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FAQs about the Yellow-Tail Blue, Palette, Hippo Tang Selection

Related Articles: The Genus Paracanthurus,

Related FAQs: Pacific YTB Tang FAQs 1Pacific YTB Tang FAQs 2, Pacific YTB Tang FAQs 3, Pacific YTB Tang FAQs 4, PYTB Tang IDPYTB Tang Behavior, PYTB Tang Compatibility, PYTB Tang Systems, PYTB Tang Feeding, PYTB Tang Disease, PYTB Tang 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

Introducing Additional Hippo Blue Tangs   2/24/19
Hello Bob -
<Howsit John?>
I've been able to successfully introduce, long-term, an additional (3) Yellow Tangs into a 265 gallon where an existing Yellow Tang resided.
<Ah, good>
I simply made sure that I introduced the new Yellow Tangs with the night (moon) lights on and made sure that the newly introduced Yellow Tangs were smaller than the established Yellow Tang. I kept a close eye on the tank for a few days and well fed the tank more than usual following it up with
an earlier than usual water change.
<Good technique>
What's your advice on my potential success for doing the same into a different 265 gallon where an established Hippo Blue Tang resides? I would likely introduce a group of 3 Hippo Blue Tangs, all smaller (likely 3" to 4") than the established Hippo Blue Tang who's maybe 5" to 6"), and again with the night (moon) lights on. From my observations of the Hippo Blue Tang, they seem to be one of least aggressive tangs that I've kept, so I am thinking that my chances might be good, but I am writing to the expert to
be more sure.
<You should be fine w/ the Paracanthurus additions as you list; I would place them all at once. Bob Fenner>
Re: Introducing Additional Hippo Blue Tangs   2/24/19

Thank you Bob!
<Welcome John>

Best Purchase Size for Blue Regal? Growth Rate?  5/20/11
Hey Crew!
It is possible that this information is available on your site somewhere, but after hours of researching seemingly every fish I'm considering, I opted for the direct line. I'll be making a trip up to Atlanta this weekend in hopes of finding and purchasing a Blue Regal,
<Paracanthurus, the tang I'll take it>
that is if all goes well and of course I can find a healthy specimen.
With plans to do so, my questions are:
1. Generally, what is the best purchase size for one of these Tangs?
<3-4 inches overall, though smaller ones can be quite healthy at times>
2. Locally, I have seen (as well as online) "tank raised" Blue Regals? Is this honest?
<Can, could be... they're wild-collected... as part of "the drop"... Oh, do see here re selection/stocking of this species: http://wetwebmedia.com/paracselfaqs.htm>
Or more of a "stretch"? When I think of tank raised, I think of a fish that has never seen the ocean.
<Mmm, that/this would be "tank-bred">
Collecting the specimen in the wild, holding it in a warehouse for months/longer, then distributing may certainly help the hardiness, but I don't consider that as accurate advertising...if there is a such thing anymore!
3. Generally again, what is the expected growth rate per year of a Blue Regal given well maintained water conditions and daily feedings and algae sheet availability?
<Can grow a good two inches in a first year...>
Thanks for the help and advice as always!
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

tank raised tangs 12/29/09
I have a local store selling "tank raised blue hippo tangs" (actually maricultured). However I haven't seen these guys available in years. Is there really a supplier of them, or is some supplier just pulling a fast one on my local store by telling them these guys are collected as larvae when they really aren't?
<Have never seen Paracanthurus sold as such, and where there's large-scale collection of post-settled larval fishes (mainly Polynesia as far as I'm aware), this Surgeonfish is rare IME... BobF>

