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FAQs about Health/Disease of Tangs 1

FAQs on: Tang Disease 1, Tang Disease 2, Tang Disease 3, Tang Disease 4, Tang Disease 5, Tang Disease 6, Tang Disease 7, Tang Disease 8, Tang Health 9, Tang Disease 10, Tang Disease 11, Tang Disease 12, Tang Disease 13, &
FAQs on Tang Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Trauma, Pathogenic (plus see below), Genetic, Treatments
FAQs by Tang Disease by Pathogen: Tangs/Rabbitfishes & Crypt, Tangs/Rabbits Crypt 2, Tangs/Rabbits Crypt 3, Tangs/Rabbits Crypt 4, & Paravortex/Black Spot Disease,

Related Articles: The Surgeonfish family, Acanthurus, Ctenochaetus, Naso, Paracanthurus, Zebrasoma , Prionurus, Surgeonfishes of Hawai'i, Surgeonfishes for Reef SystemsInfectious Disease

Related FAQs: Tangs in General, Tang ID, Selection, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Treating Marine Disease, Marine Diseases 2,

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Ich and Powder Blue Tang Hello Fishmasters! Many thanks for all the great information, and excellent discussion forums.  I was hoping to get some personal help today if possible! I have a 125 gallon aquarium with 100 pounds of LR and a few easy to keep corals.  I have a Blonde Naso Tang (5 inches), a powder blue tang, two clown fish, two green Chromis, and one coral beauty.  I have two Cascade 1200 canisters, a Aqua C Remora Pro Protein skimmer, and a 25 watt UV sterilizer.  Water parameters: ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0, nitrate: undetectable (Salifert), Calcium 450, SG 1.025. pH and alkalinity also excellent.  I do a 12 Gallon water change every 10 days. All of the fish looked healthy when I bought them and all of the ate well in the store.  I quarantined all the fish (two at a time) for an entire month before introduction and everyone looked great and was eating well.  (Can you tell that I have been reading your website?) Two weeks after introducing the Powder Blue into the main tank, I noticed a several "grains of salt" on the body of the fish  (Needless to say...my heart sank).  It was still swimming actively and eating well which was good.   << Very common for these fish. >> I moved it to the Q Tank, lowered the salinity to 1.020, maintained the temp at 80, and treated with formalin for 7 days.  I performed 12 Gallon water changes every other day.  I then ran carbon, and I watched the fish for another 7 days.  Everyone else in the main tank looked fine, and just before re-introduction of the powder blue...I noticed several more cysts.  I kept it in the Q tank, treated it with formalin again, and re-lowered the salinity to 1.020.   I noticed three small "grains of salt" on the angel yesterday in the main tank and they are gone today.  All the rest of the fish in the main tank look perfect.   The powder blue tang still looks great (eating/active), but I can not seem to kick this infection.  Is it time to try copper?  Do I need to empty my main tank and run it fallow?  Do I have some kind of sub-clinical infection in my main tank that should be treated or should I leave the main tank alone? << I'd either leave the tank alone, or better yet is to start adding garlic to their food.  I think you'll be very pleased. >> My powder blue would appreciate any advice that you have! Thanks! Jason        <<  Blundell  >>

Sailfin Tang/HLLE Hello, <<And hello to you, JasonC at your service...>> My Sailfin tang has developed a pretty serious case of HLLE. Most of its face is worn away, and his lateral line is worn away too. Is there any way to cure this. He has been living with this for a long time now and is doing fine. It is just ugly looking. I have vitamins, and iodine. I also have one of those metal rods that remove extra electricity from the tank. Is there any way to cure this?  <<HLLE is typically caused by nutritional deficiencies. What are you feeding? I'd begin here. Do also read through the HLLE faq on our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm  Cheers, J -- >>
I feed frozen algae formulas, the algae sheets you put on a clip, Spirulina pellets, I also feed brine shrimp that is mixed with Spirulina. I soak the food in vitamins also. Thank you for your help!!! <<Sounds pretty good except for the brine shrimp - less nutrition than potato chips, even with the vitamin enhancements. You might try substituting these with Mysis shrimp. The algae are good, but you might want to try and get some live algal material in there as well. Perhaps more, or renewed live rock... these fish like to pick at the fauna on live rock all day long. Cheers, J -- >>

Naso Tang Quick question. Today I noticed that my Naso tang was breathing really heavy and was not eating. The other fish look to be doing fine and so do the xenia, mushrooms, and buttons. Checked the water parameters and everything seems fine. I am running a skimmer in the sump and two power heads in the tank so they should be getting enough oxygen. Don't know what to do? Please give me some suggestions. <the fish may be showing the early stages of a serious parasite infection that has started in the gills. Please consult our section on Wet Web Media on quarantine tanks for preparedness. If this fish needs medication it will need to be done in a QT tank to be effective and to spare poisoning your biological filter and calcareous media. Best regards, Anthony>

A red spot in my Tang Hi Bob Antoine and all the crew,,, I'm passing on this site!! <Salute, my friend!> The last night I was watching my 3" Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma F) & I discovered a little red spot just in the middle of his body. This spot is around 1.5 mm and looks like blood at simple sight but if you look in a lateral view it is more like little red hair (I don't know how to describe it better). I figure its a kind of fungus... <likely not a fungus but still treated the same> how can I proceed, fresh water baths with Methylene blue? <exactly> how long the bath will be? <daily for 3-5 minutes... please read through our Wet Web Media archives and FAQs on the proper protocol for conducting the dips... perhaps do a Google search from the index/home page to speed your search if not familiar with the site layout)> how often? <perhaps 5 in 7 days> or could be a bit or hit from the two damsels (but I never see the damsels trying to hit him)? My tank is: 200 ltrs, PH 8.3-8.5, SG 1.22-1.23, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 2.5, temp. 26?-27? C , 30 ponds of live rock, 5-6 blue legged hermits, 4 Turbo snails, and nothing else. I perform 10% water change weekly. <good water change schedule> Please, help me, In your article about Zebrasoma F. you said that it is "happily easily treated by common methods" really I hope so... Thank you Carlos D?z <you already have a good idea my friend. And it is best to remove this fish to a quarantine tank as well. Better and faster treatment (easier to catch for dips) and full tank meds can be dosed in QT (never dose a main display tank with meds). Kindly, Anthony>
Re: a red spot in my Tang
Hi Antoine, Thanks for your always prompt answer... <my pleasure> I didn't have a QT tank, now I know I need it, but... Because the time to proper set a new tank for this purpose  <actually a common misconception... no time needed. Use aged filter media, aged water, possibly a little bit of cured live rock and daily water changes for immediate tank set up. For future... always run a sponge filter in your display sump and leave QT empty (this a cycling fish is not needed in residency)> and for the sake of the Zebrasoma Life, can I administer him the fresh water baths and return him to the main tank???  <I doubt that you can conduct the necessary daily dips with less stress. Trying to catch him in a fully rockscaped tank will likely be far worse... plus the tomites in the display sand/gravel will just keep re-infecting him. IMO... a waste of time. QT is almost always and only the solution.> I am nervous that if I wait a little longer (the time that I will need to set up the qt time, the fish will be worst. <daily water changes on a 10 or 20 gallon QT are quick and easy and quite necessary anyway to "cure" parasites in any tank... display or QT>  Can the QT tank just be a 5 gallon tank with nothing else but a air pump and new salt water...?? performing daily water changes to avoid ammonia and nitrites...?? <the 5 gallon is rather small... at least a 10 gallon would be nice. And some cured live rock or a sponge filter (soiled filter media in the meantime will help) will be necessary. Plan on doing a 30-50% daily water change for the first week in a small tank. Test water quality to confirm/guide you> Thank you Antoine for your response, Carlos <again... my pleasure. Good luck, my friend>

