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FAQs about the Tangs in General

Related Articles: The Surgeonfish family, Acanthurus, Ctenochaetus, Naso, Paracanthurus, Zebrasoma , Prionurus, Surgeonfishes of Hawai'i, Surgeonfishes for Reef Systems,  

Related FAQs: Tang ID, Selection, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease

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Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Purple tang growth rate discrepancy     1/6/19
Hi Bob, if you don’t answer fish questions on FB feel free to ignore this, I enjoy being your friend so I can see all your excellent dive photos.
<Hey Bri; better to do such here; easier to refer, share, archive>
Basically, I just find this situation interesting, non-urgent, and somewhat unusual (meaning few folks have any insight). I’ve had two purple tangs in a 130 gallon tank for about a year. They typically shoal and coexist peacefully (for the time being). They both eat and are always out and about, but one is clearly dominant and one is clearly submissive, and this has been a constant dynamic.
<Yes; to be expected. See this in the wild and captivity>
What’s interesting is that over the past year or so I’ve had them they’ve gone from roughly the same size to the dominant one being perhaps 3 times larger than the other now.
<This also>
What’s even stranger is they both eat like pigs everyday, the smaller one is not being prevented from eating in anyway. I wonder if it could be due to gender, or chronic low level stress, or maybe some kind of health problem, or a combination of factors, but so far I can’t solve it, and the difference seems to be continuing to increase.
<"Stress" is the best term here. The dominant one affecting the play of hormones through nervous expression here>
So I essence, I was wondering if in your experience this is a thing that happens?
<Oh yes>
I know that purple tangs are sexual dimorphic, in so far as ultimate size, but I didn’t expect it to manifest this quickly or to this extent. I figured I’d see if you felt I needed to intervene in some way (remove one or remove one and treat in some fashion), of if you had other thoughts.
<Mmm; well, both can stay here... but, the smaller one would grow much more, faster if placed in a system where it's the solo Zebrasoma>
Alright man, keep up the awesome diving!
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Question on my tangs...     6/14/14
Hello WWM crew!,
I Have an odd issue I am not entirely sure how to go about solving it.
I have a 125 gal display 200 gal system plenty of rock work, stocked the
tank with plenty of coral and a few fish, (marine Betta, clown pair, Banggai cardinal, royal gramma) I decided to start adding tangs.
<?.... need to be careful here. Have you read on WWM re?

There's too many grammatical errors.... Are you a non-native speaker?>
initially i added
a Scopas tang and an Atlantic blue tang whom were added at the same time
and lived together with out any issues. Sadly the Atlantic blue tang died
randomly, was fine one day dead the next with good water parameters. So i replaced it with a Kole yellow eye tang (i apologize for the layman's names) i started noticing fin erosion and heavy breathing a couple months later mainly on the scopas tang and only minor on the khole tang. i didnt pay it much mind since ive seen this happen before and figured it was just fin nipping here and there. I then added a sail fin tang... this tipped the scale... the scopas tang has no fins left now, and the khole and sail fin have minor fin loss but what looks like stabbing marks all over them which i imagine is from the barb on the scopas. i do not see any agression ever in person and never have just assumed they were fighting as i later found out tangs of different genus types will fight. as it sits. this has been going on for a couple months all 3 tangs are tattered and torn breathing
heavier than normal but surprisingly still eating just fine swimming along
like there is nothing wrong. All 3 can very well survive if i solve the problem, the only issue is i do not know what the best solution is. I thought that maybe if i removed the scopas to keep the diversity lower (and hes the most beat up) that would solve the issue but i am not sure. due to the near impossibility of catching him with out removing rock work, i had hoped that nature would work itself out and the weak fish would die and order would be restored, but it has not. each fish just shows more and more signs of confrontation (if this is the cause, again i ave never seen any aggression and they are always near each other eating together etc) i fear
that if i don't do anything i will lose all three of my tangs, which is notideal.
any suggestions?
<The reading... on WWM. And running your writing through a grammar/spell checker before sending. Bob Fenner>