Many Thanks For All Your Help, Again (And a ‘Q’ on Tang Selection) – 02/09/09 Dear All, <<Hey there Carolyn>> Just wanted to say thanks for all the help you've given me in my almost 1yr into the marine hobby - you've been invaluable! <<We are pleased to know this>> And now to the inevitable question - now that my system is stable I'm getting ready to add the tangs I've always wanted… <<Uh-oh [grin]… Bet I know how this is going to go>> The tank is 72 inches long and 24 inches deep (top to bottom) with a total volume of approx. 140 gallon (not including sump), not sure how much rock is in there now but it’s in an open formation towards the back of the tank to give plenty of swimming room (I practically dream of tangs...). <<The open space will certainly be a benefit with the fishes you so desire>> I'd like in an ideal world to keep a Sailfin, yellow and hippo tang together <<Mmm…>> but have concerns about eventual size of these fish. <<As do I…and is but one consideration. Even specimens that haven’t reached a “mature” size can express health and behavioral problems just from “growing up” in a too small/too crowded system>> Knowing that the hippo can reach 12 inches and the Sailfin 14-15 inches, is this just a bad idea from the start of do they inhabit different niches on the reef? <<Even a tank such as yours is too confining for adult specimens of either species, much less in there together. You could “get by” for a while with small specimens (keeping in mind my previous comments re “growing up”), but there are much more suitable choices available for “long term” care. The Yellow Tang is a fine choice, but I think better companion Tangs would be a medium-sized Acanthurus species of “moderate” temperament like A. japonicus or A. pyroferus (maybe even both!), and maybe a Ctenochaetus species like C. Tomini or C. strigosus. These are much more suitable for your tank size, in my opinion>> I'd add the tangs together after a good long period in QT, to hopefully help ease any territory issues, but am concerned about crowding given their ultimate size? <<Size, and attitude/behavior… Sailfin Tangs can become brutes when large, and Hippo Tangs are just darned twitchy…both of which are compounded when the environment is too small>> Ultimately it's my responsibility to give these animals the best home possible, but I value your opinions more than I can say. Carolyn <<If the long-term care/health/vitality of these fishes is your goal, then it is “my opinion” you should consider other choices than the Hippo and Sailfin Tangs. Feel free to write back and discuss further if you wish. Cheers, Eric Russell>>

Re: Many Thanks For All Your Help, Again (And a ‘Q’ on Tang Selection) – 02/10/09 Dear Eric, <<Hi Carolyn>> GAH, feared as much. <<Sorry mate>> Always makes me cringe when I hear of people squeezing a regal or Sailfin into a 75 gallon tank and claiming they'll re-home it when the animal gets too big (have just had to part with my two remaining discus and that was difficult enough!)... <<I much agree… More often than not, the “re-homing” to a larger system just never happens and the fish often live miserable and foreshortened lives>> Curses, but not to worry - would I be able to keep a small shoal of yellows in there (say 3, if all added at the same time)? <<Mmm, many are the hobbyists who have tried this, but I’ve only ever seen this work for any length of time in displays in excess of 300-gallons, and even then not always a success…this is not something I suggest you try in your 140g tank>> I can see my idea that my 6ft tank would negate any future upgrading was flawed (could always fit a 10-12ft'er in the garage ;)). <<Indeed… At least an 8-foot tank with enough depth and height to provide adequate space for a full-grown Sailfin Tang and full-grown Hippo/Regal Tang, plus other assorted livestock no doubt…something approaching 400-gallons or so should do [grin]>> On the plus side, leaving the regal and Sailfin out of the equation does open up numerous other fishy possibilities! <<Ah! Now there’s a positive spin!>> Carolyn <<Be chatting. EricR>>

