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FAQs about Tangs of the Genus Naso Behavior

Related Articles: Naso Tangs

Related FAQs: Naso Tangs 1Naso Tangs 2, Naso Tangs 3, Naso ID, Naso Compatibility, Naso Selection, Naso Systems, Naso Feeding, Naso Disease, Naso Reproduction, Surgeons In General, Tang ID, Selection, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease

Except at night and with Paracanthurus, Tangs shouldn't be setting on the bottom.

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Why Would My Naso brevirostris Jump Out Of My Tank??? 2/8/09 First off I love your sight and all the information I get off of it. <Thank you.> I search and read, read, read but I have a dilemma . I have a Big Nose Unicorn that jumped out of my 220 gallon reef, it is apprx 5" to 6'' and I have had it for 18 months with no problems. Other inhabitants are all smaller than it and the newest addition is 4 months ago. Co tankmates are Yellow tang, Kole Tang, Lamarck Angel, Tomato Clown, Royal Gramma, 2 Engineer Gobies, Harbor Goby, Pink Spot Goby, 2 Mandarins, Scooter, Bi-color Blenny, crabs, snails, serpent star, and 15 Green Chromis in main tank Total volume of system is a 220g main w/ 90g refugium plumbed in, 40g sump and 4.5g h.o.b. refugium, system has 25x +/- turnover. I also have 200+ lbs live rock, 200+ lbs live sand, macro algae, 25g per week water changes, r.o.di. water, skim, 1200gph, 24-7-365 w/ 2+cups of black/ green skim per day. Is my unicorn ok? <Can't see it, I don't know. Observe and determine.> Possibly just exercising, or am I screwed up!? <I don't know of any fish that exercise. May be environmental stress, light flashes, territorial/fighting issues between the tangs, etc. You didn't provide any information as to any behavioral observations you have seen.> I research as much as possible and this fish is like family. Also the tank is covered by glass except the 3''x12'' feeding area where George jumped out. <Ah, Murphy's Law took affect.> Thank you for any help and your sight is the best resource for all in any aquatic hobby. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Tim

Streamers on a male Naso lituratus   12/28/06 <Greetings, Mich here.>   I have a 6?" Naso lituratus tang that was sold to me as a male.  It was an online order.  How large do they get before the streamers start growing?   <The size would be variable.  Streamers develop on male Naso lituratus when they become sexual maturity, a secondary sexual characteristic, like the growth of facial hair on young men.  Is quite variable.  Also note, it is possible to have a male who does not develop streamers.  This would indicate a problem reaching sexual maturation.  -Mich> Re: Streamers on a male Naso lituratus   12/29/06 Hey Mich, <Hi there Jeremy!> Is it possible to distinguish a male that doesn't develop streamers and a female?   > mere physical observation, not that I'm aware of.  I presume it could be done via blood/DNA analysis.>   Thanks so much. <You're welcome.  -Mich> Jeremy

Tang Behavior...Ronco Vegematic   6/1/06 I recently acclimated and introduced a juvenile 3.5" Naso Tang into my tank.  On about the second day, I was getting food from the tank stand and noticed that the Naso swam right up to the glass where my face was.  Everywhere that I would move my face, the Naso would follow it right up against the glass.  I had never seen a fish this social in all my years of reefkeeping.   Just to see how social this fish really was, I pinched some flake food in my fingers and put my hand in the tank, and sure enough it started eating right out of my hand.  Also, today I had my hand in the tank to move some live rock and the tang just followed my hand about an inch away wherever I went.  I could have reached out to "pet" the fish, but didn't out of fear for startling it and getting sliced by it.  Are there fish that like to be touched by humans?  How likely is it that a tang will use it's ability to cut if touched?  Normally I wouldn't risk it, but I've never seen a fish with this much personality. <Adaptive behavior, Justin.  I'm guessing someone else must of been hand feeding the fish.  I don't believe the tang would slice and dice unless he felt threatened, and, which may be the case, if you try to pet him.  I'd just enjoy the hand feeding and leave well enough alone.  The scalpels are razor sharp, reason why they are sometimes called "doctor fish". Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Justin

