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FAQs on the Clown, Oriental or Pajama Tang, Acanthurus lineatus

Related Articles: Acanthurus Tangs, Naso,

Related FAQs: Acanthurus Tangs 1, Acanthurus Tangs 2, Acanthurus Tangs 3, Acanthurus ID, Acanthurus Behavior, Acanthurus Compatibility, Acanthurus Selection, Acanthurus Systems, Acanthurus Feeding, Acanthurus Disease, Acanthurus Reproduction, Powder Blue Tangs, A. sohal, A. nigricans & A. japonicus, Surgeons In General, Tang ID, Selection, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease,

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

White ring on Clown Tangs head      1/20/19
Hi Crew,
<Hey Lloyd!>
I was admiring my fish and noticed this ring on my clown tang that is on his head near his left eye. I would like to know what this is. And if it is a minor or serious condition? He is still aggressive with the other fish, eating and swimming, no visible signs of stress. But I worry that it could get out of control quickly. To me it looks like he may have rubbed a rock or gotten into a small fight that has caused this.
<You´re right, it is a physical trauma, I wouldn't worry as it will heal in a few days/weeks, just pay attention to its behaviour to see if it is scratching against the rocks; I hope your tank is big enough (150+g).Surgeonfishes need plenty of space to swim freely.>
<Cheers. Wil>

Re: White ring on Clown Tangs head      1/21/19
Hi Will,
My Tank is a 4’ Diameter cylinder tank with my pipe work coming from the center to allow free swimming.
<Good tank shape although over time it will be better to upgrade.>
Thanks for your observation of the photos.
You guys provide such a wealth of experience, it really is invaluable.
<We are glad to share it.>
<Take care. Wil>

Clown Tang; stkg.        7/19/16
Greetings, I have a 9 month old 450 gallon mixed reef. 3 still fairly small Yellow Tangs, and just added from QT a Desjardini Sailfin Tang with no compatibility issues. There is a 3 inch Clown Tang available and wanted opinions on weather this could work.
<Acanthurus... wait I see below. I would NOT place a A. lineatus w/ the Sohal>
I have a 9 year old monster A. Sohal in my other tank (FOWLR) and I've never chanced adding another Surgeon, as we all know the reputation.
However, it is my favorite fish and would love to try its equally beautiful close relative in my reef. This would certainly be the last Tang I would add. Thanks for your time, I love the site.
<In a separate system I give you good odds here. DO NOT place the two together however. Bob Fenner>

Hypo and Prazi not working    12/11/12
Hi crew,
          This is Vijay from India again. Thanks for all you previous inputs which have helped me well. Well coming to the issue at hand. I have been quarantining two regal tangs in the qt tank.
<I would dip/bath this species, actually all Acanthuroids coming/going twixt systems>
The fish started scratching from the first day but I did not see any white spots anyways I started with hypo( 11ppt)
<... see my comments re Hyposalinity. Rarely "works"; especially w/ such "Ich magnets" as many of the Surgeons; including this one>
 and also added Prazi thinking it could be flukes
<More likely Protozoal>
and dosed it two times six days apart. But even after a month after being in hypo and Prazi the fishes still keep scratching frequently.
<Scratching itself could be due to "many things"; not necessarily indicative of parasitic issue/s>
All chemical parameters seem correct.  The scratching is more concentrated on the head and the gills of the fish. The fish eat as normal I am just clueless how to proceed. Thanks
<... Back to reading; let's have you start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/crypttangsf4.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> 

Clown Tang Problem, Please Help (Attacking the hand that cleans) 03/04/11
Was cleaning my saltwater fish tank and my clown tang just punctured my thumb with his back spikes.
Im bleeding and it stings.
<<Ill bet>>
Do you know if they are poisonous and if I should be concerned?
<<They are not venomous in the sense that a poisonous snake is venomousbut any open wound exposed to the concentrated bacterial webs in our systems is certainly prone to secondary infection. Clean the wound well and disinfect it, and keep an eye out for any sign of infection that may require a Doctors attentionand a wary eye on that tang from now on>>
Thank you.
<<Quite welcome EricR>>

Disease, more info needed 11/14/10
<Hi Michelle>
Hi can you identify this disease? He is rubbing on rocks and sand. I would like to treat asap but am having a hard time identifying.
<I noticed that you were looking for a quick response. It's been about 7hrs and no one has grabbed this email. Could you include some details of the issue in text, and maybe some more photo's in better focus? I think you will get a quick response if you could do these two things.>
<Thank you, Scott T.>