Re: NovAqua dechlorinator question, and electrical concern, Paracanthurus sel. and roasted Nori...   12/1/08 Thank you so much for your help. I now feel confident in using the NovAqua product. I have 2 more questions to which I couldn't find an answer after browsing your website. <Sure> 1) I recently had a small accident. I accidentally left a hot heater in an empty bucket. The bucket also contained one of my pumps (I use it to mix salt). The heater touched the wiring of the pump and burned a small piece of the wiring. The actual electrical wiring is not exposed, but the rubber got burned. I am wondering if the pump is still safe to use (the burned wire is close to the actual pump and would go into the water) or would the burned rubber release chemicals that would kill my fish. <The burnt material should be fine chemically... the chance of an "electrical leak" can be easily checked with a small electrical meter... placing the probes in a container of water with the pump in place, plugged in> 2) I recently bought ROASTED Nori from a local Asian store. The store didn't have regular dried Nori, but they did have roasted Nori. There are no other additives, it's just roasted seaweed. Is roasted seaweed safe for fish? <Mmm, a qualified yes... the processing of roasting itself may have involved the use of oil/aromatic/s... You can likely see if this is the case by placing a bit of the Nori into water... to see if a "slick" issues forth from it> The reason I ask is because I just had a small (2") hippo tang die a day or so after feeding him this product. <Mmm, small Paracanthurus do often "die mysteriously"... A/the reason I am not a fan of folks dealing with such diminutive specimens of this species. See WWM...> I only had the tang for about 10 days, and he was always hiding, but he did eat. My water parameters are perfect, so I assume he died because he was just too young, unless of course it was the seaweed??? <I doubt it> Thanks again for your help. Eugene <Welcome my friend. BobF>

Tiny Blue Tang  11/7/05 Hello once again! <Hi there> I have a 29 gallon FOWLR Tank. I wanted to know, would it be "inhumane" to keep a Tiny Blue Tang in a system this small?? (Tiny= 1-1.5 inches now) Thanks so much. Jon <Mmm, ultimately, yes... per my value system. Bob Fenner> 

Blue Tang...Or...How To Overstock A 29 Gal. - 05/29/05 I have a 29gal reef tank that houses 2 percula clowns, a sixline wrasse and five green Chromis. Corals include candies, a red brain, several buttons polyps and mushrooms. <<You're pushing the stocking limits on this tank...might want to consider reducing the Chromis to three.>> Lighting consists of a 65 watt true actinic blue and a 65 watt 10000k day lamp. My question pertains to a blue tang. I know my tank is way too small to house a tang <<Then follow your gut and don't get one.>> but I want one so badly that I have made a deal with my LFS that I will buy a small one and trade it in when it becomes too big for another small tang. I would then keep doing this until I get a larger tank. Is this a stupid idea? <<Well since you ask <G>, I think this is a dreadful idea. Putting aside whether the LFS will remember/honor any such bargain...or whether you will "know" when the tang is "too big" (likely will die from stress long before)...what you are/will be putting the fish through is just dreadful. These fish are large, robust, and active...they need room to SWIM and GROW. You will be subjecting this fish to a stunted and greatly shortened life, please do reconsider. I couldn't recommend this fish if your tank was three times the size.>> Will this harm the fish or tang? <<The whole tank will suffer in the long term. Regards, Eric R.>>

Dory's Scared. What Now? (5/13/05) Hi there.  <Hi. Steve Allen with you tonight.>  I bought the famous Dory from "Finding Nemo" about 4 days ago because my wife really wanted it.  <Did you study the many difficulties of keeping this fish before you bought it? Let's start with the fact that it eventually needs to be in a tank of at least 120 gallons. From there we can move on to the fact that it is highly prone to marine ick and HLLE disease.>  Since it came it has been hiding under a rock, and I still haven't seen it eat.  <Typical. They're fraidy cats.>  All it does is hide and lay on one side day and night??  <They do have a tendency to lie on their sides and wedge themselves into crevasses when they're scared. It's like I child trying to make himself really small in a corner when he's scared.>  I'm a little bit concerned with it's behavior???? What do you think I should do? I do have 2 clown fish and 6 damsels in the 70gal tank. Thanks, Claudio  <Well, If I was this fish, I'd be scared to death if put into this tank full of bullies. If (and it's a big if) the Damsels leave it be, it may get up the nerve to come out and eat. It could be sick or unhealthy in some other way, perhaps cyanided or caught too small. How big is it? If it does not get up and about in a day or two, you should set up a quarantine tank and move it in there to try to stabilize it and feed it. Good luck.> 

