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FAQs about Tang Systems

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

Related FAQs: Surgeons In General, Tang ID, Selection, Tang Behavior, CompatibilityFeeding, Disease,

Given enough room period, Tangs are fine to mix with cnidarians. Seriatopora caliendrum Ehrenberg 1834. Bird's Nest Coral.

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Kole Tang. Tang sel., sys. size      4/29/12
I was at my LFS the other day and I am setting up a 50 gallon aquarium and I asked him if there was a Tang that I could keep in a 50 gallon aquarium.
He told me that I could keep a Kole Tang or a Powder Brown
<Mmm, no; not Acanthurus nigricans... a 50 gal. is too small>
or both if I got them when they were a size of a quarter.
<An exceedingly poor/small idea/size... No>

I currently have a 36 gallon corner tank with a Ocellaris Clown and a McCosker's Wrasse. I had a Sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma veliferum)
<... Needs MUCH more room>
but sold him to a guy who has a 210 gallon tank, I thought it was best for him. I really like tangs, but since I live in a apartment I am rather limited in my size of tank. Do you think there are any Tangs that I could get?
<... this is posted/archived on WWM. Simply search and read there. Bob Fenner>

Tank Size (and shape) and Tangs   2/7/12
Hi Bob and Crew,
First time questioner, long time reader!
<Ahh, you are a stranger here but once>
Quick question for you.  I have a 20 month old system that is well stocked both in coral and fish.  Typical mixed reef system with softies, LPS, and SPS on about 125 pounds of live rock.  Sump with mechanical filtration provided by a filter sock, skimming provided by an Eshopps PSK-150, and a Phosban reactor.  Maintenance is typically 30 gallons of water replaced every 10 days.
The tank houses among some smaller fish a blue jaw trigger, Foxface Rabbitfish, Sailfin tang, blonde Naso tang,
<These last two get very large... ultimately too big for this volume, shape system>
 and a powder brown tang.
My question is in regard to the concepts of minimum tank size and fish of the tang variety.  I have researched WWM extensively and I found a few posts by Mr. Fenner in regard to the width of the tank being much more concerning in terms of fish comfortably than the depth.  The issue of tank length however was not discussed.
<Is at times and places>
My tank is a 36"x36"x27" deep dimension cube with a total volume of 150 gallons considering sump and displacement due to sand/rock.  My thoughts on this is that the tank offers a circumference to swim around the tank from the bottom of the front corner to the top of the opposite back corner of over 10 feet.
<Mmm, "the run"... length is more important... need at least six feet...>
 Fish in many long tanks are often viewed swimming back and forth, where as in my deep dimension system, they are often observed swimming around the perimeter of the tank and seldom just back and forth.
Is this a good comparison in regard to the often anecdotal information of minimum tank length for fish of the tang variety or am I missing something?
<Mmm; again, the length is important for Acanthurids, other similarly behaved species... to swim fast, linearly... for exercise as well as to temporarily escape seeing, being seen by others>
Often times its stated that these fish need a "back and forth" swim length of 6', can the circumference of swimming in a cube be considered applicable
to this requirement?
<Not really, no... I remember one of the original "Shamus" (Orcinus orca, the "Killer" dolphin) in the original (San Diego) Sea World... losing tone in the muscles on one side of its body, from being in too-small a pool... perishing... Have wondered at how much this loss was or could be attributable to psychological input>
<Bob Fenner>

Re: Help! There is something in my refugium - they have tails! & pegging bommies   11/28/10
Hi again Mr. Fenner and all the wet web crew! I truly can't say enough good things about your website! Try as I may - I could not get a decent picture of the critters inhabiting my refugium. They were too small.. However, in disconnecting my refugium for a few days it did not occur to me right away that the water temp would drop - when it did dawn on me - I looked for these creatures and could no longer find them,
<Ahh, "they come and they go">
however all my pods, plants and algae did survive! I am going to keep an eye out and in the future see if I can "catch" one if they show up again.
In the meantime I have an established yellow tang in my 90 gallon. I will be upgrading within the next year to a larger aquarium. Size will no longer be a problem!! Is there any minimum tank size that you would recommend to allow me to keep my yellow tang and add an Atlantic blue tang with no scuffles?
<125 plus... six foot long...>

Or would you recommend never having the two together. Also - this may be a very simple and uninformed question (as most of my rock is stackable) however - I did read on your website than when creating "bommies" it is possible to drill your live rock and peg it. What do you peg it with?
<Most anything chemically inert (like acrylic doweling) or not chemically harmful>
Christine K
<Welcome! BobF>

Tanged and confused: Oversized fish, Flukes 10/20/2009
Hi there,
I bought a 55 gallon fish tank a little over a week ago. I bought the whole set up from a man who had a 20 gallon refugium with gravity feed hose and a protein skimmer (not sure on the name) My test kits are kind of old so I have been taking the water to the LFS to be tested and every time (3x's) it has been fine.
<I highly recommend you purchase your own test kits, less moral fish stores will tell you that your water is fine to encourage you to buy more animals.>
I am a little worried a because of the fish that this man had kept in the tank. He had a Clown fish (about 3 in) a Sailfin Tang (about 4 in)
<The Sailfin Tang needs to find a new home, way too big in the long run, and likely too big now considering he has been in the tank at least two years.>
these two he had had for about 2 years and then he had added more recently (with in the last few weeks) a Blue Tang (1.5 in)
<Also way too large for this tank, although he fits in the tank physically now, psychological stress can be caused by being kept in such a small tank.>
As far as aggression goes they are all fine. The Blue Tang hides often and the other two let her. Though I know I will need to upgrade to a 150 gal or larger in the future or re-home one of the Tangs, for now they seem to be doing fine.
<I would find them new homes ASAP and research stocking a 55G aquarium on WetWebMedia.>

The problem I have seen is with the Blue Tang. I have seen whitish circular spots on her and her belly is looked swollen. She has also been scratching A LOT and so my hunt for a cause and cure started. I have been reading up on your site for 2 days now and it sounds like monogenetic Trematodes though I have been overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. She swims oddly (no other way to really say that) spends most of her time hiding or at the top of the tank (often face down). She has been eating and seems happy enough so that's a plus. I need help in how best to treat this.
< I would recommend a Prazi treatment in a separate quarantine tank, there are several products available commercially including PraziPro, however there are other options for treatment, read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fshwrmidcuref.htm.>
Also because I bought this as a complete set up I do not have a QT set up though I am going to set one up today. I am however unsure as to how to set up a QT in one day'¦ maybe use cycled water from my tank and add new salt water to my display? Then use the sponge my in my refugium as a filter in my QT and replace with another sponge though I do have a 5 gallon refugium I could use (your thoughts on
<That sounds like an excellent start, make sure to provide some flow, and during medications you use be sure to make sure the water is adequately aerated, although the powerhead may take care of that depending on the tank you set up. Just make sure to pick up a test kit and continually test this "quarantine" water and administer water changes as needed.>
Am I off base in any way? Please point me in the right direction. Thank you for your time.
<I think you have a good start to your research, and I would highly recommend setting up a quarantine and treating your fish. However, both of the tangs should be returned or gifted to another aquarium keeper with a minimum of a 6ft tank for them to be kept in.>
<Good luck,
Josh Solomon.>

Bioactive sand turning brown
Coral cleaning and Tangs sys 8/23/09

My nephew lives along the Texas coast and he went to a shell shop and bought me some coral - it is not the common type that washes up on the beach down there - which the common coral looks like long fingers - this is white and very heavy and has more flat type of "fingers", can I soak this and put this in my 55 gal salt water tank?
<I take it that this is just coral skeletons? If so it should be fine.>
He also bought me a shell assortment of conchs and scallops what do you think about these?
<Assuming they have not been treated with something they should be ok, although they may start to dissolve with time.>
Also I heard that tangs have to be in tanks in odd numbers either one or three is this true? I'd like another tang but don't want problems in my fish family
<I would not recommend any tangs for a 55, it's too small, but tangs can usually be kept in any number as long as the tank is big enough. This is not to say that multiple tangs always works, aggression can be an issue any time you have more than one, especially from the same family.>
Thanks for all your help
Cecilia Lester
Paris Texas

Tangs in the Tank, sys.   12/20/2008 Hi Everyone, <Hello Julie.> You guys have been great with the help I've needed these past 2 years. <Thanks for your kind words.> My question is if it would be possible to house a 4" Naso, 4" Thompson tang, and a 3" Gold-Rimmed Tang in a 5' (60inch) 110G Tank with only a couple of other small inhabitants (such as a neon goby, yellow clown goby, Firefish) for roughly two years? <Possible: Yes. Desirable : No.> I already have the Naso and the Thompson, but want the Gold-Rim Tang. There is only about 45lbs of LR to accommodate length to length swimming. I am in the slow process of building my project 520G tank (Already in possession, but need time and money to buy everything else) so I want to see if these tangs can co-exist in a 110 peacefully for the time being. I'm also wondering how fast Naso's grow with 3 feedings per day. I've had my Naso for 4 months and he was a small, sickly 2.5-3" Naso that is now bigger, very full/fat in width, and very active and healthy. <My simple advice is to wait with the purchase of the Gold-Rim Tang until the 520 is running and cycled. Then, you could buy the Gold-Rim and put it in quarantine, and after the quarantine add all three to the big tank together.> Thanks Julie. <Cheers, Marco.>