Re Sick fish... Having trouble identifying 11/15/10
>> Hi my name is Michelle I have a sick fish he is eating but not a lot I have been supplementing with Selcon and garlic extreme. My tank is a 125 gallon marine tank FOWLR my water parameters are nitrate 0-5 Nitrite-0 ammonia -0 ph 8.2 salinity 1.023 temp 74.8 I have a wet dry sump fit for a 300 gallon tank with Chemi-pure carbon and bio balls. Aqua c protein skimmer. The tank is 6 months old. This fish was recently added I noticed something the second day he was in the tank he was scratching his body against the sand and rocks. The patch of scales that are missing, (in the picture) aren't fuzzy it just looks like a scrape. And he's itching like crazy I've been trying to research and I think it's bacterial? So he's in a QT tank with instant ocean lifeguard. Have you seen this before ?
Should I be treating a different way?
>> Please help.
>> Michelle
>... you've sent this pic of your damaged Acanthurus lineatus to us a couple times already... B<
Re: Sick fish... Having trouble identifying 11/15/10
Oh sorry how do I get a response?
<Mmm, I see that ScottT has your last three msg.s in his in-box, w/ only the following resp. thus far:
<Hi Michelle>
> Hi can you identify this disease? He is rubbing on rocks and sand. I would
> like to treat asap but am having a hard time identifying.
> <I noticed that you were looking for a quick response. It's been about
> 7hrs and no one has grabbed this email. Could you include some details of
> the issue in text, and maybe some more photo's in better focus? I think
> you will get a quick response if you could do these two things.>
> Thanks,
> Michelle
> <Thank you, Scott T.>
<<This fish appears to have suffered a physical trauma... not uncommon as Surgeonfishes are rather skittish, and being moved, placed in small volumes often leads to such. I would move this fish to permanent quarters (w/ or w/o perfunctory FW dip/bathing) ASAPractical... as Pajama Tangs are not
easily kept period, and delay at this juncture is very likely to cause more trouble than to lead to biological disease transmission. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pjtf.htm
and the linked files above as you deem worthy. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick fish... Having trouble identifying 11/16/10

Thanks bob
<Certainly welcome Michelle. BobF>

SPS Lighting (And Tang Selection) 02/07/10
Hello Crew,
<<Hi Daniel>>
I'm in the process of building a 100 gallon SPS reef with a water level of 20 inches and 52 inches long. My plan is to illuminate the tank with two 250 watt halides.
<<This is finethough you could do quite well with slightly less powerful; and less power hungry, 175w metal halides here as well>>
The lamps will be 5200k (BLV TOPFLOOD HIT 250 dw E40).
<<Mmm Im sure the much lower price of this particular bulb makes it attractive to your wallet, but I think you are going to find its not so attractive to the human eye>>
Will this lamp replicate the proper environment for shallow water Acropora?
<<As far as meeting the needs of the coral, yes>>
I do plan to supplement them with royal blue LEDs to make them more visually pleasing.
<<Even so, I think you will find this less than pleasing to your eye. Although more than twice the price, speaking from experience I think you will be happier with the 10000K version (BLV TOPFLOOD HIT 250W Cool White E40)>>
My second question is regarding the clown tang (Acanthurus lineatus), does this fish become aggressive only towards other tangs or does its aggression spread to smaller fish like the Anthias?
<<Aggression is mostly toward other tang species or any species that may challenge its dominance of the tank. While it is not likely to be aggressive toward the smaller fishes, such a boisterous fish does not make a good tankmate for the Anthiines (please read here and among the associated links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/anthiina.htm)...not to mention this tank is really too small for this large and difficult Acanthurus species (please search our website re Acanthurus lineatusyou can start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AcanthurusBad.htm). If you must Acanthurus japonicus or Acanthurus pyroferus would be much better choices>>
I would like to thank you for all the great information that you have made available.
<<A collective effortyou are quite welcome>>
Daniel Naveen
<<Cheers Eric Russell>>

Tiny Clown Tang, fdg. 9/30/09
I was at my local LFS 2 weeks ago and saw a tiny clown tang (1-2").
<This, Acanthurus lineatus, is a difficult species even starting with specimens of reasonable length>
This guy was also skinny to the point of starvation. The LFS was selling him for $37 but the sales guy didn't think he'd make it as he was not eating. He basically would chew but spit out the mysis shrimp that was fed
to him.
<Try appropriate sized Spectrum: Read here:
I've always wanted a clown tang and told the sales guy that I thought I'd be able to save him. So he practically gave him to me. I have a established 300 gallon tank that i was hoping to raise him in but soon realized that he was just to small and weak to defend himself against my juvenile hippo that is twice his size. I witnessed the hippo constantly charge and attack the clown. I immediately put the clown in a 10 gallon tank with 10 pounds of live rock. In the last week in a half the clown and seems to have flourished under my care. The problem is other than picking at the live rock the only thing he'll eat is Spirulina brine shrimp soaked in vitamins.
I've tried mysis shrimp, tiny pellets, emerald entree but he only eats the Spirulina brine shrimp. Will this be adequate for now as I'm soaking the brine shrimp in Zoë and Zoecon. Will the brine shrimp soak in the vitamins?
<To some extent, yes>
Thanks in advance.
<The Spectrum product. Bob Fenner>

