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FAQs about Yellow-Eye, Kole Tangs, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: Kole Tangs, Ctenochaetus,

Related FAQs: Kole Tangs 1, Kole Tangs 2, & Kole Identification, Kole Behavior, Kole Compatibility, Kole Selection, Kole Systems, 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,

Live rock, filamentous algae... live better than anything else.

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Kole Tang      6/1/18
Good evening Crew!
I have a 60G shallow tank, 60lbs of mature liverock with a very little bit of green hair algae growth. I've had my Kole Tang for almost 6months now, and I'm getting increasingly concerned over what I presume to be the fish's "thinness".
<Not much space to grow food in a 60>
I've had a Kole Tang before for years in my previous tank, and I'd say this particular fish's behavior is normal. He eats aggressively, and I typically feed frozen Mysis, Spirulina, brine, Spirulina, etc...
switching daily and feeding at least five times a week (if I'm out for the weekend) if not every day. The fish will consume until finally he ignores it and lets it fall to my Yellow Watchman Goby. I believe if the fish was still hungry, he'd continue to eat.
<Usually, yes. Six mo.s in captivity though... do you suspect intestinal parasites?>
On weekends where I can manage two feedings, I've fed when the lights first come on and then again at night, thinking he'd pack on a little more meat on the bones, but I haven't noticed a difference. Bottom line, when I feed... there's never an instance where this fish won't eat... he's always there consuming. Do you have any recommendations for me? Would an algae clip with nori be a good option?
<I do have a strong recommendation; for you to add a good quality pelleted food to your daily offerings. Hikari and Spectrum are my fave brands. These foods add a good deal of mass and food value compared w/ what you're currently using>
I don't think it makes a difference to my question, but the tank is lightly stocked with only two Picasso Clowns, the Watchman Goby, a Canary Wrasse, and then my clean-up crew.
<Good to have the data. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Kole Tang       6/1/18

Hi Bob,
I thought the same thing, adding a good high protein pellet. I've offered a small Spectrum pellet of appropriate size and the Tang has taken the odd one, but it mostly goes to the goby or else eventually my sandbed. Perhaps I should try a different kind?
<Yes I would... and mix in right before feeding with other types of foods in an increasing percentage>
How would I determine intestinal parasites?
<Mmm; sampling of feces, examining under a 'scope... is best>
Aside from looking skinny, there's nothing else that appears out of the ordinary.
<This is a bit of diagnosis itself. Bob Fenner>

Yellow Eye Tang Feeding       9/14/14
Hi Crew. Thank you for maintaining this site.
<Ah; welcome. It is for you that we do such>
I have now had my 96 gallon tank for a year. The system has stabilized and water parameters are consistently good (weekly tests with DKH 7, Calcium 360-380, Nitrate 0, Ammonia 0 Phosphate 0 and Ph 8.2-8.4). I bought the tank last year fully stocked with SPS and leather corals. Some of the SPS died off after the move but the leathers and soft corals are growing nicely. I change 5-8 gallons of water weekly. I have had a problem with Cyanobacteria so after reading Bob's book I increased the water movement in the tank and adjusted the lighting. The Cyano is now isolated to 1-2 rocks in the tank.
I have had 2 damsels and 2 wrasses for the past year and decided to buy a tang. After a lot of research I thought that a Yellow Eye Tang would be good for the tank with relatively easy care.
<The entire genus Ctenochaetus is exemplary for aquarium use>
I have had the Tang for two weeks now and can't get him to eat Nori (or any other type of seaweed). I tried putting the Nori on a clip but the water movement (necessary to kill the Cyano) quickly tore it up and sent it spinning around the tank. I turned off all the power fans and the pump but this seemed to send the tang into hiding. The damsels and wrasses flock to the clip and feast away. I tried feeding the other fish first (flake food…they never tire of it) but this does not seem to help. The tang is shy and stays hidden in the rock structure. He does cruise around periodically and nibble on the rock. He neither touches the seaweed clip nor shows any interest in it.
<I'd try other types (Divisions) of algae... Kombu; one of the commercially prepared brands perhaps... Ocean Nutrition, Two Little Fishies...>
I have the following questions: 1) how long can I safely leave the fans and pumps off when I feed via the clip?
<A half hour or so should be fine>
2) Can you suggest a stiffer vegetable (iceberg lettuce?)
<Not terrestrial greens... these have little useful nutrition and often are laden with fertilizer/s>
so I can leave the food in the tank (with the fans on) and hope that the tang finds it and feeds?
3) Do I need to do any supplemental feeding of the tang or can I just let him fend for himself?
<Does the fish appear to be getting thin/ner? It's likely feeding on what is in your tank and doing fine>
To the naked eye it does not appear that I have a lot of algae in the tank for the tang to eat but I don't know this for sure since there are probably smaller bits around.
<Ah yes. I would not be concerned unless the fish appeared very skinny. Bob Fenner>
Re: Yellow Eye Tang Feeding     9/15/14

