, do you see this as a beneficial way of reducing the nitrates
<Not long term, no... better to utilize DSB, RDP sump and macro-algal culture... and, and...>
 or do you think this may have caused a reduction in DO in conjunction with the 30 gal change today?
<Unlikely; no. BobF>
Thanks again

eye-clean PBT with fast breathing and no appetite - 10/24/09
Hey guys,
<And gals... don't forget them... or next generation... there won't be one>
Thank you all so much for what you do!
Now a little background: 110 gallon display with 120 #s live rock and 1" live sand, 20 gallon sump with EuroReef skimmer, 20 gallon fuge with ~6" live sand. Total flow is around 1000 gallons/hour. 6 40watt NO tubes on the display, 1 60watt CF on fuge with a 12/12 lighting period. I have a half-dozen hermits, about 50 assorted snails, two tank-raised percula clowns, long nose butterfly, flame angel, powder blue tang and a Moorish idol
<These last two are not easily kept in captivity>
in the display. In the fuge is Caulerpa
<I'd ditch this... too toxic>

and another handful of red macro that I grabbed from the LFS without identifying. Temp: 81, SG:1.025, PH:8.2, Ammonia, Trites, Trates: 0. I do 10% weekly water changes. I have all the fish and there have been no changes to the tank, feeding or livestock for over a year.
And my problem: The tang is breathing at roughly a 2x rate of what it should be and has not eaten for a week. Normally, this guy is a bottomless pooping machine. I have studied him closely (especially his gills) to look
for something (anything!) that I could treat or at least identify.
Nothing. It is a strange feeling to hope and wish that you identify something bad, but the lack of a desire to eat is a big deal for me (especially with this tang). I have never lost a fish in the 4 years I have had this tank going. All the of the other fish are fine. I was going to quarantine but I don't know what to treat for.
<Need to assess the root issue/s... or at least guess at what may be most likely... Environmental... water quality, social...>
Question: How would you debug this?
<Water testing... change-outs, chemical filtrants... A cursory reading on WWM re environmental disease... cogitation>
What should my action be? What kind of time-frame do I have? I know that his immune system has probably already taken a hit due to the lack of food for a week, but he still looks quite plump?
Thank you very much!
<Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marenvdi.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: eye-clean PBT with fast breathing and no appetite - 10/25/09
Thanks for the quick response. I re-tested all the levels to rule out water quality.
<Umm, no... your pic shows a nice plump A. leucosternon... but with a good deal of (toxic) Cyano/BGA on the rock...>
Everything is at the proper level as listed in my previous mail.
I can't think of anything that has changed environmentally in the past year. I am going to continue to try and guess at what is troubling this guy, but I am feeling rather hopeless.
<See WWM re Cyano control...>
In the past day, the fish has developed a white discoloration. I am thinking that this is due to stress that would come as a result of countless possible conditions, but I thought I would send it to you in case it sets
off some alarm.
Thanks again,
<Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: eye-clean PBT with fast breathing and no appetite 10/25/09
<Big Al>
Awesome. I am glad I sent a picture, I had no idea this algae was toxic.
I'll start daily 10% water changes (This is the fastest I can make water), siphon out as much algae as I can and add carbon.
<Good moves>
Think the Tang will make it?
<Yes... looks otherwise to be a mighty fine specimen>
Thanks again, you're a lifesaver! (hopefully)
<We'll see... BF>

Hippo tang not eating! Deli time, high NO3 - 10/24/09
Hi all,
<Reuben... one of my fave sandwiches BTW. Extra 'kraut please>
Firstly just like to say that your web site is a great resource and has helped me loads in the past!
<Welcome... and sharp mustard galore>
The problem I'm having I couldn't quite find this time though so am asking myself this time.
I've had a 65 gallon tank now for just over a year and a half with 1 hippo tang about 4 inches long now, a yellow about 3 inches, a Sixline wrasse and two ocellaris clowns.
The tank has remained with the same inhabitants and live rock arrangement with a couple of soft corals for the best part of a year with no real problems though I have lost a couple of snails and my cleaner shrimp did go missing about 6 months ago never to be seen again!
My problem is about 5 nights ago I returned form work to find that my Hippo tang was no where to be seen at feeding time (he normally will always come out and actually will play 'tug o war'
with a piece of dried seaweed if you hold it on the surface of the water)
after a look around I found him hiding in his little rock space or 'home' at first I thought maybe he's just a bit spooked from a 10% water change I did the night before but he didn't come out all night, I managed to get a good look at him using a combination of peeking through the gaps in the rock and hanging a mirror down the back of the tank and he looked fine, no skin damage ich or anything similar, his eyes looked ok and he was flapping his fins about like normal, so I was a little bit puzzled.
Anyway 3 days later and he still hadn't really moved so I headed to my LFS to get some advice and after explaining the situation they suggested that the power balance may of swung in the Yellow's favour (as with the Hippos absence he was looking a bit more dominant) and that the Hippo has been stressed and/or scared so they suggested getting him out of the gap to try to feed him, unfortunately I don't have a QT tank and don't have the money to buy another setup at the moment
<Solution: Catch the Yellow Tang and place it for a few days in a floating plastic colander in the tank>
so for now I have put him in a home made large 'breeder box' within the tank, since then he has pretty much (apart from when I first put him in he was swimming around a bit)
stayed in the corner of the box
<Move this Paracanthurus out of here>
just flapping his fins sometimes calmly other times fast like he's trying swim away and hide, I've put in a bit of flake food (which is used to eat all the time almost 'stealing' from the clowns), a few live brine shrimp which he definitely normally eats and hung a piece of dried seaweed in and he has completely ignored all of it, in actual fact the only reaction I did get is if I move the box about he loses colour and turns white (it returns shortly afterward).
I'm getting worried about him now the last time I saw him eat anything was about 5 days ago and he's starting to look a bit skinny and his stomach has now got a small 'pinches' on either side.
Anyway tank parameters are,
Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates around 80-100ish
<... likely the root of the issue here. See WWM re NO3... act>
(this I know is too high and have had trouble with them in the past getting them down to 20ish) had a suspicion they may have crept back up recently as
my tank has had a bit of an algae bloom so will try and reduce these.
Don't know why it hasn't affected the corals and other inverts on LR though they all seem fine.
Ph around 8.2
Temp around 78ish
SG is 1.025
Equipment is a canister filter, protein skimmer and two powerheads to increase flow inside tank.
Please any advice will greatly appreciated he's my fave fish and has so much personality, I hope I don't lose him.
Many Thanks,
<Get going Reuben. Bob Fenner>

