FAQs about Yellow Tang
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
The Stubborn Tang; not fdg. post Cu exposure
Hello crew! i have an interesting predicament, so I'm hoping you
will be able to help!
Here's the story: i have a 5'' yellow tang in my 90g DT (150g
tank, and he wont eat for me recently. I've had him since February
this year, and until about 2 weeks ago, he's been acting....off.
When i first got him he had some mild HLLE which with lots of seaweeds,
soaked in Selcon and Mysis and formula 2, he had a great recovery,
almost complete turn around of the HLLE. About 3 months ago the
tank was hit with Ich, and then promptly treated by moving all fish to a
QT and followed with copper treatment and a fallow tank for 7 weeks.
<The Cu exposure will very commonly affect tangs as you describe... make
them anosmotic, and worse, kill off necessary intestinal fauna... Need
to replenish... By adding a Tang species that does have such in its gut.
Or moving the Yellow Tang into a system w/ such "critters" living there>
After full recoveries and such.
all fish were returned and everything has been fine up until now.
I noticed the tang acting more lethargic than normal at lights on for a
few days to start, and him bumping into the rock work occasionally, so i
was worried his eyes were possibly blinded by the lights for some
reason, so i lowed the lighting levels and that didn't change it.
then a few days later i noticed faint red mark, mostly around his tail
and dorsal fin- at this point he was eating, but not as vigorously.
a few days later he stopped eating completely and as almost completely
receded into the cave network in my rocks. there was a period of about 5
days, a week ago that he seemed to have some problems staying upright
while not swimming, turning completely on 90 degrees on his 'side' and
once and a while to nearly 120 and then quickly righting him self - this
symptom has gone away recently.
now, almost 2 weeks since seeing him last eat, his HLLE is back with
almost full force, if not worse, and i cannot get him to eat anything,
even doused in garlic / Selcon. Im quite worried.
<You should be>
Param.s: 0amm/nitrite, 5-10 nitrate, 80 F, .028 salinity (a little high,
evaporation is...being difficult, slowly lowering to .026)
I would remove him to QT but I'm afraid moving him may do more harm then
good, and all the other tankmates are looking fine and dandy ( 3'' hippo
Tang, 3 teal Chromis, 1 blue damsel, 1 fire-fish, 2 peppermint shrimp,
and a serpent-star).
Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
<Mmm, like Rabbits (lagomorphs), Termites... and many other examples,
Acanthuroids have live G.I. symbionts... that are too-easily killed off
w/ copper exposure... You need to put the fish in a situation where they
can become reinoculated... The Tang will "pick up" these from the
Re: The Stubborn Tang 7/4/2012
Hey Bob, just a quick follow up with your last email.
What do you suggest I do? Should I add another herbivorous tang to
the system to uh... 'Reintroduce' these critters or should I attempt the
daunting task of finding someone that can house him for a few weeks to
get him going again. (Pickings are slim in my area, my best bet would be
this one LFS near me- well kept larger tanks-, but the owner is a bit of
<Yes; one or t'other>
Thanks with all the help,
<Certainly welcome. BobF>
Stubborn yellow tang follow-up 7/5/2012
Hey Bob, sorry to bother you...again, this is the last question I'm
<Not a bother>
What species of tang do you think would be a good choice for the job at
<Mmm. Do read here:
scroll down to the section on Tang Selection/Stocking>
The reason I ask is, I would assume in a best case scenario another
yellow tang would be the best for replenishing these 'critters' but I
don't want a turf war in my tank by adding a second yellow.
Any thoughts? Also, would adding water from a system with
herbivorous tangs be sufficient to reintroduce the needed critters?
<Ohh, now I recall... yes to adding not water, but mulm... fecal
material... you can gravel vacuum from the one tank, place in the needed
Thanks a million,
<As many welcomes. BobF>
Red Feathery Growth on Tang's Gills 7/2/12
I have a 5 year old mixed reef tank. The inhabitants include
2 Ocellaris Clownfish, 3 Firefish, 1 Yellow Tang, and 1 Blood Shrimp.
The corals include Frogspawn, Torch, Yellow Leather Toadstool, Star Polyps,
Mushrooms, and Xenia. All inhabitants appear healthy and happy.
The tank parameters have been stable with 8.2pH, 2.5meq/L alkalinity, 0
ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 5 nitrate. I feed New Life Spectrum pellets
daily, and Mysis and Cyclops soaked in Selcon a couple times a week.
The tang has dried seaweed available at all times. I have had the
Clownfish for 5 years, the Tang for 3, and the Firefish for 1 year.