Swollen mouth and funny tongue tang 3/5/08 Hi, I purchased a 3 1/2 in clown tang about 5 days ago, when I brought him home, he looked great, was eating well and exploring the tank. I have a 55 gal aquarium <Too small for Acanthurus lineatus> with the plan to move him into my boyfriend's 150 gal aquarium once he grows a little larger. <Oh!> Today he developed a swollen mouth and almost looks like his tongue is moving in and out of his mouth vigorously. His color has gotten darker since this has developed and he has become a lot less active. <Bad signs> I have done Ammonia(0 ppm), pH(8.0), Nitrate(10 ppm), Nitrite (0 ppm) and Salinity (1.024) tests, I don't think any of those things are the problem. I do have several different species of anemones in my tank, including Condylactis, carpet, and a long tentacle. <... not a good mix. See WWM re Anemone Compatibility> Could it maybe be a sting from an anemone? <Mmm, yes> No other fish in the tank (pearly Jawfish, 2 percula clowns) are showing any signs of disease. Any idea what could be wrong with my clown tang? If so what would you recommend to treat him? Ashlee <If you have another stable system, I would move this fish. The more likely cause of the trouble here is/was collection damage... shipping, what have you... Only time will tell whether the specimen will self-heal. The prospects are not good. Bob Fenner>

Regal tang... sys... 02/27/2008 Dear WWM, <<Andrew today>> I think that your site is soooo great. <<Thank you for the kind words>> I was wondering if I could keep a regal tang in a 36 gallon bow and then be switched over later. <<Unfortunately not. Its never good to contemplate adding a fish to a tank with a view to upgrading later, bad practice. The main factor here is the unknown quantity of life...I.E. we never know what is round the corner, something might happen and the tank upgrade may not happen, then we end up with a fish that has stunted growth. Tangs such as this should only be considered when you have an aquarium of around 125 gallon>> I saw one at my LFS that is only 1 to 1 and a half inches. Also how long does it take for them to grow too big for a 36. thanks. <<Thanks for the question. A Nixon>>

Compatibility, Clown Tang Hallo again, <cheers> I have had the clown tang for 6 months now...actually that is how long I have had the tank (plus cycle time) the tang is a bit over 1 1/2" long, and seems okay...I do try to feed a variety of food. but will consider the refugium option... <yes, my friend... please read more about this fish on the Wet Web Media archives. And in the Conscientious Marine Aquarist book too. The prognosis for this fish and its size are not good in the long run> though it is hard without an overflow set up. (no?) <not at all. You will want an Upstream refugium: a small tank above your display with an overflow hole... water is pumped up and flows back down.> Anyhow, Thanks for all your advice, I have a 33gal quarantine tank at the moment...so perhaps I will try it out... <excellent! It will be fine for this tiny trigger for many months> cheers again Bob <kindly, Anthony>

Bob please take a look, Clown Tang... some differences of experience, opinion Hello: I am a biologist, specializing in habitat re-creation. All Tangs school, but not year-round. <Agreed, and some species, localities far more than others> The Clown Tang schools year-round and is one of the few Tangs that breeds gregariously. <Acanthurus lineatus? Does not school often at any of a few dozen places I have photographed and collected them. It is almost always found singly, I assure you> According to my sources at the American Marinelife Alliance, only Tangs caught in the Philippines are usually drug-caught, and also from the Fiji Islands <What? Tangs are not targeted for the ornamental industry in Fiji by and large... and no fishes are captured there by anything other than fence and hand net techniques... In the Philippines, Acanthuroids are rarely taken with cyanide... again, I lived there and have visited on many occasions... other fishes are captured with poisons however> and the Clown Tang is rare in those waters. Call your local public aquarium, and ask them about their record of success. Bet you'll find they have a hard time with them too. <Don't know what you're referring to by a hard time... historic survival rates? I am sure you are right if this is what you mean... this species, A. lineatus does not fare well in captivity> I worked at the New England aquarium as a Grad student for a few years as part of my R.A. program at U.R.I. They couldn't keep them alive under absolutely perfect conditions in schools of 6 or more. The only way they kept them alive was to increase school size to more than 20. <Interesting. About what size individuals were involved? Can you tell me where these originated?> Incidentally, almost all Clown Tangs (Acanthurus lineatus), are collected in Micronesian crystal-clear waters in depths of about 25 feet using nets. They do occur on reef flats and on the SEAWARD reef margin, but do not occur in shallow turbid water that I know of. I have checked six references on this and they all agree that the fish occurs in clear water only above the reef, <Agreed. This is overwhelmingly the conditions where I've encountered the species> though they may also be found in lagoons. All references I found say they require very well-oxygenated clear water. <Again, agreed> Like most Tangs, they are rarely caught using sodium cyanide as their skin absorbs the drug directly and damages the sub dermal tissue. Drug-caught Tangs usually die on their way to the wholesalers and never even make it to market. Tangs are easy to catch with nets when they school. One diver guides the school into seine nets held by another diver. Why use drugs? <Can't think of many good reasons... am surprised you seem to state that the group IS collected with cyanide, then categorically state why it cannot be so...> Take it with a grain of salt. If you get one, let me know how you make out. <With what, a grain of salt? In our stores (gone years back) we rarely offered much of the (if memory serves) of the 32 species of Acanthurus, and almost never, A. lineatus. I don't deal with collecting this species at all, nor keep it in marine aquariums... Bob Fenner> Dave Aquariumpros.com

