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FAQs about Yellow-Eye, Kole Tangs, Compatibility

Related Articles: Kole Tangs, Ctenochaetus,

Related FAQs: Kole Tangs 1, Kole Tangs 2, & Kole Identification, Kole Behavior, Kole Selection, Kole Systems, Kole Feeding, Kole Disease, Kole Reproduction, & Ctenochaetus Tangs 1Ctenochaetus Tangs 2, & Ctenochaetus Identification, Ctenochaetus Behavior, Ctenochaetus Compatibility, Ctenochaetus Selection, Ctenochaetus Systems, Ctenochaetus Feeding, Ctenochaetus Disease, Ctenochaetus Reproduction, & Surgeons In General, Tang ID, Selection, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease,

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Kole Tang vs. Mimic Tang – 12/09/14
Dear Wet Web Crew,
<<Hey DC…Eric here>>
I am in the process of slowly stocking my 200 gallon reef tank. I currently have a yellow tang, Kole tang, tiny hippo tang, a pair of ocellaris clowns, a radiant wrasse and pink margin fairy wrasse. All are quite healthy and get along reasonably well.
My newest attempted addition is an Acanthurus chronixis, just starting to turn from his half black angel mimic phase.
It's a beautiful golden brown and perhaps the Kole tang is jealous of his beauty because he was instantly on the mimic tang with tail beatings.
<<Does happen…though I have kept as many as five Tangs from ‘four different genera’ in a system somewhat larger than yours. And I currently have ‘seven’ Zebrasoma flavescens in my 375g reef display that have been ‘getting along’ for the past 6-7 months. Many factors play in to having success here, such as method/order of introduction, differences in size (or lack of) of the individuals, their individual personalities…and a good measure of luck. Something else I think can make a big difference re aggressiveness is how well the fishes are fed on a daily basis>>
I put the mimic in an acclimation box attached to the side of the tank and kept him there three days. After what appeared to be disinterest by the Kole, I let him out only to have the tail beatings begin again. He is once again in the acclimation box.
<<Mmm…perhaps it might work better to reverse roles here and put the aggressor in “time out” for a while>>
How long can I keep him in the box?
<<Reference my comment just previous>>
How long before I give this up as a lost cause?
<<Up to you…but if the aggression isn’t causing any real physical damage (i.e. – more show than fight), you may want to put the Mimic in the tank for a day or two to gauge if things are going to settle down>>
Final question, would it pay to put the Kole in the box and let the mimic out
<<This is what I would try. The Kole is ‘established,’ it can be beneficial to remove that advantage though still no guarantee>>
and if so for what length of time?
<<Seven to ten days should do to give the Mimic time to settle in and become ‘comfortable’ (assuming the Yellow Tang doesn’t take up the fight in the Kole’s absence)…and better in my opinion if you can place the Kole in a separate system “out of sight” during this time. It may turn out these two individuals will never get along, but I think you are doing what you need to do to try to make it work>>
Thanks in advance for your always excellent advice.
<<Happy to share…EricR>>
Re: Kole Tang vs. Mimic Tang – 12/10/14

Thanks for the input...
<<Quite welcome>>
I will switch them out tomorrow and see how it goes (I have a 24 gallon quarantine set up but I think it might be too small for the Kole....he's about 5 inches long....I could put him in there instead of the acclimation box if you think it's OK...the QT is fully cycled for years with live rock, live sand and a pile of xenias)...
<<The 24g tank will work just fine for the short period the tang will be in there >>
Thanks again, DC
<<And again, quite welcome… EricR>>

Maroon Clownfish injured after being stuck in rocks     3/7/12
Hello All,
First, a little background on my system:  I have a 8 year old female Maroon Clownfish in an established 55 gallon SPS/LPS reef with a 30 gallon sump/refugium.
<La Regina... the Queen>
My parameters are as follows:
Temp: 78
Ph: 8.3
SG: 1.026
NO2: 0.0 ppm
NO3: 0.0 ppm
NH3: 0.0 ppm
PO4: 0.0 ppm
<How are these last two rendered thus?>
Alk: 10 dKH
Ca: 440 ppm
Mag: 1300 ppm
Other occupants in the tank as follows:
2 - 3 year old male Maroon Clownfish
Midas Blenny
Six-Line Wrasse
Kole Tang
Mandarin Dragonet
2 Cleaner Shrimp, 2 Peppermint Shrimp
Long Tentacle Anemone (Hosting both Clownfish)
Multiple snails and Red Tip Hermits
With the exception of the Tang, all have been living together for months and getting along fine.  I introduced the Tang about two weeks ago.  At the time I placed the Tang in the tank, I had a Jewel Damsel that harassed the Tang relentlessly. 
<As they will>