Naso tang eating excrement  - 3/1/2006 Here's one you may have not heard before. I have a healthy thriving 90 gal fish only tank that's over a year and a half established. I have an assortment   of species which includes yellow tangs, blennies, a Picasso trigger, various clowns, a Naso tang and a green bird wrasse. One morning approximately 6 months  I noticed my Naso impatiently waiting for the bird wrasse to waken from his  sleep. To my surprise (and disgust) the reason he was waiting so anxiously was  he was waiting to devour the wrasses morning excrement. This became a ritual  every morning. My concern is can this behavior in anyway be detrimental to the  Naso tangs health. <Not likely... and is common... have seen innumerable times in the wild> Be aware that my fish are well fed 2-3 times a day with a  variety of foods which include flake, frozen and dried seaweed. Of course there  isn't much I can do to stop the Naso from having his morning "snack". (cant hit  him in the nose with a rolled up newspaper and tell him no !). Just curious to  see if you guys have heard of this before. Thanks for your anticipated  response. Eric <Amongst friends have speculated that this is part of a necessary/beneficial means of Naso et al. species acquiring "gut fauna"... many equivalents, analogous patterns in other species... ourselves included. Bob Fenner>

Needing help about lipstick tang, illiteracy Hi just wondering we had a lipstick tang and it was fine and then a couple of weeks down the track we brought a blue tang and put it in the tank and then the lipstick tang started acting funny our blue tang died and then a couple of days later our lipstick tang turned a really dark grey colour and stopped eating. I just wanted to know what does it mean when the lipstick tang turns a really dark grey colour is it because it has a disease. thanks Semiany please reply I would really like to know. <The darkening is a sign of psychological and/or physiological stress... Something/s frightening and/or challenging to the specimen. Bob Fenner>

Naso Tang (Bonsai'd and over-stressed) and Cleaner Shrimp Wow, I was just reading some of your information about Naso Tang's and now feel terrible. I have had my Naso for 3 years, and have a 38gal high tank. He (?) seems very content and is only about 5-6" long. I do want to get a larger tank, and revert this one to a reef tank. His tank pals are 2 false Perculas (captive bred) about 4 yrs old, and a bicolor blenny (6 mo.s) I also just added a an anemone (bubble tip) and a cleaner shrimp. (1 wk ago Which is now my Naso's best friend) He gets a 10-15 cleanings a day. I don't know why, I doubt he has any parasites, he has never showed signs of any. Anyway, is this normal behavior? <Yes> It's kind of funny. Honestly, I think he likes the attention. Also, I have seen my cleaner shrimp climbing around my anemone. I thought the anemone would kill and eat him. (but hasn't) There is plenty of live rock in my tank full of lots of worms, copepods, etc...for the shrimp to eat. Is he trying to steal food from anemone? <Perhaps> It makes me a little nervous, especially when about 1/4 anemone's tentacles turn green and deflate for about 15-20mins. Any help would be appreciated. Other than that all seem to be doing very well and get along great. Even my anemone has acclimated well, although my smallest clown only took to it one day hasn't gone back again. Thanks Again. I am glad I ran across your site. <Me too. Best to get that larger tank soon. Bob Fenner> 

Naso Tangs, rambling Hi this is Jonathan, I haven't emailed you guys in a while, been a little busy with a Latin report at the High school. <Ubi dubi...> Anyway I bought a healthy 3 1/4 to 4" Naso tang, and he never ate, he was very shy and would not eat any of the boiled Vegetable matter (lettuce, Kale, Broccoli, asparagus ex...).  <Likely just too small, shocked/stressed from collection> The Naso would not except the live algae in the tank nor the dried green marine algae that I clip to the rocks and substrate. The Naso Tang died after about four days. I was wondering if Naso Tangs are in general shy. <Yes> I went to the pet store on Saturday and they had a Powder Blue and powder brown Tang. Both the tangs where 3" long and where eating in front of me and they did not seem to be afraid of you, so I went and bought the Powder Brown Tang, which is a gorgeous fish. About ten minutes after I put the tang in he came out and for the past few days he has eaten a lot of algae off the back of the 125long, and he loves the Algae clips that I put in. He like to graze with the Flame Angel most of the time. Thanks For all your info in the past.  <... okay. Bob Fenner> 

Naso Tang I have a Naso that is about 3 inches long. He paces back and forth every once in a while across the front of the tank. He eats well but I was wondering if the pacing means anything? <This pacing behavior is usually caused by poor water circulation. Nasos in particular need very brisk water movement, 20 times the tank volume per hour. -Steven Pro>Re: Naso Tang How do I get 20 times the tank volume of movement? <You can use a combination of powerheads and external return pumps.> Will this affect the yellow tang and clown? <No> How does not having enough water movement affect the Naso? <The theory is that they panic, thinking they got trapped in a tidal pool. If they were truly stuck behind a sand bar they would die from heat, low dissolved oxygen, or even a fish eating bird. But basically, they freak out from stagnant water. -Steven Pro>

