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

Related Articles: The Genus Paracanthurus,

Related FAQs: Pacific YTB Tang FAQs 1Pacific YTB Tang FAQs 2, Pacific YTB Tang FAQs 3, Pacific YTB Tang FAQs 4, PYTB Tang IDPYTB Tang Behavior, PYTB Tang Selection, PYTB Tang Systems, PYTB Tang Feeding, PYTB Tang Disease, PYTB Tang Reproduction, Surgeons In General, Tang ID, Selection, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease,

Generally left alone; Protula magnifica Straughan 1967, the Magnificent Tubeworm.

Cleaner shrimp species?
With other Tangs?
With carpet anemones?
Maybe not. Ditto Usually if there's room Maybe not.
Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Regal Tang Introduction with Purple Tang      1/20/14
Hi Crew – hope all is well.
<Some of this; some of that. Thank you for your expressed concern/courtesy acknowledgement>
I welcome your thoughts on adding a Regal Tang
<Paracanthurus hepatus I'll take it>
to my 96x30x30 (375 gallon) tank ... The BIG players in the tank are 5" Majestic Angel, 6" Regal Angel (Angels get along fine), 7" Blonde Naso and the most recent addition (about a 6 months ago) a 5" purple tang. As suspected, the purple tang has become the most dominate fish, not attacking/harassing, he just makes sure everyone knows he's the boss. I initially thought the purple tang would be the last addition to the tank but I’m thinking a Regal tang could work. If so, would a small +/- 2.5” Juvenile have a better chance of being ignored by the big players, or should he be much bigger to compete with the BIG players (after QT of course).
Welcome your wisdom as always.
Rick Campbell
<I do give you good odds of this fish doing well here; given the small size start and large tank. Bob Fenner>
Re: Regal Tang Introduction with Purple Tang - AND Golden Butterfly... 375 gal. FOWLR f'     1/31/14

Am I asking for trouble by considering a couple/few of the gorgeous Chaetodon semilarvatus to this same group?
<A fave; and these should do fine in such a volume; given they fit in... mostly with the established Zebrasoma... which they should at their present size relatively. I WOULD keep an eye on the alpha tang and be ready to net/trap it out, place it in a floating plastic colander (spag. strainer) in the tank IF there are signs of overt aggression>
  There are currently 4 in QT at the LFS, approximately 2.5" in length.
<And you; Bob Fenner> 
Re: Regal Tang Introduction with Purple Tang - AND Golden Butterfly... 375 gal. FOWLR f'     1/31/14

Am I asking for trouble by considering a couple/few of the gorgeous Chaetodon semilarvatus to this same group?
<A fave; and these should do fine in such a volume; given they fit in... mostly with the established Zebrasoma... which they should at their present size relatively. I WOULD keep an eye on the alpha tang and be ready to net/trap it out, place it in a floating plastic colander (spag. strainer) in the tank IF there are signs of overt aggression>
  There are currently 4 in QT at the LFS, approximately 2.5" in length.
<And you; Bob Fenner> 
Re: Regal Tang Introduction with Purple Tang - AND Golden Butterfly: latter, stkg./sel.    2/2/14