Tiny Hippos Hi, We have a 200 gallon tank reef tank that has been setup for 3 months (and most live rock came from an existing tank). The only fish are a 3" Yellow Tang and 4 Green Chromis. They are still in quarantine in order to ensure the new tank was stable and free of any ich.  <Good> We would like to add 2 Hippo Tangs and have them grow up in the tank. Both our LFS and LiveAquaria have Tiny Hippos (body=3/4") in stock. <This IS small... but this species is quite hardy, caught, shipped at this size... providing they've been and kept fed> In fact this is the only size available. We have a cycled 20 gallon setup. If we quarantine them for 6 weeks and don't add the Yellow or Chromis to the big tank until the same time, would that size work out okay in the large system? <Mmm, if it were me, mine, I'd pH adjusted freshwater dip them on the way into quarantine, only keep them there (with some PVC pipe fittings to hide in) for two weeks... and then dip them again on the way to the main/display tank... this is all that is necessary with small Paracanthurus, and about all the stress they can take> We intend to feed both live algae red and Zooplex (with possibly flakes and/or the meaty mix we feed the others) a couple times a day (because of their size). Once in the big tank, they should have plenty of copepods and amphipods, etc. on the rocks as supplement because we have stocked both and they have multiplied like crazy while the tank has gone fallow. <Good> Would we be crazy to get 2 this size? <Nope> If you think it is okay to get them - should we do the usual freshwater dip pre-quarantine as small as they are? <Ahh! I've got to adopt my own suggestion to read all input before responding... Yes my friend. Bob Fenner>

Ich and medicine-sensitive FW fishes, PYBT and Pleco search I have a ich break out in my tank containing a black Ghost knife, pictus cat, and a blue gourami. I have raised the temperature to mid 80's as said by your site is there anything else I can do? <Yes. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and the Related FAQs, and the article and FAQs on Knifefishes on WWM... these areas have your answers> I have seen Blue hippo tangs in a sky blue coloration and a navy blue coloration, why is that? <Geographic variation, physical condition, mood> I am looking to purchase one of sky blue color, where may I find one? also I am looking to find an Emperor L-204 Pleco, where may I find one? Thanks, Jahner <Try Dr.s Foster and Smith (.com). Bob Fenner>

Tang Concerns (4/3/2004)  Dear Crew,  I currently have a 55 FOWOLR. I have approx 120 lbs of base rock, i.e.. Texas Holey Rock, which is becoming covered with coralline algae. I have had it up and running for approx 10 months. Everything seems well. No real issues with algae etc. I only have to clean my glass approximately every two weeks.  Current residents are a yellow tang, coral beauty, lawn mower blenny, four Astraea snails and approx 10 Cerith snails. I have a coral banded shrimp, yellow ball sponge and a blue sponge. I have the opportunity to purchase a beautiful blue tang from a local fish store for about half the normal price. <It will outgrow your 55 gallon given a few years, as it will attain 12" or so> It is approximately the same size as my yellow tang 3/3.5", fat with good colors and I witnessed it eating. Do you think they will get along. <Yellow tangs can be very territorial, especially once well established. In a larger system you could get away with it, but I definitely would not recommend adding the Blue tang in a tank of that size>  Dean  <M. Maddox>