Thanks! I will keep an eye on him. Brian
<Please do report back your further observations, findings. BobF>

Kole Tang Feeding Strike -- 02/22/10
Greetings Crew!
<Hello Angela>
Thanks for your commitment of time and knowledge!
<No problem>
I have a Kole Tang that is not eating prepared food and wanted to see if you could offer some advice.
<Okey dokey!>
The tank is a 75 gallon reef (6 months old) and the Tang has been in quarantine for 2 weeks.
<Good practice and well done!>
During that time it would not accept foods although I did offer pieces of live rock with Ocean Nutrition green algae tied to it. I should have insisted to see it eat at the store.
<Yes, you should have. A pre-requisite for selecting fishes, this>
Upon inspection, there appears to be no damage to the mouth - it grazes constantly.
I cut the quarantine period short and placed in the display 3 nights ago in hopes that it would eat there.
<I fully understand. Two weeks is sufficient for most fishes anyway, and these fishes do not fare well with extended quarantines so I think you should be ok here>
I've included water parameters just in case:
<Thank you for this>
SG- 1.025
pH 8.3
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate- reads as 0, API test kit <your animals need some>
dKH 8
Calcium 400
Temp. 78 degrees F
<All good!>
I have tried the following foods, none of which were even tasted:
Frozen Mysis Shrimp
<This is what I would expect it to take first>
Ocean Nutrition Green Algae on clip and tied to live rock
<In my experience, for some reason it takes these fishes a long time to recognise this as food>
Formula 1 pellet
<Of the two 'formulas' I like no. 2 best, since meaty foods are often fed via frozen anyway, this balances things out a bit for the herbivores>
Chopped Frozen squid, shrimp, and scallop
<lots of meat here -- too much>
Instant Ocean Omnivore Marine Blend Gel Food (free sample).
No serious health issues so far and Tang appears to be a model specimen. Do you have any suggestions as to what additional foods to try? My first thought was NLS pellets but I'm not sure that Kole Tangs will even accept floating food.
<I would try these, but this fish is mostly detrivorous, and will get much of it's nourishment from your system as a whole, if you have plenty live rock and sand for it to go over. A better indication is how the fish looks, seems -- bad or unhealthy specimens are easy to spot becoming thin quickly, particularly around the face. If he looks nice and fat and alert then I would not be too concerned, he will follow the lead of the others soon enough and start to eat what you are offering him>
Again, thanks so much for your thoughts!
<You have them!>