Party tank... Just reading on WWM, re Surgeon incomp.    10/24/07 Guys, Here's a fun one for you. Now to start, everyone is trying to talk me out of this, but there are a few enthusiasts who think i can get this done. Current tank is a reef tank, 240 gallon, sohal tang, yellow tang, purple, sailfin, scopas, convict tang, 2 clown fish (not tangs), couple butterflies, cardinal, 8 or so Chromis , fairy wrasse, 2 coral beauties, niger trigger, 3 Firefish, and that's mostly it, all mostly small except yellow tang and sailfin are good size, others considered medium at best. Here's what I'd like to do and I'm just looking for your opinion: I absolutely love powder browns and blues, also Naso and clown tangs. I would love to add all of these, but I'm looking for the magic combination here where I could get the most of them, probably introduce them at the same time, into some live rock and maybe a few more Chromis to offset any potential issues... <The Chromis would be fine. I would not mix in the tangs...> Any thoughts on the magic combination? I realize there's no magic combo, just looking for the best odds... thank you, Aaron w. in Chicago <Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tangcompfaq3.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Tang breeding  - 02/20/06 I haven't found a lot of information on this subject, <You won't.> but do you have any information on the breeding and rearing of the Zebrasoma tangs? Particularly Purple tangs? To my knowledge this hasn't been successful yet,<Correct.> but do you know if anyone has tried it? Is it a worthwhile venture or would the larval stage be too complex to duplicate in an aquarium? <I'm sure it has been tried.  Biggest problem here is the time length of the larval stage and to provide a supply of the type of food that would be required. Google for curiosity, I'm sure some info will surface.  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you, Clay Smith What Fish to Add? Mixing tangs  07/02/05 Hi Crew,     I presently have a 180 Gallon marine tank that has been up and running for 2 months. It has a 4" yellow mimic tang. I am looking to add some more tangs to start with and was looking for about three other tangs that could get along with the one presently in the tank and also of course with themselves. Thanks in advance for the help. <No... please help yourself. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm scroll down to Tangs... read re compatibility, by family, genus, species. Bob Fenner>

Black Longnose Tang Hello, <Good morning> I was wondering if you could give me some care tips for the Black Longnose Tang? I am more wondering what the min. tank size is, and feeding requirements? <You will find what you need here.... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zebrasom.htm Any help is useful. Thanks, Scott <You're most welcome, Leslie>

 Tangs Maybe I just missed it, but I wasn't able to find any of information I needed on the link you provided. However, I may look into buying that book you talked about. Do you know the answers to my questions pertaining to the time it takes for an Atlantic Tang and a Chevron Tang juveniles to go up to an adults? Thanks.  <Geez Steve, it's hard to answer. All depends on tank size, water quality, diet, and the size of the juvenile. You won't see it happen within the first year or so. James (Salty Dog)>

Keeping Tangs Without Trouble Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> We are getting a large tank (230 gallon) and would like to introduce a Hippo Tang before or at the same time as our Yellow Tang.  Our Yellow Tang and Hippo used to get along really well.  We sadly lost the Hippo when a round of Ich (or a fluke) invaded his gills - he was always the only fish to get Ich.   <Sorry to hear that...Not an uncommon event, unfortunately.> This time we want to do it right and are planning to let the main tank go fallow for 8 weeks at 82 degrees  - and are quarantining all fish in hyposalinity for at least 6 weeks.  We also plan to quarantine all corals and even pods for 6 weeks before they ever go into the new system. <A very worthwhile approach, IMO. You will not regret it, if you can stay patient and follow through!> We have read that if you do all of that you will not have Ich in the system. <Well, no technique is foolproof. The fallow tank technique allows you to deprive the causative protozoa of their hosts- your fishes! By interrupting their life cycle, you dramatically reduce the population of these undesirable organisms. It's impossible to eliminate all of them, unfortunately.> Then theoretically a Hippo Tang could not get it!  However, some places we consider to be experts are saying it does not matter because Ich is always present and especially a Hippo Tang will always get it if stressed regardless of the system (including Inland Aquatics).   <That's a subject of much debate in the hobby. My personal opinion is that there may be some of the protozoa that remain in a "resting" state, emerging at a later date to wreak havoc on stressed fishes. However, I think it is more of a "hit or miss" affair: Some of the protozoa will emerge from this resting phase at various times; perhaps they are even present in the fishes themselves, ready to multiply when conditions suit them. this is just my theory, of course, and those much more learned than myself in such matters probably have better insight. In my opinion, the most common cause of Ich infestations is failure to quarantine new fishes, which may bring this disease into a tank with them.> If this is true, we may decide not to get the Hippo.  However, if a Hippo can actually be freed of Ich all together through a dedicated quarantine approach, we are willing to do what it takes to give him a good home. <You will certainly improve his chances with quarantine, but a good diet, stable environmental conditions, and suitable tankmates will also play a role.> As stated the Yellow and (smaller) Hippo were best buds and he was also a favorite fish.  We'd really like to get another but don't want to go through the heartbreak again if Ich is inevitable. <Well, again- it's not inevitable, but it requires a level of dedication and a commitment to maintaining a stable environment for the fish to minimize stress.> Do you know of anyone who has managed to keep a Hippo Ich free?  Please send your thoughts.    Doug <Well, Doug, many hobbyists have maintained this fish successfully for years. It really boils down to quarantine, diet, and environmental stability and suitability, as mentioned above. With attention to these issues, you, too will be among the ranks of hobbyists who have kept these fishes successfully. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Removing the tangs from a Tang I've heard that this is sometimes done by collectors seeking to make the Tangs easier to handle. <Yes, especially larger specimens... on collecting are "clipped" to reduce/eliminate chance of injury to diver, other specimens> I just received a Naso from Saltwaterfish.com whose tangs are not there.  What is the long-term impact of this?  I'm really disappointed!  It seems wrong to take away their primary form of defense.  It's akin to declawing a cat and then expecting it to acclimate well to an environment in which it will have to engage in the process of establishing a pecking order. <No long-term problem should arise from this practice. The "tangs" do grow back... in a few months time>   This fish does not seem terribly healthy, either.  He's not eating at all despite being offered many tempting treats.  (Lettuce, Nori, brine shrimp, formula one) Any recommendations? <To refer to the family coverage on WWM re the feeding of Acanthurids, the genus Naso in general. Bob Fenner> Ana M. Saavedra