No new fish have been added since the Firefish over a year ago. The
Xenia was the most recent coral addition over 6 months ago. I have
followed WetWebMedia religiously from the planning stages of the tank.
Because of you, I have had a well maintained, disease free display tank.
I quarantined ALL inhabitants for a minimum of 30 days prior to adding to
the display tank. I have never lost coral or fish to any type of
disease. Hopefully that’s enough background information.
This week my yellow tang developed a “growth” on his gill. I
am puzzled as to what it is.
<Actually; looks to be part of a gill itself>
It has remained unchanged the past 3 days. In my best description,
it looks like a little red feather duster protruding from the top of his
gills. His behavior continues be normal. He is active, greedily
eating the New Life Spectrum pellets, and continuously grazing off the
Liverock. He routinely utilizes the services of the cleaner shrimp,
but the “growth” is still there. I have attached the best pictures I
could get. His constant moving, and my lack of good photography
skills, made the picture taking difficult. Do you have any guesses as
to what the red, feathery growth is? Is it something I should be
<Mmm, no; not really. Naught one can do re>
Is it something that requires treatment or should I continue with careful
What do you recommend?
<Not to worry... these sort of "breaks"... in branchiostegals... occur
occasionally. Need not be fatal>
I have searched the FAQ’s and apologize if the answer is there and I
missed it. On a side note, the tang had NO signs of HLLE until 6
months ago. I do not use carbon in my tank. I decided to add
some before adding some new coral. The tang had signs of HLLE
within the week. I removed the carbon and his symptoms have not gotten
better or worse. Could be a coincidence, but I think the carbon caused
<There is scientific evidence of this involvement; though carbon alone is
not the only cause>
Thank you in advance for any recommendations for my tang that you
can give me. Your website has been a tremendous help to me.
Thank you for your service.
<Thank you for writing; sending this along. Bob Fenner>
Re: Red Feathery Growth on Tang's Gills
Thank you for the response. I have a follow up question. Will
the "broken" gill eventually heal itself or will it always be visible?
<Can go either way... not a problem as exposed as long as it's not picked
Thanks again for your help,
Help with Yellow Tang... hlth.
Hope is going well and thank you for finding some time in your day to
help out people like me. I have a yellow tang in QT and over the past
week he has developed a small wound? on his side. It looks like a small
hole and has only just slightly increased in size. He has been eating
very well and is swimming around freely. I am looking to treat the tank
with some Melafix as a precaution.
<Melafix is actually a liquid preparation of Tea Tree (Melaleuca) leaves
and may or may not do much good for healing the wound, I would not use
this. You state the tang is eating good but the picture depicts a caved
in belly. What are you feeding this fish?>
The tank is currently running at 1.009 to aid in the elimination of
marine Ich <http://www.masa.asn.au/masawiki/index.php/Ich>.
He is housed with some Anthias and a Kole tang and there has been no
sign of fighting. Water parameters are good and I am doing 25% water
changes each 5 - 7 days. He is not scratching on anything but I get a
feeling there is a slight change in his behaviour over the last 24 hours
(or that could be me freaking him out looking into his tank). His fins
are tucked in in this photo but are normally held out. It was just as he
Any ideas of what it may be and how could treat it would be appreciated.
<Mmm, 1.009 is a little bit low for osmotic shock therapy for tangs.
I'd boost this up to 1.012 and ensure this fish (and all fishes) is
getting a good diet. If feeding algae type foods alone, it will
not keep this fish alive for long. Do read here.
James (Salty Dog)>
Re Help with Yellow Tang 5/31/12
Thanks for the quick reply.
I have been feeding a mix of foods but I will increase and also add some
vitamin supplements to the food. I am interested in your comment about
the salinity level. I have read so many places to drop the salinity to
<And even 1.008.>
and that I need to keep it at this level to ensure any crypto is dealt
with. I assume that at 1.012 the crypto will still not survive.
<Will not. I prefer to keep it at 1.012 for tangs and other
Thanks for your help
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Healthy Yellow Tang Dies
For No Apparent Reason 4/9/12
I'm sad to say that my happy little yellow Tang has kicked the
I am left still wondering what happened to him, because he was quite
healthy and very active. When he died he was still full of color and
looked great, only he wasn't breathing. I had no feeding issues
what so ever.