Paracanthurus hepatus (after 11 days in QT - gobbling up NLS pellets from day one)
<Ah, good>
 went into the display about an hour before lights out last night and had to deal with Mr. Zebrasoma on occasion, both frontal and caudal posturing. Displaying a few scraps this morning from wedging within the rocks overnight I suspect - didn't appear to be scalpel wounds . Here we are 24 hours after introduction and I just witnessed them swim within 2" of each other as if neither existed. I've seen a few quick bolting lunges from Mr. Z today, but they have continued to minimize as the day went on. I'll continue to observe closely over the next couple days, but I'm hoping the worse is behind me.
In regards to introducing one or more Chaetodon semilarvatus, I've typically seen them singly or in pairs.
<Almost always encountered as pairs in the wild/Red Sea>
Would 3 or 4 coexist/group together considering the 375 gallon volume. Does strength in numbers also improve their chances with Mr. Alpha Zebrasoma xanthurum?
<I would go with two for sure here... And... look for a Red Sea angel to go with... I fully suspect that you would greatly enjoy an Asfur or Maculosus... perfect for this size system, setting. Intelligent, beautiful>
In closing, I remember asking my first question through this forum over 10 years ago in regards to a sump design on my first (90 gallon) aquarium.
 I had just finished "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" soft cover for the first time (of many). I was completely surprised (and so grateful) when I received a response from yourself! I'm now the owner of a well used, updated hardcopy version and would just like to say Thank You for all your work towards a hobby that I love so dearly.
Rick Campbell
<Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Regal Tang Introduction with Purple Tang      1/20/14
Hi Crew – hope all is well.
<Some of this; some of that. Thank you for your expressed concern/courtesy acknowledgement>
I welcome your thoughts on adding a Regal Tang
<Paracanthurus hepatus I'll take it>
to my 96x30x30 (375 gallon) tank ... The BIG players in the tank are 5" Majestic Angel, 6" Regal Angel (Angels get along fine), 7" Blonde Naso and the most recent addition (about a 6 months ago) a 5" purple tang. As suspected, the purple tang has become the most dominate fish, not attacking/harassing, he just makes sure everyone knows he's the boss. I initially thought the purple tang would be the last addition to the tank but I’m thinking a Regal tang could work. If so, would a small +/- 2.5” Juvenile have a better chance of being ignored by the big players, or should he be much bigger to compete with the BIG players (after QT of course).
Welcome your wisdom as always.
Rick Campbell
<I do give you good odds of this fish doing well here; given the small size start and large tank. Bob Fenner>

stocking< 125 reef, established w/ a Paracanthurus alpha.  9/2/13
Hi.  I enjoy coming to your site for advice.  I have been a marine hobbyist for several decades.  My pride has been my 125 reef tank, which has been set up for about eight years. The tank is overfiltered and well maintained.
 Corals are leathers, mushrooms, and Acans.  About a year ago, it had a plague of Oodinium that wiped out most of the fish.  Where that came from is a mystery in that nothing had been added for over a year.  I lost my six inch emperor angel, three Centropyges, harlequin bass and purple pseudo. 
Survivors are my niger trigger, Picasso trigger and big hippo tang.   After three months, I wanted to re-stock.  In went a three inch blue face angel that was immediately attacked by the tang.  Within minutes, the angel was finless.  The assault was so nasty that as I was netting out the angel, the tang was biting the net.  A month later, I tried to introduce a queen angel.  This fish was larger than the blue face and I figured that it was an Atlantic fish.  This attack was just as bad as the first.  What is amazing is that for six years the tang never showed aggression. I really don't want to get rid of him.  I would like to add more fish but need something tough.  On my short list would be bird nose wrasse, harlequin tusk, passer angel or maroon clown.  Can you suggest any other fish that may put up with aquatic buzz saw?  Thanks, Dennis
<All but the Angel (your system, a 125 is too small for a large Pomacanthid) might/should go; BUT I would catch out (two nets) the Paracanthurus, and leave it floating in a large plastic colander in the tank (lights out; won't hurt anything) for a few days while the newcomer/s adapt, adjust. Bob Fenner>