Tangs/HLLE I have a blue regal and a yellow eyed tang in two different aquariums, both have had HLLE for quite some time now. I have asked many different people on how to help clear this up and have gotten a variety of answers, most stating water quality, diet, live rock, electrical current in the water and vitamins.  <many theories yes... none definitive. Diet is at least contributory... electricity is a weak argument. Live rock with lush macroalgae is clearly a help. Natural sunlight is perhaps the best solution of all> I have tried just about everything I've been told to help clear them up. The blue regal has shown some improvement, however the yellow eyed has gotten much worse. (All of my other fish are in excellent health) They are both very healthy looking otherwise and are veracious eaters.  <what kind of diet?> I saw on your Q & A page about the use of baby vitamins, iodide and vitamin prep s. I have never heard this, what dosage would you use for the baby vitamins? I have 90 and 70 gallon tank. As for the iodide and vitamin prep s, I'm not sure what they are, where they can be found or what dosage to use. Is there anything else besides this that I can do? I try to do the best I can for my pets and any advice will be greatly appreciated, Thanks, Georgia <the best way to dose vitamin supplements is in a prepared recipe to be ingested (much better than putting in the water). I like using the baby vitamins and Selcon (HUFA supplement... an aquarium product). Do use the Google search tool on this site and beyond to discover fish food recipes that suit your fish load (mostly herbivorous fishes). Making your own fish food is a great way to save money and offer high quality food to your fishes. Kindly>

Tang with Fin Rot? Hi guys, <whassssup?> You have a great website!  <thank you... pass it along. The "great website" part... not the "thank you": that was just for you> I have two questions for you. We have a 75 gallon tank with a yellow tang, tomato clown and a cleaner wrasse. I think my yellow tang may have fin rot! I have found lots of information on your website on how to treat it, but I want to confirm that is indeed what is wrong. His tail looks split in some areas, and in general it's more transparent than it used to be.  <eroding? could be fin rot if restricted to one or few fishes> Same for his top fin. Does that sound like fin rot?  <possibly... but is the wrasses spending way too much time on him? Some will "clean" fishes raw> I'm pretty sure he isn't being harassed by the clown fish. He pretty much ignores him. Assuming it is fin rot, we put in some Melafix.  <such homeopathic remedies are weak at best. Some are snake oil... or tea oil :)> We have seen minor improvement in his fins,  <natural healing... healthy fish> and he is acting fine. However, our Alveopora, which has done wonderful for over a year now, doesn't seem to like the medicine (his 'flower pot tentacle' don't come out, or are only short stubs). I didn't think we had to do a quarantine for this type of medicine, but would this be a better option? <quarantine is necessary for all medications... especially in tanks with such invertebrates that filter feed and absorb nutrients every day through great volumes of now "medicated" water. Please do a large water change and add poly filters/carbon> I'd appreciate a confirmation of our diagnosis and treatment!  <a picture would be helpful. Else, send the tang to QT with a Nitrofurazone/Furazolidone combo drug> I really don't want to lose this guy, or even more so, the Alveopora! Thanks, Amy <best regards, Anthony>

White Spots on Tangs Hi Bob, <Steven Pro in this morning answering a few questions, before Bob, Anthony, and I head off to LA to visit saltwater fish wholesale facilities.> Recently I added to my 60 gallon tank a blue tang and a Naso tang. <Too small of a tank to house two tangs comfortably. There will be too much aggression between the Surgeonfish. Also, a 60 is way too small for a Naso, even if there were no other Tangs.> I already had a yellow tang in there. <Ugh, even worse to have three.> It took a few days for these new fish to get accustomed to my tank. After about 8 days, they started feeding properly (brine shrimp, lettuce etc...) <Neither of these two foods mentioned is appropriate for your fish. Do archive the site looking for recommendations, including Nori and Formula II.> and few days ago I noticed white spots on my blue tang. <Very typical with these fish. I strongly advise you to quarantine all new livestock for one month prior to introduction to your main tank.> I tried to look again few days later it was gone, then it came back again. I saw the same thing on my yellow tang. When I turn on the light in the morning, I would see white spots all over the yellow tang and blue tang. When I come back at home in the afternoons, the yellow tang is clean but the blue tang would have some on it, but not as much. <Typical pattern due to the lifecycle of the parasite, Cryptocaryon.> I do have a cleaner shrimp in my tank and I see it cleaning them. Yesterday, I decided to give my blue tang a fresh water bath, since the white spot had increased on the body. <I like freshwater dips. I would use them and quarantine at this point.> I also put some copper in the fresh water. I dipped it for about 8-10 minutes and since I have returned it in the tank, it's been breathing heavy and I think I'm going to lose it. Anything I can do to help it survive? <Many things can and could have been done. Please educate yourself using the vast resources of WWM regarding Marine Ich, Cryptocaryon, quarantine procedures, and even compatibility issues.> I have successfully done this procedure (fresh water bath) in the past many times. <And it should be continued with other protocols.> I cannot treat my tank with copper because I have live rock and some inverts in my tank. This morning I saw, again white spot on the yellow tang and the Naso tang. Few hours later I stopped by at home and again, I could not see the spots on both fish. Do the parasites get on them in the dark? <They live, breed, and die in 24 hours. The fish are constantly reinfected with new parasites.> I'm just confused again and I need your help to clean up this mess. Thanks, Sam <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

New Tangs with Ich Hi Bob, <Steven Pro this afternoon.> I recently purchased a Naso Tang and a Gold Rim Tang and put them in my 180 gallon tank and to my surprise they got along very well (the Naso Tang always try's to stay next to the Gold Rim Tang). Well about a week later I saw some ICK on them and waited to see if it would go away like it did with one of my damsels but after 3 days of the cleaner shrimp picking at it, the ick was still there so I pulled them out and gave them a 20 second fresh water DIP as recommended by the LFS. <Terrible advise. Twenty seconds was a waste of time. Two minutes is the minimum for it to be effective.> I did not dip them any longer since they were extremely afraid specially the Naso which even released his waste after being in the fresh water for 10 seconds. <Does not sound like behavior I would worry about. A FW dip is typically more stressful for the owners than the fish. Any fish that can be dipped and dies because of the dip, was not going to live anyway.> and put them in a 20 gallon QT tank with CopperSafe. Both fish have been in the QT tank with CopperSafe for a day and a half and both are eating but yet the ick is still there. My question is should I give them another fresh water dip and how long should the FS dip last or should I just let the CopperSafe do it's work ? <A day and a half is awfully short. Patience is required in any treatment protocol. You already started the copper. It would not be my first choice, but you might as well finish the treatment.> One more question I have a Coral Banded shrimp which has grown to about 3 inches with 6 inch whiskers and I've caught him several times trying to eat my Cleaner Shrimp. Do you think my cleaner shrimp is in danger? <Yes> I thought they could get along in a 180 gallon tank, should I be worried and remove my Coral Banded shrimp ? <One or the other.> Thanks. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Yellow eyed tang I have a yellow eye tang been in the tank for a few months. recently it has gotten to look like it cant shut its mouth.  <A very bad sign, development... Often, a "bump" or rubbing on a bag in transit will result in microbial infection, loss of feeding, vigor... death. Best to react ASAP> It looks like his mouth is peeling. any ideas? It may also help to know that it wasn't until recently that I found out you are supposed to feed them seaweed. Could these two things be linked?  <Yes, likely> In the tank are 5 damsels a wassy or rassy however you want to pronounce it a clown (orange and white) 6 black and white fish my wife picked up 3 hermit crabs 3 anemone 4 Featherdusters about 20 lbs of rock and a walking pin cushion. Okay laugh I don't know the names of all these fish. Its a 30 gal tank with proper filtration unit (recommended by the fish shop) and a 50/50 bulb. please help. Mike <Yikes... this is a lot of fish in such a small tank... the Damsels in particular are often quite territorial (depending to a large degree on species). Please use the Google search tool at the bottom of our homepage: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/  with the names of your fishes, "tang health"... to learn what you should know as a keeper of this life. Bob Fenner>