High Nitrate And Too Many Fish? - 08/26/08 I have a 65 gallon tank, with 4 green Chromis, 1 blue Chromis, a sally lightfoot crab, numerous snails,2 Banggai cardinals, 2 clown fish, 1 yellow tang, <<This tank is "marginal" in size for the Tang. These active roaming fishes really need more space…and some species more than others. For the Yellow Tang, a tank of more than 75g is best>> plus 1 feather duster cluster, a bubble coral, a colt coral, small brain coral, a bubble tip coral (very small), spray polyp. <<…?>> My nitrates are high and my pH a little low. <<Mmm…what is "high" and a "little low" I wonder?>> I've done numerous water changes, added tap water (no chlorine) to bring up pH, <<What is your logic for adding the Tap water to raise the pH? Do you live in an area that has a high pH? Have you tested/do you know the pH of your Tap water? My Tap has a slightly acidic pH (about 6.8); if yours is similar and you are adding the Tap water to the system without buffers it will only serve to lower your pH further. The unfiltered Tap water may be the source of pollutants/Nitrates as well. Perhaps I do not understand what you are trying to convey…perhaps if you provide more information/a better explanation…>> and also added "Cycle" to help balance. <<Why would you need to do this? Is this a new/un-cycled system?>> Filters have been cleaned as well. Nitrates are slowly coming down; Nitrite is balanced as is calcium and ammonia. <<Again…need real values…please. I hope "balanced" means Nitrite and Ammonia are "zero!">> ph is starting to come up. Have a little red algae from nitrate imbalance, have dealt with this before. <<…>> Most of my fish are still small, none fully grown. I have a blue tang waiting to come but not until everything is balanced. <<Mmm, no…not with the Yellow Tang…and not even in a 90g tank. The Blue Tang requires even "more space" than the Yellow Tang>> I am looking at a 90-100 gallon tank in the future, <<The 10g difference means little here, but the extra length of the 100g tank (5' vs. 4') would be of benefit re the Tang>> no more fish but would like more corals. <<Okay>> Feed twice a day, cut down to once, <<I do not advocate this…feed your fishes>> tang ate my starfish so give a little a night now. <<Good>> I changed and test every week, up until now-no water problems. At present do I have too many fish? <<Not "too many"…just an inappropriate species for the current tank size (the Yellow Tang). Look elsewhere for any water chemistry issues. Perhaps your salt mix/mixing methodology, your source water (unfiltered Tap water), or husbandry/maintenance practices are at fault here. But I can only guess based on the dearth of information provided>> Your help would be appreciated. <<Well Marilee, other than the stocking question I'm not sure what you want help with. I really don't have much info to go on, but here's a list of links to look through. Have a good browse and feel free to come back with more specific questions if needed:: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_4/V4I2/Water_Makeup/makeup_water.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i4/RO_systems/reverse_osmosis.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm
 http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/marineMaint.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm
 http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i4/Advances/Advances.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i3/Salt_Impressions/Salt_Impressions.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm  Marilee <<Regards, EricR>>

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

Potty Trained Tang? 01/30/2008 Hello Crew, Chris here. <<Hello Chris, Andrew today>> Long time no email! I consider that a good thing because it means that I'm not having any problems or I'm finding all my answers on the site. My one question today is on tang behavior. I've had my Kole Tang for about five months now. He seems to have the habit of using the exact same spot to go to the bathroom. He goes in between a piece of live rock and the corner of the tank. To the point that there is a pile of "stuff" building up in the corner. I looked through the tang behavior FAQs but didn't see anything on the subject. Doesn't seem to be causing any problems, I always vacuum some out on water changes. Just wanted to get your opinion on the behavior. <<Very common indeed. However this points out one issue which does need addressing and that is flow. If the tang is leaving packages behind and they are just staying there where left, it means that you have a real lack of flow in this area. Detritus should not be allowed to settle in the tank, rather held in the water column to be removed>> <<Thanks for the question, have a great day. A Nixon>>

Powder Blue tang... mis-placed tangs  1/12/2008 Hi, I have a powder blue tang that I recently purchased about three weeks ago. I made sure he was acclimated but I don't have a QT, which I am getting soon, <Yikes...> he was fine until now that he began to show vertical white markings on the sides of his body and a big bump in the center of his stomach!!! <Mmm, a pic would be helpful here. Do know that Tangs do have "bumpy stomachs"... do accumulate triturating material ("sand") that aids in maceration/digestion...> Now I made a huge mistake when I bought these fish since I am still a rooky in salt water aquariums, but now I am wondering what can I do to help him? I read all day during work, and let me tell you what a wonderful job you guys do. My 55 gal <Too small for this species...> fish tank includes two clown fish, a yellow tang and the blue powder tang. <... ditto> Also I have about 80 lbs of life rock, a Bak Pak protein skimmer/filter. Please help. <You need to "go back a few steps"... re/assess your situation, make a plan... I'd return or give away at least both the "powder" tangs here. Read re their Systems, Health on WWM... and re the use of Spectrum Thera... but there is no way the present mix you have will work. Bob Fenner>

Aggression in Marine Tank; Overcrowded  - 5/14/07 Hello WWM crew, <Hi.> I have recently added a gold stripe maroon pair to my 55 gallon tank. (other inhabitants include a Kole tang, a valentini puffer, and a couple of damsels I used when cycling the tank,) <...I trust you know there are better ways to cycle your aquarium than with live animals? And personally I don't like to see Kole tangs in anything less than a 75.> my problem is that when I came home today I noticed that the larger clown had some damage to some of its fins, should I presume that this was caused by the puffer <Would be a prime suspect yes...you have a lot of "scrappy" fish in a relatively confined water volume.> and if it was is this normal. <Puffers are notorious fin nippers.> will the clowns damaged fins grow back, <With pristine water quality and a good diet, yes. However, she needs to be separated from the aggressor.> and should I get rid of the puffer. <...If he/she is the aggressor.> also I would like to add a yellow tang to my tank <Too large for your tank, which overcrowded as it is. And you also run into compatibility issues with the Kole tang...which is more confined than it should be as well.> of course this will be after I get rid off the damsels. <Would be a good idea anyway.> would the yellow tang be a problem with these fish. <Yes.> thank you <Adam J.>

Purple Tang Care. Tangling With Tang Husbandry Issues!  - 04/20/07 Dear Crew <Scott F. your Crew member tonight!> I appreciate all the sage advice I have received over the years from the Crew and come to you once again for some guidance. <We're glad to be here!> I have perused the FAQs on WWM and other sites relating to the Purple Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum) and am still a little concerned about my ability to provide a suitable home for one of these gorgeous fish. <I'm really happy that you are concerned...So important to consider many angles of husbandry when contemplating keeping any animal! Good for you!> The concern relates to aquarium size.  Some of the posts regarding their care stated the specimen in question was being housed in a "46 Bowfront" or "in my 50 gallon reef tank".  Advice was proffered regarding nutritional needs, HLLE treatment, etc with no admonishment regarding the size of these aquariums.  I have seen recommended minimum aquarium sizes ranging for 20 gallons (which I would never consider!) to 100 gallons (which I am unable to provide).  I feel confident in identifying a healthy specimen; am aware of, and can provide, their nutritional needs; prepared to treat HLLE should it ever come to that; and have the experience and motivation to provide the stable environment they need.   <All good to hear> The question (bet you thought I would never get there :-))  Do you feel I have a MORE than reasonable chance of providing a suitable environment in a 36x18x18 (50G) aquarium with approximately 75 lbs of live rock arranged with swimming room and hiding places?   <Well, to be honest, I'd be hesitant to recommend any Tang, including Zebrasoma species, in anything less than a 6 foot long tank. These fishes, although certainly not the largest of the Tangs, require significant amounts of physical space. They are active fishes, that are accustomed to foraging over large areas in the wild. To "rat hole" a fish of this nature into a tank that doesn't afford a lot of room to maneuver is really a sort of cruel fate, IMO. Kind of like having to spend the rest of your life in your living room...sort of comfortable- for a while. Also, these active fishes consume a great deal of food, and larger water volumes also offer better dissolution of the copious amounts of metabolic waste products that these grazers produce. You sound like a very conscientious aquarist, so I know that you'll understand and appreciate my admonition about space and Tangs.> His/her tank mates would be a couple of shrimp (Lysmata ...) and perhaps one of the Red Sea Dottybacks or flasher wrasses.  I have room for one more tank and it is definitely limited to a 36" footprint.  What do you think of the probability of providing a long term home for one of these fish given this scenario?  Caveats? Regards, Barry <Again, Barry- if anyone could provide great care for this fish, you'd be the one! It's just that the space requirement is so critical for long-term success with these fishes. Do consider continuing to work with smaller fishes, or those that have lesser space requirements. On the other hand, if you can bear to sacrifice some of your other aquariums (you do have several, right?), you might be able to create one larger system that could better accommodate such fishes...food for thought, anyways! Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Schooling PB Tangs  8/25/06 Bob, <Scott> Re - this statement - "On the issue of how many, one is the magic number for all but the more huge (thousands of gallons) systems."  My client has a strong affinity for the Powder Blue over all other tangs.  Would his 1300g (8x8x30) <Neat... but man oh man... not easy to work in!> be large enough to keep a small school in your opinion? <Mmm, yes> And if so, how many would you keep? <Three>   It's a very, very decked out system and will be peaceful and understocked (by normal aquarium standards).  They would be the fish showpiece of the aquarium, next to only a Naso Tang. Scott <Could try five, but I'd go with three... that are super-clean... at least thoroughly dipped/bathed... Am sure you know the route. Bob Fenner>