Tang Lost His Zip... Had a pump problem last week, lowered the oxygen content in the water. Water is back to normal, no ammonia, good salinity etc.  Our Yellow Tang 5" to 5 1/2" seemed quite stressed, understandably so, pump working fine all other fish doing fine, except the Tang.   <Hopefully, he'll improve...> Turned out the lights to lower stress level, he was rather pale over about half of his body on Sunday.  Today he has recovered his color, but still is not eating, that I have seen, rather quiet - for him - but moving around (usually very fast swimmer, feeds from my hand, very aware of his surround).  Normally he is a heavy eater on shrimp, flake, whatever other and romaine (like candy).  As I was watching him this evening, (thinking back over the last several days), have not noticed any feces from him at least not during the day time.  He is not in the habit of eliminating every day, but periodically as is normal.   <Well, tangs are typically heavy eaters that feed continuously, and eliminate often. Any deviation is cause for some concern...Keep a careful eye on him...> Have looked through Bob's book and a few others under diseases but not able to find any reference of this except in the bacterial infection area, limited.  What could I possibly have going on here?  There is not mark one on his body, except the pale in color, which is back to normal.  Am at a total loss - Help Crew! Hope there is enough to give you a hint, but there really isn't anything else visible. Ceil <Well, Ceil, in the absence of other symptoms, I'd venture to say that the brief lapse in water quality may have stressed the fish to the point where he/she has lost his appetite. Do another recheck of all basic water parameters, just to make sure all is on the mend, and "tweak" if necessary. A few sizeable water changes can often make a big difference to fishes who seem to be in distress due to compromised water quality...hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Cutting Tang Spurs Good day. This is the first time I have written you with a question so please forgive if I am breaking any cardinal rules. By the way, great site. Lip service aside, I will keep my first question to you brief. <Okay. Fire away> Is the practice of cutting the "spurs" off of tangs at all inhumane in order to prevent them from injuring other fish and is there a right and wrong way to go about doing this? (How short does it need to be cut and will it grow back?) Thanks in advance, Kelly <Good question (at least it is inspiring thought in this responder... who has cut back many "tangs" in the process of Acanthurid collection in the wild). I don't consider it "reasonable" to snip these sharp caudal peduncle processes in captivity for the purpose you mention... Too much damage, too little gain... and they "do grow back" quite quickly (weeks to a few months). The only practical "clipping" rationale is to prevent damage to the collector, other fishes in holding through the "chain of custody" to e/retailers IMO... There are two principal technologies employed to snip back either the movable or permanently extended spurs of the family... My fave is the use of large, sharp/newer "fingernail clippers", and the other is the use of specialized scissors used ostensibly for the same purpose. Each fish is held firmly with thumb on one side, other fingers of the same hand facing along the top, toward the back (to keep the sharp dorsal fin spines down, prevent the specimen from "wiggling free", with the fish out of water (except some larger Naso species are clipped underwater... as they can be dangerous in the meanwhile in the decompression bucket), and the spines snipped near their base (an eighth or so of an inch back from the "quick/origin"). Bob Fenner>

Tang Behavior - 08/17/03 <Hi Angelo, PF with you tonight> Hi, I have a Hippo Tang, had him for about a year. Seems healthy, eats well and is nice and plump. I've noticed that every now and then it starts swimming really fast from one end of the tank to another for a  few minutes. No scratching or aggression. It seems to be after a water change but I've only noticed it a few times. It also seems to happen when just the actinics are on. I always make sure the water is well aerated and the salinity and temp exactly match the tank. I let the salt dissolve for 2 days before use.  I change 5% twice a week.  The only other tank mates aside from coral are 2 clowns and a cleaner shrimp. Now I should also let you know that my tank is only 46 gallons. I know the tank is way too small but I didn't do my homework when I bought him. I was new to the hobby. My husbandry though is very good. Its about 4 to 5 inches. Is this a sign of stress of some sort? Or is it enjoying the new water? Or do tangs just like to swim fast every now and then? Thanks for your time. Angelo <Well Angelo, in nature, tangs have territories measured in yards. Your tank size would be like you living in a 6'x6' room with no way out. Your husbandry does sound good, but your tang needs to stretch his legs (metaphorically speaking). It is a sign of stress, from such cramped conditions. Most guides I've seen recommend a 100g tank, at the bare minimum, but bigger is always better. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, PF>