The little guy tore through Nori and feed on the natural algae all day
long. He got along with the other fish very well and was about a year
<Nori has little nutritional value and will not keep a tang alive
very long unless additional food supplements are given. Did your tang
eat other foods?>
He was in a 92 gallon corner bow with a blue tang, two clarkii clowns,
a Allen's damsel, a golden headed sleeper goby and a Condy anemone. All of them are doing great. I figure if my anemone is doing great, I
don't have any water issues as they seem to be very fragile.
<A possible run in with the Condy. A healthy Condy can have a potent
So on to my question, the only irregular thing I can think of that I
did the night before was leaving the light on for an additional 4
Sometimes I like to entertain my guests with the fish, so I override
the automatic light timer. Do you think this could have stressed him
out so bad that it killed him? I saw him swimming around the
morning of and then he jammed himself into a rock and said goodbye.
<Nutrition and the Condy would be my two leads.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Healthy Yellow Tang Dies For No Apparent Reason 4/9/12
Thanks for the quick reply. I feed Omega One marine flakes every day.
Then I feed Omega One Green Seaweed, fresh lettuce and spinach, and a
frozen omnivorous blend at different times through the week.
<Would not be my choice of dry foods. New Life Spectrum is the
best available, I use it exclusively.>
Usually it's flakes only for 2-3 days a week. Is this enough
variety? Is it possible for a Yellow Tang to look in perfect
health and really be malnourished?
<It can. If deprived of nutritious foods, tangs generally
reduce their food intake or may not feed at all.>
I'm leaning toward thinking the Condy gave him a paralyzing sting
and stopped his breathing.
<My guess as well.>
The anemone is about 8" wide with its tentacles spread and
the Yellow Tang was about 2 1/2" long.
<Tangs this small are less likely to survive long term.>
Do you think it is inevitable for this to happen again on my other
What should I do? Maybe I should get rid of him and get a
<Is not a good idea to mix potent anemones with fish that do not
host anemones and likely you have witnessed the reason why. What
makes you believe a Sebae anemone would be less potent than a
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Skinny Yellow Tang
Hello gang. Love the site. Have a question in regards to yellow tangs.
I'm now on my 2nd. Had my first one for 7 or so years with no real
problems to speak of. However, over the entire length of having it I
would describe the fish as "skinny". No fat or thickness to
<Mmm, not uncommon... Many Zebrasoma have their gut-fauna bumped off
via copper et al. exposure... never really gain weight or girth
All other signs of health never much of a problem. Active, always ate,
swam normally and picked at the rocks all day. Now that I'm on my
2nd, and experiencing the same scenario, I can't help but to wonder
why all the other fish in my tank are healthy and "thick"
while the yellow tang remains skinny. I feel like I'm feeding
properly, a combination of flake, seaweed selects and also Julian
Sprung's Sea Veggies. My current setup is a 150 gallon tank with
wet dry and protein skimmer. Water quality is good and steady, older
tank of about 12 years. Any thoughts or recommendations? If the fish
were yours, what would be your feeding regimen/t? Thanks!
<May seem strange, but similar to many other animals
(bunnies/Lagomorphs come to mind due to the season); I'd be adding
(if there's room physically and psychologically), another
Acanthurid... perhaps a member of the genus Ctenochaetus... to add the
(poop) microbes... Oh, and do try out a fave personal food line,
Spectrum pellets... The skinniness could be due/accountable to other
factors... but my guess stands (for now). Cheers, Bob
Treating a sick yellow tang
Hello WWM crew,
Sorry for the epic, but:
The question is: Will triple sulfa effectively treat a yellow
tang with what appears to be bacterial/fungal infection?
<Mmm, not really; no. Best to address through consistent, high water
quality and nutrition>
The details are: I rescued him from a client's aquarium (I pet-sit
aquariums) after I found it being beaten to death by a scopas tang
(surprise, surprise). The client wanted me to throw him out to avoid
contaminating his tank further-- so I took him instead.
He was stabbed several times by the scopas on both sides of his body as
well as had his fins chewed. Fin rot resulted from this, and the hard
dorsal spines are exposed partially on the tang as well as
deterioration of the pectoral and caudal fins.
<Can, will regenerate... heal over time>
Day 1 he almost died on the way to my house (fins not moving, gulping,
eyes fixed with no response to stimulus). I threw him in my 20 gallon
nano with no fish in it for a day just to see if he would live, or at
least let him die in peace. (Aside: I am well aware of the tank size
requirements of tangs-- the client himself has a 200g tank but poor
livestock choices and overcrowding which resulted in aggression and
poor water quality culminating in infection for the immunocompromised,
bullied fish. It was either my nano or the garbage, so I chose my nano,
even if it is horribly undersized for a tang.) He breathed rapidly,
both eyes clouded, nasty wounds, laid on the floor.