Blue Hippo Tang flesh being "eaten" away   11/28/11
I have a Blue Hippo Tang, purchased as a juvenile about 2 years ago. She has had no history of health or behavior issues.
We feed flakes daily, Mysis shrimp a 2-3 times a week. We have about 9 fish with live rock, urchin, starfish, crabs, no corals. Tank is 90 gallons, recently checked water quality and regular water changes. Tank has been stable and healthy for over 2 years. Last fish added was a Lunar Wrasse about 3 months ago.
<Mmm, well... ninety gallons... nine fish is too much... something/one has damaged this Tang... maybe the Thalassoma that's new, perhaps a run-in w/ a rock or the urchin... now the crowded/polluted conditions are conspiring to aid bacterial decomposition of your Paracanthurus>
About 2 weeks ago, the Blue Tang had a few "scrapes" on it's side, as if she had scraped along the rocks.
<Ah yes>
 They were gone in a day or two and no other marks showed up from that. I noticed our female Blue Jaw Trigger had similar feathery like scrapes on her head for a couple of days. Her's have gone away as well and she still seems fine We left town for 2 1/2 days (fish were fed flakes while we were gone.) We came back to find the Blue Tang with a white faded spot on her side, about the size of a quarter. She was breathing hard, swimming erratically and could not stay straight. She would flounder to the side while on the bottom, and would quickly head to a corner at the surface or under a rock where she could straighten herself. Within hours, I noticed pitting in the white area. The next morning, there were red areas where the pitting was. It has since grown at an alarming pace, and it appears she is being eaten by something from the outside in. Her breathing is a little better, she is eating, but not as much as usual. Her other side is fading a little, but not yet resembling the other.
We have treated with StressCoat,
<Of no use here>
 feeding Nori seaweed (she hasn't eaten that yet) and putting Focus and Metronidazole in food
<Why? Id est, for what presumed reason?>
 (frozen Mysis shrimp.) She is eating a little, eating more of the flake food than the shrimp. We unfortunately do not have a quarantine aquarium set up.
<No need; have to fix the environment/world all are in currently>
 If there is any shot at treating this without setting one up, please advise. Picture attached. This photo was about 32 hours after first coming home to a the large white spot on her side.
<What measure for Nitrate here? Do you have a skimmer? When last cleaned?
Do you use chemical filtrants? Don't know exactly where to refer you to for reading. Let's try here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/infectio.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Blue Hippo Tang flesh being "eaten" away    11/28/11
We bought and used the Focus and Metronidazole in the food by suggestion of the tropical fish store owner in our area. He said it would take care of the bacterial infection he diagnosed this as.
<... is bacterial highly likely, but secondary... The med.s have no chance of treating this>
I also read (I've read a kazillion confusing articles) to use the Nori seaweed as a nutritional value, to be sure the Tang was getting the nutrients it needed.
<Actually, such algae have almost no nutritive value>
 Her wound has "whited" over today and I am hoping that is a good sign. She is staying hidden behind rocks.
I agree, too many fish, the last added (Wrasse) was too much. He is a large fish and in my opinion, too aggressive in our tank.
<I do agree. Would remove post haste>
We are going to remove him asap and return him to the store. He is difficult to catch, this will not be easy.
<Two nets... maybe four... w/ two people>
He has a good protein skimmer and a water filtration system, no chemicals.
I'm sorry I have no idea what it's called, that's my husband's area and he's at work. He does regular weekly 10 gallon water changes, did one early last week. He checked nitrates and phosphates on Saturday, I recall the phosphate being a 2,
<MUCH too high. Please read on WWM re HPO4>
 unsure of nitrate level. He only told me his water quality was okay.
We were also recently told to add Melafix
<Worse than worthless... may interrupt nitrification. PLEASE learn to/use the search tool on WWM ahead of actions and writing us>
and did so earlier today. Do you agree with this?
<NO. Would add a modicum of activated carbon to your filter flow path to remove ASAP>
It has also been suggested that this was caused by aggression. Though my memory goes back to the scrapes on the Tangs sides a few weeks ago. I also remember a day or two before that, our female Blue Jaw Trigger showing a "feathery-like" scrape on her head. It was there for a few days. It did not look like a bit or hit, it looked like a scrape. She seems to be fine, as of now.
Thank you Bob for your help. I have been overwhelmed trying to find the reason for this and the solution online.
<Glad to help you and your livestock. BobF>

Re: Blue Hippo Tang flesh being "eaten" away, Thalassoma incomp.  11/29/11
Hi Bob,
Thank you for taking time to answer my questions and give some guidance!
The Lunar Wrasse is the confirmed culprit.
<Ahh, yes; as I originally suspected>
 I witnessed it attacking the Blue Hippo Tang, took many chunks out of her.
The Wrasse was immediately separated from the rest of the fish and has been returned to the store.
 The Blue Tang has been out since and seemingly peaceful. Now it's time for healing her wounds, (new picture attached) and getting her healthy. We read the articles you mentioned (plus some) and added activated carbon as you advised and going to work on getting things back to where they should be for a healthy environment. No more new fish for our tank, lesson learned (the hard way, as usual.) Thank you again, you are well appreciated.
Christy Young
<Thank you for this follow-up. Cheers, BobF>