Blue Tang With HHLS/HLLE My wife has sent you several questions in the past and indicated that you have been most helpful. We are having a problem with our Blue Tang. (other than the typical paranoid way they behave in general!!) We noticed today that our fish has two spots on the same side of the body next to the eye, and about the same size as the eye (each spot) where the color seems to be very light. It almost looks like someone took an eraser to him. Also, on the lateral line on both sides there is a faint line that I have not noticed in the past. It looks like someone pulled a thread out of a piece of cloth. Very thin, but noticeable. Our local fish supplier indicated some type of lateral line problem that could be caused by leaking electricity? into the water? Never heard of this before. Also as possible lack of vitamin C. The spots by the eyes he indicates are most likely the same problem. Have any ideas? He looks better tonight than he did earlier today. <Take a look at the fish at this link to see if it looks similar http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hlle.htm If so, go to the FAQ on HLLE, link at top of page, for advise and instructions on effecting a remedy.> Thanks in advance for your help... Regards, Wade Sorensen, Phoenix, AZ <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Tang I have a tang that is breathing very heavy and noticed that around his gill are it is white not spots just white any idea or suggestions on what it is and how to treat it. Also when I'm near the tank he comes up to the glass and looks as though he is striking the glass with his to spikes on his tail is this normal. <For narrowing the symptoms and treatments: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/MarInd3of6.htm, Best regards>

The Parasites Won... Robert or Jason, <<JasonC here>> Well all of my fish died of what appears to be velvet except my big, fat blue hippo.  <<oh, I am sorry to hear this.>>  He is actually doing well.  <<some good news!>>  He eats lots of medicated flakes and thoroughly utilizes my 2 cleaner shrimps. When I FW dipped all the ones that died these strange things came off them. They looked like white shrimpy looking things with two long antennae like horns coming out of one end. Do you have any idea what these were?  <<I don't know, but the parasites that cause Ick and Marine Velvet cannot be seen without the aid of a microscope so we can scratch those two off the list.>>  None of these came off my Alive Hippo thank goodness), but I did get a few small white things with two black dots like eyes) off him. Have no idea what these were either. They looked very similar to Mysis shrimp, only smaller.  <<same thing, doubt it was something severe, but better off the tang than on, I suppose.>> Can a Tang die from sadness?  <<I don't think so.>>  He is very sad that he is all alone.  <<he's not, he's got two cleaner shrimp waiting on him hand and foot, uh... fin.>>  He is a very SHY fish and only comes out to eat unless other fish are in the tank, which none are.  <<probably just a little bugged out as to where everyone just went. Will get over it.>>  How long must we wait to get him any friends?  <<I would wait a week or two perhaps more to make sure that nothing crops back up.>>  And will he get a long with a smaller Achilles tang?  <<probably not - it's best to keep one tang to a tank with 50 gallons.>> Which is the best tang to get to befriend a Blue Hippo?  <<none at this juncture.>>  We also wanted to get either another pair of True perculas or Maroon clowns, will tangs get a long with these?  <<sure, but think about the perculas, maroons have a reputation for being a little mean.>>  Should we get all new arrivals in one day, or break it up and if so, which should we get last?  <<I'm a big fan of adding only one thing at a time, and then waiting a month or so before the next add. You will be quarantining these fish before you add them to your main tank, yes?>>  How many fish can we have in a 50 gal? Is 6 too many?  <<not if they are all very small and will stay small>>  Thanks in advance for your wonderful advice. <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Now What Do We put in Next? Thank You for your quick response? I think we need a tang of some sort. We used to have two perculas, two damsels and one Hippo same hippo we have now) and he would NOT come out at all. We had him for months before we saw him. He would even hide while he ate. Then we got a gold rim tang and he hippo) came out and swam all over. He only hid at bed time. Then all but hippo and male Percula died. Again, Hippo would not come out. We ended up getting another Goldrim (about 2 months ago) hippo came out. It appears as if he needs the security of another surgeon fish in there.  <<I would respectfully disagree with this assessment.>>  Is their any other explanation for his behavior?  <<not really, probably just feels more gregarious when there are other fish around or that something is wrong when it's the only one in the tank.>> Also, my hubby REALLY wants an achilles, can these two tangs get along? He loves gold rims, but we have not had good luck keeping them alive.  <<I would recommend that you read up some more on tangs. I know these are very beautiful fish but they are best kept one to a system: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/GoldRimSs.htm >> Also, we don't have quarantine tank, but what kind of Dip can we do to get rid of all parasites before putting any new arrivals in tank?  <<A pH adjusted, freshwater dip I suppose, but it you're going to throw down money on expensive fish - please, please think about a quarantine system - no sense in flushing your money. >>  Just FW or mixed with meds? <<Read up: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm >> Jason, thanks again. Your info is greatly appreciated and helpful!!!! <<Thank you very much for saying so. Cheers, J -- >>

Miscellaneous (Tangs, Ich) Hi Bob, or Steven, or Anthony, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I hope everyone is doing great. I have a few questions. First, are Tangs more susceptible to Ich than other fish?  <many do seem to be (mostly from temperature drops like when new/transported and from improper cooler water changes> The reason I ask is that I have a 75 gallon tank with a flame angel, a Flame hawk, a purple Firefish, and a newly added juvenile sailfin tang ( I had previously kept the sailfin in a 30 gal for the last six months but as you can imagine he got too large for this tank), some snails, hermit crabs and a cleaner shrimp, 45lbs live rock. Within a week of adding the sailfin very small white specks (about 5-10 at this point) appeared on his body which I attribute to Ich.  <quite possibly... and is this tank much cooler (more than 3 degrees?> None of the other fish show any symptoms whatsoever though the angel and Flame hawk will allow the cleaner shrimp to groom them. Before I had the sailfin in there I had a purple tang which also displayed the signs of Ich which is why I ask my question. I gave the purple a pH balanced Methylene blue fresh water dip for 10 minutes and quarantined him for three weeks before sending him back to the LFS (I too like one of your other daily questions tried to put the sailfin and purple together. Big Mistake! and if the other reader is reading this I can assure him/her as you did that it will never work). Do you think I should quarantine the sailfin or do you think the cleaner shrimp will take care of it?  <please do QT the fish... never rely on cleaner fish/shrimp to effect a cure once an infection sets in> Unfortunately, I haven't seen the tang go to the cleaner shrimp. Do you think the tang will utilize his services? <hard to say, but again... don't count on it> Finally, The purple Firefish is also having problems. He won't or can't close his mouth. It looks like lockjaw or something. Have you ever heard of this?  <yes... commonly a dietary deficiency (usually a precursor to death when it reaches this stage. Has the Firefish been allowed to eat a narrow diet or one of whole prey items only (brine shrimp and the like)?> Is there something I can do? He seems to be eating just fine though a little awkwardly. <Selcon and VitaChem (they are different) in food ASAP> Thanks, Jeff <quite welcome, my friend. Anthony>

Big spot won't go away Dear Bob, Thanks for all your advice lately. This is a problem that just won't go away. <The advice?> Our tang has a white spot (ick?) on the top of his back, just under the dorsal fin that has been there for several months. <Not Ich... maybe an "internal mark" of some sort... perhaps a lone trematode, cestode...> He had a few white spot outbreaks after introduction (treated with increased temp and reduced salinity) but has been stable for several months. Should we be concerned? Is there any way we can get rid of it? <Only you can answer the former, not easily to the latter... If you had occasion to have the fish netted, you could try "teasing" the spot out with a pin, other sharp implement... I'd leave it as is> It looks like a large grain of sand. I can't tell if it's growing but it's pronounced. We have 2 cleaner shrimps but they seem to have trouble reaching the area since he brushes them off soon after they jump on to clean. They can't seem to get past the stomach area. I was thinking of giving him some kind of dip. I wish I could just brush the thing off. He doesn't seem particularly bothered by it but I worry if it's a parasite then it could be sapping nutrients from him. <All living things (yes, including humans) have these sorts of "hitchhikers"... some are outright parasites, that in number, placement, metabolism may be detrimental... others are more or less "space" parasites of little trouble... some are benign to beneficial to some extent, ways... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Allyson