Re: Hippo Tang and Crustaceans Thanks for the response!  However, I would like to note (for the record!) I have had my fish for 4 years...which is longer than the public knew about "Finding Nemo." <Agreed, just something I came up with> Which, it would seem to me, is an unfortunate occurrence that may drive people to buy them out of popularity! <Yes>  :-)   In any case, thank you for your advice.  I will think about getting rid of the tang, even though he is a delight!  <If the tang is really small like 1-2" he should be fine for the next few months but I am just stating he will need larger quarters soon!, IanB>  Thanks again, Tiffany

Tangling With A Tang! I just purchased a Sohal Tang.  It's a beautiful fish. <Agreed! One of the nicest-looking tangs there is!> I just put it in my quarantine tank. <Awesome....proud of you!> I have a few questions regarding him.  First I heard they are one of the most hardy of the tang family, is this true? <Well, all tangs require a fairly  high level of care, IMO. The Sohal is quite hardy...> Second I don't know how put in a piece of PVC for him cause the quarantine tank doesn't have any gravel to hold it down.  Any suggestions? <PVC pipe will generally sink without your having to bury it in a substrate to weigh it down. If you can't get the PVC to stay down (I'm certain that it will), then you could employ some small ceramic flower pots for cover...> Are they considered shy fishes? <Actually, they are one of the most aggressive of all tangs, and are some of the nastiest fishes around! They are very territorial, and will definitely liven up your tank!> How would you suggest putting him in my main tank, once I'm done treating him in my quarantine tank?   I heard that nets aren't the way to go, is this true? <Nets are okay, but you have to be careful not to snag the spines that this fish possesses...just be careful. Alternatively, you could encourage him into a specimen container and do it without a net!> Should I aerate my quarantine tank?  Thanks again for your time.  Scott <Well, Scott- it is very important to get as much oxygen into the water as possible for tangs. If the filter system that you're using in the quarantine tank isn't providing adequate aeration, then by all means, employ an air stone, or a powerhead with an aerating feature...Good luck with your tang! Regards, Scott F.>

Tang ID 2/16/03 I am trying to identify a marine fish that I recently purchased as I don't believe it is what the fish store claimed.  The store called it a "Brown Forktail Tang".  I can find literally no references to it on the internet.  After spending quite a while looking at other Tang pictures, the closest thing it resembles is a Acanthurus blochii (Ringtail surgeonfish) however the body in not dark at all.  The body is extremely light blue, almost silver but it has a distinct white ring around the base of the tail. By any chance would you have any information on a species of surgeonfish that resembles this. Thanks. Ron Gretz Bartlett, TN <info specifically on the Ringtail can be found here: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=4750&genusname=Acanthurus&speciesname=blochii in general... just go to fishbase.org and plug in what you know/believe (like genus) and then browse the options. Best regards, Anthony>
Re: Tang ID  - 2/16/03
Hi Anthony, I appreciate the follow-up message. Unfortunately, I am aware of fishbase.org and the information doesn't appear to be available there to help identify the fish. What I know is this. The fish appears to be a juvenile. Fish body shape:  Very close to that of a Lavender Tang Body Color: During daytime (lights): Light blue almost silver  At night (lights out): Darker Purple almost brown. Dorsal spine/fin:  Darker Bluish purple with an orange stripe running along the top of the spines from head to tail Pectoral fins: Light blue almost silver Anal fin: Darker bluish purple Gill: Has a thin dark bluish purple stripe running along the edge of the gill Tail: Slightly darker than the body, however there is a distinct white ring that wraps around the base of the entire tail Appreciate the help. Ron <cheers, Ron. Very glad to hear that you are aware of and use FishBase. They are indeed staggeringly thorough on coverage of families... especially one so well documented as surgeonfish. As far as ID... I suspect yours is not clear simply for reasons of color variation among a species/age group. I would be very surprised if it isn't described there in this case. Although we are not Ichthyologists, you might take a shot at getting a scary clear close-up photo of the fishes distended fins (run the image through PS, blown up, etc) and see if a ray count helps narrow the field of choices/possibilities for you. Handling the specimen for a ray count is done with a dead fish <G> as you can imagine. Bob will be back from Hawai'i next week if you can manage to snap a clear body photo and e-mail it. FWIW... have you looked through Randall's "Shore fishes of Hawai'i"? Lots of uncommon images/species in there at large. Best regards, Anthony>

Fright/Night pattern on tang - 2/16/03 Yay, I have a yellow tang 3 inches very small for a tang a baby probably he eats well am i feeding him right he eats hair algae in my tank lots! He also eats formula two flakes I have the cubed form he never touches that. I notice he has faint white stripes 1 on each side down him i was told of either stress or not feeding properly i just bought him last Sunday? got ant ideas thanks, JM <this tang (like most) has what is called a fright pattern or a night pattern (displayed as either namesake suggests). It should not be apparent by day else your fish may be sick or stressed. Perhaps there is a fish in the tank intimidating it? Just posturing and chasing is enough... no nips needed to cause this. Best regards, Anthony>