More pacing (swimming) with tangs - 2/17/03 Hey crew. I love the site, read it everyday.. <Thanks kindly, my friend> I'll try and make this short. I have a Naso tang for about 3 months. He's great .he has a wonderful personality, eats like pig and very social and peaceful with the rest of my animals. He has no scars or signs of  illness or rapid gill movement. Everything looks good. The weird thing is at night when the lights go out, he'll start swimming back and forth from one end to the other . <This is very common behavior with Naso tangs as well as Powder blue, Whitecheek and powder browns... cause by undersized tanks and/or lack of water flow (10X minimum... 20 X tank volume is better). Try extra water movement fish. Still... this fish is one of those species that needs large under-stocked tanks for vast open swimming room. Rather strict about it. A lot of rockwork or tanks under 6' for medium sized specimens may not be able to prevent this pacing behavior> He doesn't hit anything or smack himself just swims back and forth . <Understood. Its extremely common. You can see it a lot with these species listed in pet shop tanks and wholesalers where the fish are really crowded necessarily> (only does this with lights out) The light are on timers first set goes off then the second set1/2 hr. later then the third set. and there's even a small night light,  so I don't think he's frightened. <Agreed... but stress induced/nervous nonetheless... rather like big cats in the zoo that pace at times> Is this nocturnal behavior, should I be concerned? I'm not sure how long he does this. But in the morning he's fine ,comes to the front of tank when I walk in. I am a bit concern. What do you think? As always Thanks ! you guys are the best! Bill <Do let us know if the extra water flow helps, my friend. best regards, Anthony>

Tang and butterfly hi guys, I have a lipstick tang that is not eating, a day before this happened my Heni B/F died...and I observed that they get along (weird and funny) the tang will always stick around with the Butterflyfish... does this make sense? Is this because of the death of my Heni B/F (psychological)...? will my tang eat again?
<he should eat again, I would check your water quality. normally fish don't "just die" there is a cause of death. Good luck, IanB>

Naso tang in shock I acclimated my new Naso tang this morning.  Since he has been released into my system he has remained in shock (lying on the bottom, breathing rapidly, moving his side fins and keeping his dorsal fin erect). <Signs of anoxia, a lack of oxygen>   He has moved a few inches here and there but is otherwise looking pretty pathetic.  Is there anything that I can do to help?  Does his actions mean inevitable death? <Add aeration ASAP. An airstone/mechanical diffuser, air intakes on your powerheads...> The other fish that were acclimated were 2 Heniochus, flame hawk, anemone and a coral banded shrimp...all are doing extremely well.  Lights are still off.  Any suggestions or valuable insights? Carrie <Naso genus tangs are active, large animals that require high, consistent levels of dissolved oxygen... and as part of this, plenty of room to swim, have for gaseous exchange. And yes, best to leave the lights off for now. Bob Fenner>

Naso tang life span What's the average life span of a Naso Tang once reaching full length ?
<In captivity I would say it would take around 5-10 years for the Naso to attain its full length. In the wild about half that, IanB>

Strange Naso Symptoms (3/26/04)   Just found your web site and found it extremely interesting regarding Nasos. I maintain aquariums for several businesses and have had a problem with Nasos. <Believe me, many do.> Seems after several months they get a series of pinprick spot on the sides mostly just below the top fin and behind the head. Looks like someone took a pin and gouged out a tiny spot.  They tend to be dark in color.  Also seem to have a few white protrusions (very small) here and there.  No idea if they are related to the same problem. The first fish finally died after months of this "stuff" slowly spreading to cover a fairly large area.  Treated with copper without any results. <Hopefully not in the display tanks.> Current fish has only 15 or 20 spots currently, eats well, acts normal and is in a 125 gallon aquarium.  Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.  Jon Bartnick <It's always hard to say without seeing. I'm wondering if this is HLLE. Do read up on it and look at some pix on WWM. The other option would seem to be some sort of parasite. If you have a fish die, it would be interesting to look at some lesions under a microscope to look for parasites. Check out the HLLE possibilities first. Hope this helps some. Steve Allen>