Powder Blue Tang Dear Crew,<Hello concerned caretaker> I have had a powder blue<powder blue tangs are one of the most difficult fish to keep alive in a closed system> for about 5 weeks in a quarantine tanks. The general parameters are 1.022 salinity, 80 degrees in a 10 gallon<a little too small of qt for this fish> with sponge filter and extra "jet" for more flow. There is also a piece of live rock in the tank. The fish is on the smaller side. He is fed Gracilaria algae and some live brine shrimp. He has been doing fine but one thing that I have noticed is that the region where his fins are attached to his body seem quite red, almost bloody. The openings seems quite big. I do not know if this is true of powder blues in general. Could it be some kind of open sore? I am planning to put him into my main tank in a week but I want to try and figure out if this is a problem. There are no other signs of poor health. No rapid breathing, etc. Any thoughts would be extremely appreciated.<I've seen this many times on tangs.  Poor water quality is a major factor in this.  Also, have you ever taken any ammonia readings on the qt?.  Tangs do require plenty of room to do well.  A minimum of 70 gallons in my opinion.  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you for your time and help. Concerned caretaker
Powder Blue Tang - Follow Up
Thank you for your suggestions. <Welcome> I have been doing water changes at least twice a week each time being about 2-2/12 gallons. I do know that ammonia can build up more quickly in such a small space, especially with a tang. Do you recommend then that I put him into the main tank? <Maybe so... but you have not included previous correspondence... so I am not aware of your circumstances> Our tank is a 60 gallon reef with 20 gallon sump, about 75 - 80 lbs of live rock. Right now, the inhabitants are a percula clown, springeri Pseudochromis, and coral beauty. I have kept the fish count low so that a tang could be placed. <Mmm, not this species... needs larger quarters. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/powdbluetg.htm> The tank has been running for a year and a half. I will check the ammonia level when I get home, but if what you say is true, would it be all right to place him in the main tank? <Again... maybe> Thanks for taking the time. That you guys offer to answer questions is truly generous. Thanks again! Concerned Caretaker <Please do read the above link to our site, the Related FAQs (linked, in blue, at top) re this species, use in captivity. Bob Fenner>

Powder Blue Blues! I have had my Powder Blue Tang home for a week now. I don't have a quarantine tank.  <Gotta get one of those!> He has been fine up until now but today he seems weird. He is going back and forth from one end of the tank to the other really fast. Hasn't done this before constantly. He seems to be rubbing on the rock a lot more than he used to. My levels are PH 8.2, Ammonia 0.5 which has been like this for about 3 weeks, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20. My Lionfish's behaviour hasn't changed at all.  <Detectible ammonia is not normal-please re-check and verify the reading. Take appropriate action to see that you don't see any ammonia reading in the future.> I am starting to get real concerned and am going to get a quarantine tank tomorrow and set it up. <A good long-term move. Keep a sharp eye on the lionfish, as well. Be sure to quarantine all future purchases for 3 weeks before placing them in your main system> I know this fish is hard to keep in captivity, what should I do? <The first thing is to take a good hard look at your tang. Are there any apparent spots, sores, parasites? At this point, removing him to a hospital tank may be a prudent move. You should perform a freshwater dip before placing him in the hospital tank (see www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm for more information). Keep a close eye on the tang during its stay in the hospital tank, and be prepared to take appropriate action should symptoms continue. These fish require careful feeding (lots of algae in their diet) and above average water quality for optimal long-term health.> I don't want to lose it. What is the fastest way to get the quarantine tank running with sufficient biological filtration? <Generally, you should keep a sponge filter or media in your sump at all times for such emergencies. At this point, you may need to rely on one of commercial nitrifying bacterial cultures to "jump start" your filter. Keep observing your fish carefully, use the resources on wetwebmedia.com, and always, always quarantine! I'm sure that your tang will do okay if you act promptly. Good luck! Scott F.> Thanks, Ian Roff

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine

Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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