What do you guys think about this response on Clown Tangs? Hello: Our experience with Clown Tangs is that no matter how well they eat, they tend to last six months to a year in captivity. <Mmm, our experiences don't differ much. Acanthurus lineatus ranks low in my scale of aquarium suitability.> They are very susceptible to stress from other species, especially other Tangs, and once they get stressed, they get lateral line erosion and die. The reason it's on our list is that this species is not a solitary tang. In the ocean, they swim only in large schools, and tend to not do well unless they are kept that way. <Actually... small to large specimens are almost always encountered as individuals, NOT in groups. Don't know the reason/s why this species doesn't fare well in captivity... but suspect that it and others (e.g. A. olivaceus) are "used to" much larger territories than small fish tank confines... and overall "stress" is their undoing. Bob Fenner> Dave Aquariumpros.com

Was quoted out of context. (Acanthurus lineatus) Hi Bob: I'll start by saying we love T.C.A. at The Aquarium Professionals Group, and recommend it to all. Just wanted to let you know that on the Wet Web Media FAQ, regarding Acanthurus lineatus at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acanthurTFAQs.htm, I was quoted out of context by someone who was posting from our FAQ regarding their collection using cyanide, and after reading my FAQ on the subject, I realize I made some errors there that could have caused that confusion. I also neglected to state that the juveniles and young specimens tend to school more so than adults. and I will clarify the cyanide collection and schooling information in our FAQ at aquariumpros.com. I have no idea who posted the FAQ from our web site, but your responses seemed to indicate that you thought you were answering me. <Will take a look... thank you for addressing this. Do you prefer the item to be pulled, matched with this input? Bob Fenner> Thank you, Dave Hauser Aquariumpros.com

Clown Tang Hello there Bob: have a question: I just bought a clown tang. This will be the first and last time I buy a fish without doing research on it first! I've been fooled or suckered by the pet store!! See, The pet store told me it was just as hardy as my yellow tang!! After doing research on the clown tang I just bought, I am finding from most of the sources that it is a difficult fish to maintain. Just exactly how difficult is this particular fish? <Not so much as a juvenile, let's say under four inches total length, but as they get larger... can become trouble behaviorally... beating up on other fishes> It gets along well with my yellow tang and all the other fish in the tank. How sensitive is this species? <About a "four out of ten"> I've got a 75 gallon tank with plenty of live rock and plenty of hiding places. I am pretty anal about doing a water change every month. I must admit that I don't pay crucial attention to my water chemistry. I haven't had too many diseases yet. Only my yellow tang has had a bacterial infection once (fin rot). I have a wet/dry filter, protein skimmer, and a canister filter. 1 48" actinic light, 1 48" full spectrum light, and a 6" compact florescent light (with 2 bulbs). I only have a year experience with salt water tanks (16 years freshwater). Would it help if I told you I was a biology major? <All understanding "helps"> (meaning I'm familiar with chemistry, etc.). well, let me know what I should do. Thank you very much Jennifer Minnick Logan, Utah <At this point, just keep an eye on the specimen. If it becomes overly aggressive, have a stand-by plan for its removal. Bob Fenner>

Pajama/Clown tang with an Achilles Tang Hi Bob, Are you in the Cook islands yet?, <Nope. Out tomorrow, 9/26...> This time I want to ask you about this two fishes... Since the reef compatible fishes are somewhat limited, I'm thinking on adding this two to my 120 Gal Reef tank. Do you think it's possible?, or I'm only looking for trouble here?... <Yes... Achilles, like their name implies, die very easily... and these two can/will tussle big time if both in good shape...> If not possible what other Tang do you think I might be able to keep together with the A. lineatus? Norberto. >> <Take a look on the site: Home Page , and choose one of the Ctenochaetus, Zebrasoma, a Paracanthurus, or one of the dissimilar looking Acanthurus that is top-rated by me... Bob Fenner>

Clown Tang I have a question about a clown tang. I was thinking of getting one for my 25 gal. reef tank. He is pretty small now but I don't know how big they get or how their behavior is. Could you tell me if this is a wise purchase or not. Thank you, Adam Brock >> Thanks for asking ahead of purchasing this fish. Actually an Acanthurus lineatus in such a small system is a poor idea... it will be getting larger, soon... and is quite a territorial animal... I'd look into other species... none of them tangs... for your 25. Bob Fenner

Mixing Tangs: The tangs I listed were: Naso Tang Clown Tang Blue Hippo Tang Yellow Tang I have no problem scaling down. I was told by the local pet shop that this number of fish would be fine. <The number is okay... it's the habits, temperaments of mixing these sorts of territorial fishes of the Tang family that presents potential problems> How many pounds of live rock would you suggest? I wouldn't want more than a 1/5 of the tank with live rock in it, and with that little in the tank, would it really be of any benefit? Should I cycle the tank with the live rock, or with the Damsels? <A pound to a pound and a half per gallon's about right... you can add more later... but do look for "full box" deals (FFExpress does these deals... and has some great rock). Cure the whole system and the rock at the same time... no damsels need apply. Very great and real benefits of using live rock... maybe read up on this issue at the pieces stored at www.wetwebmedia.com> PS Is there anything wrong with building an aquarium stand higher than 30"? We want to make it about 10" higher so that it is more "eye level" and not so much stooping to see the fish is required. <Nope. Do make sure it's wedged in, otherwise anchored so it can't be "rocked" or tipped over... taller stands are better for larger settings, places where tanks are situated to be viewed by folks standing rather than sitting> Thanks bunches for all of your advise!!! Kim <You're welcome, Bob Fenner>

