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

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 Selection, PYTB Tang Feeding, PYTB Tang Disease, PYTB Tang Reproduction, Surgeons In General, Tang ID, Selection, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease,

Generally, this species leaves sessile invertebrates alone. Chromodoris in N. Sulawesi.

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Palette Tang or Powder Blue Tang - Tank Size? (bigger than available here) – 07/18/12
<<Hiya Allie!>>
I have recently set up and finished cycling my 120g SPS tank (40 gallon sump/fuge). Although I haven't put any fish in yet (I'm going to wait a good while),
I am currently planning out my stocking list out.
<<Will be time well spent>>
I am looking at having one relatively large "centerpiece" fish and was interested in perhaps getting a tang - the two I have my eye on are the Powder Blue Tang and the Palette/Hippo Tang.
<<Mmm…I see>>
The tank has lots of flow: 2 Vortech MP40s on max, which I know most surgeonfish enjoy.
However, as my tank is only 4' long (2' width, 2' height), I know this is considered controversial: a lot of literature I am reading says both of these species need 6-8 feet tanks at minimum.
<<Yes…pacers/roamers…with the Paracanthurus needing at least twice the volume you have, as well>>
However, browsing your site I read that you wrote "Paracanthurus...should not be kept in anything smaller than a 75" (in response to "Tang families (sic, genera) and tank size"). I was wondering if that still holds up and if you think either of these species would be a suitable choice, especially long-term?
<<The Powder Blue is the better choice re your tank size…but still may be not the “best” choice. I’m going to suggest you research more/better options here…especially if your experience in the hobby is minimal>>
They would ideally be added last
when the system is more mature. Thanks for any advice! :)
<<Do think hard on this… Do more research on your choices thus far… And maybe look at what other Tang species are available… And… Feel free to come back/discuss further your findings/decisions. Cheers… EricR>>

Hippo tang... sys.    7/25/11
Hey Bob, how much longer do you think I could have a 5.5" hippo tang in a 90g fish only. I feel like he's getting too big.
<Already is. B>

Re: At my wits end - Hair Algae and Aiptasia, now Paracanthurus 19.01.10
WetWebMedia, <Hello again> I apologise for the poorly written post and am grateful for your insight <Well that's marvelous Matthew, no-one is perfect including me!>. I was surprised to learn the Lawnmower Blenny is so territorial <Yes - can be quite nasty to other algae eaters of similar size actually>.
This would explain why one has disappeared and the other two live on opposite sides of the tank <You had three?? Recipe for disaster>.
Also the Blue Tangs mentioned are indeed Paracanthurus Hepatus <Yes>. They are of medium size <which is?>.
I have had both Paracanthurus for 3 years in the same tank. Knowing now that they also fight makes some sense of their often erratic behaviour <Actually, it is not that these fishes fight as such. They are one of the more peaceful tangs and one of the few species that can get along with conspecifics, and they are a little bit erratic by nature. It is just that they need a lot of space to 'roam', and as their maximum size is a foot or so, a 100 gallon tank does not provide enough long-term space for two, and is borderline for one. Observe these fish in the wild and you will see how their natural behavior requires that they have space. Psychologically with one removed the other will be better off. Fishes also become 'stunted' when space is limited, i.e. their bodies physiologically 'want' to get to a foot each, but the space/ environment given them is not letting them do so. This will shorten their lifespan and put a strain on the fish that can only cause stress and disease in the long run. Many fishes kept in such conditions for a long time develop large heads compared to their bodies. Apart from that, this is a lot of fishes in your tank, and reducing the number will only aid you with your algae issues. I would also implore you to not build your rock structures too high up in your tank so that this fish is able to 'cruise' around more easily>.
Thank you for your assistance. <No problem at all> Regards - Matthew <Simon>

Blue Hippo tang on 55 gallon tank 11/28/09
Hi my name is Javier
<Hi Javier, Jessy here>
I recently bought a 55 gallon tank where I have 1 Blue hippo tang 1 yellow tang and 1 maroon clown fish. I was reading some blogs where people say you can not keep a Tang in a 55 gallon.
<I agree for the most part>
I love this fish and I can not buy bigger tank. Do you think is possible to keep him there? I have good ventilation, temperature and water quality.
What is your recommendation?
A guy told me as long as my tank has 4 feet long which I have he is gonna be ok. <I wouldn't trust "this guy's" word any longer.>
<My first recommendation to you is to use proper punctuation and grammar if you write another request. There were far too many errors and lack of punctuation for such a short email. Secondly, your hippo tang is going to outgrow your tank, if it isn't already cramped. Juvenile tangs will be fine in a smaller, 55 gallon tank with ample swimming space, but they will quickly become too large for such a small tank. If your tang is 3" or smaller, then sure keep him a few months. Any larger and I fear you're not going to have a good environment for him to grow and flourish in. Regards, Jessy>