Insomniac Tang   7/26/06 Hi guys, your thoughts on this would be appreciated. I have a blue Atlantic tang, which I collected about three years ago at about 1.5". He is housed in a 180 FOWLR and has since grown to about 6", in  excellent health. No unusual tankmates. During the day, he is a normal swimmer and grazer and not abnormally skittish, a typical tang. At night, though, he  drives me crazy. The tank is lit with 4 moonlight LEDs. <Likely the cause of trouble here> Mr. Tang, unlike his tankmates, does not rest. Instead, he swims rapidly back and forth. Over - and over- and over- for hours. I have yet to see him rest, except during daylight, and then not much. He seems none the worse for this, which he has been doing for years. I have kept more than  a few tangs, but have never seen this behavior; I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing amiss I can fix - but I would welcome any comments.  Thanks, Steve. <I would turn down if not off these night-time lights... This fish "sleeps" during nighttime hours... not getting rest due to the lack of periodicity... Bob Fenner>

Tangling With Tangs   4/28/06 Hi crew, <Scott F. your Crew member tonight> Thanks for your awesome work! <You're quite welcome! We're thrilled to bring it to you!> I have read many of you FAQs about Tangs, and the opinions given by the crew were some times different. I have read answer from Bob Fenner saying that a small hippo tang (2-3 inch) could do well for a while in a tank as small as a 55gal and other answer from the crew saying that this fish should not be put in a tank smaller than 75gal. <Really a question that has lots of possible answers, because there are a lot of possible variations- such as tankmates, filtration capabilities, husbandry techniques employed, etc.> I have a 65 gal tank( the 3 feet long model) and would like to put a small tang Hippo, Yellow, Kole or other). I would take it small, around 2 inch. Is it a bad idea? Which one should be my best bet? Thank you very much for your help Steve <Well, Steve, I have a personal rule that I would not keep any tang in a tank less than feet in length, and I wouldn't even consider more than one in anything less than six feet in length. Sure, you could start a very young Tang in a smaller tank, but only if you have a much larger aquarium to move it to in the near future. Too many people start keeping these fishes in smaller tanks, with the noble intention of "moving them up" to a larger tank in the near future. Unfortunately, the reality is that the larger tank is not always available (due to a variety of factors, such as economics, etc.), and the fish is doomed to spend the rest of its life in a tank that is too small for it to leave anything close to a normal life span. If you do have a larger tank available, I'd opt for  the Yellow or the Kole, myself, as they could do very well in a 6 foot, 150 gallon tank in the long run. The Hippo reaches a very large size, and requires a large tank, IMO (like 240 gallons or more) to be happy in the long run. As you are gathering from my response, Tang husbandry is not to be entered into lightly. I commend you for doing the research ahead of time, before taking the plunge. I wish you luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Too Much Tang Flesh? - 03/11/06 Just a quick question. <<Ok>> Am I overstocked? <<Short answer...yes.>> I have 4 tangs- A powder blue, scopas, large 5-inch sailfin and a blue tang, also have a 4-inch checkerboard wrasse, coral beauty, royal Gramma, 2 clowns, Longnose Hawkfish and a sixline wrasse.  To me this sounds like a lot of fish. <<It is...and some get big.>> They are all happy with no fighting in my 135 gallon.  I have a 55 gallon refugium and a 40 gallon sump all connected.  There's about 200 pounds of live rock and various clams and inverts?  What do you think? <<Easy for me to say I know...but you should find other/better homes for the Sailfin, Powder blue, and Blue tangs.  The Sailfin can reach 18" in length, and depending on which "Blue" tang you have...Paracanthurus hepatus can grow to a very "beefy" 14-inches while Acanthurus coeruleus can reach about 17-inches...as for the Powder blue, potential is 24-inches.  But, it is very likely none of these fish will ever reach maturity/these sizes before succumbing to social/psychological/developmental retardation issues from being kept/grown in a "too small" system.  Mature sizes aside, it's my opinion that tangs as a whole need much more space than most any other commonly available aquarium fish of comparable dimension.>> I was hoping to add a couple of bottom dwelling gobies. <<Remove the tangs and all sorts of options open up.  I think tangs are beautiful and amazing fish and I understand their attraction, but I feel many, if not most, are unsuitable for the average home aquarium.>> thanks a lot tb <<Very welcome.  Regards, EricR>>

 Talkin' bout my setup... pent. with three Acanthurids   2/26/06 Hi all.  I love your site and appreciate all the help you do for me and everybody else.  I just want to run my setup by you because my Hippo tang has been rubbing on the rocks and I just see want to see what I can do to make a better life for my fish.  I have a 60 gal. corner tank that's 2' x 2'   x 2'with the front corner knocked off that has  been running for 2 years (I have had it for one).  So it is diamond shaped when viewed from above. It is a reef tank. With Florida live rock.   I'm not sure of the exact weight of my live rock but it takes up 1/3 of the volume of the tank. There is an under gravel filter with 2 risers coming up I'm scared to take out    The fish are: 1 - 2" Yellow tang 1 -2.5" Hawkfish 1 -2.5 Blue damsel 1 -1.5" Clarkia clown 1 -1.5" Hippo tang (I got a month ago) 1 - 3" Naso tang (i got 5 days ago) <... this last is not suitable for this sized, shaped system... Even the other two Acanthurids can become problematical here> Inverts are Fire shrimp Brittle star Astrea snails Blue leg hermits There are a Hammer coral ( that is 8 inches from the light) and Green Button polyps and some Pink Xenia. I have an Aqua-c Remora skimmer with the MaxiJet 1200 power head.  A Jebo 110w pc light. With an actinic and regular bulb in there.  An over flow box going down to my sump with a 2 month old, Bob Goemans style plenum sump.   Built exactly to his specifications.  With Chaeto macro algae. How long should I run the light for on the sump? <Ten, twelve hours... have it overlap your main tank> Will my  Wal  Mart light strip work?   <Yes> I run my PhosGuard in there too. I have a canister filter with the unbleached cotton fabric inside that I use to just to filter the water.  I clean the filter every week.  I have a Jebo 300 w heater.  I had a problem with micro bubbles so I built a bubble trap in the tank. Inside the bubble trap is some Caulerpa prolifera. For circulation I have a small power head that pumps around 250 gph. Water parameters are: (tested with red sea kit) Sal. .023 Temp 82 Ph 8.0 Alk  says high? <Hello back to it> No3 2.5 ppm No2 .025 Amm. 0 Po4 1 ppm (down from 2. am working on that) <Good> Cal.460 I was using the Calmax by WM research 2 part cal/alk buffer till it ran out.   I just got the Sea Chem Reef complete , calcium ,plus, builder this week and did my first dose of those, to their specifications.  Am trying to get my already growing coralline algae to grow faster. I do 5 gal. a week water changes and I vacuum the gravel with water changes too. i use a heater to make up my water and i aerate the tap water for 24 hours. then i use Sea Buffer from Aquarium systems to raise the ph and i use Instant Ocean salt. There is not any algae problems. Just some coralline algae and light, dark green algae on the glass that my sponge scrubber wont get off.  Is the razor scraper ok to use on the glass? <Yes... all but the Naso being there is okay to mighty fine... the Paracanthurus will scratch a bit (it's their nature)... I would trade out the Naso. Bob Fenner>

Just for Fun! Tank Pictures - 01/05/2006 http://www.professionaldocs.com/Reef/Reef_0001.wmv Guise Veilleux <Thanks for sharing with everyone. Looks good, but I've got two things for you. The 75 is too small for the tangs ultimately. Also, I think you have some dietary issues to address. The Yellow Tang appears a bit washed out and the Blue Tang is showing some HLLE. Otherwise great pics. Thanks again for sharing. - Josh>

Re: Another Large Fish in Too Small of a Tank 11/26/05 (That Took a While to Answer!)  12/3/05 Ted, Thanks for the advice, it is well noted, I will wait until my next tank is up and running (greater than 210 gal) Thanks again, Bryan <<Thank you. The Purple and the Naso will both appreciate the larger accommodations. Good luck with the larger system - Ted>>

Surgeon Fish and Shrimp - Too Little Water Volume 10/25/05 I have a 20 gallon tank that has been up and running for over a year and a half. Most people say that the tank will never last but I am already propagating the corals that I have in the tank. <Glad to hear of your success. I understand why you may have met some opposition when setting this tank up, tanks this small are usually quite unstable but with discipline you can make it work.> I would like to add maybe a shrimp or a lobster but I am afraid to since I have heard that my clown surgeon  <Grows much too large for this system.>  will eat them if they molt.  <A shrimp (depending on the species) would make a good inhabitant for this tank, the tang will generally leave them alone. The lobster however is not such a good idea. Most will not only outgrow your given tank but will eat smaller fish and possibly harm sessile inverts.>  My tank stock is as follows: one 3" clown surgeonfish <He needs to be moved to a larger system as soon as possible.> two Ocellaris clowns two green star polyp coral (they were one but I propagated them) Orange Button Polyps Blue striped mushrooms (propagated throughout tank) Spiny Gorgonian hermits turbo snails Pencil Urchin powerhead, protein skimmer, Coralife 24 inch light Is it ok to add a shrimp (maybe peppermint or fire) or a lobster? <The fire shrimp (Lysmata debelius) is probably the best choice, Adam J.> 
Re: Surgeon Fish and Shrimp - Too Little Water Volume Follow-up 10/25/05
I have another question concerning the Clown Surgeonfish. Will he be okay with a Regal Blue Tang in a 55 gallon FOWLR tank? <Generally speaking the Clown Tang (Acanthurus lineatus) is quite aggressive and will be intolerant of other tang species, and unfortunately a 55-gallon is insufficient to house this one tang let alone another. So I would advise against it.> If so... will he begin to change colors in that tank or does he need to be around full-grown before he changes colors? <If we are talking about the same species (Acanthurus lineatus) I'm not sure what color change you are speaking of. Even the small juveniles I have observed have relatively the same amount of color as the adults, sometimes the horizontal lines are not as defined but generally appearance is the same, Adam J.> 