Naso Tang Blowing In The Current? I have a question for the fish experts at WetWebMedia.  My Naso tang has been doing great for over 5 months in my 180 tank.  Recently he has begun to swim with a waggle, for lack of a better term and he will turn sideways and roll.   Rather than being quick and alert like he always has been, he is being blown around a little more by the current.  Should I be concerned or is there any actions / diagnosis you would recommend? <Good observation on your part. Although it may be nothing to worry about, the fact that this normally very strong fish is  displaying some signs of weakness, getting blown around in the current-is certainly a cause for some concern. If you are not seeing any other obvious external signs of illness, such as white spots, excessive mucus, rapid breathing, etc., then no further actions may be required except for continued good husbandry. On the other hands, if additional symptoms of disease manifest themselves, please feel free to let us know.> He is eating well - mostly seaweed selects green algae on a clip with some Selcon soaked in.  He now eats some of the Mysis and flake that I feed the rest of the tank (yellow tang, ocellaris clown, lawnmower blenny).  Could this be a nutritional issue?   <It is certainly possible. I'd try offering some fresh macroalgae, such as Gracilaria, which is en excellent supplement for tangs. You can get some at my favorite e-tailer, Indo Pacific Sea Farms. An excellent food for herbivorous tangs!> Until recently, he had no interest in anything I would feed except the algae on a clip.  The other fish are fine and the yellow tang is acting as usual.  The two tangs have always been a little scrappy but nothing to the point of injury. The only other abnormal thing that I can think of is that the Naso will sometimes have a circular lump in the stomach area after eating. <I would not be overly concerned about that at this point, unless the fish shows other difficulties...> Any insight you may have is appreciated. <At this stage of the game, I'd employ continued observation, frequent small water changes, regular feeding, and testing of water to assure that all is well. In short- keep doing what you're doing! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Fast Breathing Naso I have a Naso Tang that has started to "breath" very fast for about two weeks now. Believe it or not I think it is the result of a Picasso Trigger that I had in my 125 gallon tank (he is gone now). The Picasso harassed everyone in the tank. The Tang developed parasites so I treated the whole tank with copper (just to prevent other fish from becoming infected) and put him into a 20 gallon hospital tank with Paragon II where he has been for the last four days. Nothing appears to be helping the breathing. Any other suggestions? <<Yes Michael, let time go by without further stressing the Naso. These are highly active fish that take a beating with being moved, treated, and harassed... and the trials you describe have done a few things that will take a while to "heal". For one, fishes have much higher hematocrit (packed cell volume, or concentration of cells to plasma) than humans... all the moving, beating and the copper have reduced the animals cell count (dangerously). Add to this that fishes live in an environment of a few (up to seven or eight) ppm of dissolved oxygen (versus 200,000 ppm plus in the stuff we're "swimming" around in) and you can see why the fish can't "catch its breath"! Don't disturb the animal any more than absolutely necessary and it will come back. Bob Fenner>>

Naso Tang Mr. Fenner, I have an unusual concern with my Naso Tang. For some reason when he relieves himself, even though he eats like a pig, he turns around and eats his own waste. Seems to me that it cannot be normal, have any suggestions on this problem? <Actually, not a problem... not unusual with this species, other related fishes (Acanthurids in general), even some mammals (lagomorphs/rabbits are probably the best example). Don't worry about this coprophagous behavior. Bob Fenner>

Naso Tang Hello, Recently got a Naso Tang.. it has white spots on it.. person at LFS said it is because the tang is scared. Is that something that really happens when they're just stressed, or should I be worried? <Mmm... I would be concerned... the white spots... are they "raised" in appearance? Transitional, or are they on the fish all day? Any other fishes showing signs? Likely the beginning of an ich infestation. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm going on to the links beyond as your interest, need leads you. Bob Fenner> Lisa H.

Tangs Dear Mr. Fenner, <Howdy> It's me again with another question I'm hoping you don't mind pondering for a moment.  <Not at all> I've had a Naso tang in my 125 for about 4 months. He is the largest fish in the tank at about 7 inches. We recently got a red sea Sailfin tang, that is maybe 4 inches long. Since the introduction of the Sailfin, the Naso's appetite has slowly decreased down to nothing, and he's looking very thin. Do the two species not get along?  <Usually do... FWIW, their ranges overlap> I don't see them fighting at all. Everyone else seems okay, and water tests are good. Any ideas? <Often Nasos do go "off feed"... a good idea to try other foods, and to soak them in advance with a liquid vitamin preparation. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nasofaqs.htm and on to the many FAQs re marine fish nutrition, foods, feeding. Bob Fenner> As usual, infinite thanks for any help you can offer. Tracy