Re: fish health appearance Thanks for the info on a the gray angel but for my clown tang how do you know he is well fed? <Look at the fish "head on"... it should appear convex, rounded outward on the sides... you don't want a skinny tang... especially one that is thin in the head region. Bob Fenner> Miguel

Re: fish health appearance It's really hard to tell for my clown tang? Are you saying the body should be larger then the head? <Yes, wider in profile> If that is the case, my fish don't have that . I see no cones on the fish. I can tell when his stomach is empty. That mask of the fish is quite large compared to the rest of the body! <Please read through the Acanthurid fish sections where I keep sending you: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tangs,.htm and the linked files beyond... there are examples and pictures of well-fleshed, and not high/low index of fitness tangs there> I feed them 3 times a day.  A salad thing for tangs and flakes.  What is a good food that gets them fatter ? <READ. Bob Fenner> When I first got the clown tang, it was hard to feed but not now.  I just want him to be healthy. Thanks, Miguel 

Compatibility? Mr. Fenner, <<JasonC here, filling in while Bob is out diving.>> I have been reading a lot on your site about Tangs and good ones vs. bad. We lost all our fish recently except our large Hippo. He seems to be doing great. Eats a lot, isn't really scratching anymore and only bugs the cleaner shrimps occasionally. Our stock all died from Velvet mixed with some very odd looking shrimp like bugs on them (they came off during FW dip). My question is how long do we need to wait before adding any new fish( we will not be quarantining, but will follow your dipping directions and maybe put fish in a 5 gallon medicated bucket for a few hours to make sure no parasites get in tank.)  <<I would wait from two weeks to a month, just to make sure the coast is clear.>>  We live in a one bedroom apartment right now and literally have NO room for quarantine tank. Let alone our 50 gal. What are the best fish to get to befriend our lonely Hippo Tang?  <<How about a neon goby? Would help keep the hippo clean...>>  We want a pair of Perculas (true) and an achilles tang, but your site says these are one of the bad tangs. Is there a tang better suited for our Hippo? <<I would think that two tangs of any type wouldn't work well in your tank.>>  And how bad is the achilles?  <<Bad enough to kill other fish it doesn't like.>>  We are in the process of buying a house and will be upgrading to a 100 gal when we move. But in the meantime how many fish can go in our 50 gal and again, which are best for our lonely fellow? When can we get these new fish?  <<If the move is in the near future, I would implore you to wait until you can build a quarantine system and then start working with some of these more difficult and touchy fish. Quarantine is so, so, so important, I can't really endorse not using it... it just makes such a different that short of two weeks in a bucket, you're not going to be able to approximate it. Dips will help, but you could as easily have your whole set of problems back without a more strict quarantine.>> Thanks again for all your help!!!! <<You are welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Tang breathing on one side Bob, Hi its me again. Anyhow, my Dussumieri Tang has been in my 50 gal. quarantine tank for 4 weeks now. Everything looks good, his color, feeding. But there's one thing funny. How come he's breathing from only one side of his gills? The other side is barely moving. Looks almost like its welded shut. Two days ago I gave him a freshwater / Methylene blue dip. Just for safety measures. Can you give me your personal opinion why this is happening to him. Thanks <Maybe nothing. Sometimes fishes do just seem to use one side/gills. Bob Fenner> Linstun Lee

Re: tang problem << howdy, Jason C here impersonating Bob Fenner to practice for his upcoming dive trip >> Hey there! I wrote not too long to you about my yellow tang, who seems to have some sort of red blotchiness on his skin. I read in a book called "natural reef aquariums' that some tangs exhibit redness on the sides and fins when there is an accumulation of protein matter in a tank, especially in the absence of protein skimming. My water is always sparkling and my quality is good, so I've put off the purchase of a skimmer though I am considering purchasing one now. << don't put off that skimmer purchase for too long. I'm a huge skimmer fanatic, and Bob himself has issued this challenge - he will purchase your skimmer for you IF - if you drink the skimmer effluent. Sounds like a good deal, but it's not - efficient skimmers pull out amazing amounts of stuff you can't see, but your fish are living in. You will find that this one thing goes the farthest to high quality water. >> I've performed two water changes and the tang, his yellow very pale, still shows what looks like red blotches on his sides and the base of his fins. I've tried feeding him broccoli (which he wont eat), spinach, romaine, omega flake foods and formula 2 frozen algae cubes. The redness seems to disappear for a few days and then returns. otherwise the fish swims fine, doesn't appear distressed at all. I've considered HLLE, but there doesn't appear to be any "erosion". Please save my tang! << I'd bail on the human foods - the broccoli, romaine, spinach - they put other things into your tang/tank that aren't going to help here. Do try to get a hold of some Nori or other dried sea weed product - an Asian grocery store will certainly have this. Also check your LFS for a fishy-vitamin like Selcon/Zoecon and start adding that to the foods you are offering. Could be your problem here is all diet and environment related. Do try to think about that skimmer. Cheers - J >>

Mr. Fenner, Recently, Richard Stratton answered a letter in his TFH column Salt Solutions, concerning tang diets. I am currently conducting research on this topic. In his answer, he briefly mentioned the microfauna found in their guts. I mailed Mr. Stratton concerning his references for information about this microfauna and he replied that the most immediate source that he had was your book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. Since I do not own a copy of your book, could you mail me any possible references that you have on this topic. I have found a lot of articles that talk about this topic but none that contain research findings or any references to research. Thanks for any information that you can give me. Tony Moore, M.Sc. Aquarium Biologist The Living Seas/Epcot <I have often mentioned the loss of gut microfauna of Acanthuroids as a consequence of exposure to copper, other chemical "remedies"... Stemming from work I am associated with from the early 1980s, testing anti-fouling paints (organo-tins, copper...) in San Diego (a related lab in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu)... for the US military. Don't know if in writing for ornamental aquatics literature if this is specifically cited. My coverage of these groups and bibliographies can be found: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tangs,.htm and beyond... but I would go to a large/college library, or if you have access to the Zoological Record/BIOSIS at your facility, search the literature under the key terms. Bob Fenner>
My own question of the day (Re: Fw: Tang gut microfauna)
on this one... James - has the job I wanted when I was younger - my experience with HLLE is all nutrition related. Without all circumstances, hard to know... perhaps treatment has nuked microfauna, which in turn is blocking some kind of nutrient uptake... interesting. You know this microfauna thing much better than me. Certainly large displays like EPCOT-living seas are subject to different factors hobbyists like myself can barely comprehend - giant captive system, like big forest of single-species tree. One small disease/pathogen, and lots of capable hosts and you got yourself an outbreak. Interesting problem. <Jason...> Is that a chiding there or am I just off the scent? Curious. Did read your reply to the same. Thanks. J -- <Much more, directed could be stated... hard to say what size system, water, food treatment protocols might be utilized here... and always an important element of responding to bear in mind the "browser effect"... that is, how the input may/will be taken by other folks who read it... perhaps (yes) years from now... Something for everyone (if possible/practical) of a broad interest, ability level. If a very involved topic, an addition to "the writing list" to either send a more definitive reference (in this case "to the library") or pen a feature/article. Bob Fenner>
Fw: Tang gut microfauna
Hello Bob, Here is an e-mail that came to me. There have been a few in the last week, but this one more from a colleague rather than a customer. Hope all is well. Take care, Don P.S. I was in S.D. a few weeks ago and met one of your roommates friends. Jamie from New Jersey. Small world! <Hmm, Jamie from NJ? My wife's family live there... but don't know of a Jamie...>
Re: Tang gut microfauna
Mr. Fenner, Thanks for your prompt reply. I'll see what I can find using the references that you have sited. The research that we are pursuing are the possible agents causing HLLE. <The Octamita/Hexamita chase? Let's chat this over> As a preliminary to this, we have yellow tangs that we have been treating and are looking for others who may have identified microfauna from the gut to compare with some things that we have uncovered, primarily flagellates. My literature searches using several scientific databases have been mostly unfruitful so far. <There are a few celebrated "causes"... I'm decided that this "condition" is mostly nutritional, but multi-causal in nature. Please read through (credit to Stan Sniezsko, not I) the following: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm  and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm Bob Fenner> Tony Moore, M.Sc. Aquarium Biologist The Living Seas/Epcot 407-560-7666