Day 2 he was breathing better and swimming around but developed a thick
coating of bacteria and/or fungus over his injuries, including fungus
hanging from his hard dorsal spines and a bit from his mouth. At this
point I took him and put him into a 5 gallon home depot bucket with a
power filter with no chemical media and a ceramic mug. Have to use what
I have, and I am obviously not going to put antibiotics into my 20 nano
reef- Sorry, tang.
It was really confusing as which one to use and I just wanted to get
something fast because he didn't look good AT ALL. So I purchased
API Triple Sulfa. I was able to assist him in removing the thick
bacterial coat (it was partially loose already) and found severe tissue
damage underneath, down to what appears to be the muscle. He appears to
be doing well in the 5 gallon bucket.
<Best to return to the twenty>
Day 3 Today he was quite lively and frisky when I captured him to
observe him in a specimen container, compared to me being able to
simply scoop him out of a 200 gallon aquarium with zero difficulty. A
thin whitish coating has appeared over his exposed muscle and I fear
the bacteria is growing back. I just want to know if I am using a
medication which will be effective against his condition. I feel like
he has the "fighting spirit" so to speak and would like to
see him healthy. Conditions in QT are pH 8.0, 0 amm 0, 0 nitrite, 0
nitrate, and SG 1.018, with Triple Sulfa added.
Following manufacturer's instructions on the box. I started
yesterday night (day 2 of rescue), and haven't brought it to the
full therapeutic dose yet (they have you do half the dose the first
night, the rest of the dose 24 hours later, then 24 hours later a 25%
PWC and a repeat of the treatment followed by another 25% PWC and
reintroduction of carbon, so I know the antibiotic is not in full
effect yet anyway) Please advise, thanks!
<Again... the twenty, not sulfa drugs necessary or recommended. Bob
Yellow tang, hlth.
Hello Bob (or other crew :] ),
I recently got a yellow tang, almost one week ago come tomorrow. I got
him from a great LFS, and the owner is very knowledgeable for the most
I got this tang at half off discount because it had some real minor
rips in its fin, i mean real small, hardly noticeable unless is puffs
up its fins, and it was still recovering from some minor HLLE mostly
around the eye and a tiny streak across its side. The owner had this
tang for a few weeks before i got it. i brought it home and began my QT
for the next 6 weeks until my 90 gallon DT will be ready for him. QT is
a standard 20 gallon long (tang is only about 2'' long,
<Mmm, too small; should have been left in the wild>
forgot to mention that, ik its a bit small, but its only 6 weeks and i
really don't have room for a bigger QT :O), put on a small HOB
filter i had running on my nano for the last month to seed the filter,
added a few small flower pots for hiding ( from my experience they work
quite well for 'caves'), heater, and powerhead.
I was just looking for your thoughts on my 'healing' regime /
diet. so far i have been alternating purple and green seaweed with
Selcon soaked into it every day, and I'm going to attempt some
frozen Mysis tomorrow now that he has warmed up to me / the tank a bit.
All water param.s are 0: i do a 5 gallon WC every other day with fresh
RO/DI water (is this too much? not enough?).
<Monitor NH3, NO2>
temp is right at 80, and i have about 300 gph flow in the tank.
So far, no Ich or anything of the sorts, but I'm standing by with
copper / ready for Hypo in case it rears its ugly head. Also, its
lateral line is almost always showing? from what i read that's
normal during lights out and right away when lights come back on, but
his is always showing. just curious. He's full of color and spirit,
and quite active so I'm
not worried yet.
Your opinions would be great, and your wisdom is always appreciated.
Keep up the great work,
<Mmm, read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/YTangDisF11.htm
and the linked files above as you have time, interest. If this fish is
eating, and you're doing what you state, you and it should be fine
in time. Bob Fenner>
Yellow Tang With Red Blotches (Environmental) 03/18/12
<<Hello Anna€¦Eric here>>
My name is Anna and I am really new to saltwater aquariums.
<<Everyone starts somewhere€¦have you
done some reading? Many books available to assist the budding
saltwater hobbyist, as well as much good reading on our site. Do
start here and follow the links where they lead:
I have a 20 gallon tank that has been going for several months
now. In the tank I have live rock (no coral), 2 Striped Damsels
<<Can get downright mean>>
2 False Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris),
<<Can also be pugnacious€¦especially in
such a small volume>>
a Chocolate Chip Sea Star (Protoreastor nodosus), and a Yellow
Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens).