Tangs, Territory - 09/13/05 A bit of a history and a plea "LET ME KEEP THE TANGS" <<Mmm...>> The system is four feet in length, and is 55 gallons with 60lbs of live rock and live sand, the N02, N03, NH3, P04, all negative or minimal, pH 8.2, SG 1.015 <<Yikes!  This needs to come up... 1.024-1.025 please>>.  The tank is 8 months old, and gets 15 gallon water changes every 3 weeks, using Deionized water, and the only livestock I had in the tank before the tangs and the Koran were 2 small clowns (1.25inches) and a three striped damsel (bout 2 inches).  I am getting vibes from the response that I got from you guys is that it was not a good idea to buy the tangs or the Koran, (BTW the tangs are about 1-1.5inches, and the Koran is about 2 .5 inches). <<The tangs can grow to more than 12 inches (and a very robust and active/nervous fish as well) and the angel to 18 inches.  I can only imagine the developmental retardation you will be subjecting these fish too in this size system.>> I am not sure if you mean to say get rid of the new guys because they are difficult to keep, or because the damsel will kill them? <<The damsels you have are VERY aggressive and quite capable of doing serious harm to the juvenile tangs and angel.  The difficulty in keeping the "new guys" comes from the fact they are entirely unsuitable for your tank.>> I would rather get rid of the damsel than the tangs or Koran. (Any ideas on how to catch a three stripped damsel?) <<a small barbless fish hook and 2 lb monofilament...seriously.>>, and if you don't think I should keep the tangs or Koran regardless of getting rid of the damsel <<That's what I think...>>, if I can, what species would you recommend? <<Your tank is really too small for any tang in my opinion...as for angels, one of the dwarf or pygmy angels (Centropyge sp.) would be a good candidate.>> Because the LFS said these would work just fine together. <<(Sigh!)  I have no doubt...>> Thanks for all your help. -josh- <<Josh, there are many beautiful fish in the trade that are more suitable for your system...enjoy the hunt... Regards, EricR>>

Yellow Tang Blues? (Selecting and Caring For Z. flavescens) 8/24/05 Good Day! <Hello there! Scott F. at your service today!> I have a small (45 gallon) reef set-up. It's been up and running very successfully for 3 years now. I have a question - I have several fish that have lived very peacefully and apparently healthy for most of the 3 years. I vary the food given, since some of the fish are herbivores (Yellow Tang/Zebrasoma flavescens & Hippo Tang/Paracanthurus hepatus) and some are carnivores (Percula Clownfish/Amphiprion ocellaris). I feed dried Omega One flake, frozen brine, Emerald Entr? & Mysis shrimp (not all at once...lol) All of the fish seem healthy but I've lost several Zebrasoma flavescens over the past few years. The Hippo tang is doing well as are all of the other fish. The Yellow tang appears healthy until I find it dead or almost dead. I figure it must be the diet since I can see no parasitic clues and all of the other fish are doing well. I feed sparingly once to twice per day and all of the fish seem to eat voraciously. I say sparingly since I know the uneaten food will feed all of the unwanted items in my tank. Any clues to what I'm doing/not doing? Thanks for the assistance. J.T. Craddock <Well, before we look at the possible causes of your bad luck with the Yellow Tangs, I have to get up on the soapbox for a minute. I'm sure that you are aware, but the P. hepatus Tang will require much larger quarters in the very near future if it is to live anything close to a natural lifespan. These fish can and will get quite large, and they require very large amounts of physical space to live a long, healthy life. I'm sure that a larger tank is in the future, right? Anyways...off the soapbox and on to the problem! I think that there are a few potential issues here. First, these fishes are often subject to shipping traumas. The majority of the Yellow Tangs collected for the trade come from the best source, Hawaii, and are collected well and shipped quickly. Yellow Tangs from other sources don't always fare as well. These fishes need to eat constantly, and typically, by the time they reach the LFS, they are already quite deprived of food. When selecting specimens from the LFS, be sure to choose fish that are not showing signs of malnutrition, pinched-in stomachs, faded color, red marks on the fins, etc. Additionally, make sure that you employ a quarantine regimen for all new fish, particularly Tangs. Not only does the quarantine period give you the opportunity to observe the fishes for signs of infections and to treat them before introduction to your display-it gives your new fish the chance to eat and recover from their journey to the LFS. These fishes are voracious consumers of algae, and should have a regular "supply" of algal-based foods available constantly. You should utilize fresh macroalgae, such as Gracilaria parvispora ("Ogo"). You can order Gracilaria from e-tailers such as my favorite, IndoPacific Sea Farms (www.ipsf.com). Last, but not least, make sure that you maintain very high water quality at all times. Employ aggressive protein skimming, regular, frequent water changes, and common sense husbandry practices. Hopefully, these tips will point you in the right direction. It really sounds like you're doing things right...just consider a larger tank down the line! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

A Tale Of Two Tangs (In Too Small A Tank) - 08/15/05 I have a 55 gallon tank.  The order I got my fish were: blue hippo tang now 3 inches, solon fairy wrasse now 4 inches, yellow tang now 6 inches, flame angel now 5 inches, and flame Hawkfish now 4 inches. <<You're overstocked my friend.>> I had originally gotten the yellow tang because the blue tang was constantly pestering the fairy wrasse.  Nothing aggressive, but just following him almost as if trying to school and the wrasse wanted no part of this.  The problem I'm having is that the yellow tang has taken over the tank.  He is constantly going after the flame angel using his tail to back him into a corner.  He has already intimidated the other fish to be in constant hiding.  When I put him in a lee's fish net breeder to see if a "time out" would work the other fish became more active.  But once released he went back to his aggressive ways.  He was in the isolation breeder for a week.  Is there anything else I can do to calm him down or is he just too big and dominant for the size tank and fish in it? <<BINGO!  The Hippo Tang will quickly outgrow (to 12") this tank as well.  Neither tang is suitable for this tank in the long term...do see about swapping them with your LFS for store credit and research/purchase fish more suitable to spending a lifetime in your system.>> Thanks for your help <<Regards, EricR>>

Tang Space 7/26/05 Hi Guys. <Hey, Mike G with you this morning> I appreciate your help in the past and I now have a new question which I couldn't find on your frequently asked questions area. <It's always good to add to the site's content.> My largest salt water tank is 400 gallons and has been up and running for almost 7 months. I have immaculate filtration, keep a close eye on water parameters, a great protein skimmer, uv sterilizer, 400 pounds of live rock and 300 pounds of live sand. <Sounds very nice.> I currently have 2, 5" yellow tangs, one 6" hippo, one 4" sailfin, and one 5" Atlantic blue tang, a 5"lunare wrasse, a 4" red Coris wrasse, a 5"harlequin tusk, a 6" queen angel a 5" blue chin trigger and a 5"niger trigger. <This could be a problem when they increase in size/territoriality> I've had a 3" purple tang  ( I ordered a 5" one but he was in such great shape and eats like a horse that I couldn't pass him up) in my 55 gallon quarantine for the last 2 weeks and in 2 more weeks would like to make him the last fish in this system as many of these guys get really big and I am sensitive to overcrowding. <Right.> The tang mix I have currently is very good with all of them being gradually introduced, and only marginal occasional picking at each other. Do you think with a system this large, ( 8 feet long, 3 feet wide and 2 1/2 feet high acrylic)  and close monitoring I can add the purple to the mix. <Possibly.> If not my only other humane option (size wise) is to put him in the "murderous" tank with a 7" clown trigger, a 7" aggressive passer angel, a 8" miniatus, a 12" Gymnothorax fimbriatus, and a  20" snowflake eel,  which are the only inhabitants in a 120 gallon tank which mirrors the 400 in every aspect (i.e., ratio of rock, sand and filtration per gallon). I could keep him in the 55 for a while and grow him as I also have a 29 gallon hospital tank,  but the 55 is bare bottom with no rock sand or algae except what I feed him and I feel sorry for the guy to be kept in these bare conditions any longer than necessary.   <I'd give the 400 a try. At the first sign of a problem, remove him. Obviously there's nowhere else you can put him, so returning him would be a valid option at that point. Let's hope it does not come to that.> I love my fish and spend a lot of time watching and enjoying them and I like to get your advice from time to time as you have never steered me wrong in the past. Thanks in advance for your help. <Not a problem. Good luck! Mike G>

Small Tank, No Tang - 07/13/2005 Hi, <Hello.> I have a 37g tank with an arrow crab, a clarkii clown, a bubble tip anemone, 2 damsels, and a cardinal.  Can I add a yellow tang?   <I would strongly urge against any tang in this relatively small system.  Tangs not only get large-ish, but absolutely require a great deal of swimming space....> If not, what other semi-large fish can I get? <Assuming this is a standard sized 37g tank (e.g., rather tall, not very deep front-to-back), I would not add any more fish to this system, and especially not a sizeable fish.  Honestly, even were the tank a "better" shape (short, long, and deep), I would still not stock the tank any further.  There's just not a lot of room for error.> Thanks, Bryan Cochran <Wishing you and your fishes well,  -Sabrina>