That same day, I removed the Damsel and, in the process, rearranged the rockwork.  Thereafter, the Tang found a nice niche between two rocks where he could hide.  It's big enough for him to turn around in, but not really big enough for the large female Maroon to squeeze into.  Since the Tang was added to the tank and the Damsel removed, there has been no aggression between the remaining occupants.
Last night, the female Maroon managed to follow the Tang into his rock cave.  I saw her in there with the Tang, and they seemed to be getting along fine.
<Ah, no>
 I'm fairly certain she could not figure out how to get out of the tight spot she was in, as she did not come out to sleep with the male Maroon in their anemone where she normally does. 
When I looked in on them this morning, the female Maroon was ragged looking, and scraped up, with scales missing on her side, rough patches of skin, and ragged fins.  I'm guessing she probably wound up scraping against the rocks last night trying to get out, although I suppose it's possible the Tang may have acted aggressively over her occupying his space.
<Oh yes. Have been spiked by this Ctenochaetus (a fave food fish item of spearfishers in its range)... Very painful>
In any case, is there anything I can do to help her heal?
<Just the usual good care... water quality, nutrition>
  She refused to eat this morning, but was still swimming around.  She was hanging out on the opposite side of the tank from her anemone, which is also slightly unusual.  Obviously, maintaining water quality is important, but is there anything else I can do?
Thank you very much for your time and assistance,
<IF you have another established system of size... and great skill w/ nets (plural), I'd move the Kole. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Maroon Clownfish injured after being stuck in rocks – 3/7/12
I just ran home from work to check on her.  I wanted to make sure she wasn't being harassed or further injured by anything.  The Kole Tang has left her alone as far as I can tell.  She has settled near her anemone and her mate again.  The Tang seems to understand her territory, and avoids the area.
 Based on her injuries, it seems as though she was scraping against the rocks quite a bit, as there are significant abrasions on her right side.  Her left side is less affected.
I test using Elos test kits, although my phosphate kit is API.  I doubt the 0 level of phosphate simply because I do have some amount of algae growth off and on, but that was the reading I got from the kit.
I know that the Tangs can be aggressive at times, but this Kole Tang appears fairly mild-mannered.  Even when the Damsel was attacking him (at less than half his size), he never did fight back, just tried to get away.  I have not yet seen either the Tang or Maroon chasing each other or anyone else in the tank.
<... really not enough room for both of these fishes here>
I doubt I could get at the Kole to remove him as he stays hidden much of the time.  There is substantial rockwork in my tank.  I'm fairly certain moving rock around to get him out would just cause more stress to everyone.  Since he's not actively pursuing the Maroon, I'm not certain he's a serious threat at the moment, but I will definitely keep an eye on him.
I'm planning a water change once I get home from work.  I'm sad to see one of my critters injured and just wanted to be sure I was doing all I can.  I do appreciate your help.
I've attached a photo of my Maroon's worst injuries.  There are some algae marks and scratches on the tank glass, but I think you can get the general idea.
Thank you again,
<Welcome. BobF>