Clown tang Bob, Its been 3 days now, and my 9 inch clown tang's spines are still stuck out. I noticed that all of the other fish are terrorized, and scared to come out. <I would be too.> They were never like that before. The clown tang thinks he's the boss or something. <He IS> Checking any fish that dares to come out. Will the spines ever go back in?? Can I do anything to help him put back his spines??? <Perhaps placing it in a much larger, already established (pecking order with large livestock) system... Otherwise I'd trade this bad boy in. Bob Fenner> Linstun Re: clown tang Bob, I wouldn't trade this guy for no one. I got this clown tang from the marine center. Its an African clown tang. Plus they are super rare, most of them die anyways. But not mine. Anyhow there is absolutely no way that I can catch him. even to move him to another system. You see I don't want to damage his spines. Plus there sticking out. If his spines were to get pulled off, I'm sure they wouldn't grow back. Plus he would probably die. <Actually... we cut (not pull out entirely) these spines in catching, moving wild tangs (to prevent damage to nets, bags, other fishes, divers...)> I remembered on your last response that you saw some clown tangs that errantly had their spines stuck out, and they never folded back. Is that true? <Yes, so. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Linstun

Re: clown tang <PRE>so they do grow back like finger nails?? <Yes. Bob Fenner>

- Acanthurus lineatus - Dear Bob, <Actually, JasonC here today...> I am really interested in purchasing a Lined Surgeonfish. My dealer gets them regularly and right now has a 5 inch individual. He has been there for about 3 weeks. He is very fat and has great coloration. When I go up to the glass he becomes very curious and checks me out. I have been there a few times to observe him and every time he is eating algae and Mysis shrimp. If I purchase him, he will be placed in an 90 gallon FOWLR aquarium with a 3 inch Yellow Tang. Water quality is excellent and the water movement is about 12 times turnover. There are a ton of hiding spots for him and the other tang to hide. Do you see problems with them getting along in this size of tank? <Yes... these fish are well known to be hyper-aggressive in captivity and with growth. Additionally need a lot of space, more than a 90 gallon tank will provide.> If size is a problem I will be upgrading to a larger tank in the next year. <Then I'd wait to get one of these until then... keeping in mind that it still might very well kill many of your other fish.> There is a lot of algae growing in the tank and I will give them Nori soaked in Zoe and maybe Mysis at least twice a day. Thank you for your advice. Sam Reef (Real name) <Cheers, J -- >

Clown Tang AggressionFueled By The Lunar Cycle? - 09/29/07 Here is my dilemma, I have a Clown Tang about 6-inches, and every few weeks he acts very weird. <<A very aggressive (even mean) species>> About two months ago he tried to kill my Purple Tang (luckily I got the purple out in time but he had 4 cuts about half an inch long and put him into another tank). <<Likely the two are together in a too small environment>> This month he has been fighting his reflection in the glass for the past 3 days. <<Typical behavior for most any territorial species>> My tank is a 125 with a 55-gallon sump and 200 LB of live rock, chemicals are all good. <<Mmm, yesand too small to be mixing this large (can exceed 16 in the wild), very active (likes LOTS of open space), and very aggressive fish (did I mention mean?) with other Tang species>> I was curious if the Full Moon cycle could up his aggression? <<Honestly, I cant say for sure But, if youre not running some type of controller/gear to replicate the Lunar Cycle how does the fish know? Or maybethe fish senses/feels a change in gravitational forces>> Because I found that most tangs breed in the wild by Full Moon, or New Moon. When it first got really aggressive was a Full Moon and this time the Full Moon just past. Thanks for your input. Kevin <<The Lunar Cycle may well induce a neurochemical change increasing aggression in this very aggressive species (is thought to happen to humans too)which is already exacerbated by the confines of the tank and too much rock/not enough open swimming space for the Tangs liking. Regards, EricR>>