Fwd: [SDMAS] Purple Tang loosing pigmentation Hi All; Does anyone know what would cause a purple Tang to loose  pigmentation. <Mainly nutritional deficiency... but water quality, physical damage, disease may play a role> My fish has lost color on only one side and it looks like white  blotches. He looks healthy and has been eating. I am concerned because the blotches are getting bigger. The only  thing I have done differently has been adding Lugol's one drop a day 5 days a week ( this is what the directions say for a tank my size). Needless to say I have stopped adding Lugol's. Any Ideas? Maurice B. <I would stop the Lugol's... look into potassium iodide instead. And do utilize a liquid vitamin prep. on sheets of algae in the daily diet. Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia>

Sick Tangs (Hippo and Goldrim) Help, I am at a loss and am unsure what to do. We have noticed some brown and white Pimple like spots that are a little inflamed on our blue tangs. Our baby blue tang has them all over with one BIG white bump near it's tail. The bigger (fat) blue tang has some brown inflamed dots/little bumps on her body and some spots look like they may be scars or places where these bumps were removed by shrimps or Heniochus. We cannot figure out what is going on. We have two true Perculas that are fine, Heniochus have Ich like spots in the morning as well as the gold rim tang. <This probably is Ich> All eat great and we feed a variety of food with Vita-Chem and Zoecon. We also occasionally mix Garlic elixir in with their frozen food. I check water a few times a week and noticed that Ammonia is at 1.0ppm, <Yikes! This is way too high... should be zero. I would not feed this system any foods at all at this point... and prepare to do a water change...> nitrites are 0 and PH is 8.4... Phosphates are also high. We will do a 10 gal water change today, but still are unsure what to do about brown and white bumps/spots... Could Freshwater dips help?  <No to the freshwater dip... the best "treatment" at this point is to cure the causes of the high ammonia (et al.)... What do you think the cause/s are here?> or will it stress fish more? We don't think it is an infestation in tank as not everyone has it. <The tank itself IS infested... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm and beyond via the posted links> Also, two of the fish we have had about 4 weeks, the others for 13 months.. So how could they have gotten these Parasites (if that is what they have?) <Latent organisms on the new fishes likely> Please respond as soon as possible so I can work on getting them well. Also, we are on a fixed budget and cannot get a hospital tank and have inverts in our tank, so medication is limited.... <Perhaps no need. Do study where I've sent you, and soon, thoroughly. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Tangs (Hippo and Goldrim)
THANKS FOR SUCH FAST RESPONSE!!! My fishes will appreciate! High Ammonia, not sure what it could be. We have been medicating tank with Melafix (Big Hippo Bites baby Hippo and we were trying to help heal his bites, which are gone now and have not noticed bigger hippo biting smaller in a while) We also have been feeding Lots of medicated flakes trying to get rid of white and brown spots/bumps. Could be too much food.  <Yes> We have a 50 gallon tank with two decent sized tangs, one baby tang, two small Perculas and two small Heniochus (don't think overcrowding is issue) I need to feed them or big tangs "pick" at other inhabitants in tank, but honestly think should maybe stop feeding medicated flakes and only feed Spirulina and Mysis shrimp and Formula two. Also, we put a few pieces of Seaweed selects in tank that got stuck on filter area and clogged up tank while we were gone this weekend (also could be problem) <Yes... best to use an all-plastic clip for strips of prepared algae foods> This is first time ammonia has been high in over as year. Should I stop all meds and just worry about ammonia at this point? <I would, yes> Why are problems only on my tangs? <They are more susceptible to Ich, these sorts of insults/challenges> And what is the big white bump on my baby hippo tang as well as inflamed black/brown dots? <Likely environmental. Please read where you were sent. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Tangs (Hippo and Goldrim)
 Mr. Fenner Thank You so much. I printed out about 25 pages from your site, will thoroughly read and take action. Will stop all meds, but can I still put VitaChem and Zoecon in their food? <Ah, yes. Please do so> Also, Phosphates are VERY high, should I add something to lower that or just focus on Ammonia?  <By doing what is advised to reduce ammonia, you will concurrently lower the phosphate> And sorry to seem redundant but will ammonia cause all these problems (according to your site yes, but just want confirmation).  <Yes> How many times a day should we normally feed fish? Also (sorry) how can I keep temp constant. We are in Southern California where it is pretty warm during the day and the temp rises to about 83F, then at night dips to about 80-81, we have heater, but hard to keep constant... Any suggestions? THANK YOU AGAIN!!!! <Please peruse the WWM site, the Google search feature there for general husbandry questions. Bob Fenner>

What to do with a drunken tang? (Hey, isn't this a song?) Robert Fenner, A friend of mine at my LFS told me about this web site. He said that I could find most answers to my marine questions on WWM.  <Wow, quite a compliment. Don't know about "answers", but do have considerable accumulated opinions on WWM> If I couldn't the man himself is willing to help. So I am asking for it. I hope I do not presume too much. Four days ago I purchased a Hippo Tang. He looked great, and have just learned now about quarantining fish, something I should have done with this fish. Yes he looked good a four days ago, but my how that changed. I now swims around like he is a drunk. This way and that, in circles, up and down. Not eating. His tummy looks bloated. His color is bad. My water is Amm. O, No2.0, No3.5ppm, O2.is 7.  95lbs LR and 90lbs of LS. I add nothing to the water and my other fish; flame angle, 4 Chromis, 2 cleaner shrimp, 1 peppermint shrimp, 20 crabs, and 10 snails are all doing well. I have heard of fish taking in air (what my LFS said could be the cause), but there are no air stones in the tank (90g.) and the pumps never give off bubbles in the water. Do you know what I can do? <At this juncture? Maybe move the specimen into a shallower, darkened treatment/quarantine system with near-seawater conditions (spg of 1.025, no ammonia, nitrite...) and a bit of rock, PVC pipe for it to hide in... or just leave it where it is and hope> Or is it best just to let it go? Or do you know of anyone who might be of help if you can't give out advice? :) <Good question. I might query the various hobbyist sites on the Net and take in, weigh other peoples input. Ours: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/> Thank you for any help you are able to give. I'm sorry I just learned about your website. It is truly wonderful. Lessa <Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Update of Kole tang with ick Hi Bob Fenner, I wrote a few days ago about my poor gambling decision of whether to try and handle the delicate mouthed Kole tang or to just opt not to dip or quarantine him and put him in the tank as is,... (I will NEVER make that bad decision again,... or go to Vegas with a lot of money for that matter.) <Both sound points> I was smart enough not to put his water in with him. He has developed a few more spots on him for a total of about 4 white spots, most are barely visible, one is like a large grain of salt. You suggested I leave him in place and this is what I have done, and have read/ reread all the reading you suggested. I have also read another source which suggests soaking all the fishes foods in garlic oil to help keep parasites off.  <Some folks do swear by this "treatment"... I do cook with the raw product quite a bit> I grew up in Texas,...EAST Texas, where the mosquitoes will carry you away if you sit still long enough. I have practiced keeping these pests off me all my life by eating raw pieces of garlic, and it works. So why not try it on a fish. <Take care not to have a "slick" form on your surface water, but otherwise, I'd try it> I have also seen this method work on dogs and cats for fleas. I have also began to slowly raise the temperature of the tank to 80 and lower the salinity to 1.020. <I'd go beyond these... to 82-84, spg down to 1.017 or maybe a bit lower.> My questions are as such: Will the live rock or the cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) be affected by this change in temp and salinity? (I know it is VERY important to do this change VERY slowly, mostly for the sake of this guy) <Yes... if go to fast, too far...> I am also getting another cleaner shrimp tonight just because I want another one,...Lysmata debelius, but will he help to clean parasites as well/and possibly help this outbreak come under more control? <Yes... wait to lower spg more than what this shrimp is in for a few days after it is moved in> Last question, if all of these procedures are carried out over a period of a couple of weeks/months, is it safe to say that the parasite has been eliminated from the tank as long as I am not seeing spots on the fish? <Unfortunately no... Cryptocaryon can/does encyst, wait out, minimally cycle in/out of its continuing life cycle stages "waiting" (yikes, apologies to Frank Aubrey for this teleological stmt.) for opportunities to "really get going"> (by the way, no other fish has come down with ick as of yet - just two damsels). If I don't see that any of this is working, I'm calling my voodoo aunties in New Orleans to help out. <A third and fourth good idea in just one email message.> Thanks for all of your advice. Peace, Jana <And to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Tang update Hello again Robert It Jason again with an update on our new Tang Acanthurus pyroferus As you and other fish people suggested, I moved our new tang to the main system. He went from 1.012 to 1.19 salinity in a drip feed in about 2 hrs. I figured if he stayed in that q tank any longer he be dead soon anyway. He spent 2 days not wanting to move and was being harassed by my trigger. He has not eaten since Tuesday. This morning I started making plans to bring him back to the store. He just was not wanting hold his own with the other fish. My Trigger absolutely Hates him! Then he started to brave it out later during the day. I started seeing him pick at some rock and explore the rest of the tank. But still That damn trigger was trying to spear him full blast with his mouth. My Annularis Doesn't really bother to chase unless the Tang is in his way. My Flame angel is about the same size as the Tang. They really don't seem to like each other either. They just flutter aggressively next each other and separate. I'm Thinking of removing the trigger into my 12 gall eclipse for a few days. Will this help? <Possibly... but your systems are psychologically overloaded... too crowded period... time to do some hard thinking, and acting on what to remove/keep. Bob Fenner> Thanks again, JET