Quick Advice…Tank Cycling and Fish Introduction - 07/9/08 Hi Crew! <<Hello Brian!>> Just need a quick piece of advice. <<Okay>> My new 120 gallon tank has completed the nitrogen cycle after four and half weeks. I am currently in the diatom bloom stage at this point and the water is a little cloudy in a few areas of the tank. <<…? A "few areas?" Though likely a non-harmful bacterial bloom…I would expect any cloudiness to be throughout the water column. Perhaps your water circulation is not sufficient>> I added my cleaning crew two days ago and they have taken care of the rest of the raw shrimp I used to the cycle the tank with. At this point, is it ok to introduce a fish even though the water is a little cloudy? <<Probably…with close monitoring/testing. But why the rush? The longer this tank runs sans fish the better. And why risk introducing fish to a system that is not "perfect?" At this stage of the game…>> I would like to add a fish while the bacteria population is large, but don't know of any complications with adding one during the diatom bloom. <<Adding fishes will lengthen any cycling processes at the least…and may even compound them>> The fish is a small hippo tang that is ready to come out of quarantine. Brian Jenkins <<Mmm, I don't really consider this tank large enough for a Hippo Tang (should have at least a six-foot tank). These fish are large (to 12" in the wild), very robust and very active…and seem especially prone to social and psychological issues from "growing up" in "too small" systems in my experience. But that aside, the Hippo Tang is not the best "first" fish to add to a system that will contain less aggressive fishes…and certainly not to such a new un-matured and unstable system, considering their susceptibility to stress related afflictions. If you are determined to keep it, I would suggest holding off on adding this fish just yet…and in the interim, completing/reviewing your stocking list and researching each thoroughly to include compatibility and order of introduction. Regards, Eric Russell>>

Hippo Tang Compatibility/Systems 3/7/08 Dear WWM crew, I think that your site is soooooooooooooo great. <Thank you.> I have just recently added a Hippo Tang to my 36 gallon, to be very soon upgraded to a 90 gallon. I would like to know if I could have a pair of hippos in a 90 gallon with my other fish. <In time, one Hippo will be too small for the 90, can grow over 8" in length. Would not do.> Thanks <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Regal hippo tang... sys.  03/06/2008 Dear WWM crew, you have a great site. I have emailed you a lot. <<Good evening, Andrew here. Thanks for the kind words>> I last emailed you about a regal tang in a 36 gallon tank soon to be added to a 90 gallon. you said no because I don't know if I am going to upgrade. I bought one anyway because I am 100% sure I am upgrading. I read that they could only be added to a mature tank. how long should I wait until I switch him over with my clowns, Dottyback, and fire gobies. <<Providing the tank is stable in parameters it will be fine. Ensure a good quarantine. Its nice to see a larger tank is purchased>> thanks. <<Thanks for the question. A Nixon>>

Re: Tangs and info 03/07/2008 Dear WWM crew, I would like to thank Andrew for the great help on hippo tangs. <<Glad i could be of assistance>> I would like to ask for some good websites that tell me everything I need to know about hippo tangs. thanks <<All the information that you need is stored here on WWM in the daily FAQ's and the archive. Using the search function on your specific tang will produce reams of results linking to Articles and FAQ's>> <<hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Tang families (sic, genera) and tank size   2/19/08 Mr Fenner, I would first like to note that I have read several of your online publications recently and found the detail to be of great value. Thank you for your efforts in relaying information to marine hobbyists such as myself. <A pleasure to share; a hope to relate information of worth> I have a question about the various families of tangs in relation to their suitable home aquarium size. I read through your documentation on wetwebmedia.com and there are only a few noted tank volumes recommended as a minimum for the families; <Ah, genera> the Acanthurus, Ctenochaetus, and Zebrasoma all note a guideline size starting at 50 gallons. I was wondering if the data is current, <Mmm, not really is likely a reasonable response. Having been a content provider in the trade and hobby for... is it really more than forty years?... much of my in-print work is woefully dated... and worse... extant w/o this note> and if perhaps you had some additional recommendations or adjusted recommendations for tank size for any of the 5 major families on the site? <Well... for most small species of Acanthurus, all the Bristlemouth and Sailfin species, really a fifty gallon volume that is otherwise not crowded... will suffice... that is, with otherwise good maintenance, nutrition... keep these species alive, healthy for something like a "normal" average maximum life span... However... Some Acanthurus get quite large (saw an absolutely gorgeous group of five A. blochii yesterday diving off Crescent Bay/Manta Ray Cove here on HI's Big Island... I do hope my video of them came out... and I do wish I knew enough re editing, placing such on this/these devices that I could immediately (if not sooner) share this with you... But these were all more than a foot long body length (more with their caudals)... These would need hundreds of gallons... Naso and Prionurus species likewise need hundreds of gallons... systems of at least a couple metres/six foot "run"/length to be happy, grow, survive for any real period of time... Oh, and Paracanthurus... should not be kept in anything smaller than a 75... It should go w/o saying, but am always aware that many less-sophisticated folk may read this... that "bigger is better" for sure... behaviorally and physiologically with these and all other fish groups.> There are several message boards that I frequent, of which they all have a group of people who state that the minimum tank size for most tangs would be something with a 6' length, and nothing smaller than a 75 or even 90 gallon for Zebrasomas or Ctenochaetus. Is there any data that supports specific sizes for these tangs? <Mmm, anecdotal experience mostly... There are historical, institutional longevity records for some species... but these are almost always kept in vastly larger systems... But I've kept, personally can account for the most popular species care in the stated volumes by our and other service companies...> I only ask out of curiosity, personally, I have a 180g tank and have been in the hobby for a couple years, but would much prefer to gather all the data that I can as a reference. Thank you for your time, it is much appreciated. Alex Liffick <Thank you for your interest, asking. I do ask in turn that when you have confidence, time, that you consider joining our WWM Crew in aiding others. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Yellow Tail Blue Tang Compatibility 10/22/07 Hello again WWM crew! Well, your site has officially became my favorite (and most read) site! We currently have a 30 gallon FOWLR system with 30 lbs live rock, a percula clown, a Banggai cardinalfish, a pink skunk clown (which is being returned to LFS this week; he is nipping at the percula and tearing his fins), a handful of snails, mini brittle stars that were LR hitchhikers, and our newest additions; a Royal Gramma and 2 cleaner shrimp. We would like to get one more fish and are wondering if a YTB tang would be ok? Our LFS is very insistent that one would work, the owner says his wife has had one in a 12 gallon tank for 2 years now and it's still very small. However, the owner also told my husband and I that the pink skunk wouldn't beat up our percula. I am a bit wary to take his advice especially after discovering your website and spending hours researching/learning about the fish we currently have. Please advise as I am hesitant to bring this beautiful fish into a less-than desirable home. Thank you! <<Todd: Your tank is already well stocked. You don't say if you use a quarantine tank. If it were me, I would hold on buying another fish for this tank. Tangs usually require much larger tanks. Best of luck, Roy>>