<<Mmm€¦ The first problem I see here is
the tank size vs. your chosen livestock. The Damsels/Clownfish
need at least â€œtwiceâ€ this volume
for the long term (even then, I think the Dascyllus will still
become problematic), and the Tang needs at least
â€œfourâ€ times the room/volume your
tank offers for its physiological
well-being. Do please browse our site re recommended minimum tank
sizes for differing species>>
I keep the tank at a temperature of 74-76 degrees Fahrenheit.
<<I would raise this to 76-78â€¦-74 is a
bit too cool in my estimation>>
The salinity is between 24 and 26 PPT (or 1.018 and 1.019 -
<<Way too low (and another clue to the Tangs
issue)â€¦much better to keep your fishes at
near NSW levels 53 PPT or 1.025/026 Specific
The pH of the tank is approximately 8.4. My ammonia, nitrites,
and nitrates are all relatively 0.
<Mmm the first two must be ZERO (and yet another
The lamp I have for the tank has a deep ocean bulb installed; I
have a Fluval C4 filter, and an All Glass Aquarium 100W heater. I
am concerned about the yellow tang. He has what seem to be red
blotches on his body, like a patchy sunburn (see attached
<<I see these>>
He has had these blotches for about a week now and I feel
terrible. I am really concerned that something is really wrong
with the tang and that he may not make it much longer.
<<Does not look good>>
I love animals very much and I want to make sure that he is
<<Then please, do your reading/research beforehand. If you
were advised as to your present
stocking selections for this small tank you were done no favors.
But in the end, the onus is on you to research differing sources
and use your own good judgment to make a decision>>
I really wish there was something I could do to help him.
<<Immediate removal and placement in a much larger, and
I have looked through your website at many concerns from other
people, but have not found this similar scenario.
<<Hmm would think there are many such
environmental situations described/discussed>>
I feed him green marine algae every day on a clip as well as
marine flakes and frozen brine shrimp as a treat. His behavior
has not changed at all. He eats and swims around the tank with
all of the other fish. The only thing I can think of that may
have caused these blotches was a low pH of 7.4 that I had about a
week ago. I gradually added baking soda to the tank and brought
the pH to approximately 8.4 (the current reading). If this is
what may have caused the blotchiness, is there anything I can do,
and if not would you happen to know how long it may take for him
to get better?
<<The pH drop would only be a small part of the larger
environmental issues here>>
I do not have a quarantine tank because I do not have the room
for it; I live in a small apartment. I was wondering if there is
anything I can do for him to help get rid of the red
<<Not in your current system I do fear
this fish is doomed unless removed very soon. Aside from removing
the Tang, you need to make sure Ammonia and Nitrite are
exceptions. You also need to address the other environmental
factors as explained. If you don't plan on
adding corals to this system, and you keep your water parameters
in line and stable, the starfish will likely be fine to keep. As
for the remaining fishes, the Damsels and Clownfish really are
not good choices for your tank things will
end badly, sooner or later. Better choices would be 3-5 specimens
of a small social Cardinalfish species (the tank size does really
limit your choices)â€¦do some looking around
and feel free to come back to discuss>>
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my email.
I really appreciate any help I can get.
<<Happy to share>>
Yellow Tang Laying on Side
I got a yellow tang about a month ago and he has been alone in
<Five gallons? Too small.>
quarantine tank with PVC the entire time. He has showed <shown>
no signs of any disease or anything else of concern. There was never
any ammonia in the tank
and he seemed healthy but shy. So tonight I decided to freshwater dip
before introducing to my main tank. I did a 5 minute pH and temp
adjusted freshwater bath and he just laid on his side the entire time,
which I expected.
<Me too; not unusual>
However during acclimation and introduction to my main tank he swam to
behind the rocks and was upright for about 10 minutes before laying on
his side. His breathing is at about 65 beats per minute and the only
time he's moved is when my hermits mess with him. He's been in
my display tank for about an hour now and still breathing and flapping
his fin. His color looks great, no red and even the white line
isn't overly white.
This is also my first time doing a freshwater bath and as of now
I'm not a fan!
Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help this little
<Patience... likely this fish has lost some vital capacity to
respire... hemolysis... common w/ moving, stress. Can't "catch
its breath". As with ourselves, it is making more red blood
cells... Just needs time, not to be bothered>
Thanks for all your help, you guys rock!!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Yellow Tang Laying on Side 1/14/12
Thanks for your reply, and sorry for the grammar mistake. :)
<Welcome and no worries>
I should have clarified that it was a 20 gallon long, not 20
<Ahh, much better>
I'm sad to inform you that the tang did not make it last night.