Best Tank for a Kole Tang and Eibli Angel 1/7/11
Dear Crew,
I recently purchased a 3" Kole Tang and an Eibli Angel from a fellow reefer. They are in a quarantine with live rock right now. In your opinion, which placement would be best for each fish?
1. A 180 gallon reef with 30 gallon sump refugium, about 120 pounds of liverock, and a deep sand bed. The system contains the following fish: Regal Tang, One-Spot Foxface, pair of Ocellaris Clowns, Coral Beauty, Flame Angel, Tailspot Blenny, Bicolor Blenny, Pink-Spotted Goby, and a Mandarin.
<I'd place the Centropyge here... but not the Tang... too likely it will face conflicts w/ the present Surgeon and Rabbitfish>
2. A 90 gallon clownfish anemone tank with about 75 pounds of liverock, a 15 gallon sump refugium, and a deep sand bed. It will contain a pair of Black Ocellaris, a pair of Perculas, a pair of Pink Skunks and a few BTA's. I haven't purchased any of the Clowns yet, so I could leave out a pair if you think both fish would be better placed here and if you think the tank would be overstocked with the eight fish.
<And the Tang here>
Thanks for all your help both with my own personal questions and through what I learn from reading about other people's experiences.
<Certainly welcome. Bob Fenner>

Odd Kole Tang Issue  3/13/10
<Hi Spencer>
I have had this Kole for a bit over six months now and he has been awesome.
<A great fish!>
Eating every type of food I offer (Mysis, Formula One, and Formula Two).
<Try to lean more towards the veggie end of these if you can.. maybe skip the F1 and swap for some New Life Spectrum>
Today I noticed this really bizarre spike or bone sticking out from its caudal peduncle region, right before the caudal fin.
<I see this>
It protrudes out about 1/2 a centimetre on both sides as if the fish has been punctured through.
There is no red area around the wound,
<It's not a wound>
or any type of puss seeping. In fact, it appears as if this is causing the fish no harm at all.
<It is not>
He ate like a hound dog this morning. I have taken a few pictures and they are jpegs attached in .zip form. What could this possibly be?
<This is clearly seen in these photos. Ever wondered why these are called 'Surgeon Fish'? This is the 'scalpel' that all Surgeons have, and is one of the identifiers that help place each species into a genus. This Ctenochaetus species has a single retractable scalpel on each side of the caudal peduncle. For some reason this fish has it's scalpel in 'out' mode.
Why? Maybe as a defence/ offence showing to another fish in the system>.
My system is a 90g assorted reef with a 40g sump and about 90lbs of LR. I do a 30g water change every two weeks, and maintain good water parameters. He shares his home with: (2) Percs, Hippo Tang, Potters Wrasse, Mandarin, Chalk Bass, Algae Blenny
<This one....>
, and an assortment of shrimp, crabs and snails.
<No worries..>
Spencer Hall
<Simon><<Is an injury to the one "tang"... I see there is a follow up... RMF>>

Kole Tank Oddity  3/13/10
Scratch that fellas, I did some more reading and found it (
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/besttgsreefs.htm), thanks again.
<Too late Spencer I just finished replying!>
<Simon><<No treatment per se... Ctenochaetus are part of the Acanthurids that can exsert or retract their caudal peduncle spines (as opposed to the genus Naso for instance, where they are always "out"). This may or not heal on its own accord. RMF>>

Re: Kole Tank Oddity... not a good "sharer" with AEBs, same eco-niche     3/14/10
Thanks Simon.
<No problem Spencer>
I appreciate the response. It makes sense because he always seems to be going after the Blenny and he's a pretty big Blenny.
<Yes, these fishes are not compatible>
I am assuming this is because they share a natural food source?
<Yes, 'niche'>
Although, I have <read?> a lot about the Kole and they are mainly detritivores?
<They will eat algaes as well, and do graze the same places as the Salarias/ Atrosalarias Blennies>
(sorry to be asking question inside statements)
<No worries!>
Thanks again

Kole Tang I'm looking into purchasing a Kole Tang that's about 3" long. At the present time, I've already got a Hepatus Tang in the tank that's about the same size. I've seen conflicting reports on how well these two fish will get along in a 75 gallon tank. Please give me your opinion. <Should be fine... both not terribly aggressive species... good size difference... My opinions on the family, genera, species are posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tangs,.htm and the links beyond> It's also possible that I could get a 2 1/2" Kole instead. <Go with the larger one. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Larry Breit