Regal Tang, intra-species territoriality... in large volume   -- 02/04/11
I have a very large 3600 gallon fish only tank with artificial coral reef center column. My fish, including 4 Regal Tangs were moved into their new home 14 months ago. Though the 4 Regals were acquired about the same time some 4 years ago, two of them are now about 10 inches and the other two about 7 inches. All have done wonderfully and are a great joy to watch.
Two weeks ago one of the larger fish was laying at the top of the tank next to the skimmer out take (unusual to see the Regals at the very top- the tank is 8 feet deep). Knowing the Regal's "odd" sleeping habits, I didn't become too alarmed. Unfortunately the behavior has continued for two weeks with the
other large tang continuously chasing and nipping fins whenever it tries to swim the tank.
<Mmm, territoriality. Yes, even in a volume of this size.>
There is no sign of Ich or other skin disorder except for the ratty, irregular fins and the fish is still feeding though not as vigorously as normal. It lays at the water's surface with it's side exposed to air and constantly opening and closing its mouth. Several times I have thought it dead and opened the top of the tank to retrieve the corpse only to have it jump off the ledge faster than one would think possible. If I can't get it healthy, I'm afraid the other fish will eventually kill her. Any Ideas?
<Oh, it's likely tantamount to draining the tank, but do you have gear,  help to remove the offendee, the alpha fish? If not, the one ragged one should be placed elsewhere. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Regal Tang  -- 02/05/11
Thanks. I was afraid of that. I have NO chance of capturing this fish. It will be painful to watch it's demise.
<I don't know of a trap, bait that works for/with Paracanthurus. Can you remove the one at the surface? BobF>
Re: Regal Tang   2/6/11

It looks like today achieved a breakthrough. Regal Beta was allowed to swim the tank, though not with the group, and for the most part unharassed by Alpha. Beta is pretty tattered but I watched it swim for several hours and it looks strong enough to survive. Territorial supremacy settled? I hope so.
Thanks for your comments.
<I do hope so as well. I have been fortunate to observe large specimens of Paracanthurus interacting in the wild... there is always an alpha individual, but often what appears to be a sub-alpha (and subdominant) male as well in the small (5-7) individuals. Let's see. BobF>

Tang and Triggers 10/23/10
I have a 3 feet long tank and I have a cleaner wrasse and a small 2-3 inches niger trigger for about 2 months.
<The trigger is going to need a larger home, and cleaner wrasse are generally poorly suited for captivity.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/labroide.htm .>
I'm thinking of adding a small regal tang of 2 and a half inches long.
<This tank is too small.>
My question is that can trigger and tang live together in peace or will the trigger kill the tang?
<In a larger tank this might work as the niger is not as aggressive as many triggers, but in a too small tank all bets are off.>