Just before it died something strange happened though and I was
wondering if maybe you could shed some light on what happened? He was
laying on his side and very quickly swam to the top of the tank before
drifting back to the sand bed not breathing. I thought this was very
odd and wanted to get your opinion.
<Actually, what you describe is all-too familiar to me... as a kid I
worked in the trade in the P.I., a good deal of the time
"pushing" newly arrived (from middle-men) fishes that had
been recently caught... and Acanthuroids... Tangs and kin especially
had such troubles... and did one or two last gasp attempts at launching
themselves out of the system... before perishing. Again, you can call
the cause "cumulative stress", but these fishes need high
packed-cell volumes (hematocrits) and lose oxygen-carrying capacity
(among other things) w/ handling, mucus loss...>
Also is there anything you can think of that I did wrong in the
<Mmm, not from what you're written. You can see an omnibus of my
input re here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm
and the linked files above>
I hate that this beautiful fish was taken from it's natural
environment just to die by my hands, but I know mysterious losses are
not entirely uncommon in this hobby.
Thanks again for all your help, you truly are a blessing to us newbies!
<Glad to help. BobF>
tang questions 12/27/11
I was wondering if anybody out there has ever had there yellow
tang look like this.
He has been like this for the past 2 weeks! He has no problem
going to the bathroom, eating normally and is acting completely
normal so not sure why he is so fat!! He is the only one that is
this big!! It looks like he swallowed a golf ball! I am wondering
if it is a parasite. If so what do you think I should treat him
<A few possibilities... tumours of different kinds here... as
I suspect this is not an instance of some sort of gut blockage
given your statements.
Gonadal issue? Perhaps some sort of egg-binding. Other than just
being patient, I would search on WWM re Epsom Salt use... and
consider using this in situ at low concentration. Bob
Tissue damage on Yellow tang... --
Hey Good afternoon,
I searched high and low on the website for a possible answer to my
Yellow tangs problems but couldn't come up with any sort of
solution? I Noticed my yellow tang today has really bad tissue (pink
and looks like it maybe rotting?) damage across the bridge of his nose?
It also has a small gash in its body (possible little fight with hippo
<Yes; this or the Premnas>
I'm setting up a large 150g reef tank and it is finally cycled and
ready for me to move the fish into it. I have it housed with a maroon
clown, yellow tail damsel and a hippo blue tang in a 60 gallon frag
tank that measures 48x24x12.
<Too small for these fishes>
I noticed that the pump is not pushing water like it originally did and
may be clogged. I also noticed the water temp was a little low at 76
(which could be from poor water circulation from sump to tank). Could
this just simply be a water quality issue that could be cured with
better circulation, water changes and some garlic soaked Mysis. It is
eating and swimming about the tank.
<Mmm, no; almost assuredly this is physical damage (perhaps w/
secondary bacterial) from negative interactions w/ one or both of the
other fishes here>
I'm also in the process of setting up a 20 gallon quarantine tank
with small amounts of copper and internal UV sterilizer. Any thoughts
<I'd move all to the new tank stat... as in the Yellow Tang
give it some time to heal up; perhaps a week ahead of moving the other
two... species that are far more aggressive/territorial>
Thanks in advance for your time....
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Sudden Yellow Tang Death
I have searched high and low both on your site and with a generic
Google search, but am coming up empty-handed with this issue. Something
quite odd happened today to a Yellow Tang, and I was hoping you'd
help me discover the cause so as to prevent any future recurrence.
Here's what happened: Early this afternoon, the tang was found
floating upside down in the tank, breathing and with all fins extended
fully. It appeared to be very stiff and rigid, as if seized or
paralyzed. I say paralyzed because after righting it, I saw that it was
unable to move its fins or swim much, managing only to flick its caudal
fin a little bit, thus being pushed around by the current in the tank.
The gills were not opening fully, so it was hard to tell if its
breathing rate was faster than normal or not. Nothing else in the tank
was affected, but we isolated the tang and put an airstone in with it,
and within 15 or 20 minutes, it was dead.
There was no discoloration, no spots, streaks, signs of physical
None of the other inhabitants have shown any symptoms of discomfort at
all before or since the tang's death.
<How long was the tang in the system before this happened?>
The tank is a 50 gallon breeder FOWLR and also houses a small(ish)
Snowflake Eel, a Black Damsel and a 6 year old Tomato Clown, as well as
a pair of Fire Shrimp.