Kole Tang Placement, Care Mr. Fenner, I love your CMA and have learned more from it than from any other single source. I'm new to the hobby, and have had my 55 gallon running for ~10 weeks. It's F/O, with a medium Kole, a medium Pacific Blue, a small Gold-Striped Maroon Clown, a blue damsel, and a common cleaner shrimp. T=79-80F, SG=1.021, NH3=0, NO2- =0, NO3- = 10-15. My Kole was my second fish, so has been here for 5-6 weeks. About a week ago he put his barbs out, and I have not seen them retracted since. He swims frantically, and spends a lot of time sideswiping the glass. I can hear his barbs clink outside the aquarium, but he shows no aggression towards other fish. This started about 10 days after the arrival of the clownfish, but what worries me is that he has recently damaged his face, and now he looks somewhat like a burn victim. Is this a fish that has had enough of captivity? <Hmm, perhaps this specimen has... the species itself are excellent generally. A couple of things re Ctenochaetus: http://wetwebmedia.com/ctenocha.htm I would place the genus later in new systems... only after a system has been running a few to several months... and do you have live rock in this system? I would definitely place this to improve water quality and provide sufficient forage for your Kole: http://wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm> Is there anything I can do? Thanks VERY much, John Sanders <Please do read through our site, place the live rock, and try to be patient. Bob Fenner>

Kole tang Hi Bob, I wrote to you earlier today asking about protein skimmers for our 46ga. bow front. Now I will get into why we decided we should get one. I'll recap our setup:  <Good>  Magnum 350 canister filter, approx. 10 lbs live rock, Blue Damsel, Percula Clown, Yellow tang, and a Kole tang. We also have 3 hermit crabs, and 4 turbo snails. The PH is at 8.1-8.2. Not sure any other levels. We have recently been taking our water to the LFS and getting it tested. They say that the water is fine as far as nitrates and nitrites. <Would invest in my own test kits... some values change with time, moving the samples... What to do if store is closed?> Everyone in the tank seems to doing great except our newest addition, the Kole tang. We've had him for three weeks. The first couple of days, there was some tension between the yellow and Kole.  <Very typical> After that they were friends, eating from the clip of food, and swimming around just fine. Then, gradually, the Kole looked like some of the skin was coming off of his nose area. I thought maybe he rubbed a rock the wrong way. But as each day went by, the area started getting bigger. Now, along with the nose area, he is getting pea-sized brown spots all over his body. And it seems that a 'layer of skin' (for lack of better words) is coming off of his eyes, and they look cloudy. All of his fins are full and healthy looking. He has a big appetite, and isn't shy. Sometimes when he is still, he will start to twitch and then swim aimlessly, jerking as he swims. <I see> His diet includes marine flakes, frozen brine shrimp, green marine algae (seaweed), and the brown algae in the tank. Our LFS gave us some Maracyn to use in the tank. He explained that it was made for fresh water, but worked fine in salt. Not knowing what else to do, we used it in our tank, and it hasn't helped. <No... not bacterial in origin.> I searched WWM for an explanation, but haven't come up with anything yet. If you can help, please let me know. Thanks, Jason <The major "cause" in this erosive condition is likely nutritional, and principally having to do with iodine... or co-factors related to its uptake/utilization. I encourage you to supplement these fishes foods with a vitamin preparation that includes "iodine" (soak it a few minutes before offering), and consider growing some Caulerpa (a genus of Green macroalgae) in your tank, a sump... for a more natural source of this element. This will work, but may take weeks to months to reverse the effects... the general description of "environmental disease" you describe so well for this Ctenochaetus strigosus is "HLLE", Head and Lateral Line Erosion... There are materials, FAQs about this condition posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com site now that you know the name. Bob Fenner>

Re: Starting again Mike, Took your advice and added some hermits etc. (no Kole yet ... mixed views in my LFS, some people say no, they are very aggressive with other tangs, other people say the opposite!). Pulled out loads of Caulerpa, tank looks good. Signs of it beginning to grow back but I'm cutting the food down to see if the tangs etc will have a go at the fronds as they start to emerge. Thanks for the advice ... good stuff as ever. Brian <Brian, I am glad to hear that everything is starting to work out.  Kole tangs can be aggressive sometimes but, I have found that generally they are not.  Remember, there is more than one way to keep a reef tank and that there are many different opinions out there.  Happy to hear all is getting better. MikeB>

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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