Surgeonfish research We are doing a research project, where we will be collecting the eggs from spawning surgeonfishes at Johnston Atoll and rearing them to ~3 days old. <... Mmm, do you know Jan Wahr of NELHA (on Kona)? There is/was a gentleman there engaged in efforts to spawn, rear Naso lituratus... his name, Robert something...> We are trying to identify the best methods of incubation.  Should we roll the eggs in jars until hatch and then transfer them to different rearing chambers?   <I do think this is the best approach... float the eggs/larvae in colanders lined with fine mesh (likely 300-500 micron) agitated by small pump/powerhead current from outside> Is there someone I can contact who has cultured surgeonfish eggs.  We are looking at Kole, convict tangs and various other surgeonfish. <Wish I could refer you to such an entity. Do contact Jan in Kailua... and Gerald Heslinga there as well. There numbers can be found on the Internet. Natural Energy Lab Hawaii Authority (NELHA). Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance, James Candrl

Fish sleeping? Hi WWM crew, I have one innocent question about fish. Do fish sleep?  Because I have like 3 tangs, blue, Achilles, and Naso swimming around 24/7. They don't seem to be sleeping or hiding at night. Is it harmful to give them too much light?  As in leave the light on for about 20 hours?  Thanx <They should be sleeping, although sometimes you would never know it. Go with a normal 12 hour photoperiod, 20 hours is too long, esp. if you are concerned about sleep.  Yawn.....Craig>

Tang and Parrot I was interested in getting an orange shoulder tang, I was told that it could only live long if there was a parrot fish in the tank with it (it eats its waste). How true is that and if so,  <that is literally a load of crap (the story). Orange shoulder tangs are great fish and reasonably hardy once established (although they ship poorly). They are huge fish as adults though... you really need a tank 200+ in the 3-5 year picture> how peaceful and hardy is an orange spot parrotfish? How big will the tank need to be? <this like most parrots is inappropriate for captivity because of its diet and adult size. I wouldn't recommend it at all> Is the tang mean? <most tangs are territorial and somewhat aggressive. This fish gets big enough to be a real jerk if it wants too... have sturdy tankmates. Anthony>

Blue Tang It has been a long time since I have written. I just purchased a blue Tang I placed him with my other fish in my 150 gal very well established reef tank. Last night I noticed him taking a nip of a Gorgonian. Is this normal? <It is probably a response to captivity. It is very unusual for Blue Tangs to eat anything but algae in the wild, but I have witnessed Tangs eat Zoanthids and Leather Coral Polyps in aquariums.> None of my other fish seem to bother my corals. Do you think he's just hungry? <He could just be sampling it, trying to determine if it is good to eat or not.> Or will my gorgonian be a pile of sticks when he's done with it? <It is hard to say. The one group of Blue Tangs kept by a very successful local hobbyist decide Zoanthids are good to eat and ate all of them that were in a 450 gallon tank.> Any ideas on what I can do? <Cross your fingers or remove the Tang.> Thanks, Walter <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Acanthurus nigricans Mr. Fenner, Today's Daily picture is simply breath taking! Did you take it?  <Yes> How close did you get to her?  <Mmm, don't recall... but either a couple to about four feet away, depending on which lens I was using (60 or 105mm Nikon)... only utilize three underwater with my housed SLRs> We have had two of this species (not too hardy) and one slit my husbands finger open,  <Ouch!> so I am amazed at how close up this photo appears. Do tangs swat their tails at you in the wild, or only in captivity? <Good question. You are right, they can/do take slices at divers, collectors at times... and some species get quite large... and dangerous to handle.> I am very interested in going to Discovery Cove in Florida to swim with all the hippo tangs, but am a little leery of them swatting at me. <Oh, not to worry... unless you "grab at them" they will not harm you... I have dived with many species... their tail-swiping is almost always a warning... rather than any sort of injury intention. Bob Fenner>