<Was there any aggression toward the tang from the clown or
The tank has been set up this way since...oh, September, I think, is
when the damsel was added because it was picking on tankmates in
another tank. Being the "new guy" in the tank calmed him
A 5-gallon water change was performed earlier in the morning (about 5
hours prior), but that was the only thing we could think of that might
have caused...whatever this is.
<Mmm, other than aggression, I'm thinking the tang may not have
been acclimated properly.
Any anemones present in the system?>
temperature: 78 degrees Fahrenheit
Water changes are performed once a week. Water is mixed up using RO/DI
water and Reef Crystals, and it is heated and mixed for at least 24
hours prior to use.
A search of WWM showed only one similar incident, but that tang had
been affected by someone testing their lighting, and shock was
suggested as a cause of death. A Google search turned up possible
osmotic shock due to sudden drastic salinity or pH changes, so I'm
thinking it might be shock of some kind, but am having trouble
determining what caused it and why no one else was affected by it. Any
thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
<As above and Bob may chime in here as well. James (Salty
Re: Sudden Yellow Tang Death 12/3/11
I'm writing to answer some questions you had about my last email.
The previous email is below, just in case.
<Always reply to the original email.>
The Yellow Tang had been in the tank for about 6 months. Everyone
except the Black Damsel had been cohabitating in that tank for about
six months prior to the incident, and there were no aggression issues
amongst any of the fish. The tang and the tomato, in particular often
swam around the tank together and slept in the same hole. There are no
anemones or corals present in the system. I don't know if it's
relevant, but this tank is a holding tank at an LFS. These particular
inhabitants have been slow sellers, which is why we've had them so
long. No new guys have been introduced or taken from the tank since
July, with the exception of the Black Damsel. I hope that helps clarify
<Does help. I'm thinking nutrition and/or water quality may have
had a hand here. Most LFS's are not going to feed the best of foods
so as to keep operating costs down. Eating good does not necessarily
mean the fish is healthy. I suggest reading here.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re: Sudden Yellow Tang Death 12/5/11
<Jackie, please do not do double caret inserts. Just reply to the
email as you would with any other email. I will cut/paste your inserts
Hello, James, and thank you for your patience with me during this
The Yellow Tang had been in the tank for about 6 months. <<but in
the store >> for a couple months longer.
<<I'm sorry to be so persistent, but I have read that link
and ALL of the disease and feeding pages regarding yellow tangs on the
site. I understand what you mean, and I certainly don't take
offense because you're right; too often, that is the case. I feel
fortunate to work for some people that are bound and determined to do
right by the animals in our care. I'd been feeding this tang dried
algae sheets to graze on, and it ate Mysis and mixed-formulation frozen
cubes (e.g., Formula 1 and 2) we fed the other fishes in the tank.
Perhaps there is not enough microalgae available to him? Please
understand, I'm not trying to get you to do my job for me.
It's simply that I can normally peg down a cause of death and
adjust my practices accordingly, but this particular death was strange,
and other than possible shock, my research has produced nothing in
terms of answers. Perhaps it's just "one of those things"
but if it was something that I did, I'd like to know for future
<The fish was in the store six months and in your tank two months. I
have no idea what could have taken place in that time.
Six months under average store conditions is a long time and more than
likely, the tang's health deteriorated to a point where it could
not recover. There may be other reasons for this but I cannot not
comment not knowing what conditions the tang was kept in. Losses do
occur, especially among tangs. As to the algae sheets....not much
nutritional value. Have you tried New Life Spectrum Pellets?
This is an excellent dry food loaded with nutrition and is the only
food I have been feeding my fish for the last two years. James (Salty
Yellow Sailfin Tang, hlth... suspected env.
Hi, I have a FOWLR tank that has been in operation now since January. I
have never had any problems with my fish. In the past few days though,
my Yellow Sailfin Tang has really slowed down on eating, sometimes not
eating at all. It is breathing really fast, and not closing its mouth.
Also, now and again, it looks like it has a circular shaped
"bruise" on both sides of it, about half way down its body.
This bruising comes and goes.
Sometimes, when the bruising is not on its sides, it seems to discolor
along the curve of its nose, not a lot, but slight discoloration. The
reason I say bruise, is it reminds me of the color of a healing bruise
on a person. I do partial water changes once a month,
<I'd do weekly>
my levels all seem to be good, I have been fighting with high Nitrate
levels the entire time I have had the tank,
<How high is high?>
but it has never seemed to affect any of the fish. I have had this tang
for about 7 months and never had a problem with it. Any idea what could
<What are the other livestock?>
<Something is off here... water quality wise likely. Please read
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Yellow Sailfin Tang
Nitrates are usually between 80 to 160 ppm.