Blue Tang Not Acting Quite Right 5/18/09
<Hello Becky>
We (my Dad and I) have recently acquired a blue tang. In fact we've only had Dory the Second for four days.
<The second?>
For the first two days our Yellow Tang beat it up, ramming itself into her and spinning her around. On the third day, the two were fine.
<Likely not, every fish has a different personality, and it does not sound like your yellow tang is going to allow another tang in your tank regardless of body shape.>
This morning, as I was leaving for school, I noticed little Dory upside down. When I got home, she was floating around the tank, upside down and flipping around on her sides (in flips) and occasionally getting stuck on the sides of the Power Head.
<Probably from the abuse sustained the prior two days, this fish is likely on its last legs so to speak. It needs to be separated from the other tang, and likely returned to the store purchased from..>
After reading one of the emails and response, it sounded like the person was having similar problems but with one of their fish. Anyway, I examined the fish (just like you told the other person) and I noticed white, almost "scratch" marks, along the fishes body. Probably from when the Tang attempted to beat her up. I also noticed how underfed she looked. We've been feeding the fish a diet of frozen Mysis shrimp, frozen Brine Shrimp, and dried Green Algae (though Dory the Second only got a little bit of the Mysis since she's been with us).
<Although this fish may have been undernourished before it came to you, it sounds like the end result would have been the same regardless. I am thinking your tank may not be ideal for another tang.>
We have a 52 gallon aquarium with our Yellow Tang, Mandarin Goby, Coral Banded Shrimp, False Percula Clown fish, and Blue Tang. We also have 40+ little starfish, pink pulsing xenia, green star polyps, a hermit crab, two emerald crabs, aiptasia anemone, and a bristle worm.
<This tank is small for the livestock you have currently. The yellow tang is on the big side for this tank, and the mandarin will likely not be able to sustain itself in a tank this size without a renewable source of food such as a refugium.  This tank is far too small for a Blue Tang, and I think you should avoid a "Dory the third".>
We have a canister filter (I think that's what they're called) a protein skimmer, and a Power Head Fan.  We don't have a quarantine tank (I know, I know. I try to convince my parents).
<Besides being used as a preventative measure to keep diseases and parasites from reaching the display tank, a quarantine tank is also an opportunity to beef up undernourished fish and give them a chance to become acclimated to captivity prior to the stress of other fish.>
Now I know it wasn't a smart idea to put two tangs in one tank, especially a 52-gallon. But I still hope little Dory the Second can make it. It seems as if every other fish we put in the tank dies.  Is there anything we can do to save our Dory? Please tell me where we have gone wrong.
<As mentioned above, I think your tank is full on tangs. Please remove the blue tang to another tank to recover if possible, and or return it to the aquarium store where you purchased it.>
Thank you for taking your time to read this email and I greatly appreciate any advice.
<Good luck
Josh Solomon>

Re: Imperator Angelfish tank size... Now PYBT comp.  12/29/08 Bob, I can't thank you enough for the information you and your colleagues provide! I just have one more quick question; this time about the size of the hippo tang I should get. The approximate size of my current fish are as follows: - 1.5-2" Rectangle Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus rectangulus) - 2" Purple Pseudochromis (Pseudochromis porphyreus) - 2.5-3" Tomato Clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus) - 3.5" Imperator Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator) My LFS has a Blue Hippo Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) that's approximately 2.5". Do you think that's a good size for my tank or might there be conflict with the Angelfish? Do you recommend getting a larger Tang, say 5"? Thank you again, Eugene <For the tank size you've stated: 84 x 24 tank... I do think you'll be fine here with the smaller specimen. Paracanthurus are smart, fast... and with decor (live rock et al.) here this fish should be able to stand its own or swim away to safety. Bob Fenner>

Paracanthurus hepatus and Zebrasoma scopas in a 90 gal 12/24/08 Hello folks, <Hello Jessy here with you tonight> I heard Bob speak at my local reef club in Phoenix AZ last year, and I was amazed at how much he knew, so I figured I'd give "the crew" a shot. <Aren't we all amazed at the wealth of knowledge that is "The Bob"?> I recently upgraded from a 2.5 gallon to a ~90 gallon (36"x18"x31"). I have kept fish tanks for a long time, so I like to think my husbandry skills are pretty good, even if I'm relatively new to salt water :) The tank is a little over a month old, with ~110 pounds of live rock, a 3-4" sand bed and a 10 gallon sump with a Tunze 9015 skimmer. I'm going to add UV sterilization and maybe ozone in the near future. Nitrate, nitrite and ammonia are all below detectable levels on my tests, and I have just added some turbo snails to help with the algae that's beginning to grow. In the spirit of Borneman-esque mini-cycles, I'm trying to give my tank time to become as stable as possible before I begin adding corals and fish. <Good idea, in the long run allowing for the tank to sit right now is doing it a world of good. Jump start your pod grown and other good little critters while there are no predators to pick them off> My question is the following: Assuming no other fish near the size of the two are present, do you think it is possible (advisable?) to add both a *Paracanthurus hepatus *and a *Zebrasoma scopas* to this tank? I made sure to leave lots of swim room in front of and on top of the rock work, and I love both these fish. Thanks in advance for your advice, even if it is "pick one or the other." <Ahh, well I wish I could tell you a black and white answer, but I think too many factors go into making this decision. I will tell you... First of all, the blue hippo tang will undoubtedly be too large for this tank...over time. You CAN get away with a small one of about 2"-3" for a little while, but you'll find that it will become too big for your tank. These tangs can get massive when full grown, just keep that in mind. As for the second tang, it all depends on the disposition of the fish and your dedication to husbandry. If you happen upon 2 tangs that seem to get along well enough and are small enough, in my opinion, keeping them happy would be a matter of you keeping up on water changes and water quality for two fish that will be waste factories. Take your time and try to make an educated choice when the time is right.> Owen <Regards, Jessy>