Mixing A. lineatus and A. sohal....not gonna' have a good time - 4/8/07 Hi guys, <Hey Wes...> I really appreciate all the time you all put into answering people's questions. <Thank you!> WWM is probably my most trusted source of online info. <A very nice compliment...thanks again.> I've been thinking about adding some tangs to my aggressive FOWLR tank. <Okay.> It's a 55g but I'm planning (in about a year) of upgrading to a 180g. <I would probably wait until then to add any surgeons. I would especially not add more than one to a system of this size...wait for the upgrade.> I'm definitely planning on getting a sohal tang <Then wait for the 180...and even then I'd be very cautious in mixing an Acanthurus sohal with another surgeon. In fact odds would be against you on this one, even in the largest of tanks.> and have been batting around the idea of getting a clown tang as well. <Together with the A. Sohal. Not a good idea my friend, not in the least bit...not advisable at all.> After reading all the info on your site, I'm beginning to suspect there's a good chance these two wouldn't get along together. <More than a good chance!> Is this true, even in a 180g? <This would be true even in a tank of double this size. The boisterous personality of these two fish, not to mention they are con-geners would be a near disastrous mix.> Would I need to get an even bigger tank to house these guys for the long term? <Very big, one that exceeds the size of your average home aquarium, and even then my above comments would still hold true.> I really would like to have both, <It would have to be separate systems.> but if it's a flat out bad call, <These two animals have territorial issues with other tankmates, and especially other surgeons and mixing them is just not a good idea.> I'm content with sticking with just a sohal. <That would be best, but wait for the upgrade.> I'm also planning on getting an Atlantic Blue Tang (or possibly a sailfin tang) <Mmm...still not a good idea, at all...but better than the clown tang.> and a Porcupine puffer. <Too big.> Currently, my tank inhabitants are: Dogface puffer Blue-spotted grouper Snowflake Eel Bluejaw Trigger (Male) Banana Wrasse (which I'm thinking of giving back to the LFS) Two large hermit crabs <This is already far to much for a 55 gallon tank.> They're all small, about 3 to 4," except the eel of course. I realize that even in a 180g, all these fish together may be a bit of a crowd long term, <True.> but I figure I may lose one or two of them over the course of 5 or more years. If I have the good fortune of that not happening, I do realize I may need to give a couple away, which I'd be willing to do if need be. <Yes the tank is overcrowded as it is...> I'm considering returning the wrasse not for any major reason, but mainly because he's a bit too "hyper" of a fish for my tastes and also tends to hide a lot which doesn't seem normal to me for a wrasse. Maybe I'm wrong here? <Depends on the individual specimen and the personalities of those around him. He may be suffering from psychological/territorial crowding.> He also seems to pick at the hermits when he feels like. <Normal.> Thanks in advance for any advice! Wes Shive <Adam Jackson.>

Clown Tang/Compatibility? 7/7/06 Hi guys (and gals), <Hello Edward> At the local fish store there is an employee that I really trust I will go to him to answer almost any question I have. And on multiple occasions I have checked the accuracy of his statements with your website or others and he is usually dead on. So I he has been helping me setup my new 100 gallon reef tank, including plans, stocking, setup, he has even gone as far to come out and help me with my aquascape free of charge. I only mention all of this to show the level of trust I have in him. Now today I brought in a water sample to show him the progress of my new tank. My cycle is complete and my water conditions are perfect. While I was there I saw the most beautiful clown tang, he told me the tang came out of one of his friends aquariums that was too small. It was in this persons reef tank for almost a year and lived totally peacefully with other tank mates. He also said it would do great in my tank. I bought it and after reading some of the stuff I have seen on this great website I got a little nervous. Do you think this beautiful fish is going to be a nuisance in my tank? Has he let me down or is there a possibility that this clown is an exception to the rule? Thanks again for all your help! <Edward, there are a few items that I find questionable. First, it is not advisable to put a tang in a newly set up system. Second, this fish should not be kept in anything much smaller than a 150. Third, this is a very difficult fish to keep for any length of time. In this regard, I am referring to the Acanthurus lineatus (Clown Tang). There is a similar tang, Acanthurus sohal that is much easier to keep. Sounds like his friend had very good luck, which leads me to believe the tang is a sohal. As far as compatibility, they are aggressive toward other tangs. This fish also requires very clean, highly oxygenated water. Do read here for more info on the genus Acanthurus. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acanthurTngs.htm James (Salty Dog)> Edward Re: Clown tang 7/10/06 Thank you for the quick response! <You're welcome.> I do agree with you, there are a few things that are questionable. First off even though it is a new tank my water parameters are perfect and I have about 100 lbs of fully cured live rock from a previous system, I do agree it is a little risky. <Yes, in new systems pH levels can be unstable. Personal experiences.> The size of the tank, you are right on. He did not tell me that this fish would need such a large environment. I am positive that this is a Clown Tang. It is about 3.5" to 4" and like I previously mentioned, it was in a successful reef tank for about a year. The guy that originally bought it had it in a 55 gallon tank and can no longer house it. Do you still think there is no way to keep this beautiful fish happy in the environment that I have to offer? Or is he going to attack anything in the tank? <You can get by for awhile in your 100 gallon, but as the tang grows, he will need larger quarters. Tangs do like to swim and like plenty of room. As far as attacking, they are only aggressive toward other tangs. He may chase a fish or two out of his territory, but no battle wounds should occur.> <<Mmm, actually Acanthurus lineatus is "aggressive" towards anything that challenges its dominance in its space... will cut aquarists hands even... RMF>> Thanks again. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Clown Surgeon, other Tang... comp., macroalgae avail. 4/1/06 Thank you Bob, that cleared it up somewhat. Also just wanted to ask if you have received an email I sent a week ago. Not sure if it got lost or something? <Don't recall... anything that was missed... lost...> I know you're busy, so if the reason is due to the backlog of questions, I apologize for my impatience. I have included the email here: <Ah, good> "Hi Bob, I am considering purchasing a Clown Surgeon (Acanthurus lineatus) and have researched widely on this fish. I would like your opinion on whether it will be suited to my tank. I have a 900 Litre tank currently housing a blue-spotted ray, and 3 small snowflake eels. I plan to complete the tank with 2 blue-lined snappers and 2 H. acuminatus. Do you see any possible problem if I were to introduce a Clown Surgeon? <Mmm, not with what you list. This may become a/the alpha fish here> I understand they are aggressive and require a higher level of care. And I am concerned it might cause trouble with the snappers. If I don't get the Clown surgeon my other option is an Acanthurus Sohal or a Naso Lituratus. <These can also be "bold", particularly the Sohal> I know that this is involves a high degree of speculation, but I am trying to avoid possible personal disappointment and stress for my tank inhabitants. Have you had any experience with this (these) fish? <Oh yes> Also, I am having trouble finding any retailer in Australia which sells Chaetomorpha...Can you suggest any way in which I can get my hands on some? <Perhaps some other hobbyist... are there BB's for the marine aquarium hobby? I would query otherwise re on Reefs.org, Aquarium Frontiers, ReefCentral re...> (Am also not sure on the current legality of importing/retailing this type of macroalgae.. I have emailed Aust. Quarantine but so far no reply) <Do take care to not break the law> I do have access to red macroalgae however, and I was wondering if red algae is suitable for consumption by any of the above mentioned surgeons. <Many species of Reds, yes> Will (can) it also serve as a denitrifying component in my refugium? <Definitely> Thanks in advance, Joe. <BobF>