Re: Kole Tang Feeding Strike  2/24/10
Thank you so much for your kind, accurate, professionalism.
<It's a pleasure to be helping!>
Today the Tang started eating frozen Mysis. <Yes> I do believe that often times new fish are down right scared in new systems and that the key is to offer a wide range of foods in small amounts often.
<Scared, yes certainly. A wide range of foods? Yes I believe so, but sometimes when you first are getting fishes to feed it can pay to persevere with just one for a while, depending on circumstance>.
I will purchase the NLS pellets also, probably a great food to keep on hand.
<Indeed it is>
Would you recommend keeping the Ocean Nutrition algae in the system even though I have not witnessed it eating?
<No, remove this if it is not being eaten. Do not leave uneaten food in the system at any time.>
I have heard that the Julian Sprung Sea Veggies purple algae is very tempting for fish as well. Any experience with this product?
<No, because it is just sheets of seaweed. If you go to your Chinese supermarket you should be able to find packets of Sushi Nori, essentially the same stuff, for a third of the price>
Again, thanks so much for your wisdom!
<No problem!>

Kole tang, contractions, apostrophes... learn them, use them, live them! Heeee!   3/8/07 hey there guys <Jeff> I recently purchased a Kole tang and im <Im?> trying to get him to eat.  I dont <don't?> have any growth on my rock yet, but I just bought new lights and the rocks are bare. He ignores the flakes and seems to just pick at the barren rocks. <What does this Ctenochaetus eat in the wild Jeff?> Also on a side note I purchased some dried seaweed- two kinds, and also raw shrimp.  I was planning on cutting them all up and freezing them in cubes.  Is this a good idea? <It's a good idea to search, read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ctenofdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Kole Tang Eating habits and LR Cycling Hello there, I have a funny question...being a guy (last time I checked) I like to laugh at things gaseous, smelly and loud...so in a related topic, I noticed that my Kole Tang eats my other fishes' poop (yellow tang, 4 damsels - all provide the Kole with freebies). Now, one of my dogs has been doing this for years, with no obvious health consequences other than bad teeth and horrendous dog breath, but I was wondering if this is unhealthy for a fish. <<Interesting question... for your dog, this is only a throw-back to the wolf gene all dogs carry. Wolves often bring food home to the den only to offer it back to the pups in a semi-digested form. Fish on the other hand... who knows. This is an observed and documented behavior in several species of fish, and is really quite normal.>>  Is this behavior normal for a Kole Tang.  <<Not sure about the Kole tank in particular, but I'm not surprised.>>  I alternate feedings of Formula 2 and Nori everyday with Mysis shrimp (when I feed the anemones and polyps), and I see it grazing on the algae covered rocks and glass. It constantly has a full stomach (of what... I hasten to guess).  <<let's not go there... oops, too late.>>  My other question concerns my LR. I put in my "pre-cured rock" after ammonia readings were <0.1 and three weeks of re-curing in a 40 and 20 gallon bin with skimmer and two power heads. It went into my established (for about 10 years) 55 gallon with fish. I worried that weekend, and feared that I put it in too quickly...I did not test for nitrites, foolishly. Today, in the late afternoon, I tested the ammonia, which came up as zero, or close to it from what I can tell off the color chart. It hasn't been a month, but is there a chance that the ammonia will spike up again or re-cycle?  <<I don't think so, you are likely fine.>>  I have an Aqua-C Urchin in a ten gallon sump, built-in overflow, bio-balls, Chemi-pure, and two sweeping power heads in the tank. Do you think that the tank was capable of taking care of the stress from adding 45lbs of rock at one time since it had already been through its cycling, many moons ago? <<Well, that and you did pre-cure the rock...>>  All inhabitants are doing fine, with no casualties since January, except for my cinnamon clown who thought it was superman and leaped out last week...probably got disgusted at the sight of the Kole eating poop. <<perhaps.>> Thanks, Randy M. Yniguez, MA <<Cheers, J -- >> 