Tang Age Mr. Fenner, I am Freckleface from the Chat Forum and I was wondering if you could look at the pictures of my tangs that are posted there and see if you could give me a Guesstimate as to how old they are and if they look healthy to you. The pictures aren't that clear, so if you are unable to guess by these pictures I will try to take more. Also, I have a few more pictures of both tangs posted in a Thread of mine under General Marine Fish Titled "Pictures of my fish". <Mmm, well, most fishes are like "pigeons" in that they quickly grow to resemble "adult" proportions/coloration-markings... but the Pacific Yellow-tail Blue and Zebrasoma desjardinii shown are likely not much than a year or so old> I understand you are extremely busy, but if you could take a look I would really appreciate it. One more thing.. How long do tangs usually live in captivity given optimal conditions? <Several years my friend. There are records for both species living into their teens in public aquariums. Bob Fenner> Thank you in advance Mr. Fenner!
Tang Age
THANK YOU!!! I have had the hippo for 20 months, so he must be a little over 2 then. And the Des. Sailfin we have had about 6 months. So then both are probably still babies. Do they appear healthy to you?  <They appear fine> I am very concerned that the hippo is a little over weight. They are both in a 60 gal right now, and we are upgrading within the next 6 months. The chat group says they need a 300gal. Would you agree? <The bigger the better... 300 is generous> We were hoping to go with a 125gal for a few years and then upgrade if needed. Would this be okay? <Yes> One more question (sorry, but I value your opinion so much, that when I catch you I can't help myself)... The Sailfin has been flicking his tail at the hippo everyday for the past 6 months. The hippo doesn't care and will occasionally flick back if needed-hippo is no wimp! Should I be very concerned about this? <No, not to worry. Natural> Again, it has gone on everyday for 6 months and neither have ever been cut. But I am wondering if the Sailfin is trying to take over the dominant role (room for concern) or if this is just how these two will co-exist together normal?) Thank you again. Freckleface <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Purple Tang By the way, I read somewhere on your page that Purple Tangs from Saudi Arabia go through a treatment which kills their gut fauna. This is interesting as I have observed when newly introduced that my animal's food is not being fully digested (passing whole brine shrimp). <Interesting> This is happening less now as I guess/hope he has picked up some "good" bacteria from the Kole in there. <Likely these microbes and protozoa> Seems to be fattening. <Me too, curse those beers and pizza for being so tasty!> Why do my fish always go nuts on brine shrimp when it is no good for them??  <I'm Coo Coo for Cocoa Puffs! I suspect a bunch of this behavior is due to our genetic heritage... when there is a whole bunch of a given foodstuff in abundance there is likely survival value in ingesting as much as you can...> Is it because the importers feed them this or is it just a natural fish/brine shrimp thing??  <Nah to either... not even found in similar habitats. If it was raining hamburgers in my office I'd never leave...> I wish they would love Mysis, krill or something else also. It's like trying to feed a 2 year old vegetables! :) Jordon <About this. Bob Fenner, off to the Pizza Parlor>

Tang Brutality Dear Bob and Company, <Steven Pro this morning.> Your advice and benevolent guidance is sorely needed. My tank has been set up for 8 months now: 135 gallon, 110 pounds of live rock, Assorted soft corals, snails, hermits, 1 cleaner shrimp, Breeding pair of false perculas, Teeny hippo tang, 5 green Chromis, watchman goby. Big Yellow Tang. The yellow tang was the victim of an LFS attempt to have 5 yellows in a display tank. He was badly bruised when I acquired him (over 3 months ago), but he has healed nicely and is quite sociable, or so I thought. This past weekend I added a royal Gramma and a Kole tang. (I had always planned on a maximum of three tangs, each of a different genus). The yellow tang is taking out his pent-up pain and humiliation (from his former situation) on the Kole, who now hides behind a powerhead (but does eat). I see a few options: 1. Move the yellow tang to the "Sin Bin" (20 gallon, with only one maroon clown) for a few days, then re-introduce him. <Also try moving around some of your decorations/liverock to change the territories upon reintroduction.> 2. Move the Kole tang to the "Sin Bin" until I can set up my 55-gallon next month. Skeptical about the 55 being adequate for the Kole, but it will be the only tang in there, ever. <Ok> 3. Provide lots of food as a distraction and let them settle it themselves, intervening only if death/serious injury is imminent. <It generally takes a few days up to a few weeks to get the new hierarchy established. Do watch that everyone is eating and not getting too brutalized. Also, do the moving the decorations trick.> What would be the best possible solution? Bear in mind that I've already tried to remove the Kole, but he's impossible to catch! <Try feeding the fish and then move quickly to catch someone. If you wish to remove someone, I would try to get the Yellow Tang and let the Kole settle in for awhile.> By the way, the hippo tang is oblivious to all of this and only cares that he's getting fed. Thanks in advance for any help you can give! Gina <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Tang and Reflection Hi thanks for the response. Unfortunately he didn't make it.  <my regrets that we were too late> The corner he was doing it in the worst we fixed a piece of our back round that had pulled away from the tank and he stopped doing it there, but we didn't have anything else to do the sides of the tank and we were going to buy some the next day to no avail.  <a freak occurrence but these things do happen> I'm not sure what to do about the lighting, because the lighting in the tank are stronger since I just upgraded them and the only thing I have in the room is one ceiling fixture. Maybe a stronger bulb in the fixture?  <perhaps yes... even background material on the two short sides as well if possible> thanks for all your help, Dela <with kind regards. Anthony>