Re: Yellow Tail Blue Tang Compatibility... NOT compatible with a 30 gallon tank!!!!!  10/23/07 Hello again WWM crew! <<<Hi Todd, Mich here adding to what Roy has said.>>> Well, your site has officially become my favorite (and most read) site! <<<I'm happy you have found our site and glad that you like it. There is much that you can learn here. Please put it to good use.>>> We currently have a 30-gallon FOWLR system with 30 lbs live rock, a Percula clown, a Banggai Cardinalfish, a pink skunk clown (which is being returned to LFS this week; he is nipping at the percula and tearing his fins), <<<Too small a system for these two fish.>>> a handful of snails, mini brittle stars that were LR hitchhikers, and our newest additions; a Royal Gramma and 2 cleaner shrimp. <<<No more fish you are at your limit.>>> We would like to get one more fish and are wondering if an YTB tang would be ok? <<<NO!!!! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!>>> Our LFS is very insistent that one would work, <<<Time for a new LFS. This is terrible advice.>>> the owner says his wife has had one in a 12-gallon tank for 2 years now and it's still very small. <<<Cruel. This growth of this fish is being terrible impeded by such a minuscule system. This is terribly unfair to this fish.>>> However, the owner also told my husband and I that the pink skunk wouldn't beat up our percula. <<<You are learning.>>> I am a bit wary to take his advice especially after discovering your website and spending hours researching/learning about the fish we currently have. <<<Always best to do your research before making purchases as you are doing here. Kudos to you.>>> Please advise as I am hesitant to bring this beautiful fish into a less-than desirable home. <<<This would be a less than desirable home.>>> Thank you! <<<Welcome.>>> <<Todd: Your tank is already well stocked. You don't say if you use a quarantine tank. If it were me, I would hold on buying another fish for this tank. Tangs usually require much larger tanks. Best of luck, Roy>> <<<I just wanted to reinforce what Roy has said and add that this tang needs a tank of 100 gallons or more. I implore you NOT to get this fish. It is unfair to place ANY tang in a 30-gallon tank. What your LFS owners' wife is doing is not providing appropriate care for this fish and I would like to discourage you from making the same mistake. Roy, I'm sorry, I don't mean to step on toes here, but would like to be a little more emphatic in stating that Tangs do NOT belong in 30-gallon tanks! Mich>>>

Tank Size.. Blue Hippo Tang 9/02/07 Hey guys/gals! Hope all is well. <Not bad here.> I've been following the dailies for quite some time now and really feel that I owe much of my knowledge about marine tanks to this site. I have written in a couple times before and really appreciate the timely and informative responses. Anyway, on with my question/curiosity. I saw a post in the last couple of days that was answered by James (salty dog) in which he said that a 110 gal tank was too small for a Blue Hippo Tang. <I believe what I said was that if the 110 gallon was four foot long, it would be too small eventually. Five foot and longer tanks make much better quarters for tangs.> Well, I too have one of these in the same size tank and have been told that this was ok. <When they are smaller, yes, but as they grow they do much much better with more swimming space.> I know there are many varying opinions on this and have researched on the site here and found several opinions. I do want what is best for my animals, so just wondering what really is a appropriate size tank for this animal in order for it to live a happy life. <A larger tank is always going to be better for fish that can grow to the size tangs do. All one needs to do is look at the environment they came from along with their behavior...constantly swimming and foraging for food.> Once again, thanks for all that you guys/gals do. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Ryan

Need Advice on Possible Relocation of Fish... Hippo Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) Kept For 11 Years in 55-Gallon Tank 8/7/07 Hello - <Hi Tammy, Mich here.> First off, thank you for your services, I've read your site and you are all very helpful. <Thank you for the kind words.> I'm in need of some of that help right now - I've had a hepatus tang for almost 11 years, <Wow! That's a good long time.> he's not very large, about 3 1/2 inches long. <Wow! That's quite small!> He was really small when we got him. He's been in a 55 gal. tank and lately he has been acting very strangely, swimming in circles, hiding in a flowerpot lying on his side, etc. <Sounds unhappy. Have there been any changes? Recent additions?> Up until about 2 months ago he seemed lively and happy. Sadly, someone said he has become psychologically damaged because of the size of his tank. Do you think this is the case? <I am sorry to tell you, because it is obvious that you care about this fish, but a 55-gallon tank is way too small. This fish should be in at least a 100-gallon tank, the larger the better. And yes psychological stress may be an issue> If it is, can it be reversed if I get him into a bigger tank? <Perhaps. It wouldn't hurt.> I'm really sad about this, no one ever told me he would eventually need a ton of space, and for his size - and he's only sharing it with a small clown and one striped damsel - it didn't seem like it was too small. <Again I'm not telling you this to make you feel bad, although I'm sure it will. This fish can get to be over a foot long in the wild. Your fish is very tiny for his age.> I don't want to give him to a fish store because I am afraid that he'd get sold to someone and he'd be in an even worse situation. <Likely so and you have obviously had him and cared for him for quite a long time.> Do aquariums or zoos ever take fish like this? <Yes. You may want to inquire locally.> Or do you have any advice on what I could do? <Perhaps a larger tank... You may want to try a large 100 plus gallon Rubbermaid container temporarily. Usually can be found for around $100, sometimes less... check a couple of your local Agway stores... I have found the price vary between stores. See more here: http://www.mytscstore.com/detail.asp?pcID=8&paID=1039&sonID=214&page=1&productID=24965 I feel terrible for him and about this. <You have taken the first step... continue to investigate his care requirements and how you might go about providing them for this mature fish. Some reading for you here and related links in blue: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/paracant.htm Any help you could give me would be MUCH appreciated. <I hope this helps.> Thank you, <You're welcome. Mich> Tammy