How often to feed Kole Tang? Hi.   <Hello!> I have a 55 gal. reef with 50 lbs. of live rock.  The rock has quite a bit of hair and bubble algae.  I just bought a Kole Tang.  I know he will eat he hair and may help a little with the bubble. <Maybe. Fish don't read books very often so they don't always respond to things the way we think they will/should but alas...time will tell. I hope that you're right> My question is, how often should I supplement his diet with Formula Two if I expect him to successfully graze?   <I suggest that you consider growing some Gracilaria in the tank (if possible) and feed this guy with the Formula 2 a couple to three times a week. You might consider adding Selcon or any vitamin supplement that contains a stabilized form of vitamin-C to his rations. You can also feed Nori from the Asian section of your supermarket. Try to get the dried kind instead of baked. If he really does chow down on the bubble and hair algae I would feed even less until the nuisance stuff is gone> I don't want him to get lazy.  My guess is every other day, but I need a "gut check." <You're on the right track!> Note - I also have two clowns and a watchman goby that I feed once a day with a variety of frozen foods (Formula B, prawns, clams squid.).  I expect the Kole will eat that as well. <Guaranteed! They need protein as well> Thank you, Rob Fox <No problem! David Dowless>

Feeding a Finicky Kole Hi guys how are you? <Doin' Great! Scott F. with you today!> Question for you , What are some recipes for the creation of  good fish food. I have a Kole tang that is losing weight and getting bone thin. What can I do to bring him back to a healthy weight. He is in a 72 gallon reef tank with about 70 pounds of rock he grazes all day but there is insufficient algae for him. <Well, one of the easiest things you could do for him would be to purchase or "cultivate" some "feeding rocks" with have lots of microalgae on them, and rotate them into his tank a couple of times a week to supplement his regular feeding.> Another concern I have is he attracts ich easily I battled ich by taking all the fish out of the tank and setting them in a hospital tank for a month, they had all lost the parasites after a couple of treatments of copper. Reading a article you have on ich I decided to break down the 72 gallon tank and give it a cleaning, using about half of the existing water I also removed half of the aragonite sand bed permanently and the other half  was washed and returned to the tank. The only other thing I noticed is my other fish are not effected by the parasites no visible white dots or white spots on their fins. Could you please tell me another way of possibly treating my main tank and bringing my tang back to health. <Well, the "easiest" way (I guess "easiest" is a relative term here!) is to let the tank run fallow, without fishes, for about a month, to allow time for the parasite population to crash for lack of hosts (fish). This method is quite effective at reducing or eliminating the parasites from your tank> I have heard Nori is good but I can't find it anywhere and I have tried to feed them romaine lettuce but he doesn't even touch it. <I wouldn't waste your time with lettuce. It really has very little nutritional value and can potentially leach lots of nitrates into the water...Nori is available at most Asian markets; it's used, among other things, for sushi. Another good food for tangs in general is the macroalgae Gracilaria parvispora. Called "Ogo" in the Islands- it's probably THE food for most herbivorous tangs...You could get it from places like Indo-Pacific Sea Farms in Kona, or Mary Middlebrook's site in CA. One caveat, however- the Kole is the most "detritivorous" type of tang- versus the more herbivorous Zebrasoma species. As such, it does rasp algae and diatoms from rocks and substrate, but it will also derive a substantial portion of its diet from typical prepared fare, such as Mysis, "Formula" foods, etc. It may try the Gracilaria, but usually will take prepared foods over the macroalgae...> I feed them blood worms Flake food with Spirulina angel formula also dried pellet food but they don't seem to like it anymore. Thank you Stan N. Edmonton Ab Canada <Stan, do try the frozen foods mentioned above...they are an excellent dietary supplement! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Kole Tang Recovery (3/6/04) Hi Everyone, <Steve Allen tonight.>   I have written you in the past regarding my Kole Tang and his battle with ich.  I treated him with Cupramine for the last fourteen days in a QT.  His problem now is that he looks terrible.  His skin is blotchy and he is really pale.  The good news is that he has ended his hunger strike. <Always encouraging.> I am feeding him foods soaked in Selcon.  <Good.> Will this help him look normal again or can I treat him with anything (antibiotic)?  Thanks. <Sorry for the delay. One of the crew is out and I'm helping clear his inbox. I suspect your Tang is suffering from the rigors and stress of his illness and treatment rather than a bacterial infection. It is wise to enrich his diet. I'd add a quality vitamin too. Also make sure he gets a lot of vegetable matter. Sea Veggies on a clip would be great and can even be obtained at Petco these days. Even better would be fresh Gracilaria if you can get it somewhere. It might even be worth ordering some of this "Tang Heaven" at www.ipsf.com  As for antibiotics, I would defer unless he appears to have a bacterial infection. Pristine water conditions will help immensely.>