Hello again! you've helped me before (Tang Health) Hello again Robert You've helped me with my annularis angel not long ago! He's doing excellent! What personality on that fish! <Ah, good to hear of your success> I need some advice on a new critter! We just got this new guy a week and one day ago. We acclimated him to our 10 gal q tank via drip feed. I noticed unfortunately not till I put him in the tank that he has one Black dot on his back fin, which I have been told could be black ick or worm. The water parameters are good. I started a hyposalinity treatment the next day. and over a week dropped salinity from 1.020 to a 1.010. using this method http://www.wyx.com/iheo/tank/hyposalinity.htm <Am familiar with this protocol> He has now stopped eating for the past 2 days. He was chowing down on Mysis shrimp, prime reef, brine shrimp, flake food, and Seaweed selects. But now he nips spits and swims away! Do these fish have fasting periods?  <May be the low salinity...> Is this normal behavior. He also seems to gently glance the surface of his shell in the tank. Not really like that of an itch from a parasite. Is that normal?  <Yes, to some extent> He swims around and shows some interest in things. Not really stressed I don't think. I have pics but don't really know if this will help. I've circled the black dot but still maybe to hard to see. http://logos-and-graphics.com/tang/ <Yes. Good pix. A nice Acanthurus pyroferus... apparently in good health. If it were mine I'd return it to near seawater specific gravity and return it to your main/display tank... Don't worry about the "black dot". Bob Fenner> Thanks for any info, JET

A trapped tang (at least injured) Mr. Fenner, First off I want to thank you for the quick response to my first email. That was such a welcome surprise. Just to recap, I wrote to you asking about the PVC pipe maze in my aquarium. I finished that two days ago and I am pleased with how natural my artificial cave work looks. This morning I walked into my living room where the tank is set up (lights still out) and glanced at the tank and could not find my yellow tang. About ten minutes later the lights went on and I found him/her trapped between two pieces of LR.  <Very unusual that fishes get jammed so> I pretty much freaked out, jammed my hand in there and separated the rock to free him/her. A huge gash is on her right side from the gill to just before the white spot of the tail. I netted Peanut (silly name I know) and placed her in the quarantine tank. I made sure to lower the SG to 1.019 and placed the suggested amount of StressCoat to the water. I placed a clip of green algae (favorite) in and it was eaten like there was nothing wrong. I am very concerned about the gash and how it affects the gills. Peanut's breathing is different. I wouldn't say labored but more spastic. I don't want to let her suffer! Will time only tell or is there anything more I can do for my friend? If you get a chance (no rush) please drop me a line. Thank you in advance. <Hmm, well, that the fish is eating is a good sign... There are a few topical things, dips, adjuvants that one can apply... weighing the trauma, effects of these actions against their benefits. For now I would do nothing... if the wound appears to be infected in a few days, it may be worthwhile to remove this fish and daub on an antiseptic... we can talk then. In the meanwhile I would try to keep its environment optimized and stable. Bob Fenner>

Injured Tang Mr. Fenner, I wanted to ask about your thoughts about my tang who is recovering from a nasty gash. I also wanted to say that it was completely my fault. When you said that it was uncommon for such a thing to happen it made me think. I told you about building up my LR for the new aquascaping some days ago. I made sure that the rocks were secure. What I didn't do was make sure the pump that runs to my HOB skimmer was not loosened when I was working on the rock. :( <Arghh> I went back to the "seen of the accident" to look over the area. The pump had slipped just slightly down from the zip ties. What I am convinced happened was that my tang forged between two rock, nipped at it, and cause the already weak pump to come down on the rock. I think that was what caused her to become trapped and for the gash. <Maybe. But will worrying change the future?> My QT is running at optimal and I am keeping a frequent close eye on it and my tang. She has been for most of the afternoon at the top of the water and gasping at times. I tested the oxygen level and it was fine so I have concluded that the tear to the gill is causing her problems. What to do with that for right now I am not sure. The gash it's self to my untrained eye does not look infected. I am not sure what it would look like for that matter. I have search the web hoping for a picture of an infected wound but found none. Do you know of any web sites with a picture of anything close?  <No my friend> I just want to be able to take swift action if anything comes up. I am more writing this e-mail to thank you for making me look at my actions in the tank and why this happened. It was a sad but needed lesson. Anna <All will work out as you will see. Bob Fenner>

Black tang w/ intestinal blockage? Hi Bob, I am e-mailing you as a last resort, because I believe my black tang has an intestinal blockage. The tang is about 3" and has been in my reef tank about six months. The tang has always been a voracious eater of Nori, lettuce, live macro algae, Mysis shrimp, and formula one, so I believe it isn't linked to a bad diet. The tang looks perfect on the outside, except that in the bottom "stomach" are of the fish, the front section is swollen and the back section is emaciated. The tang is breathing a little bit harder then normal, but not super fast. I have read that Epsom salt can be used as a laxative for fish, but will it work for a marine fish?  <Yes... as a dip/bath (not in the main tank of course), about a tablespoon per gallon, just in pH adjusted, dechloraminated freshwater... for ten minutes or so> Thank you for any input you may have on the situation, or if it is indeed a blockage. Thanks, Ethan Fisher <Good luck to you and your tang my friend. Bob Fenner>
Re: Black tang w/ intestinal blockage?
Thank you for the information on using the Epsom Salt, because it worked very well. The tang passed whatever it ate and is now eating and back in the reef tank. <Ah, great news... Epsom/magnesium sulfate can work wonders. Bob Fenner>