Regal tang  3/28/07 Hello, I have never written to you all before but was hoping that you could help me out. <We can sure try> I have read many many many articles about keeping regal tangs. <..and always more to read..> A little background if you don't mind... my desire to have the reef tank of my dreams started with a small 30-gallon tank. I soon jumped up to a 75 gallon. This tank has a wet/dry filter, protein skimmer, and magnum filter (I like this one because it seems to create wave like currents). I have about 90-100 lbs of beautiful live rock. <Do you have any extra water movement e.g. powerheads, closed loop?> Corals include toadstool, mushrooms, polyps, feather dusters, one amazing xenia, and torch coral. Beginner stuff. All doing wonderfully, I have a yellow tang (newest addition) true percula clown who loves the toadstool <I find that a much better suited captive "host" than an anemone> a dragon pipefish (happy and healthy (and fat) for 9 months now despite its bad reputation for eating he accepts a wide variety of small frozen food) and a potters angel. <A beauty, a delicate beauty>   I find the yellow tang to be somewhat disappointing. He is sort of a shy individual. He seems to try to play with the potters angel who simply isn't interested in his antics. <Playing or aggressing!> He stays with the Rainford's goby (who I didn't mention). I purchased a 125 and I am gathering all of the components for that tank. I have been researching the regal tang. Beautiful fish! It has the coloration I desire for my tank. Is a 125 a good size tank for an acceptable life? I know it is not the ocean or anything!! But if my fish populations stays as is...maybe adding a few more hermit crabs...would he be truly happy? In the 125 that is. <It truly is a beautiful fish and well done to you for waiting for this upgrade before considering it, many rush into buying for inappropriate tanks. It might be worth getting the opinion of others on this subject as well as I tend to be very conservative with stocking and tank sizes. This size is the bare minimum IMO; this fish will require an upgrade and it will surprise you how fast. If you feel ethically that you don't have any objection to having to remove it part way into its life then by all means go ahead. But I would look at other options as this fish really does get big and you will most likely form a strong keeper-pet relationship with it and removing it will be hard. Like I said though, source other opinions> I was thinking about buying a small individual and seeing if he is what I am looking for, before moving him to the larger tank. BUT, I do not want to even attempt it if he will not be able to live a long healthy life. <A complete life in your care will not be possible in this tank> I know I wouldn't want to be stuck in my bathroom all day with no way to escape...I am sure that is how such a large fish would feel in to small an area!! No wonder they could suffer mental issues. Hell, I would too. <I like a lot of your thinking, you've grasped the ethics of fish keeping and realize that fish aren't just objects and we have a responsibility to provide them with optimum living quarters. Whilst I hate to be the bearer of bad news and disappointment, I'm sure you will understand. Also you have a great chance for a well stocked reef with the size you have and any other help with stocking lists you would like, just email back> Thanks, Jamie <Hope I haven't disappointed too much and hope I've helped, Olly>

Tank too small??  12/12/06 Hi there! <Hi there to you too Jaime, Mich here tonight.>   My name is Jaime and I have came to the decision that I want to take up the hobby of tropical fish care.  Now since I am very new to this I wanted to start small.   <I understand, though smaller is more difficult in this hobby.> I'm dying to go out and buy one Percula Clownfish (Nemo) and one Pacific Blue Tang (Dory), but I don't know if my tank will be to small. I'm trying to limit tank size to the minimum because I don't have massive amounts of space in my house to keep a large tank and my budget won't allow a really expensive tank. I had my eye on a 36-40 gallon tank, but I have the feeling that it would be WAY to small for the tang. <I see you have done a little homework.  Good for you!  Yes it is WAY too small for Dory, but Nemo should be OK.> Do tangs grow to the size of their tanks or will it become stressed and die because I've confined it to such a small space with another fish? <A tank this small will cause a Paracanthurus hepatus (Dory) undue stress, Dory can get up to a foot long.  A happy home for Dory would be at least 100 gallon.> Please let me know. I don't want to do harm to any of the fish I plan to buy. <You are wise to do your research before making purchases.  This will serve you well in this hobby.  Please continue to educate yourself, it will benefit both you and those in your care.>   Thank you! <You are most welcome.  -Mich>

Tank raised Hippos  12/5/06 Hello again, <Hello there Tom, Mich with you tonight.> I will keep this short as I know you are busy people.   <Always time for a friend in need.> At my LFS they have tank bred <<Mmm, not bred... settled-larvae-collected...>> and raised Hippo tangs. They are about 1 1/2" long. I was wondering what size tank you think I would need for one.   <Aren't they cute?  They are so tiny to start with.  They do get bigger, and can reach up to a foot in length!  So long term, I would say you would need a tank that is a minimum of 100 gallons.  Just a reminder they are quite prone to ich and susceptible to head and lateral line erosion.  Please use proper QT procedures if you decide to get this fish.>    Tom <Hope that helps. -Mich>