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

Acanthurus japonicus system Resending with original as requested.  Granted the A. japonicus may not be well suited for 55 gallon 48" long. Will a 120 gallon that is 48" long still be too small? <Should work out about right. Bob Fenner> 

Difference in spines Yellow Tangs Hi, A few months ago, I found an article on the web that said the size and bright white color of the spine at the base of the Yellow Tang's tail indicated the sex (of course, I can't find it now). Is that fact true (or is there anything that indicates the sex)?  <I think this is not factual... have dived with large Yellows (in Hawai'i) and seen individuals (about plate size) that appeared to be "full of eggs"... their caudal peduncle spines are not different in color> If so, we may change our plans to add a Hippo and add a smaller second/female Yellow instead (if it is true, ours is a male).  We have not been able to quite decide if even our 6 foot tank is indeed big enough to keep a hippo happy as an adult. <It is> It sounds like they like to swim distances and the Yellows are more grazers?  <I do agree with this Zebrasoma tangs period are roamers... the Paracanthurus stay in about one area> Also, if sexing the Yellows isn't possible - would a smaller Purple work (I thought it was an absolute no, but have been reading recently that if the Purple is smaller and they are added together it would work)? <Should work out fine in this size system... some jousting, chasing at first, but not likely any real damage> We will take your advice and scratch the Yellow Eye as a possible choice with the Yellow. Thanks!! Debbie <Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Kole Tang and ich problems Hi WWM crew. <Hello Joe> I have a new 55 gallon reef tank that I started like 2 months ago. As of now I have 2 true perculas, Capnella everywhere (It splits almost everyday), and green star polyps. Last night my Kole tang lost the horrible battle with ich which he caught Sunday night. I have no idea how it happened but it did. On Saturday I added a plant bunch of Caulerpa and cleaned out the canister filter. When I first added fish to my tank about 3 weeks after the crabs and snails I added a small True and a yellow tang. The Tang came down with ich the first 2-3 days and I was able to cure him of it. A week later it got it again and died the night I treated it with freshwater and copper for about 5 minutes in a 5 gallon bucket. Foolish of me I added another clown a week later and he had a minor case of ich but went away. I waited 4 weeks with the temp. At 80 degrees to speed up the crypt life cycle. One day at work (I used to work at my LFS) we got a nice 2 inch Kole Tang in. He was there for 2 days at 30 bucks but I was able to get him for $13. I took him right away because I love these tangs. He was eating a bunch of stuff off my rock for the first two weeks and then on Sunday he was hiding in his cave during the day. I thought I spooked him because they are shy fish. Well Monday comes around and when I got home from school he was still in there so I pocked a brush inside to get him out and I saw one big spot on his side with tiny white spots of ich. He went back in and came out 2 hrs later and was lying against the rock not moving but gilling. I filled a bucket of saltwater from my tank in a 5 gal bucket with a teaspoon of stress coat and 3/4 teaspoon of MelaFix (the only medication <This garbage is NOT a med. RMF>> I had on hand), I also added an air pump and heater. Well he was floating around but still alive and I went to bed. This morning I found him dead at the bottom, another tang I lost to ich. What should I do to my tank? I know I should take out my clowns and QT them and let my tank fallow for 4 weeks. My clowns never get ich (knock on wood) but if they do I will definitely QT ASAP. I'm about to run out and buy a quarantine tank. What is a good size? I am thinking of buying a regal tang in the future. How long should I wait till I add more fish and what else should I do to it?  <Joe, your tank is not nearly aged enough for adding tangs. I might point out that you will have better luck if you quarantine the fish before adding into your tank. Also sounds like your adding fish much too fast before the bio filter has a chance to adjust. I will paste a couple of sites you should read on both tangs, and quarantining. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tangs,.htm  and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm  Better luck in the future. Another point...Your 55 will be too small for the tangs. As they grow they will need a larger tank. James (Salty Dog)> 

Too Many Tangs in Too Small of a Tank (2/2/05) Hi,  <Hello. Steve Allen with you tonight.>  Nice to talk to you guys once again.  I have a 46 gallon bowfront with about 50 pounds of live rock and some basic corals (polyps and mushrooms), 1 Naso tang (@ 7 or 8" long) and a yellow tang, full grown.  <A Naso Tang has no place in such a small tank. It will grow to 18" and belongs in a tank of at least 240 gallons. It is already too big for your tank and it is cruel to keep it there. A full-grown Yellow is out of place too. No responsible aquarium book author recommends anything smaller than 75 gallons.>  Not too confrontational with each other although the Yellow tang was quite ticked off when I introduced the Naso tang. <Understood. I've seen this. Be glad if they are actually getting along now. I had to pull an Achilles from a 180 that my Yellow Tang was unwilling to share.>  The yellow tang tolerates the Naso pretty well now.  <At least while you're watching.>  I also have 2 percula clowns, one royal Dottyback and a Sharknose cleaner goby. I also have recently purchase 3 peppermint shrimp because I have a Aiptasia (I think that's what its called)...  <correct>  ... where some anemones have begun to grow on the live rock and on the sides of the tank walls. I was told that the peppermint shrimp would eat the Aiptasia, and unfortunately they have not done anything since I bought them a last week. All the shrimps do is hide within the live rock.  <They are probably eating something else, and may never eat the Aiptasia. Been there, done that. Not all will eat Aiptasia, and many "Peppermint" shrimps are actually not of the genus that eats it. They are often misidentified at the store.> Anyway, back to my original question. Two days ago I bought 3 small hippo tangs (beautifully colored shocking blue specimens, that appear to be very healthy) each about 4 to 5 inches long and put them in my ten gallon Quarantine tank which I plan on keeping them in there for 4 weeks. (I wanted obtain either one large hippo or a small group of smaller ones.) But decided on the 3 smaller ones.  <Bad choice. Minimum tank size is 125 for a single specimen. Your purchases so far suggest that your eyes are bigger than your tank.>  I have had the hippos for about two days now and they are mostly curled and wedging themselves within the live rock.  <They do this when scared and anxious.>  Once in a while they come out for a short time and then retreat back to the rock. Is this normal?  <Very common for new acquisitions.>  I'm not sure if they are eating yet, but I think they pick at the food I put in not really chasing after it. I'm feeding them frozen Mysis and Spirulina flakes. I will also try the dry seaweed sheets that I use in my main tank that my other tangs love.  <These are reasonable things to try and should work over time.>  They seem to be quite nervous about swimming around the tank like most other fishes do. Is this normal?  <Again, yes.>  Now, my big concern is the royal Dottyback. This little bastard of a fish has already caused my green Chromis' to disappear one by one.( A total of about 5)  <Yes, very mean. They have been know kill much larger fish by eviscerating them.>  Also my yellow tailed blue devil has disappeared and one of my percula clowns also has vanished. I strongly believe that the culprit was the Dottyback based on what I have read about this fish. I have also witnessed him chasing my poor Sharknose goby sometimes.  <It will very likely eventually "disappear" this one too.> Well, do you think that it would be a good idea to bring this Dottyback back to the fish store? I am quite concerned that he will harass the hippos once they go into the main tank after quarantine.  <You should take the Hippos back. If the Dottyback doesn't kill them, the Yellow will either kill them or scare them to the point that they will starve to death. You also need to either return the Naso or get him a proper-sized tank. You need to accept the fact that a 46-gallon tank is a small tank by marine standards and choose only fish that belong in a small tank. Even your yellow tang should not be kept in there.>  I also think that he is scaring the peppermint shrimp and causing them to hide.  <Possible, but these are timid shrimps anyway. I seldom see mine, and it is the only motile creature in the tank. I thought he was dead when I didn't see him for about 10 days, but eventually came out again.>  Also, do you think that the size differential of the small hippos to other larger tangs will be a problem for the smaller hippos?  <Yes.>  I figured a group of 3 little ones is harder to chase than one larger one, and they can school together for protection.  <I think you figured wrong.>  Thanks again, Edward K  <I'm sorry to be the bearer of harsh and disappointing truths, but if you study the Tang issues I brought up, you will find that the overwhelming majority of marine aquarium experts, including all of the marine aquarists advising on this site, will agree with what I have said--that is, none of the Tangs you own should be kept in a 46-gallon tank.> 

Ongoing A. japonicus review Thank you Matt.  My tank is 65g FOWLR with 70 lbs. of live rock.  Is my tank big enough to accommodate this tang (Acanthurus japonicus)? <Not in my opinion, at least not when full grown.  This would also explain the aggression between the tang and the wrasse.>   If not, what is the maximum size this fish can grow until I have to move him to a larger tank? <Hmmm, good question.  I would err on the side of caution here.  But it sounds like he (or the wrasse) might need to be moved soon if things don't change.>  He is also changing color VERY often, he's lighter brown far more than he is darker brown?  Could this be happening because my tank isn't big enough (keeping in mind he's only been in my tank for four days so far)?  What color is this tang's natural color, the darker brown or the lighter brown? <Surgeonfish (and lots of others) will change colors in response to light, mood, feeding, all sorts of things.  It's hard to say why it's doing it.  Your best bet to see the 'natural' color is to look at some online pics, or you could attach us a pic if you can.> Thanks so much, Brett <No prob!  Glad to help, Matt.>