Purple tang and flame angel How long did it take for purple tangs and flame angels to come out from hiding in the rocks? <Generally a few days to a couple of weeks> I do realize that I did just get them yesterday. They are both eating and some times do come out and swim around. Also, do tangs change colors at night??  <Yes, most fishes do> The reason I am asking is that last night when the lights on the tank were off, I came in to use the pc and noticed that the tang was light purple, almost white. He is back to his normal color today. <An amazing planet, eh? Bob Fenner> Regards, Keith Broadbent

Tang fighting its reflection Dear Robert Fenner We introduced a 4 inch powder brown tang (Acanthurus Japonicus) two weeks ago in our reef setup. The only other fish in the tank are five blue damsels. The Tang is eating very well, both seaweed and brine shrimp. But whenever the light is on in the tank the fish sees its reflection in the tanks front glass and spends the WHOLE time charging up and down the glass trying to fight off its reflection, biting and thrashing like mad. This is severely stressing the fish as well as us. When the tank lights are off, the tang cant see its reflection and is totally calm, picking and eating well. Is this something that is common with tangs or this particular species? <More per individual.> Will the fish ever stop behaving like this? Would it be better to get a younger tang (providing its eating in the shop)? Is there anything we could do to calm it? <Can you cover up this one viewing panel for a few weeks? Either dark paper or water-based enamel paint that can be removed.> Would it help to introduce other similar sized fish to keep it occupied? <Perhaps other fishes presence will help> Can you help us?? <Sure. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Patrik

Re: Information on breeding triggers and tangs Thanks for your advice about my clowns. They're getting along fine, as long as I keep them fed good, and my anemone has found a comfortable new crevasse to hide it's foot in. (My LFS told me they'd like sand or glass... maybe I was misled.) The system is very healthy and I'm sure the conditions are OK for spawning, aside from "privacy" per species, which I can eventually accomplish with a custom made divider. However, my long term goal is to breed Pygmy Angels, Tangs, Triggers.  <Wow... Tangs and Triggers take a bunch of room, conditioning... much preparation for rearing/feeding their young> Any suggested reading on this, these? (Not, necessarily just 'captive' reading material but reproduction in the wild, also.) <Posted as Bibliography/Further Reading after the many articles placed on our principal site: www.WetWebMedia.com  In addition, you would do well to become familiar with computer-searched bibliographic work: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm  I worked on my MSc on hormonal manipulation of mullets as aquacultural techniques... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Rob Dean

Yellow Tangs & peppermint shrimp Robert, Hello I have been having a few problems with my 55 gallon reef tank. I have 2 Sandsifter stars, a Lg yellow Tang, a blue Morpho Tang, <For browsers, this is aka a Pacific Yellow Tail Blue, Palette, Hippo... Tang, Paracanthurus hepatus> 2 yellow-tail blue damsels, a yellow-tail purple damsel, 2 percula clowns, and 2 purple-faced pink damsels. I have a stalk of xenia, 40 lbs of live rock, a small piece of trumpet coral, a small flower leather (which has recently started to bud), a few polyps, a few mushrooms, a Condylactis anemone, and a rock anemone. Well my first problem is that my Rock anemone shrunk to a quarter of it's normal size. I was told it was because my water quality was too bad. <Hmm, possibly... could be lighting (lack of it), interaction with other stinging-celled life in the system (physical and or chemical), simple lack of feeding (are you?)...> I have no Nitrate, no ammonia, and no Nitrite whatsoever. I was also told that it may have been from the enamel that was on the Conch shell that the anemone was attached to. But found out later that my phosphate was a 1.0. I think it was the Phosphate but don't know for sure. <"Don't believe everything you're told"> Second problem. I just recently bought 3 peppermint shrimp, one of which was pregnant. I put the pregnant one in a 10 gallon by herself with some live rock. The other 2 I put into my reef tank. 2 days later I found that the 2 were eaten all but part of their tails, which I found. I was told that they molted and were in hiding. Also told by a friend that his Yellow Tang had eaten his 3 peppermint shrimp. His tang was the only fish in the tank. Do Tangs eat Shrimp???  <If they can, want to, they can/will> And the pregnant one had molted, and the eggs (or babies) were still in the exoskeleton. What caused this??? Stress??? <Very likely yes> I'm confused. Third question. I had bought the 2 Percula clowns and were told that they needed a Ritteri, or Haddoni anemone. But that they would eventually take to a Sebae anemone.  <Possibly... to all though the "Sebae" (Heteractis crispa) is one of the three "naturally symbiotic" anemone species with this species of Clown... they can/do adapt to others... Please read this part of our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/anemones.htm > Well I put them in my tank and then that night I had to move the tank to another room. I siphoned the water into a Rubbermaid tub, and put all of live rock, fish, and corals into the tub. After I moved the tank the clowns were hiding in the Condylactis Anemone. I was able to move the anemone and the clowns into the bucket without the clowns taking off. After the fish were back in the tank the smallest clown stayed in the anemone, and chased the other one off. But 3 days later they both have adjusted to the anemone and have been there for 5 days. Is this normal? <Yes, does happen... even though Condylactis anemones are found in the Atlantic and all Clownfishes in the Indo-Pacific...> I was told that they would never take to a Condylactis anemone, but yet It seems that I have done that. <See above re not believing everything you're told.> Thanks for your time. Any help you could give me would be very helpful as right now I have been receiving conflicting advice, and info. <Keeping aquariums will be a very valuable lesson for you in critical listening and thinking... the more you investigate, assuredly the more "apparently" conflicting information you're going to encounter... Learn to develop your own theories, discrimination of facts, opinions, advice... in that order.> Also if you have any info that you could send me on breeding peppermint shrimp, it would be much appreciated, as I can't hardly find any info on the subject. Thanks again, and sorry for the long letter. Sincerely, Tomy Morrow <Read through the site: www.WetWebMedia.com, and we'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Tang Identification Hello Bob, This question was asked on a message board that I've been using to test my knowledge that I have gained from reading articles on your WetWebMedia site as well as the stack of books that I have acquired . I've been stumped on this question. I've tried numerous resources looking for any tang resembling this description. I've also been looking for any Rabbitfish that could fit the description due to there being in the same Suborder.  I have just been to my local shop and he has been supplied with a "rabbit" tang. Neither of us has ever heard of this and we were both wondering if this could be a "false name" and is really another named Tang. It is a dull grey in appearance but has distinctive bright blue lips. He has looked in his manuals but as yet it is still a mystery. Anybody any ideas please? The Tang in question has the same body shape (more or less) as the Yellow Tang. <<Hmm, well, looked through all my reference materials... including FishBase on the Net... and a Acanthuroid (maybe a Siganid...) shaped like a Sailfin (Zebrasoma) that is grey with bright, blue lips? Got me... maybe a new species? Maybe a juvenile Acanthurus blochii? Any chance of a pic? Of an idea of where the fish was collected? Bob Fenner>>