Tang ick ! <Cheryl - Lorenzo Gonzalez for Bob> I think I'm more stressed out than the fish seems to be. I have a tang in a 5 gal. quarantine tank and his ick is worse this morning. I started copper treatments 14 hrs ago... I had first put him in dip-a-way and he seemed to get better. I don't know if the dip-a-way is better than the copper or if I should dip him in fresh water also.. <Periodic freshwater dips (no more than once every 3-5 days) are an excellent destroyer of all external marine parasites.> the other big problem is that the ammonia level is at 1.0...should I make a 50 % change.?  <During treatment in so small a tank, you'll want to change a gallon every day, since you have absolutely no viable nitrogen cycle in such an environment. Be sure to dose the replacement water with the appropriate amount of copper. Also be sure the replacement water has been properly mixed (spg should be around 1.017 during treatment) and de-chlorinated/aged as usual. Temp during Ich treatment should be around 82-83f. And if this fish was in your main system earlier, then that system is now infected, and will need addition of bio-cleaners soon - Lysmata shrimp or Gobiosoma gobies - definitely before the Tang goes back in.> Like I said...I'm more stressed out than he seems to be! I pretty sure he would eat if I fed him...but I don't know if I should. <Yes, you can/should. But definitely do a water change ASAP, and do them frequently through the next 14 days. If the ammonia levels stabilize, you can typically drop to 1 gallon every other day. Tangs really can't stand copper, so yours will be quite weakened when all this is done. Feed him sparingly, with favorite foods and some modicum of vitamin, especially if he's already accustomed to vitamin-soaked foods. Take heart, and good luck! -Lorenzo>

New tang, big-fish-mix Hi Bob, quick question again.  <Hi Thomas, Lorenzo Gonzalez here, doing my best Bob impression while he's incommunicado-in-Asia> all is REAL well with my reef (added plenum), but had a question about my 160 (yes again). I had the tank coppered and was bringing the tank off of it, when i noticed my tusk started hanging out in the upper right hand corner of my tank, swimming all night!! his fins started to look ragged, so I treated with moderate dose of Maracyn, I then came to realize that my miniatus grouper was no longer so mini, and was territorializing the tank. I traded in the grouper, for a Naso (lipstick tang), and added a small clown. I know I should have waited, but I seldom deal with this this LFS anymore, and wanted to get my credit while I could. <Mmm. The tang is likely quite displeased with any remaining copper in that tank. Tangs and copper never mix well.> Anyway, I want to make sure I am not over stocked or have a bad mix. I have a 12+ queen angel, 5+- blue face, 6 in tusk, 7 in lunatic trigger (cross hatch), the Naso and a small clown. the Naso is exhibiting white dots on fins (I did have a quarantine tank, but that became my sump when I cracked the other).  <Did you at least freshwater dip the incoming fish? Extra important without a quarantine system, and absolutely necessary if that clown is wild-caught.> The tusk already seems happier, the tang is not eating (i got him yesterday, looked good, swimming constantly). Sorry for the length, your writings suggest I have a good selection, my question is one of space and how to coax the Naso to eat. Thanks a million, Tom <Sounds like a workable mix to me. Clown might be seriously shy due to relative dwarfing by those big-boys. Bet that adult queen angel is a real stunner. Oh yeah... the tang would probably appreciate some fluffy Caulerpa, check out Gerald's 'Tang Heaven' (www.ipsf.com), if you really want to treat the fish right. (Throw a light in the cabinet and grow this great stuff in your sump!) In the meantime you can try some Nori, Spirulina, other pre-packaged dried seaweeds, perhaps marinated in a tasty liquid vitamin to help bolster the new Tang, or even some fresh baby spinach (not a long-term staple food) Put the stuff in a clip, attached somewhere near where the tang mostly hangs out, and leave it there a while. > p.s. I lucked into a new LFS in the area that is heavy into successful coral keeping, they are very well read and coincide with your methodology. <Always lucky to find a decent LFS! Regards, Lorenzo>

Curing Ichy Tangs without copper I'm sure you have had enough of these questions to last you a lifetime but I had an interesting idea (at least one I thought was interesting).
I have a 25 gallon tank (Eclipse 2, with power, chemical and bio filters and protein skimmer) with four hardy fish: 3 damsels, 1 clown. And about 12 lbs of live rock and no inverts. The problem is I have ick that has killed some of my other fish (royal Gramma and Banggai cardinal). My hardy fish catch a little here and there but not enough to cause them harm.
What makes my situation unique is I do not have sand as substrate but rather small rock and crushed coral. Due to the small size of my tank, I should be able to remove all of the substrate. Would this, coupled with environmental manipulation (spg 1.015, 83 temp) aid in killing the Ich since they would have no where to hide/breed? Thanks for you time. Regards, Eric
< Lorenzo Gonzalez here, responding for Bob, who's been kidnapped by the travel bug. (Singapore? Hong Kong? Who knows...) Here's the deal. Sounds like the Ich is well entrenched in your system. Unfortunately, the ONLY way to kill Ich without chemicals, is to totally starve it. That means NO FISH IN THAT TANK for at LEAST 6 weeks, 8 is better. Yes, Ich has an approximate life cycle of 2-3 weeks, and yes, raising the temperature will accelerate that a bit. But you almost surely by now have multiple generations, offset from each other, to starve out. That's why it takes so long. And if you leave any kind of host in there whatsoever, the Ich will continue forever and ever. Copper will kill your live rock, so you basically NEED a small quarantine/treatment tank. The ideal protocol (worked for me, and friends, several times):

  • 1st, Crank temp in main tank to 82-3f, drop spg to about 1.016-18 (sounds like you're set there already)
  • 2nd, Move all the fish into a barren treatment tank, just the basic necessities, some PVC or cheap lace rock for 'furniture'.
  • Week 1, Treat fish with copper for 2 weeks, carefully testing, frequent small water changes and re-dosing. (no carbon!)
  • Week 2, be sure to feed your fish, change water, and test chem.s!
  • Week 3-4, place activated carbon in the filtration of the treatment tank.
  • Week 4, start casually raising spg in main tank.
  • Week 5, Buy a Lysmata (cleaner) shrimp, put in main tank. (1.023-5 spg)
  • Week 6, put the fish back, with a brief stop in the freshwater bucket. (see FAQs on freshwater dips)
  • Week 7, until you get another fish or other carrier, (and don't follow a good quarantine), you will never see Ich in the main tank again.
Rinse the quarantine tank with tap water, and use it to age new water, or as a ready quarantine for all new fish! I know, sounds pretty harsh. But that's what you get for not quarantining all new organisms at least 4 weeks... ! Best Regards, -Lorenzo>

Red rimmed mouth on a Tang Hey Bob I have a Sailfin Tang with a red rimmed bloody looking) mouth. He also is showing faded color (Like night time colors). I assume the color is due to stress.  <Yes... not good all the way around> And assume the red mouth is the cause.  <Hmm, "per accidens" perhaps... that is not the ultimate cause... that would be what resulted in the red mouth condition...> I've looked up every disease reference I can (book and online) and have not found a disease that seems to be what the sailfin has. I know it could be from fighting or slamming into rocks/tank sides.  <This is the most likely possibility> However with close observation I am not seeing any of these behaviors. There is a 3 week new Asfur Angel in the tank (A 90gal FOWLR) and the tang and the angel tussled on the first day. However they seemed to be getting along fine after the first day. No obvious attacks. The other inhabitants of the tank are smaller and less likely to be the culprit (Tomato clown, algae blenny, Juv shy hamlet, small yellow tail damsels). <Well... the reddening is due to either physical trauma and/or bacterial or other microbial involvement... and "curable" through good husbandry, time going by... hopefully this specimen is still feeding...> My water tests out with no measurable nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, etc. I do have a UV filter and protein skimmer, as well as a canister filled with bio-filter media. I water change 10gals every 2 weeks. No other fish has any sign of disease and all, including the tang, are eating great. I feed a mix of frozen angel food, a homemade frozen "Selcon soaked Primereef with Nori", and a "veggie" frozen commercial fish food. I have grape Caulerpa, hair algae and a small amount of feather Caulerpa growing in the tank. <Sounds fine> So, my question is: what does he possible have, and what do I do about it? Sorry, I wrote you a book! I am going to get one of the fish conditioners that increase slime coat and dose the tank to maybe prevent any secondary infections. Thanks Rich <My take is about all summed up above... something triggered a trauma and infection to the mouth of this fish... no dip/bath, addition to the water, physical manipulation will aid it in recovery... do as you relate here... keeping the environment optimized and stable and hopefully this problem will resolve. Bob Fenner>