Blue Tang Questions Hi- <Hi, MikeD here> Thanks for all the time and effort put into this site.  It has been very helpful!! <Thank you...we try.>  I am looking to buy a blue tang and have a few questions.  What origin is most desirable and why?<First off, when you say "Blue Tang" are you referring to the Pacific Blue Tang, aka the Hippo Tang, "Dory", etc. (Paracanthurus hepatus) or the Atlantic Blue Tang (Acanthurus coeruleus)? If the former, like many fish that occur over a wide range, there is some slight variation from region to region where it is found, with many claiming that Red Sea specimens are more brightly colored, thus often much higher in price.>  What is the ideal size to buy (if bought on-line)?<Hippo Tangs are notoriously susceptible to marine Ick, with larger specimens sometimes being more resistant than the very small ones.>  Is this fish compatible with a yellow tang?<In my opinion, no, as tangs should realistically be maintained one per tank. While they may get along as small juveniles, the likelihood that the Yellow will pick on the Hippo is quite high initially, with the added stress just one more factor that increases the chances of an ick outbreak.>  Should the blue tang be similar in size to the yellow?<If you insist on trying it, my suggestion would be to get a Hippo that's substantially larger than the yellow as they are generally much more mild mannered, keeping in mind that many to most Tangs gradually develop aggressive attitudes to relatives as they mature.>  I had planned to keep the blue in QT for 4 weeks, then introduce him to the main tank, and at the same time take the yellow out for a week so the blue can get comfortable. Is this advisable?<That sounds like as wise an idea as possible, but again, an older, mature and established tank is of great assistance and will increase the chances for success, with the more room the better.>  Thanks again for your help!<Good luck to you....while this combination is somewhat successful compared to most other Tang combinations, the odds against it are very high due to the delicate nature of the Hippos.> Wes

Shipping Troubles (Paracanthurus) Dear WWM Crew, hope all is well with you.  I have ordered many fish from a very reputable online dealer, and never had a problem.  The dealer is in the next state, and the fish don't have to travel nearly as far as if I were ordering from some of the other online retailers.  I recently have ordered a Blue Hippo Tang, which they said was not necessarily a delicate shipper,  I  lost the first one they sent within five minutes of opening the shipping bag; they sent a replacement, this one lasted almost 24 hours, before passing on.  I have acclimated these fish to the last little detail of their guidelines.  Both fish had brilliant colors and appeared to be very healthy specimens. <Mmm, Paracanthurus are "average" shippers re incidental mortality> Here is my question, why am I having problems receiving these fish alive, when the LFS seems to get in 5 or 10 in one shipment and even if they don't look like healthy fish, at least their alive.  By the way, in case your wondering why I don't want to buy fish from this LFS, I have had so many problems with them in the past, that its come to the point that I just don't buy fish from them. <I see. Your two losses could be a "luck of the draw" coincidence... might be the bagger, wholesaler...> Is there something that I should ask the shipper to do differently, is there a different way to acclimate a fish that is received in poor shape. <Mmm, not really... just to "keep an eye" as the animals are being moved about, waiting> Is there anything I can do on my end, to help a fish that seems to have shipped poorly.  I am very frustrated at losing these fish, as I feel it is an unnecessary death(s), and I don't want any part in that.  I Thank You and appreciate your time and your knowledge.  Jen Marshall <Our collective input on acclimation can be found on WWM. Please start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm and through the linked (in blue, at top) pages onward. Bob Fenner>

Re: Paracanthurus hepatus rearing from wild young This is an email I received from Inland Aquatics, one of the sources that sells the captive-reared Paracanthurus hepatus: ----------------- <<Can you tell me where you catch your Paracanthurus hepatus?>> Ours are "Captive Raised", meaning they are collected as larvae/post-larvae (in the Solomon Islands). They are grown out there for about a month before being shipped state-side where they are grown out for another 3 month or so. They are approximately 2" when we offer them for sale. ($39.99) --- Perhaps they are an exception to the rule? Thanks again for your well-founded insight - this is a complex industry to understand, with many environmental as well as economic considerations. Keith <Thanks much for this... do know the company and the owner/mgr. Morgan Lidster... and he is a straight shooter... If he says this is what they're doing than I believe them... Do know of (and have dived with) what I thought was the only outfit doing this "collection/rearing" procedure (in French Polynesia)... and know that they don't (of course) handle Palette/Yellow-Tail Blue/Hippo Tangs (not much in range)... Will post under genus on WWM site. Thank you again. Bob Fenner>