Tortured Tangs I just bought a Naso tang Saturday that just past.  He is being very selective to what he wants to eat.  I have recently over the past couple of days started clipping algae in the tank 2 x a day.  and its get gone.  First let me say I have a 55 gallon tank with a purple and yellow tang. a fox, 2 yellow tail damsels and couple of shrimps  snails, star fish and dusters.  It is a reef and rock tank.  he was the last thing I add... the first day or so he was harassed  by the damsels but that died out.  Now he seems to be very mild and not moving and I have noticed today the ick spot on him.. I am treating the tank now with a quick ick cure.  But I have not seen him eat like the others...I am talking to him every day encouraging him to eat and how handsome he is  with a very quiet tone.. hoping he will pull thru this.. please help.. my ph is 8.0 and 0 on nitrate, ammonia/ I have a skimmer also and strong filtration system....Please help I don't want to lose him.. J.T. Hagans, >>>Hello Janerio, The minimum size for even ONE of those tangs is 75 gallons if we're speaking of the yellow of the purple tang. The Naso tang needs a 135 gallon tank or so. The Foxface, again needs a 75 gallon tank. Your tank is overcrowded in the extreme, and frankly I'm a bit disturbed that you've stocked your tank in such a way, clearly not doing any research as to the needs of your animals. You need to remove the Naso tang, the Foxface and the purple tang. The yellow tang will live for some time in a 55 gallon, but you will have to remove it in a year or so. You're in for nothing but trouble if you keep the things the way they are, including disease outbreaks. Secondly, I'm not sure what you mean by "reef and rock". Quick Cure is NOT a reef safe medication. In fish only systems, it works just fine, however you have to be careful with tangs as their skin is sensitive to the formalin in that med. DO NOT overdose it. If it's a fish only system, treating with hyposalinity is your best course of action. If you insist on talking to your fish as a method of getting them to eat, make sure you do so in an Arnold Schwarzenegger accent. But again, very softly. This seems to work much faster than speaking normally. Unless of course you want them to eat meaty foods such as shrimp, then Christopher Walken works better. Regards Jim<<<
Tangs in a 55 gallon, Part Deux
Ok, I will get a bigger tank, but how do I try to save him in between time. The yellow Naso tang is not eating.  What other types of food should I consider feeding him... any suggestions.  And are you saying I should only house 1 tang with a tank of the size I have?   Oh I have a rock and fish only tank sorry for the confusion. If I get a bigger tank will this prevent disease outbreaks in the future...any suggestions  Janeiro J.T. Hagans >>>Hello again, You can treat with Hypo salinity, or a commercial ich medication. Naso tangs are on the hardy side, so you have that going for you. Regarding tank size, I'm saying that your tank is too small for even one tang, let alone all the ones currently present. A 75 gallon is the minimum for even a yellow tang. I'm not just spewing numbers from a book, that's hard earned knowledge talking. Larger tanks do not prevent disease outbreaks, but they minimize stress, which lessens the possibility of a weakened immune response in the fish. Does that make sense? Cheers Jim<<<

Marine tank with problem Update 30 Aug 2004 Hey, me, again...<Hi Again Lisa, MacL here with you today.> I am beginning to get my tank back in order and start up again...a few questions:  first off, as you know I had a Kole and yellow sailfin tang in a 46 gallon bow-front aquarium.....after much reading, I know I should not have kept 2 tangs in such a small space (but they were small and did pal around and seemed to adapt surprisingly well! <The problem is that they grow so large.> Even when the one died, the other huddled with it).  My question is....could I have 1 tang (another Kole or a yellow, since they do not get as big as others) with other small fish like clowns and gobies with the intention of upgrading down the road?  <It is my personal opinion that you can. But always keep in mind it will have to be upgraded or sold or traded in the future.> And how soon would I have to upgrade? <That will depend on the growth rate of your fish.> I would also add some neon gobies....they are exceptional parasite pickers. <And very cute to boot.  Good luck, MacL>

Feeding and Tank size follow up 5/30/04 What is a good size tank for a yellow tang? <I generally consider about 75gal as a minimum, but as they get larger a 6' long tank is really ideal to provide them with adequate swimming room.> I always thought fish would stop growing once they reached a suitable size for the tank. How big do tangs get? <This is one of the most widespread and unfortunate misconceptions in the hobby.  All fish will grow to their maximum size as long as they are provided with enough food and good water quality.  Yellow tangs will quickly grow to 5-6" and can reach 8"!> Thanks! <Always a pleasure!  Adam>

Ideal Tang System 4/9/04 Hello, Crew...  I've been in the saltwater hobby now for about a year and have found your site to be a goldmine of great information.  Thanks for all your work.  Here's my latest question... <Hi Bob.  Glad you have found WWM to be beneficial!> After getting started with a small 37-gallon system I have at home, I am now anxious to attempt a larger one in my office.  Since I was a kid, I have always enjoyed the beauty of saltwater systems and creatures.  My favorite has always been Paracanthurus Hepatus (Regal/Hippo Tang).  I have known all along that my current system was too small for such a great fish, and have not even attempted or considered (dreamed, maybe) having one in my home system.  However, now that I am considering a tank for my office, I would love to build one around the needs of a Regal/Hippo. <Congrats on your patience and commitment.  Not putting an animal into an unsuitable tank and waiting to establish the ideal environment are commendable actions.> I have been reading everything I can find on these guys but would really value your thoughts.  In your opinion, what would be a reasonable-ideal setup?  Any thoughts on setup, type of live rock, substrate and tank mates would be greatly appreciated.  I know they can be ich magnets, so I want to design a system that is as comfortable as possible.  So far, I am leaning toward a 90-gallon tank with live sand bed.  Also, I might consider a few small, soft corals for color, but I would really like to focus on an ideal environment for this fish. <This fish is indeed prone to Ich. The key to minimizing this risk is to get a healthy specimen and to employ careful and lengthy quarantine before introduction.  I am generally anti-drug, but in the case of such an ich prone fish, I am inclined to employ a treatment with a one time dose of 35mg/gal of Chloroquine diphosphate if any ich or velvet is observed in quarantine. Other than that, the specific requirements of this fish are pretty easy to meet.  These fish can and will grow to 12 or more inches and their long term happiness is best met in a tank of 6' in length.  If you establish the tank with live rock and live sand, you will be providing an excellent physical environment.  This fish is safe with most corals, but some have been known to eat Zoanthids and xenia when they get large. As with most marine animals, water turnover of at least 10x the display volume will help ensure good oxygen saturation and prevent detritus build up.> Thanks for your input.  It is GREATLY appreciated.  Bob Dearing <Best Regards and thanks for the kind words.  Adam>

Naso Tangs in a four foot aquarium is a NO NO Hello I currently have a 110g reef that I will be upgrading this summer to a 150 or 180 if my floors can handle the weight. I currently have a white cheek tang and will be adding a yellow tang after his quarantine period is over.  Can I keep a Naso tang as well?  If not what are some other tangs I could house with these 2 guys?<None>   I have close to 200lbs of LR so there are a decent amount of cave and hiding sports. <Naso tangs do not need live rock, In the wild they inhabit open water. They need swimming room and a four foot aquarium will most definitely not be enough, IanB> Thanks Chris

The Difference Between Tangs, or Opinions?  2/2/04  Hey, <Hey to you too!>  One quick question. How come the hippo tang which grows to a foot is suitable for a 75 gallon and up tank, and other tangs e.g. powder blue which is about 3 inches smaller has to be homed in a much larger about 125 gallon. I always thought the bigger the fish bigger the tank. Thanks Akira  <Either of these fish could be housed in a 75g when small, but both will out grow it. I would consider 125g to be a minimum for either of these fish once they have reached about 4-5 inches. HTH. Adam>
Tang tank size requirement follow up 2/3/04 
Hey, Very interesting because on many sites it is 75 gallons and up for the hippo. Thanks Scott  <I think in most cases, these are the most liberal recommendations, and should be considered an absolute minimum. I think recommendations run higher for powder blues just because they are so delicate. Best Regards, Adam.>

Yellow and Blue Makes Green..?  Nope, Trouble >Hi I was wondering if you could give me a little help. >>Hi, I hope so. >I currently have a 3" yellow tang in a 30 gallon marine aquarium. I really would like to buy a Blue tang (Paracanthurus hepatus). I know from past experiences that Tangs usually don't really get along to well in a small aquarium, but I also heard that tangs of two different "shapes" circular and oval will not harass each other as much. Please help me. Is there any way I can keep these too fish? At least until they grow out of my tank? >>This is difficult, because it sounds as though you're going to try to wait on *them* to let you know when it's time to move to a bigger system, and a yellow in a 30 is a squeeze already.  I honestly cannot, in good conscience, even encourage you to keep the yellow in there.  However, if you want good blue color, activity, HARDINESS, and pugnacious-ness, I strongly suggest going with the diminutive little beauty, Centropyge argi.  However, to better answer your question on mixing tangs (who knows, maybe there's a 200 gallon in your future, eh?) - dissimilar species OR dissimilar size.  So, let's assume you had a tank that's on the order of 75 gallons.  You could safely add a hippo tang that is larger, 4"+.  Since the yellow is 3", you want enough disparity in size.  Another method is to stock with so many that there is displacement of aggression, however, this is really only done in shop and wholesaler's tanks, because the animals are moving in and out of the system rather quickly.  I ask you, though, PLEASE don't try either technique in your tank!  Thank you for asking *first*, though.  Marina