Re: Tank raised Hippos  12/5/06 Hello  Mich, <Good Evening to you my friend!> Thanks so much for your fast reply. <You are quite welcome!> They sure are cute. <Absolutely adorable!> I was planning on a 55G tank so I guess that wouldn't work out too well. <Unfortunately no.  It is too small.  Hippo tangs (Paracanthurus hepatus) need a good deal of swimming room and typically are good eaters and what goes in, must come out.  Can make it difficult to keep the water chemistry stable in a tank that size.>   Do you know if there are any tangs that I could put in a 55G tank? <Hmm, no, not really.  Most tangs get quite large, require swimming room and tend to generate a sizable quantity of waste.  A 55 gallon is just too small to be a happy home for the surgeonfish family.> Thanks for your time. <Gladly. -Mich> Tom Stocking a 46 9/26/06 I just had a quick question about fish compatibility and how they would work in my system.  For the past two years I have successfully kept a reef aquarium with a clean up crew.  It is a 46 gallon bow front aquarium with a HOB CPR refugium and a wet/dry filter with another refugium built into it, 192 watt PCs, and 250 MH. <Nice>  Everything looks perfect chemical wise.  All 0's across the board (nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, phosphates), ph is sitting nicely at 8.3, the calcium is just right, and I have my salinity level at 1.026. <OK>  The main fish I want to keep is 2 false perc. clowns and a small (1-2 inch) hippo tang. <No on the tang.>  Now I am fully aware and understand that this fish needs an absolute minimum of 75 gallon tank, <Not big enough, more like a 125.> but I have seen happy little guys in other small systems. <Alive, but not happy.>  I understand that the moment they grow they need lots of room to roam, but I would plan on keeping it in there for a year or two then giving it away and getting starting over with another very small guy. <Not practical or recommended.>  I understand this totally goes against your preaching of 75 gallon minimum, but I am just wondering if it is possible. <Not really, the damage is done to the fish before people realize it.  These really don't live on the reef, but above it and swim vast distances every day, even when fairly small.>   The last fish I want to consider adding is a blackcap Basslet. <OK>  Let me know what you think! Jonathan   <The tang's outlook will not be good if kept in that sized tank for any length of time.> <Chris>

Too Many Tangs in a 135...Now the Health Issues Begin - 09/15/06 Hello, <<Howdy>> I recently bought two Blue Hippo tangs for my 135 gal. tank. <<Mmm...too many for this tank...barely large enough for one in my opinion.  These tangs grow to about a foot in length...are beefy, active, and a bit "skittish" as tangs go.  They need very large quarters with LOTS of swimming room along with convenient "bolt holes" in which to dart when they feel threatened.  I feel this species of tang is particularly susceptible to developmental retardation (manifesting in health/behavioral disorders) when kept in too small an environment>> I also have 3 clownfish, a gray Naso tang, a purple firefish, two blue-yellow tail damsels, a mandarin goby, and a cleaner shrimp. <<A Naso tang too?...(sigh)>> It's been about a month since I've had my fish now and a couple days ago I noticed white spots on my blue hippo tangs. <<And so it begins...>> I've got about 200lbs of live rock in my tank which they like to go into a lot. <<Indeed>> Their spots have not yet got away yet and was wondering if I should be worried. <<Never really ever "goes away" (crypt will be/is always present in the system), but under "optimum" conditions the symptoms of a light outbreak will often resolve themselves.  The fact that this system is overstocked with three large (potentially) tangs does not bode well>> They seem to be swimming and eating fine and none of my other fish have them. <<...yet>> Anyways, I'd greatly appreciate it if you could give me some advice as of what to do and what could be causing them. <<Please read here ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichartmar.htm).  You will need to remove the afflicted fish and treat in a separate hospital tank.  Ideally, you will need to remove and observe (treat only if necessary) "all the fish" and allow the system to sit fallow for six weeks>> Thank you so much for you time. <<Happy to assist>> Sincerely, Mai <<Regards, EricR>>

Blue Tang... beh.  - 09/14/06 Hi Bob,     I write you again for some help.  I have had a blue tang in my 55 gallon tank for a month now along with a saddleback clownfish.  Everybody had been fine until a couple days ago, I noticed my small blue tang laying on the live rock that he usually lies on at night, but now he's doing it all day and all night. <Not good> He is breathing fine (not rapidly) and still moves sometime but always laying on the rock and not eating.  I tested my water and all is fine except 10 ppm of nitrate, but that is fine.  I did do a 10 gallon water change yesterday and I thought he'd be dead today but he is still alive.  Just laying there.  I happened all the sudden.  No physical signs of sickness.   Please advise me again. Thanks Aaron <Mmm... well... a fifty five gallon volume is actually too small for a Paracanthurus... but if it were my guess, there's something in the way of negative interaction (though not necessarily extroverted enough for you to observe easily) going on twixt the Damsel/Clown here... I would separate these two... pronto. Bob Fenner>

Re: Blue Tang... beh. no more  9/15/06 Thanks for your advice. My tang died yesterday.  Is that my underlined problem that I am not seeing. <? Underlying?> Do I need to go with a 75 or even 90 gallon tank. <Or bigger, yes>   I have always had luck with my clowns but nothing else. <Telling>   Every time I get more than three fish in the tank they end up dying off. <More likely being harassed to death...> Except for the clowns.  I have a 55 gallon with 60 pounds of premium Fiji live rock,  a SeaClone 150 skimmer, a turbo twist 18 watt UV, and an emperor 400.  But is all that not enough for just a 55. <The fifty five itself...>   I want to go bigger anyway but I'm afraid of going that big and still not being able to keep more than 3 fish alive. <Try other species perhaps... not Amphiprionines... and if these, only tank-bred/raised specimens... easier-going by far>     Do you have any link about hooking up wet dry filters (All Glass Mega overflow sump) and tanks being drilled for it and the plumbing. <Oh yes... Please scroll through here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm> I never dealt with that I've always bought hang on equipment. Thanks Bob <We also once never rode bicycles, drove cars... someday, spaceships. Bob Fenner>