Kole Without Appetite? Hi Everyone, <Hey there! Scott F. with you today!> I bought a Kole Tang about a week and a half ago.  I brought him home and he began to eat.  A couple of days later, he developed ich.  I treated him with Cupramine in a QT.  Since then, he won't eat.   <Not uncommon with tangs. They don't always do well with it. I've experienced this myself many times. Be very careful when treating with copper, as these fish have delicate digestive fauna, which can be damaged by prolonged exposure to copper. This will often diminish their appetite, among other things. I'd follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter, and monitor the copper level continuously during the process. If the fish shows serious distress, do discontinue copper use. Often, once the copper level is lowered, the tang will begin to feed again. In the future, Formalin-based treatments might be a better route if you keep tangs.> I have tried everything, from frozen brine shrimp to flakes to Formula Two frozen to Nori on a clip.  Is this a result of the copper?  What else should I offer him?  Thanks.    <Well, besides lowering the copper concentration at some point, you could try a piece of fresh live rock for him to "graze" on. Sometimes, this can tempt an otherwise fussy fish to eat. Also, consider the use of a liquid vitamin supplement, such as Vita Chem, administered right into the water Observe the fish carefully. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Feeding a Kole tang Dear WWM crew, Adam & MacL! << Blundell here. >> Thanks for your help. My hair algae is receding, thanks to the Kole tang.  << Wonderful fish. >> He is fat and healthy looking. I QT'd him for 2 days and then impatiently introduced him in to the display out of frustration while dealing with the hair algae issue. It's almost 4 weeks and I seem to have lucked out.  Unfortunately, I fear that the tang may succumb to HLLE! He has shown no interest in Nori or Mysis or pacific plankton or pygmy angel formula or marine angel formula that I feed the clown and the fridmani Pseudochromis. << Wow, try live brine or Cyclop-eeze. Very rare for fish to turn them down. >> All he eats is hair algae! Any suggestions? I'm going to try soaking the Nori in garlic. << I don't think the garlic will help. Also, if he is fat and happy, I wouldn't worry too much. >> He is still frightened of me. although after a few minutes he will come out and go about his business. He seems to be more observant of new things.  It takes him longer to come out if there are two people or if I move a chair to a different spot and sit in it, turn on lights that are not usually turned on etc. ???? << Typical. >> Thanks, Narayan << Blundell >>

Feeding a Kole tang continued Thanks Adam. But regarding your statement that if the tang is fat and happy then leave him alone, I'm just concerned that he is not getting a varied diet... << Yes that is a concern.  But when most fish get malnutrition their behavior changes.  They become lethargic and irritable.  A varied diet is best, but I still wouldn't worry. >> Narayan <<  Blundell  >>

Kole Yellow Eye, feeding stones I read your article on wetwebmedia.com and I was particularly interested in the section on feeding. I have a yellow eye that caught ich but I was able to treat him in a quarantine tank for a few weeks. He has been back in my main 75 gallon reef tank for three weeks but seems to be on the skinny side and very pale. I was interested in the sentence that you stated "My favorite "gimmick" with these fishes is to utilize an algal covered "feeding stone" as a site for engendering food-taking behavior". What exactly is a feeding stone and where might I get one? If you have any other advice on getting him enough food would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Cauley <"Feeding stones" are actually made by the aquarist... either in an aquarium (sans algae eaters) or in other containers (like large jars near a window), but you won't want to wait to make these. Do look into buying some palatable macro-algae... either from an online vendor like Inland Aquatics or Indo-Pacific Sea Farms, or perhaps a local retailer or hobby-club member. Bob Fenner>

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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