The Six Foot Solution? (Proper Tang Housing) Hi, <Hey there! Scott F. at your service!> We have a half round tank that is 28" high and 48" across the back with about 75 lbs of live rock.  Current inhabitants are 2 cleaner shrimp and a green Chromis.  A yellow tang and a 2 tank raised false perculas are in quarantine (will be added in a few weeks). <Excellent procedure!> We'd like to get a small Hippo (Regal) Tang to introduce at the same time as the yellow tang.  However, we understand they need a 6' long tank to be happy.  Since the rounded portion of our tank would equal a little over 6 feet - would the hippo tang be happy in this tank when it gets larger (with the other inhabitants)? <Well- it's tough to say...I am partial to the minimum 6 foot theory...Also, I think a 150 gallon plus is a good start. Waste dilution is as important as physical space...I suppose you could start the two in this tank, but a larger tank is really necessary, IMO, if the fish is to live out a full (and happy!) natural life span in captivity...> Also, would you recommend a captive raised hippo tang or wild caught yellow bellied hippo for hardiness? <Well, depending on the handling and care the fish received from the collectors/wholesalers/retailers along the way, either can do well, if selected properly...Captive-raised will probably be a bit easier to acclimate to aquarium life, but many wild-caught specimens adapt just fine...> Thanks! Doug <My pleasure, Doug! Regards, Scott F.>
The Six Foot Solution? (Proper Tang Housing)- Pt. 2
Thanks Scott! <You're quite welcome!> Since the tank is a little tight for a Hippo Tang, is there another species of Tang you would recommend that would get along with the Yellow Tang and work with the 116 gallon half round?  We do water partial changes every week - so, I think we can handle the bioload.  Disappointed about the Hippo, but we don't want an unhappy fish! Doug <Well, Doug- I'd highly recommend a Kole Tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus). They are very peaceful (as tangs go), hardy, and are an interesting "niche feeder", being detritivorous. They'll do a great job keeping rocks and substrate clean in your tank, and they have an endearing personality. They stay quite a bit smaller than the other tangs you are considering. As an added bonus, they have an endearing personality and appearance, so they are one of my favorite tangs. Try to get a Polynesian one, if possible. They have a striking white tail which is pretty cool. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Powder Blue Tang, Shoehorn Style - Hi, I currently have a regal tang about 2 inch, and am thinking of purchasing a powder blue tang. Will they fight or will they just mind their own business, as I would really like to keep one of these fishes. <Depends on the size of the tank.> My tank is 23 gallon, and has a 100 gallon protein skimmer, 55 gallon canister filter 6 pieces of live rock on the bottom, which takes up around 3 gallon, and the other 20 gallons is remaining for the fish. <This tank is much to small for the regal tang let alone a second one. I cannot recommend that you keep any more fish in this system.> Baring in mind I will have a new, and bigger set up for Christmas to move the tang(s) into. <I'd wait until you actually have the system set up and running for a couple of months before attempting a powder blue - these fish on average do quite poorly in anything but the largest systems. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/badacanthurusaq.htm > I do know that they may be aggressive towards each other, but I don't think this will be a problem, as I have seen many different species of tang in the same tank. <Well, that doesn't make it a smart or good long-term choice. I would not place a powder blue tang in a tank of this size - please don't put this fish in your tank at this point.> Please could you fill me in on these questions, I would very much appreciate it. Regards Aaron. <Cheers, J -- >
- Regal Tang, also Shoehorn Style -
Hi, I've heard that it would be possible to keep a regal tang juvenile in a 23 gallon tank, and if it is possible providing its needs are met hence algae, and how long would I be able to keep one in that tank size? <Well, 'can' and 'should' are two different subjects. I 'can' shove you in the trunk of a car and keep you there, feeding you McDonalds through a hole in the trunk - doesn't make it 'right' and it certainly won't make you healthy or happy. So no, you 'should' not, and I would not recommend that you put any size regal tang into a 23 gallon tank - it would be outgrown within a year.> Regards Aaron <Cheers, J -- >

SeaScope article on purple tangs. Robert Fenner I read your recent article which I must say was well written and informative. However, you ducked the most obvious issue which is the minimum tank requirements for keeping the purple and other Zebrasoma species. <Yeeikes. Really? Will have to check, amend> My first question is why did you do this? <Mmm, simple (and all too often nowadays) omission> My second question is what in your opinion is the minimum recommended tank size for keep Zebrasoma species like the purple all things being considered? <Mmm, have you seen my review piece on the genus posted on WetWebMedia? Here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zebrasom.htm As stated, a fifty gallon size system is the smallest I would try a specimen in. Please see the other articles linked (in blue, above) on the site as well re these fishes. Bob Fenner>

Stocking A Tank In A Sensible Way! Good afternoon Scott, <Hello again!> Thanks for your quick reply! I have another question for ya'.... I would like to get a yellow tang, do you think it will be too big for my 44 gallon tank? I'll be housing a Royal Gramma, two Percula Clowns, a Flame Angel and my Yellow Tang. All in that order. <That's plenty of fish in a 44 gallon tank! A good mix, with the exception of the tang. I'm most concerned about its need for lots of space- especially for the long run. A larger tank will be required for the tang to live a long, healthy life...> My first is my Royal Gramma that I have in QT right now. I'm not to sure it will be happy with the space....I read that they are strong swimmers and they need lots of space for them to be happy. <Actually, this would be a fine fish for this sized tank! They really tend to hang in and around rockwork, as opposed to swimming actively in the water column...If you can create an overhang or open cave in the rockwork for the Gramma to inhabit, you'll get to see the fish hang around, often upside down, in a very natural way. It's pretty cool to watch> Last thing I want is an unhappy tang in my main tank, (after QT of course) I don't want him to be unhappy and stressed out and  get THE ICH! <Yep! I love tangs, but I really think that it would be better suited to a larger tank...Lots and lots of other choices that will be very cool, and much better suited for this tank!> Oh, and by the way, I have about 25lb of live rock. I would like to buy more, but I don't want to use all that space. I would love my tang to have lots of space and be happy. <A good attitude! Again, I would still recommend against purchasing a tang, unless a much larger tank is available in the very near future> Thanks again Scott. I hope you have a GREAT DAY. <Thanks! And I hope you have a great day, too. And much success with your tank! Feel free to shoot us an email again any time! Regards, Scott F>

Tang tank size Hello crew, <Right back at you from Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.> Greetings from the Netherlands and thumbs up for the service you provide. <Thank you for the kind words> I have a question for you that I couldn't find here or elsewhere answered to my satisfaction. I'm in the process of starting a reef aquarium and I think I've nailed down most of the questions I had when I started this endeavour but my beloved wife gave me a headache ;) I'll explain why. <Hmm, just one? Lucky man! (Um, er, headache that is <G>)> After we moved to another house I decided to get back to my old love (hobby, addiction..) of keeping an aquarium. After years of freshwater I decided I wanted a reef aquarium this time, especially since there is a lot of progress made in cultivating livestock (corals, some fish species). My wife and I decided to start a 52,5 gallon (200 liters) reef with the following dimensions 80cm*50cm*50cm (31,5" * 19,5" * 19,5" ). I figured this would be a nice tank size and my wife could live with this too, so far so good. Since I've been keeping aquariums for years, I know how important it is to have a detailed planning and think things over before doing anything. So I've been researching the livestock etc.. etc.. I can have in a tank this size and I almost ordered the tank (since I have the rest of the equipment already) and now my wife (got to love her...:) ) has set her mind (and I mean really set) on a yellow tang. So I went back searching and I read that a 50 gallon tank is the minimum tank for a yellow tang. But, what about dimensions? Is the tank I described good for a yellow tang ? I like the fish too, but I want to be sure that it can live a healthy, happy life. I can also buy a tank with other dimensions (36" or 40" long) but I don't like that since I'm using only one 150 watt AB AquaLine pendant for lighting (and actinic TL8 lighting, but that is more for aesthetics (sp?) ) and I don't like the stray light with these bulbs on a long tank. Off course I can landscape to maximize swim space, but still... I'm looking forward to here from the crew. <Well, Timo, my recommendation for this fish would be a tank with the D/W you describe and a length of 122-155cm (48-60" if my conversion is close). This would certainly call for another light.> Oh, a quickie, is it possible to get away with, lets say, 10-15 pounds of LR in this tank when using good quality base rock and give everything the time to get "live" <Yes this is a sound approach. The rock will become live with critters and such very quickly (given good seed live rock). Coralline algae growth will take time and depend on calcium, alkalinity values. Hope this helps, Don> Best regards and TIA, <You are very welcome. BTW, if you need any aspirin, I could air freight it to you!> Timo