Hippo Tang system... Salty?   1/18/06 Hello, <Jose> My question is in regards to tank size for a 4" Hippo Tang.  Is it better to get a 130 gallon tank (4wx2dx2h) or the same volume (130 gallon) but the tank being longer approx. 6 feet in length. <Much better with the added length.>  I am in the process of purchasing a tank and would like to have the blue tang as my prized fish.  I believe the Blue Tangs tend to stay in a certain area of the tank and not swim all over. <On the contrary, the are grazers and move about in search of food.>  Am I correct in this assumption? <Above> I currently have a 60 gal. (4Lx18Hx15D) and would like to upgrade to a 130-150 gallon.  Currently I have a 2" six-line wrasse, 2 clowns (3" together), a 3" yellow tang, and some shrimp along with some frogspawn and hammer corals. Thanks again, <You're welcome> Jose

Hippo Tang System... Bob's go  1/18/06 Hi and thank you for the great service you provide for us.  My question I hope is a simple one. What size tank would be better for this tang. 1.  a 4 foot long 130 gallon or 2. a 6 foot long (narrower) 130 gallon. <Mmm, number one likely... better for Paracanthurus tangs to have a "sense of being able to get away" than the run of more room to swim in one swoop... different for Naso species for instance> I would like to add this fish to my tank that I will eventually be purchasing and since this will be my prized fish, I want to make sure I get the right tank.  I am looking into purchasing a 4" blue tang.   <I see> My setup I have right now is a 60 gallon with some frogspawn, hammers, zoos.  My fish are:  3" yellow tang, 2" six line wrasse, 3" of clownfish, and 2 cleaner shrimps. Thanks again, Jose <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner> Blue Tang 11/24/2005 Hello, <Hello, James here> I currently have a nice 55 gallon  FOWLR running great.  It has a  Valentini Puffer and a Percula Clownfish.   Filtration: AquaClear 70 HOB Filter Red Sea Prizm Protein Skimmer CPR AquaFuge  Hang-on Refugium, Small I have the chance to add a Hippo Tang.  My friend is getting rid of  his.  He has had it for over 4 years and is 4 inches long (it was in  a 90 gallon tank so I doubt it was cramped).  Is this the full length  it will reach? <They can attain a length of up to one foot in a suitable size aquarium.  I wouldn't take the tang and put it into smaller quarters than it was in.>   Can/Should I add it?  Also I want to add another  Percula?  Can I, if I also add the Tang? <No problems adding the percula, but I'd stay away from the tang.  James (Salty Dog)>  Thanks

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 Aggression with Clownfish - Isolating Solutions?" Hello Wet Web Crew,<Hello Marianna> My husband and I are new owners of a 30 gal saltwater tank. After it was set up, we purchased 2 tank-bred clown fish. Three weeks later, we purchased a blue regal tang that's about 2 inches in length. We've had the tang for 1 week now.<Marianna, the tank is too small to keep a regal. It'll be OK now, but as it grows they need plenty of swimming space as they are constantly moving during the day.> At first, the tang was very quite & seemed shy, often hovering near the powerhead and barely eating. After a few days, it got more accustomed and swims around more, has somewhat regular hang-out places, and eats as much as the clown fish (the clown fish have always been active & good eaters - they are more people-friendly than the tang).  The problem is, the tang started being aggressive to the clowns today. The tang seemed to charge & circle the clowns as they hovered around a barnacle cluster in the tank. After a while, I noticed the clowns nipping at each other and twitching, but never fighting the tang back. The tang would sometimes swim away briefly, but the clowns just hovered, as if paralyzed. After reading many of your website's postings, I decided to isolate the tang in a strainer/colander in the tank. However, I'm afraid of keeping him there too long (too much stress) - or reintroducing him too early (before he's had a chance to mellow out). When he first went into the strainer, he was feisty and was charging the container. Now, 30 minutes later, he fluctuates between being too mellow (reminiscent of when he was first introduced to the tank) and getting worked up whenever a clown swims by.  Can you please advise me on whether I did the right thing by isolating; how long I should keep the tang there; and any suggestions for aggression-prevention. From other postings, I gathered that I should re-arrange the rocks before I re-introduce the tang.  Right now, we have a plant, barnacle cluster, and a fake sea anemone. We plan on getting more things as hiding places... we're just building our tank over time. <Tangs do appreciate hiding spaces. The aggression may be taking place over a favorite cave/rock etc.> And if you need more info on our tank:  Feeding: we feed a few times a day, with small doses of standard marine flakes or Spirulina flakes. (we're planning to get seaweed & a clip this weekend)  Temp: 78-81 (We live in Hawaii & don't keep a fan or heater on the tank) Last water change: We changed the water last Saturday, the day before adding the tang  <Do 10% weekly changes continually, especially in a smaller tank such as yours.> Thank you so much for all your previous postings (I learned so much!) and for any advice you can give me.  <I certainly would get the tang out of this container. It will definitely stress out. Add more rocks etc. It has a calming effect with the tang knowing there is cover nearby if danger approaches. James (Salty Dog)> Aloha, Marianna 