Regal Tang in my carpet anemone 05/14/08 Hi there, <Jayne> A straight forward query really, I have a 50 gallon tank with two clarkie clowns. a coral beauty and a regal tang and three chromis. <Crowded psychologically... more so in time> All is peaceful between the fish and everything seems ok. However my regal tang has started to join my clarkie clowns at night hosting in my carpet anemone! <Very unusual... And a Carpet... needs more room than this alone> I was really wondering if this is normal as I thought only clownfish and some damsels host in anemones... Thanks Jayne Carnochan <This Tang may be consumed. I fully suspect the behavior is artifactual of the crowding. Bob Fenner>

Small hippo with larger yellow  3/9/08 Dear WWM crew, if Andrew is the one answering this than I know it is the right answer but I think that anyone could answer this. I have a blue hippo tang that is about one and a half to two inches long. I would like to add a larger yellow tang (about 3 to 5 inches) today. in a month I am upgrading to a 90 gallon but I could really use that tang now. I was just wondering if a yellow tang that is larger will harm my blue hippo tang. thanks <Will very likely get along... as the size difference and being of different genera, body morphology works to advantage. Bob Fenner>

Hippo Tang Compatibility/Systems 3/7/08 Dear WWM crew, I think that your site is soooooooooooooo great. <Thank you.> I have just recently added a Hippo Tang to my 36 gallon, to be very soon upgraded to a 90 gallon. I would like to know if I could have a pair of hippos in a 90 gallon with my other fish. <In time, one Hippo will be too small for the 90, can grow over 8" in length. Would not do.> Thanks <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Blue Tang vs. Tang Tangling With Tangs (Possible New Tang Addition)  12/4/07 I have a very small Blue Tang that I've had for 6 weeks in a 28 gallon tank for quarantine and observation. <Excellent practice!> It will be moving to my new 125 Gallon (6' long) tank when the tank is ready. What other Tang, if any can co-exist with a Blue Tang, that would be simultaneously added to the 125 gallon. Thank you Frank <Well, Frank, I'd probably only add another Tang of a different genus, such as a Zebrasoma species or a smaller Ctenochaetus species. That's about it, as far as another Tang goes. Anything else would really be pushing it, IMO. As it is, the Blue Tang will probably need larger quarters at some point. Don't forget to quarantine the new Tang as well if you get another one. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Yellow belly hippos, Paracanthurus comp.    11/30/07 Hey everyone! I have a couple of questions that I need some help with... I have a 150 gallon tank, with live rock covering the entire back wall from side to side. I purchased a yellow belly hippo around a month and a half ago, and she was very timid at first, swam from corner to corner of the tank hitting herself, <Yikes... how large is/was this specimen?> till she finally settled into her new home. Today I purchased another much smaller yellow belly and placed her in the tank. I was told that they are very peaceful fish and can be added in at any time no problem. <Mmm, not always. All Acanthurids are territorial to a degree> My bigger yellow belly turned white all along her black markings and constantly chases the smaller one around, who also turns white as well, they swim around and it looks like there dancing. Looks like my pair of clowns. Is this aggressive behavior, or just there way of saying hello? <Kind of both... Good descriptions... I would just watch, be ready to remove the smaller/newer specimen if it is getting sliced, the fin membranes separating. Bob Fenner>