Clown Tang Problem...A Tang For Expert Aquarists Only - 06/06/2006 I have a small Clown Tang that I have had for a few weeks. When I got up yesterday morning his head was very dark, almost black. This happened overnight. Also he is swimming only using one lateral fin. His appetite is fine. <Water quality issue more than likely. You certainly didn't pick one of the hardier ones. These guys have a very high mortality rate. Pristine water quality and a good diet will go a long way in keeping the Clown Tang healthy. You say his appetite is good, so you won one of the battles. Do feed marine based seaweed and algae. It will strengthen their immune system and become a little less aggressive...Yes, a very aggressive fish. Good luck. James (Salty Dog)> Any suggestions? <If your experience level is low to moderate, I'd see if you can return this fish for store credit/exchange.> Dan Re: Clown Tang Problem...A Tang For Expert Aquarists Only - 06/06/2006 I have had a Achilles as well as a Powder Blue successfully. <A little easier to keep than the Clown Tang. "Have had"?> My water quality is good 1.023. Nitrates below 20. Nitrites 0. <Water quality isn't just 1.023 salinity and nitrates below 20 and nitrites 0. Other factors are stable non-fluctuating temperature and pH, absence of dissolved nutrients (An excellent skimmer goes a long way here), weekly 10% water changes are a few. Do read here, Dan. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/watchgantart.htm> If it is water quality, wouldn't it have developed over a few days? <Not necessarily. Very hard to tell water quality by looking at it.> And why would it affect his use of a lateral fin? <Was not implying that this was the cause of the fin not being used, is difficult to say without actually observing. For brief periods, I have observed tangs exhibit this behavior. What I was getting at is the difficulty in keeping the Clown Tang alive for any length of time.> He is eating Nori and grazing. <Good> I know that is an aggressive fish but I needed to have something straighten out my Achilles. <As long as the fish is eating well, just observe/monitor for health decline, hopefully you will have some luck with this fish. James (Salty Dog)>

Clown Tang in a small world? 7/3/07 I absolutely love your website. It has helped me correctly set-up and test my brand new reef tank. This is my second tank so I'm not a complete novice here but I do have a quick question. I have compromised with my self ( very hard to do) and set up a small reef tank ( by small I mean only 20 pounds live rock for a 46 gallon bow front tank). The reason for this is I want a free swimming tang with easy to keep polyps, inverts, mushroom, maybe a pulsing xenia ( the most fascinating coral I believe there to be). <I'm sorry, but even a 46g tank with no live rock would still be too small for a tang. Even the smallest tangs should be in tanks at least 75g or larger.> I don't have any questions on the corals, I've kept them successfully before so I don't really need to get into the footprint of the tank here.....so finally here's the question. 46 gallon bow.....little live rock (doesn't even come up half of the tank....lots of swimming room) i have 3 VERY small green Chromis's (peaceful) and am IN LOVE WITH A SMALL CLOWN TANG. Can there be a more beautiful fish...I don't think so. My main goal in all of reef keeping is keeping happy animals....is my tank big enough for a 2-4'' clown tang. <Oh, absolutely not. Assuming you're talking about the Acanthurus lineatus (also called the "lined surgeonfish" or "clown tang"), they need very big tanks (at least 180g) and are one of the harder tangs to keep alive. They are especially active and large fish (adult size is up to 15 inches!). As they grow older they also tend to get more and more aggressive.> Which will un-doubtably grow... I know they love to swim and I would never dream of suffocating one for any amount of time. Is this do-able. <Not for long. You might be able to keep it for a little while. But it will outgrow your tank in no time. And once it does, you'll probably have a hard time placing it since they need tanks larger than those of most aquarists and tend to not always play well with other tangs.> if not I will make my peace with it and move forward. <I'm sorry if this information bums you out, but this is just not a fish you can keep in a 46g tank.> What do you guys think?? <Honestly, I think you should stop thinking about tangs. Get your hands on one of Scott Michael's books on reef aquarium fish and keep making good use of this site. I'm sure you'll find a fish you can love and which will do well in your tank too. :) > Thank you for your time here. <Happy to help. Sara M.>