More fish? Hey guys, <Hey Tommy, Don with you this AM>        Just found this web site and been reading way too much.  Lots of great info.  Once upon a time I had a beautiful powder blue tang in with my yellow tang and a Kole tang.  After about 2 or 3 months, the powder blue started swimming real fast and into the glass and rocks.  He tenderized his head in two days or so and died soon thereafter.  (That's where it hit me that a fish this big won't fit down the toilet, much to the delight and ridicule of my wife, sister, neighbors, etc.)  No one at the LFS had a clue.  You seemed to have the answer as pasted below: "the powder blue is probably pacing in your tank (common behavior in small tanks where they swim back and forth against the glass)... or will be soon."  "My strong advice is to pull the powder blue soon as it is the most likely to suffer in the short run 12-18 months for a mere 4 feet of swimming space. Its just a needy/sensitive fish."        My first question is this.  I have  75 gallon oceanic tank.  The dude was only four or five inches long!  How much room does one need? <6' min, 8'-10' would be appropriate for this fish, depending on other inhabitants. Still, a very sensitive fish. While you brought this up, ponder this: The powder blue was 5" that is about 10% of the length/height of the tank eh? If you are 5' tall consider living in a 48x18' box (pretty close to a 3 bedroom/2 floor house). You might think, not bad eh? Now add furniture taking up 20% of that space. Add 17 other individuals of varying size that are taking up maybe another 30% of that space (and are CONSTANTLY on/around you, literally in your face as it were) Throw in a dozen or two little lap dogs running around. All of this only getting worse as everyone grows and competes over time. See what the powder blue tang was up against? I won't even start on the polluted atmosphere/environment that you would have to live in <G>>        Ok, here is the rest.  I have: 75 gallon tank w/sump about to be out of bio-balls as per your site. three 96w PCs (two daylight and one true actinic) 1200 gph Mag drive with a creative multi output so I have no power heads in the tank, but good movement/stirring of water 1.023 salinity 79-81 degrees 85 ph, (might remember wrong, but in the recommended range per test) <Will assume a missing decimal here 8.5> 0 ammonia 0 nitrite > 20 ppm nitrate for the first time EVER, yeah <Again, I am thinking < 20ppm> 350 ppm calcium about 30 - 40 pounds live rock <all sounds good, maybe more live rock as you can afford it> beautiful yellow tang, 2 in. when I bought it almost a year ago, now 4+ in. mean as hell yellow damsel, too quick for me to catch, but leaves familiar neighbors alone.  i.e. hard to add new fish very docile blue damsel two awesome fat-faced (good eaters) true Percs.  Love these guys pajama cardinal two Banggai cardinals Firefish goby pistol shrimp (aka bulldozer) watchman goby  (These two are the coolest thing in the tank.  SO entertaining!) handful of hermits (Scarlets, Hawaiians, blue legs, etc.) three Mithrax crabs (very cool) two starfish (one brittle, black hairy thing and one serpent, neat when you can see it) various snails (Nassarius, turbo, Astreas, etc.) one pink poo (pink and brown cucumber) two Hawaiian feather dusters one skunk cleaner shrimp two peppermint shrimp and some slowly dying green star polyps        I have had my tank set up for a couple of years.  Ok, I'll admit, I am a real slacker.  I am terrible about water changes.  I do 25 - 33% once every two or even three months.  Go ahead let me have it, if you want. <No need as you already see/understand the problem here. BTW, you (and you fish) have been pretty lucky too! <G>> But especially after adding my protein skimmer, water seems to be great.  Even my nitrates that were 80 + is down to >20ppm and has been for a month and I have not changed my water recently.  I use a mechanical water filter when I add tap water, no RO/DI.  I never quarantine, but am considering doing so after the scare tactics used on this site. <Believe me, not scare tactics at all. Soooooo many times a new fish is added to an existing tank and before you know it, everybody is being flushed. Tried and true, success speaks for itself>        That's about the history.  Now, I can't and never could get coralline algae to grow.  Any guess as to why?  And I get a light coating of red or brown algae on the glass that has to be cleaned every three to five days. I think this is normal, but would like to hear that from you.  Comes off easily enough with my magnet cleaner, but clouds the water for about 10 minutes or so afterwards. <You don't mention Alkalinity, could be a factor stifling coralline if too low. Do you have a lot of other algae? This would 'choke' the coralline out. Look for BGA and diatoms using the Google search on WetWebMedia.com. This is what you describe. Regular water changes (like 10% weekly) would help (but then you already know that eh?), reducing Nitrate more would benefit as well. Removing the bio-balls will help as well (in removing nitrate). High nitrate is causing the demise of the coral. Needs to be at 0 to keep any>        And lastly, what other types of fish might be agreeable to add?  Or do you think I have enough.  I case you lost count, I currently have nine fish!  My Kole tang died after several months, so I was thinking about adding another, since everybody seemed to get along with him.  My goal is more fish, not a reef style.  (cheaper)  And I really like the Firefish, so was thinking about adding another. <I would not recommend another tang of any type. One tang to 75G is plenty (too much IMO in the long term). Firefish have been known to battle each other (to the death) as well. The yellow damsel is going to be a problem, unless you add something bigger/more aggressive, again not recommended with the other peaceful/number of inhabitants you have. The aggressive damsel is a concern. If you cannot remove and find a new home for this one, I would recommend you stay where you are at as the aggression will likely stress the new fish to death. If the yellow damsel can go then maybe a canary wrasse would be a good addition. Would fit well with the other fish as it is peaceful. I would consider the swap but not an addition. BTW, the yellow tang is likely to become more and more a bully. May have to make a decision about this fish in the future as well>        Thanks for the help, and great site!! <You are very welcome, Don> Tommy

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 Hey there Bob, everyone at WWMedia, long time no post. <Cheers!> I'm just glad to have found the above post, Patrick's post regarding his  TANG FIGHTING HIS REFLECTION.  Our achilles tang who we are immensely proud of having kept for now over 18 months started swimming madly in circles in one of our reef caves, causing him much distress, charging in the rocks constantly, leaving pretty awful looking scratches over his face. All sorts of ideas came to mind, I even thought of HLLE disease, I wasn't' sure and was getting worried until I read the above article. I removed that part of the dark background with a white one and his behavior reversed immediately so it's funny how much of a change little details can make. I feel silly not to have thought of that myself, so thank you forever for your great website. Stefi/ London <Glad to hear this. Bob Fenner>

Tangs and Space Requirements First: I have read, several times, the Conscientious Marine Aquarist. Have loved it and suggest others to get it - and they have. Thanks for the great book. <Bob's work is truly an inspiration to those of us in the industry/hobby.> I am in a bit of a quandary regarding stocking my 30x30x30 cube tank,115gals. This is my 4th and final tank for a while. This tank is intended for display, as opposed to study or experimentation. I had always planned on having a single tang for both beauty and algae control (I am skimmer less with a 55 gal DSB and refugium). I grow a lot of macros - from 3 different Caulerpas, Dictyota, monkey tail, and about 5 others I have yet to identify despite trying. My stocking list includes many docile species: Pearly Jawfish, a purple Firefish, a school of Chromis viridis, neon gobies, and a 6 line wrasse. Everyone is happy and gets along. I would like to add a tang that fits the requirements of being a heavy grazer, as small as possible, and a minimal threat to the other fish. This is by far the most active fish I have planned for the system and plan on only one other addition - a pygmy angel that will get along with the rest of the fish. As I said, the tank is a 30" cube, it has heavy circulation 1200gph+. The rock is placed in such a manner to imitate a vertical setting - with a lot of open water higher up in the tank and a channel that goes from the front to the back. A fish can swim from corner to corner without obstruction, or front to back in the channel without obstruction. The Question? Which tang, if any, is suited to my tank? My LFS says "They all are" my fellow Aqualink members say "none are", and most books, including Mr. Fenner's usually speak in gallons. <I would fall somewhere in between. Any of the Zebrasomas at small to medium size would fit your tank, but do not really blend well with the current fish or future dwarf angel. The fish in the genus Acanthurus and Naso get too big, are too delicate, or aggressive. Your best bet is Ctenochaetus strigosus, the Yellow-Eye or Kole Tang.> Thank you very much for your time. ~Bill Roh <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Tangs Good Morning! (UK time) I am impressed by your FAQ's page. <Keep looking... there are a few tens of thousands of FAQs on the site... the "worthwhile" queries get posted to their relevant topics areas, in association with articles, book sections that they relate to... and soon, images and products as well...> I maintain a 6ftx2ftx2ft Natural reef tank containing a small button reef and a bar with a drop-off onto coral rubble, with a 50 gallon sump beneath. The system is driven by three Eheim 1060 pumps. Illuminated by Metal Halide marine lamps (6500K) and skimmed with a Shuran Jetskim 200 (Magic device). Particle filtration is by heavy duty pond filter material via the water return system to sump. In this system, I keep an A. pyroferus, A. scopas and a Ctenochaetus strigosus and several other fish with specific duties, i.e. Blue cheek Gobies to keep the coral sand well stirred and clean (& aerated) Also, a gang of cleaner shrimps, inverts. and Caulerpa prolifer(a) (rather tougher than prepared American seaweed sheets) . I am not convinced that the present system satisfies the needs of my marine friends ,who are yet only half-grown. The aim is to double the size of this system to improve their lifestyle.  <Good ideas> Why are marine keepers encouraged to keep potentially large fish in small systems?  <You've got me... human nature as individuals? Madison Avenue: sold to them? Ignorance?> Such confined environments encourage dangerous concentrations of toxins and the development of diseases, through stress. I know of several erstwhile keen fish keepers who have given up totally. Polite enquiry revealed that they were operating small systems. Sure, costs come into it, but scrimping on the set-up never pays.  <Couldn't agree with you more... This has been a rallying point for me for decades... in the trade and as a hobbyist, scientist...>  Regards, Anthony Barden >> <Thank you for writing, sharing your thoughts, experiences. Bob Fenner>

Tangs Hi Bob, I have a 7 week old 75gallon setup with LR/LS. Cycling is over now and I'm beginning to see all sorts of "life" in both the sand and on the glass. My question to you is, I am assuming from my reading that I'll only be able to put one Tang in a 75. Is this true?? If so which would be you choice??? I have been looking at and reading about Hepatus Tangs and Hippo Tangs. TIA, Gerry Brierley <<Actually, with some care in selecting species, starting with smaller specimens, you could have three tang family members in this size system... The one you mention (Paracanthurus hepatus) is a good choice, as are the Sailfin Tangs (genus Zebrasoma) and the Combtooth Tangs (genus Ctenochaetus)... These are great looking, hardy, and utilitarian species (great algae eaters). A review of these species, with notes on their husbandry can be found on my site: www.wetwebmedia.com. Bob Fenner>>

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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