Troubles with a Tang Parasite Robert, I've got problems...The facts again...I currently have set up: 55 Gal SWA w/ UGF w/ 4 power heads (250 MaxiJets) w/ 1 Eheim 2213 CF w/ 1 Sea-clone Protein Skimmer 40 lbs crushed coral 15 lbs crushed shells approx. 50lbs of live rock In the tank are: 3 Yellow-tailed Damsels 1 False Percula Clown 1 Porcupine Puffer 1 Yellow Tang 1 Blue Hippo Tang (new) 1 Banggai Cardinal 1 Mushroom rock( 6-8 Mushrooms) 1 Feather duster. 1 Scooter Blenny Clean-up crew include: 2 Emerald crabs 15-20 Scarlet hermits 10-15 Blue leg hermits 4 Trochus snails 2 Astrea snails Questions: The problem: Since introducing the Blue Hippo Tang, The Yellow Tang started scratching himself against rocks. Yesterday I noticed tiny black dots all over the Yellow Tang; although was still swimming around and eating fine. The Hippo would also scratch but only a little (can't see any dots on him. Also the Percula has been very lethargic and breathing quickly. Is this a parasite? If so what should I do? <Maybe... If you have access, ability with a microscope, I would catch, take a scraping from the Yellow Tang... have a read through the materials on this species (Zebrasoma flavescens) on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com... there you'll find an H and E stained micrograph of the flatworm Paravortex, a common wild parasite of this species... easily thwarted with a freshwater dip/bath... Re the Clown... and didn't you at least dip, if not quarantine the new Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)? I would check your aeration (check the newest FAQs on the pages "Toxic Tank Conditions"...) and likely add a Gobiosoma cleaner (the puffer will eat all shrimps)... > As always, your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you, Brian Bottarini <Please also see the "Marine Parasitic Diseases" sections, "Quarantine", "Dips/Baths"... under the Marine Index. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Sick Tang I came across your name as I was searching for information on tang diseases and you seem to be a good person to answer my questions (if you don't mind). I have a 54 gallon bow-front, corner tank that I purchased from a student about a month ago. It is running a Emperor 280 and I have a powerhead to help circulation. It had had a protein skimmer, but I have just removed it (I had to return it to the seller and I have heard mixed reports on their benefits on a purely fish tank). <Hmm, well, I will gladly endorse this tool's use on fish only systems... You should avail yourself of a skimmer... as you will soon learn> It has a gravel base (yes I know I need to do something about that) and fake coral in it (I plan to do something about that as well) There are no inverts in the tank, but I plan to add an anemone in the near future, and there are 7 fish - a maroon clown, a Spanish hogfish, a flame hawk, a long-nosed hawk (unsure of name here), a regal tang, a three-spot clown wrasse (again unsure), and an unknown trigger. All of the fish have been healthy. <Do hold off on the anemone for now... and read over the FAQs section about them stored on my site:  Home Page and in turn the link to Breeder's Registry to be found there... a wealth of experience at your disposal... Anemones are not easy... and the trigger will likely do some damage too...> I just added a couple of pieces of not too well established live rock and did a large water change this weekend (to make a long story short, I had bad nitrate reagents in my tester kit and ended up doing a 50% water change that may not have been necessary - Ughh). <The skimmer.... and live rock will help here... and more... read the Nitrate section on the WWM site, please.> The person I purchased the tank from warned me that he had seen white spots creep up on the tang from time to time, but that the other fish seem fine. He had treated with copper. Today I have noticed some small white spots appearing on the tang. I don't want this to be an ongoing problem and I want to continue adding live rock. I currently do not have a quarantine tank at home. I am a teacher and we are currently setting up new tanks at school, so taking fish there is a possibility, but catching the tang is a royal pain. Do you have any thoughts? I've read some of your other responses and you make mention of biologicals - cleaner gobies and shrimp? Is this an option for me, or will they get eaten by my fish? Please help! Thanks, Patti Brown <Please do scan the materials on marine disease... And we'll be chatting. Bob Fenner who "paid his debt to society" by teaching H.S. Bio., Chem., and Physics for four years.>

Fish Dying Hello Bob, I have a 105 gallon saltwater tank. I have lost a clown, powder blue tang and blue and yellow-tail tang. At first I thought is was Ich but now it seems to be something else. The gills of the fish are extremely red. We have tried copper and are now using (also killed our starfish, and three anemones) using Organicure for the treatment of marine fish diseases. The rest of the fish are breathing very heavily and I am concerned they are all going to die. Please help if you can, I am sure you can appreciate the urgency of the matter. Oh also added live rock over the last couple of weeks. Denise <<Hmmm, something wrong here... and I don't think it has to do with your system. I fully suspect that the source supplying you with these surgeonfish's is guilty of poisoning the tangs before you got them. Hear me out. The Powder Blue (Acanthurus leucosternon) is not a very hardy fish species for aquarium use, and the Clown (A. lineatus) can die easily, w/o apparent cause as well. The Yellow Tail (Paracanthurus hepatus, aka Hippo, Palette et al. tang) is typically tough... but all three dying? This isn't right. Please do stop using copper, OrganiCure on these fishes... this is very likely what really doomed them... that is, being kept under "medication" (i.e. selective poisoning) by people ahead of you for too long. Not to be mysterious, Surgeonfishes/Tangs/Doctorfishes (family Acanthuridae) have an assortment of beneficial microbes in their digestive tracts (sort of like you and me and E. coli). These "bugs" help the Surgeon to digest foodstuffs... and, unfortunately, if these fishes are kept in coppered systems for too long (more than a couple of weeks), these microbes are wiped out. If the animal can't get them re-established (in the wild by eating the fecal pellets of conspecifics) they're ultimately done for. Please don't be discouraged by any of this supposition; but do relate this information back to your source and look for a "fresher", kinder one. A bunch of support for this possibility can be found in articles on the surgeons on my wetwebmedia.com website. Bob Fenner>>

Yellow Tang with Brown Spot I have a small yellow tang. Very active, curious, seems to be doing fine. He has a small brown spot on his back just below his dorsal fin. It is only on one side. It doesn't seem to be affecting him at all. Do you have any suggestions about this? <<Hi Michael, yeah, I do, and there's nothing to worry about. Even yellow tangs in the wild will sometimes show this sort of marking. I suspect it is some sort of "reflex defensive mechanism", maybe a stress-coloration change that has some sort of adaptive value... maybe to would-be predators, such a "blotchy" specimen looks unappetizing, or maybe it helps them with camouflage... who knows? But the reality of it is that it "goes away" with age and acclimation. Bob Fenner>>

Multiple Tangs I have a 55 gallon tank with a wet dry system. My favorite fish are Tangs. I have had good luck with my aquariums until I have more than one tang in the tank. This last time I had a Kole, Powder Brown and Yellow tang. I then had a bad case of Ich which destroyed all but 4 of my fish. I borrowed a high powered UV light and treated with Kent Marine RXP. <A Scam> My Yellow tang is still alive but has rust color markings and frayed fins and tail. Will he be alright and how can I keep a healthy tank with multiple Tangs. I keep a supply of kelps and algae in there for them. I guess I just have to go to Angels or Butterfly fish. Thanks for your answer and your column.

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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