Question about Acanthurus lineatus... fdg. - 12/05/06 <Hi Steve, Mich here.> I acquired a nice clown surgeonfish about a month ago. <OK> He seems to be doing quite well, has a nice thick body (bulging stomach and no slimming behind the head), and has not had any of the aggression issues that I read about prior to buying him. <Does not mean he will not mature into behavioral problems.> When I first got this fish, he would eat Mysis, Nori and flake food. Now, he constantly feeds on algae in the tank, but seems disinterested in any other foods. <His natural behavior is to scour the rock for algae ...no flake food in the wild. I would interpret this as there is currently enough algae to keep his belly full.> He'll occasionally nip at the Mysis shrimp, but really only seems interested in algae growing in the tank. <This is a good thing.> I have some sort of unidentified turf algae (looks like Chaeto but is much thicker & attaches to the live rocks) that he aggressively eats, but this is almost gone now. Do I need to be concerned about this or will the constant browsing of algae in the tank be enough to sustain him? <It sounds like it is enough to sustain him in the immediacy, but I would not just assume it is sufficient for long term growth. I would occasionally offer Nori, if he eats it, I would continue to offer it as it may mean he is not getting enough from the algae in the tank.> 90 gallon reef tank with a 29 gallon refugium. <Not good! Way too small for this fish! He can get to 15 inches in length. Aquarium should be at least 180 gallons! I hope you plan to upgrade if you are committed to keeping this beautiful fish.> Thank you, <Welcome, -Mich> Steve

Clown Tang... Acanthurus lineatus? Mis-mixed, poor English 6/13/06 Hi! Just got subject fish. Our LFS said that he had it 1 month. It would only eat live Tubifex. <Unusual> It measures 4 in. Good girth. 240 gallon tank, lots of circulation, protein skinner, UV light. Please..... how do we get him EATING NORMAL? Soaked live Tubifex in Selcon and Zoe for 24 hours. Feeding frozen krill, Mysis, mussel, clams, spectrum Thera, Nori, all soaked in Selcon and Zoe. Is LIVE TUBIFEX WORM enriched good enough ? <No> This is a FOWLER tank. 6" Clown trigger, <...> 4" Blueface angel, <...> and 4" Miniatus grouper. Thank you, Dale <Dale... where're the spaces twixt your words, sentences? Poor English, mate... disrespectful and backward. These fishes are incompatible... Please read re Tang Foods/Feeding/Nutrition FAQs files here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm and the Compatibility FAQs files re the Balistid and Angel. Bob Fenner>

Clown Tang/Health - 8/10/2006 Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen, <Good morning Eric.> I'm writing you today because I am concerned about my newly acquired Clown Tang (he is very pretty). He is in QT right now (has been for about a week) waiting to go into my 55 display. My concern is that he has developed "discolored" splotches on his left side (please see attached photo) and has begun to "scratch" that area of his body against the ground and the bits of cover in the QT. Even upon very close inspection I can not see any white specs (watching for ick). I'm also worried about nutritional conditions as he is my first Tang and I'm still learning, although he seems to be eating healthily... the scratching is my concern. <Not a good first tang for sure. It appears to be an Acanthurus lineatus, one of the more difficult ones to keep. The Acanthurus sohal is similar in appearance and much easier to keep.> He has been eating, what appears to be "normally" (though I've never had a tang before and do not know how much to expect him to eat). I've been placing a 1"x1" to 2"x2" piece of dried seaweed on a clip in the QT for him every other day (I hope this is right, it seems so from what I've read on WWM). <If eating well, the fish should have a slightly rounded belly.> I am becoming concerned about putting him into the display even though he has a while to go in QT. Should I hyposalinate the QT? Copper? <No, do not add any more stress.> I don't want to cause undue stress to the poor little guy by treating him for Ick if it isn't there, but I don't want him to die either and as we all know, early detection (and treatment) is the key to everything. <Along with selecting fish that are easier to acclimate to aquarium conditions.> Any other words of advice on this species I may not have read yet? <I'm guessing your experience level is low. Should have done some research before buying this fish. OK, I'd ensure plenty of cover is available in the form of PVC pipe large enough to accommodate him. I would treat with Mela-Fix, but the fish appears to be suffering more from environmental/nutrition issues more than anything else. Do soak the sea-weed in Selcon or a similar vitamin complex. Do alternate feedings with a good frozen food, such as the Ocean Nutrition brand. I would not illuminate the tank as well. This fish does not tolerate poor water quality very well and the tank you plan on putting him in is much too small, as this fish can grow over one foot in length under ideal aquarium conditions. Somewhere in the 150 gallon range would be more like it. I'm hoping your QT is large enough (no 10 or 20 gallon) to make this fish reasonably comfortable during QT. I might add that I would seriously consider asking your dealer if you can return this fish.> Thanks again for everything you are doing! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Sexing Tangs Bob, How can I tell if my 9in. African clown tang is a male or female? <<Lorenzo Gonzalez filling in for Bob/Anthony, et al.. You're asking about Acanthurus lineatus, or A. sohal (the Red Sea version of A. lineatus), I presume? Sadly, one can only sex these by carefully observing adult behavior in a large group. (The male is larger, and commands a harem of females. Cheers, Zo>> Thanks Linstun

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