Re: yellow belly hippos 12/1/2007 My biggest yellow belly is 3? inches and the new one is around 3. <Mmm, would be much better is there was a greater difference in size... like half...> My biggest since the new arrival has been a little bossier with the rest of the fish in the tank. <Good observation> The 2 yellow bellies are the only tangs I have. I keep them very well fed. I put a strip of Nori in the tank every day. She eats it all and always wants more. I also feed mysis and Spirulina. We do water changes every week. We take out 20 gallons. Thanks for all your help! I'm going to keep my fingers crossed! <Me too! Thank you for the follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Tang incomp. Greetings from Colorado! <Howdy from less-smoky San Diego!> I have a Question regarding my two Tangs. One is a Lieutenant Tang 4 inches and the other is a Hippo 2 inches. They seem to be settling in but I have noticed that my Lieutenant Tang can be semi Aggressive toward him, <Oh yes... typical for the family...> the LT was in the tank first. I have now noticed that the Hippo's fin is partially gone, he is still a happy go lucky despite his fin. Should I pull him and put him in my QT. My LT. Tang is so peaceful and so excited to see me and follows me all over the tank and stays at the glass could he be getting upset when the Hippo comes over for a visit? I have ideal tank conditions and test every other day. This is a 55 Gallon <Too small...> and I do plan on upgrading to a 200 at the first of the year are they in cramped quarters? <Yes> Here is my laundry list of my Saltwater Creatures. P.S. The LT. Tang takes care of the clownfish it is a good relationship, is that normal? <Not unusual partners in captivity> 1- Hippo 1- LT. Tang 2- Clown Fish 2 Cleaner Shrimp 6 Snails 4 Hermit crabs 1 Serpent Star Respectfully, Sharon <I'd trade the small Paracanthurus in... get another in the new year... when you have the larger set-up. Bob Fenner> Re: Greetings from Colorado, Tang incomp. Thank you Bob! <Welcome Sharon> I took your advice and I took him into the pet store however I won't trade him in the good news! The LFS owner will keep him for me until I upgrade, this blue doesn't hide and is so friendly he eats out of my hand so I don't want to let him go... <Ah, good all the way around> I will update you at the first of the year. My LT. is a very special fish he lives in his tank in harmony and loves me it seems when I got him he followed me around The LFS has these open setups in the middle of his store and has a ton of anemone and coral that are in them its like a little farm he poked his head out at me and when I went to the other side he just followed me I hand feed him a lot! Thanks a Million! Sharon <Welcome my friend. BobF>

Blue Tang and Clownfish as Tank Mates - 9/30/07 Hello, <Hello Coleen, Brenda here> I would like to know if a blue tang and a clown fish can live together in peace. <Yes, if a suitable environment is provided. Make sure you have a large enough tank for the tang.> Thank you for time. <You're welcome! Brenda> Coleen

Regal Blue Tang, Comp.   8/21/07 Dear Mr. Fenner <Rachel> I own an 80G Tank that holds 1 Lunar Wrasse (4"), 2 Clarke Clowns (2") and two Blue damsels. I use 3 power filters, 2 canister filers (with Purigen and activated carbon), 1 protein skimmer, and 1 UV sterilizer in this tank. I am thinking of introducing a Regal Blue Tang to the system. This tang is small (1.5") so if I were to introduce him to the tank do you think the other fish in the tang might attack the small fellow? <Mmm, I give you odds of about half here> Therefore will it be alright if I introduce him in the night to the tank when others are a sleep so that he will have time to establish himself. <I'd place during a day when you can be there to observe... leave the lights on the first night> Will it have feeding problems? <Hopefully not> I owned a blue tang before but he was about 4" and ate almost anything but I am worried now as this tang is small. And also how long do you think it will take him to grow about 2" more. <A month or so if it gets along, is feeding> Thanks in advance for any advices, Best regards, Rachel <And to you, Bob Fenner>