Blue Tang- Too Much With This Gang! Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you> I've read many of your answers to questions and I am hoping you can help me with mine. I have a 65 gallon tank and I want to get a regal tang. I've been getting polar opposite advice regarding these. I've gotten from two different LFS that the tang will be OK and online advice saying the opposite. <I agree with the online advice! These fish can and do get quite large (like up to 10 inches plus!) and have very long lifespans. They will need a lot of room, and eat a lot of food.> How long before he grows out of my tank? <Well, it can be as little as 6 months to a year- or less. Personally, I'd look for larger quarters for this fish as soon as possible. I generally will not start a tang in anything less than a 6 foot long tank. This provides both the physical space that the fish needs, but the larger tank volume will provide sufficient capacity to handle the copious amounts of biological waste that these fishes put off> It is currently approx. less than 2 inches. <Not for long!>  He is in a QT at my LFS and I don't want to pick it up if it'll be miserable in the long run. <Well, in my opinion, it will not be in the fish's best long-term interest to start him in less than a 6 foot tank, as outlined above> I eventually want to get a larger tank, but I honestly don't know when that will be possible. It's more of a matter of space than money. <I appreciate the fact that you are being honest with yourself, and that you care enough to way the odds here> The current occupants are a Coral Beauty Angelfish (I nursed back to health), Percula Clownfish, Lawnmower Blenny, Royal Gramma, and Raccoon Butterflyfish. If the regal tang is not a good option, can you suggest any other fish?? I would love to have one more medium sized fish. <Well, I have to be honest with you...The tank is really at maximum capacity, fish-wise, already- IMO. The Raccoon can also get quite large. At the most, I'd add maybe one smaller fish (like blenny or Fairy Wrasse size). But that would be it. Always consider the ultimate size of the fishes that you want to add before purchasing them. Make sure that you will be able to provide sufficient space for their entire lifespans.> Thanks for all your advise...I've been really troubled by this. <I'm impressed with the amount of consideration that you've given this matter, as well as your conscientious attitude towards your fishes' needs. This will serve you well as you continue to grow in the hobby! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Housing A Hippo Tang For Life Thanks a lot Scott.  Very prompt reply too, this is great! <Glad to be of service!> Since  I have a reliable source (you) to talk with, I might as well ask a few more  questions. <Ask away> I have a 65g fish only with live rock tank, and was wondering if  this is big enough to put a Hippo Tang in from start to finish without me ever  having to transfer it to a bigger tank with it growing to it's max? <I'm afraid not. These guys can hit a pretty large size in captivity, especially if you provide optimum conditions. I would not house an adult Hippo in anything less than a 6 foot tank, to be quite honest. We're talking 125 gallons and up (preferably, "Up"!). Anything less is kind of cruel, IMO > And what is the maximum it will grow in captivity? <I've seen them hit over 10 inches> Thanks again, Jason <My pleasure, Jason! Start thinking about that bigger tank! Regards, Scott F.> P.S.  Is there someone (regional/lead/manager) whom I can give  positive feedback to about your prompt reply to my  email? <Hee hee...No "management" or "bosses" here at WWM, just a bunch of dedicated fish nerds who are happy to help our fellow hobbyists! Thanks for the kind words, though!>

Tackling A Tang! Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> Tomorrow I will be purchasing a regal tang, about 3-4cm in length, which will be placed in a 25 gallon tank. I know this species needs a lot of space when is bigger but at this time it isn't. I will transport him into a larger tank when he gets about 3-4 inch. <Please, please follow through on this-and in the very near future...So many hobbyists intend to get a bigger tank down the line, but never seem to get around to it...These fish can and do reach lengths of over 10 inches, and their need for space is very real...> But until them he will remain seated. I have seen regal tangs in marine shops in groups of about 15 in tank sizes as little as 15 gallons, which were about 2 inches in length. I seen one in a 10 gallon tank, and he looked happy and healthy, how come the marine fish shops don't recommend a regal tang for this tank size, as they keep them in a smaller tank, please could you let me know. <It's really irresponsible for anyone to advocate keeping these fishes in small quarters for anything but the most brief stay. Since the dealer is usually equipped with a larger, central filtration system, and the fish are "turned over" (i.e.; sold) quickly, it's possible for them to get away with this. However, for long term maintenance of these fishes, such a small tank borders on "cruel and unusual". These fishes need to eat constantly, release large quantities of metabolic products, and have a great need for physical "space". Keeping such fish in a confined space will cause a variety of physiological and behavioral problems...Not recommended!> My tank has 1 Seaclone protein skimmer for a 100 gallon tank, 1 canister filter for a 55 gallon tank, 2 powerheads and some live rock. At this time I currently only have 3 pieces, would you recommend more. <The addition of live rock has many benefits, such as additional "filtering" capability, creation of hiding spaces and "territories", etc...Not usually a bad idea to add additional rock, but do leave ample swimming room for these fishes>   And, I do have 3 crabs, 2 ocellaris clownfish and 2 skunk cleaner shrimps. Do you think that my Regal Tang will eventually develop ich, white spot, in a excellent water quality tank such as this. <If you maintain stable, acceptable environmental parameters, adhere to an aggressive, consistent maintenance schedule, provide a high quality, varied diet, and utilize careful quarantine and acclimation techniques prior to introduction to the display tank, you should not have to worry about ich, or any other disease.> Could you please fill me in on these questions. I would very, very much appreciate it. <Happy to oblige!> Also, these fish need to be introduced into a well established marine aquarium, would an aquarium that has been running approximately 34 days be fine, as a marine fish shop near me, introduced two into a tank which has been running approximately 4 weeks, and seemed very happy, and off course healthy. <Well, once again, I strongly advise that you utilize a quarantine period prior to getting the fish into the display tank. Careful selection of your specimen is important, too. To answer your question- I suppose it's possible to put these fishes into a recently-established aquarium, provided the environmental parameters are stable. However, I'd want to wait a little longer to assure that the microfauna and other beneficial life is well established before introducing the fish, myself...> Thanks. Regards, Aaron <You're very welcome! Scott F. >