Tangs Eating Bubble Algae  Right now I'm trying to grow bubble algae and I have a yellow tang and a (hippo) tang but they keep eating it, how can I grow it and keep them in the tank. Any suggestions ? <<What? You lucky so and so... most folks are looking for the fishes you have to eat THEIR bubble algae! Well, a few ideas... You can try to wean the Tangs off the "good stuff" (ha!) by providing them with a tasty alternative... like Caulerpa algae, or Nori algae sheets from the oriental food store (irresistible once they know what they are)... Or screen off a part of your tank to keep out those rampaging, rogue Valonia munchers (ha again!)... Or move those precious bubble algae rocks to a sump or refugium tank in or out of the tank... and grow the stuff there... Or get rid of those pesky greenery eaters, and simply culture fabulous Bubble Algae on its own! Bob Fenner>>

Proper Handling of Livestock Mr. Fenner: Thank you for the excellent advice. By the way, your book ("The Conscientious Marine Aquarist") was the first that I read when entering this hobby less than a year ago (I inherited the tank from a relative with livestock). I thought the book was extremely informative, very well written and truly sparked my interest in the hobby. I learned of the book on rec.aquaria.marine.misc newsgroup and have recommended it myself to at least a dozen individuals looking for beginning advice. I have visited nearly a half-dozen tropical fish stores within the past several months trying to learn as much as I could. Out of these six stores, I have only found one that I would felt displayed an understanding of the livestock and a concern for the hobby. I have paid careful attention to the way that livestock are handled and "packaged" while at these stores and have witnessed employees break nearly every "rule" set forth in your book. To my dismay, I watched an employee quickly and forcefully dislodge a bubble anemone from a rock and then pull it out of the tank for me to view. It is somewhat unsettling to view marine livestock being handled in ways that nearly every book that I have read suggests should be avoided. Even more shocking to me is the lack of knowledge displayed by most of the individuals who work at these stores. I have only been studying the marine aquaria hobby for four to six months now, but in all but two of the stores I visited, I demonstrated more knowledge of the livestock than the individuals selling them to me. I have watched as an anemone was sold to an individual who had to ask what "that thing on the rock is." I do not blame the individual for wanting to learn about the specimen, however I was appalled that the store clerk simply answered "That is an anemone, would you like to buy him?" The store clerk then bagged the specimen, completed the transaction and thanked the customer for his purchase. The clerk never asked about the customers current tank setup, whether he had any knowledge about the species or even if the customer owned a marine aquarium! (perhaps the clerk knew the customer, but it did not appear so) I am sure you are a busy man and I am telling you nothing that you do not already now, perhaps I could ask a favor of you. Since my experiences have led me to believe that many store clerks are not aware of proper livestock handling techniques, perhaps it would help if hobbyists knew better how to instruct clerks to handle their purchases. I think many readers of your daily Flying Fish Express column would benefit from your advice on how to properly handle marine livestock. Thank you again for your excellent advice both in your email and in your book. I look forward to reading your daily column at F.F. Express! Thanks, Jason Sherrill 

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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