Hippo tang, tank-raised clown, BGA Bob, <Lorenzo Gonzalez, standing in for Bob-in-Asia> I just purchased a regal tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) from the LFS. <Nice.> According to them, it was tank-raised by C-Quest. These tangs seem smaller to me than most of the other wild-caught Regals. I have purchased all of my fish from this store and they are all tank-raised (royal Gramma, 2 Percula/ocellaris clownfish (not sure which), Lysmata amboinensis shrimp, and now regal tang). I am sold on tank raised marine fish.  <Good for you, even better for the industry, and the environment> The clownfish come right to the top of the tank when I open the lid and if I hold a piece of frozen food they will eat right out of my hand. The shrimp likewise, in fact the shrimp gets to be a bit pushy and I have to chase him off so the clownfish can get a chance. He even nips my hand sometimes. The regal tang was also a great buy. (though not cheap) The next day he was out swimming around and eating. I purchased him on Monday and yesterday (Thursday) he even ate some flake food. I have some questions regarding the tang. I have put some dried seaweed on a clip in the tank, but he hasn't yet eaten any. How long will it take before he finds it or trusts it or whatever? How long can I safely leave an uneaten piece of seaweed on the clip? <He may never take dried seaweed, some just won't. Have you seen 'tang heaven' stuff at www.ipsf.org ? As far as leaving it in the tank, don't worry about it.> I also some questions about an algae problem. A while ago I added a second pair of fluorescents in anticipation of adding the tang. (i.e. grow more algae for it to eat.) Soon afterwards, I began to get a reddish algae growing on the sand. It grows in mats but also has stringers flowing up into the current. It got so bad that it trapped gas underneath it and I had two peaks of algae raising about 4-6 inches off the bottom, one pointed and the other dome shaped. I tried to physically remove it, but it is coming back faster than it grew originally. I have 6 blue legged hermit crabs and 4 turbo snails. (Obviously not enough for my 55 gal. tank) The crabs don't seem to like it and the snails prefer the glass or rock. What is this algae? and Do you have a recommendation for an algae eater that will eat this algae off the sand? What about turning off the second pair of fluorescents for a while? (Eventually though, I want to add some invertebrates so this can't be a permanent solution.) Where do you think the gas came from that was trapped under the algae? Was it Nitrogen from by plenum or Oxygen from the algae or something else? <See bob's articles, FAQ's regarding this stuff on WetWebMedia.Com: http://www.WetWebMedia.com/algaeconMar.htm http://www.WetWebMedia.com/bluegralgae.htm That second article has a pic of the very stuff you're complaining about.> Thanks for your advice. Jeffrey P. Schulz <No problem, and good luck with the BGA (blue-green algae) -Lorenzo>

Hippo tang Hi again, I am planning on getting a hippo tang but heard they get ick quite easily.  <yes... I think the species name "hepatus) is Latin for "Ich-magnet"> Is this true?  <does a bear bring a reader's digest into the woods?!?> Will a pair of cleaner shrimp take care of this problem?  <not likely... a weak way to treat the problem. Fish get ich from compromises in aquarium husbandry. It's just that P. hepatus is more strict than most. Water changes with indiscriminately cooler water, lack of quarantine on entry, system temperature fluctuations between day and night, etc will all cause it to flare. If there is any fish that requires that you have a hospital tank on hand at all times for quarantine... this is the one> And also do you think that a hippo tank will fare better in a 55 than a powder blue tang? <relatively speaking, yes. The tank is too small for either in the long run with regard for their skimming needs and adult sizes. But the Powder blue suffers in smaller tanks and without extremely strong water movement. A small blue hepatus would be a much better choice. Make sure to QT for a full month first. Kindly, Anthony>

Hippo Blues How many baby hippo blues can you acquire/place together in a very large tank (several hundred gallons). <I have seen 6 in a 450.> I'm thinking of getting a group of maybe 8 or 10 (about 1"), since it looks like they actually prefer to group together in those numbers. I do notice that they have a tendency to hide more when singular. <They hide in groups, too.> I know they are relatively not territorial, but am wondering if this is a good idea or not? Thanks, Jim <Have a nice night. -Steven Pro>

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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