<MUCH too high... see WWM re... this could well be THE root problem
The other fish are 1 clarkii clownfish, 3 blue green Chromis, 2 cleaner
shrimp, 1 gramma royal, 1 coral beauty (just added yesterday) and 1
Re: Yellow Sailfin Tang
Oh, and just so you know, I moved the Tang to quarantine
<No need or rationale... the problem of NO3 needs to be
just in case there is something major wrong, especially with the new
coral beauty being added.
And, my tank is a 55 gallon,
<Too small for what you list as livestock>
PH 8.2, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, phosphate 0.5ppm and nitrate falls
between the two colors on the chart of 80 and 160, salinity 1.025. Hope
that helps you as well. Thank you so much for your time Bob. This tank
has become my pride and joy, really don't want to lose any of my
<They need a better, larger world. B>
Re: Yellow Sailfin Tang 11/4/11
Thank you for your help Bob. Take care.
<Will do. B>
Yellow tang troubles 10/13/11
Hello Wet Web Media Crew,
I emailed you a while back about some sps issues and your responses
were very helpful and my corals are doing better than ever. I now have
a new issue that is confusing me and I am hopeful you can provide some
I have a yellow tang that has been showing blemishes on its pectoral
The blemish first appeared about a week and a half ago in the form of a
faint light spot on the right pectoral fin. The spot was noticed about
mid day and was gone by the next morning. Another 4 to 5 days later a
spot again appeared on the same area, on the tip of the right pectoral
Again the spot went away within 24 hours. Today the spot reappeared,
again on the tip of the right pectoral fin. The spot was very
noticeable at first and faded quite a bit in the first hour and was
barely noticeable when the lights went off today. I read through a
bunch of your site on yellow tangs and parasites and haven't come
across anything that matches my fishes symptoms. The time table points
me toward crypt or some other parasite but is it normal for a parasite
to fall off and return on the same spot of the same fin and no where
<Mmm, these transient blemishes... more often red than other
colours, are almost always due to either water quality issues or
bullying by tankmates>
That is the part that is confusing me. I have obsessively looked over
the fish every day and can only find the spots on the pectoral fin. The
fish went through a 6 week quarantine and had been in my main 100g reef
display for a little over 6 weeks before I noticed any spots. All other
fish have gone through a similar QT period and have no noticeable
blemishes. The only additions in the past 2 months have been a few new
Acros. I have a cycled hospital tank up and running in case I need to
treat but I don't want to subject the fish to any unnecessary
treatment. The tang does swim along the front glass picking off algae
and when doing so he constantly hits his pectoral fin against the
glass. Could this or brushing against rocks cause the tip of the fin to
become damaged like this?
Other than the spot the fish looks great and is acting and eating
What would you recommend I do going forward?
<I'd place a useful cleaner organism: Read here:
and the linked files above>
If it is a parasite I will let the tank go fallow for 6 to 8 weeks and
treat the fish accordingly. I am hoping that isn't the case but I
will do what I have to.
<I would not move nor treat this fish>
Tank parameters: Ammonia-0 Nitrite-0 Nitrate-1-2
<How are you keeping NO3 this low. Many chemical filtrants express
themselves as you describe... toxicity>
Ph-8.2 Ca-425 Alk-9.2 Mag-1350 Phosphate-less than .2
Tank Inhabitants: 1 Yellow tang, 2 ocellaris clownfish, 1 neon goby, 2
<Oh! You already have cleaners... I take it this is some sort of
various snails and crabs, various corals Again, thank you for you time,
it is much appreciated.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Yellow tang troubles 10/13/11
Thank you for your response. The blemishes are not red, they are white
and as they fade they turn more light pink.
<As I understood from your last email>
Would the diagnosis be the same with that information?
<Mmm, more of a guess than a diagnosis>
I have never noticed any of the other fish bullying the tang, in fact I
would say he is the bully of the tank and at time is a bit aggressive.
The filtration I use is a protein skimmer, 3 small bags of carbon which
I rotate changing weekly, and a small amount of GFO in a reactor
changed approximately monthly, all located in a 40G sump. The only
other thing I do the keep NO3 down is weekly 15-20% water changes.
Would any of this be an issue?
<Shouldn't be... the GFO... might>
The shrimp are Lysmata amboinensis.
<Ahh, my fave>
Thank you so much for your help.
<Certainly welcome. BobF>
Surgeonfishes: Tangs for Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available
by Robert (Bob) Fenner