Young Naso tang I have had a young Naso tang in my tank for about 5 weeks now and it is doing great. I was wondering if this species of tangs develop their bright colors as adults. My Naso (3-4") is sometimes a very dark grey color with no other colors visible, to light grey with a little yellow on the forehead. I have seen larger Nasos with beautiful coloring. Is this normal for a juvenile, or is he lacking some nutritional need? thanks, diggy <This sounds like a juvenile color pattern, but here are some care requirements for Nasos just to cover the bases. When they are small, they need frequent small feedings (two to three small feedings daily) due to a high rate of metabolism. They also need a large tank with brisk circulation. They are more of an open water fish and need a tank six foot long with circulation ten times the tank volume per hour (example 150 gallons needs 1500 gph actual rates). And lastly, read this for more info, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/naso.htm You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Rapid Gill pumping.... Bob, or who-ever is kind enough to respond to my dilemma: <Anthony Calfo in your service> About a week ago I decided to add a small Blonde Naso Tang to my 90 gallon aquarium.  <already sounds like an "I didn't quarantine my fish and now they have a disease" story...<wink>. Critical to QT my friend> He's around 6 inches in length. Today I noticed that his breathing seemed very irregular. The irregularity is just this; his gill pumping seems quite excessive. Earlier today I performed a small water change, around 10 gallons.  I didn't think that this would cause any kind of trauma to the fish in the tank.  <did the rapid gilling commence abruptly with the water change?> I do this on a weekly basis. After taking some readings I recorded a level of 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, less than 10 ppm nitrate, and a specific gravity of about 1.022. The ph level has been pretty constant at around 8.0-8.1. <pH is definitely low if that is a daytime reading (pH falls even lower at night) Target 8.3-8.6...but still it would not cause the rapid gilling> His behavior doesn't seem out of the ordinary, at least for what I have been able to notice from the last six days. He swims all over the tank, but doesn't seem to pace. He is eating quite a bit.  <all good signs indeed> In fact it was after his last feeding that I noticed the increased gill pumping.  <yes... usually a bit after a big feeding but relaxes shortly afterward (hours)> I tried to count how many pumps per minute occurred, but I couldn't keep up with him. It is well above 100 beats per minute by my count.  <while respiration varies among fishes, 100 per second is fast enough to be concerned and to be on the look out for signs of parasitic infection or other pathogenic cause. Do review quarantine tank set up and procedure in preparedness of a medication treatment if necessary. You will almost never want to medicate the main display (many reasons... again, review FAQs in archives)> I haven't seen any change in his tank mate, a small Passer angel. <very good> Any ideas....advice? Thanks in advance, Michael Mariani Let's hope he is alive to hear what you have to say....... <continue with stable water quality, good feeding and water changes. You may try a slightly lower salinity to improve levels of dissolved oxygen if nothing else (.001-.002 daily drop until 1.018 SG). Please spend your next $100 on a QT setup instead of another fish <wink>... it saves money and lives. Anthony

Juvenile Naso Tang Hey gang, just a quick question today. A friend donated a very juvenile Naso Tang to me the other day. He's only around 3.5 to 4 inches total length. He is already taking food; Mysid shrimp, Spirulina flake and Nori soaked in Zoe.  <Ah, good... keep this big eater feeding...> My question concerns his coloration. Most of the time he looks like a normal juvenile Naso should look. I have a couple in other tanks, including a streamer and a blonde. However, I have seen him turn very dark gray to almost black for extended periods of time. I know, from the other Nasos, that this coloration often results from the fish being under a certain amount of stress. Is it normal for juvenile Nasos to become easily stressed?  <Yes... good observation and telling. Quite normal> He is in an 80 gallon tank with excellent water quality. His tank mates include a small Flame Hawk and a juvenile Dragon Wrasse. I have never seen any conflict between the fishes. And I have very limited experience with a Naso this young. Just curious as to your thoughts. <Stress more from just being in captivity and all it entails. But have seen small to large Nasos in the wild change light, dark, mottled in appearance. Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance, Michael Mariani

Naso Tang Quick question. Today I noticed that my Naso tang was breathing really heavy and was not eating. The other fish look to be doing fine and so do the xenia, mushrooms, and buttons. Checked the water parameters and everything seems fine. I am running a skimmer in the sump and two power heads in the tank so they should be getting enough oxygen. Don't know what to do? Please give me some suggestions <the fish may be showing the early stages of a serious parasite infection that has started in the gills. Please consult our section on Wet Web Media on quarantine tanks for preparedness. If this fish needs medication it will need to be done in a QT tank to be effective and to spare poisoning your biological filter and calcareous media. Best regards, Anthony>

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here

New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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