The Six Foot Solution? (Proper Tang Housing) Hi, <Hey there! Scott F. at your service!> We have a half round tank that is 28" high and 48" across the back with about 75 lbs of live rock.  Current inhabitants are 2 cleaner shrimp and a green Chromis.  A yellow tang and a 2 tank raised false perculas are in quarantine (will be added in a few weeks). <Excellent procedure!> We'd like to get a small Hippo (Regal) Tang to introduce at the same time as the yellow tang.  However, we understand they need a 6' long tank to be happy.  Since the rounded portion of our tank would equal a little over 6 feet - would the hippo tang be happy in this tank when it gets larger (with the other inhabitants)? <Well- it's tough to say...I am partial to the minimum 6 foot theory...Also, I think a 150 gallon plus is a good start. Waste dilution is as important as physical space...I suppose you could start the two in this tank, but a larger tank is really necessary, IMO, if the fish is to live out a full (and happy!) natural life span in captivity...> Also, would you recommend a captive raised hippo tang or wild caught yellow bellied hippo for hardiness? <Well, depending on the handling and care the fish received from the collectors/wholesalers/retailers along the way, either can do well, if selected properly...Captive-raised will probably be a bit easier to acclimate to aquarium life, but many wild-caught specimens adapt just fine...> Thanks! Doug <My pleasure, Doug! Regards, Scott F.>

Confession: I Keep a Hippo Tang in a 55 Gallon Tank Hi Bob <Hello> I have been in the hobby only about 2 years and am enjoying The Conscientious Marine Aquarist for the first time. My question involves the ethics of keeping a hippo tang in a "small" tank (55 gallons). I bought this guy from my LFS before I heard claims that he could not be kept in small tanks. I did some research, but not enough to discover that this issue existed. Now I have had him in a sparsely populated full reef tank for about 18 months, with what I thought was great success.  <By definition... yes. I have kept this species in this size quarters as well. For a largely sedentary fish during the day, I don't consider fifty five gallons as "way too" small, but down to about the smallest size volume for a "medium" individual> He recovered completely from an early bout with an ick-like affliction and has shown no signs of stress for well over a year. The problem: he's only about 2 1/2 inches long (sans tail). I mentioned this on an internet forum and was excoriated by some knowledgeable folks (or so they claim) for keeping a tang in such a tiny tank, the theory being that this species grows to 10 or 12 inches in the wild, so must be stunted by living in the small tank, therefore must be suffering as a result of my cruelty. <Mmm, not necessarily... Paracanthurus can, do get to be five, six inches in captivity as some average maximum length... but are slow growers... often not fed continuously as in the wild...> I contend that he eats well, exhibits good social skills, looks great, and never gets sick. No doubt the small tank is restricting his growth, but what harm does that do?  <Little to none... chances are (here we go with generalized statements, albeit necessary) that a given individual would have been consumed in the wild by now...> Now I notice that your fine book does not warn against putting hippo tangs in a small tank. Am I missing something, like maybe a conscience? <You seem to be missing nothing... but simply considering disparate opinions at this point. I am still of the notion that this fish is doing fine in your care. Be chatting. Bob Fenner. Oh, please do read through our principal site, www.WetWebMedia.com for more timely, recent input.> Ev Newton

PS to my Confession Hi again In my e-mail about keeping a hippo tag in a 55, I should have mentioned the Latin name Paracanthurus hepatus (but you knew that) <Yes> and the fact that the fish has grown only very slightly since I got him a year and a half ago. So unless he undergoes an anomalous growth spurt, it will take him about 7 years to reach 6 inches in length. (By this time I hope to have my dream tank up and running.) Other details: he's fat (despite sparse feeding) and well conformed. Tankmates are one Pseudochromis fridmani, two cinnamon clowns, and half a dozen inverts, including a Heteractis malu (but that's a different sin for another time). Ev Newton <You're making my day. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>
Re: PS to my Confession
Thanks for the lightning response, Bob. I did look at the P. hepatus and general surgeonfish material on WWM before asking. Your stuff is by far the most reliable and sensible information on line. I wish I had known about WWM when I started this tank. Newt <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. They mean much to me. I do hope/trust that we can contribute to the appreciation and proper use of our world by such interactions. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Tangs, a tank and a shoehorn I own 2- 70 gallon f/o aquariums. One has an orange-shoulder tang, a yellow tang, and a Singapore angel. The other has a coral beauty, orange-shoulder tang, and a Picasso trigger. I would like to add a hippo to the latter of the two but I don't know what size I should order. I realize that the orange-shoulder will outgrow the tank but we'll handle that when the time comes.  <so will the hippo for that matter... it is hard for me to make a recommendation on something that will only work for 12-18 months if the fish is well fed and cared for. Indeed the sum length of both fish at adulthood is over two feet! One fish will be too much for a 70 gallon tank at that point... assuming it lives that long cramped> Currently he's a juvenile just maturing to adult coloration. I'm worried that the Orange-shoulder will harass the hippo if I add him.  <some hippos are rather scrappy just the same. Mixing groups of angels, butterflies or tangs is always a risk. With so many other wonderful reef fishes to keep, I'd advise you to find something with a different feeding habit that will be perceived as less of a threat> I had an Atlantic blue tang before that ended up killing my one-inch hippo and I don't want to have the same happen with the orange-shoulder. The orange-shoulder is about 3.5 inches long. If I need to I can divide the tang but what do you think I should do? Do you think the two will get along? <Alas, my friend...in the big picture it is not worth the risk... even if 4 in 10 work out, that leaves 6 of 10 that suffer. With hundreds of great marine fish to pick from, do look for something that will remain small and be more compatible for your tank size. Kindly, Anthony Calfo>

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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