Hippo Tang In a 75g Tank With a Purple Tang?...Nope, Not Even On Its Own - 07/25/07 Hi, <<Hello Jim>> I have a 75-gallon tank with 90-lbs of live rock. It currently has a Purple Tang, a Flame Hawkfish, and an Ocellaris Clown. Would I be able to add a Hippo Tang to this mix in this aquarium and not have constant fighting? <<Mmm, nope...not so much due to the possibility of "fighting" but rather due to the "size" of this system and the developmental retardation that would be imposed on this large and robust fish. The Hippo Tang needs a MUCH larger system for development/long-term health. In fact, I am hesitant to recommend "any" additional Tangs species be added to this tank as it is at the bottom-end of what I consider adequate for the "smaller" tang species >> Thanks for your help, Jim <<I know it's not what you want to hear, but I hope it proves helpful. EricR>>

Cleaner Shrimp Killer...Those Tangs Are NOT "Reef Safe" Fishes After All! - 05/21/07 Hey!!!! <<Hi Linda!>> I've been wondering why I have not been able to keep cleaner shrimp. <<Oh?>> Well - now I know....I'm not believing this, but my Blue Hippo Tang (He's about 4" long) is a bad boy! <<Ahh...not a surprise really>> I never dreamed he is the cleaner shrimp culprit!  I am so mad...I had bought a beautiful and very large cleaner shrimp to add to the tank but this time kept an eye out on it for awhile to make sure he was doing ok in the tank and noticed right off the bat my Blue Hippo Tang was really interested in it. <<Cue 'Jaws' theme music>> I kept thinking that he was just excited and was nudging the shrimp for a cleaning. <<A reasonable conclusion>> I thought it was cute...walked out for an hour and came back in and the shrimp was in half! <<Yikes!>> Just thought I would share this surprise....guess I won't be able to put shrimp in this tank. <<Tangs are far from being "reef safe" fishes.  Aside from ornamental crustaceans, I have known tangs to go after clams and stony corals...and have seen them pluck the occasional Acropora polyp as well...though these incidents are often related to lack of adequate feeding/nutrition.  I'm not saying this is the case in your situation.  There are some individuals/species more prone to what we as aquarist may deem unacceptable "reef" behavior with Paracanthurus hepatus being among those, in my opinion...especially as they mature/get large>> Hope all is well...Linda in GA <<Mmm, suffered some tragedy with my own system this past weekend.  But otherwise, yes...am doing well.  Regards, EricR>>

Tusk Vs. Tang  - 05/08/07 Hi, <Hello.> I have just introduced a 6" Australian harlequin  Tuskfish into my 400 litre Juwel aquarium, and my slightly larger regal tang has  gone crazy, I have noticed a few scratches on the side of the Tuskfish which i <I> am sure the tang has caused with his spines. Should I remove the tang?, or will  he calm down eventually? <If you can remove he tang, I would consider putting him your QT tank for a week or two while the tusk adjusts. Maybe rearrange the rock-work a little too.> The Tuskfish has the best colouring, of any Tuskfish I have ever seen,  and I would rather take my tang back to my LFS than put it at risk. <If the aggression warrants removal then do so.> Thanks <Welcome, Adam J.>

Hippo Tang Reef Safe, I think Not (- Says his Anecdote)   5/7/07 Hello again. <Hi.> This is more for your FAQ's readers than a question. <Okay...> I have a Trachyphyllia brain coral that wasn't opening for days.  I have had this coral for over a year (I think) and have never had any issue with it not opening, other than low alk.  So while writing on your forum I was watching the tank (next to the computer) and saw my small Hippo tang (2.5 inches) <Mmm...not to get off track but in all honesty, I'm a frowner on the collection and purchase of this species at this size.> going after it like it was algae, trying to rip chunks off.  Well needless to say that was the problem and it has been moved to another tank, it is expanding like normal since the move.  I have read before that tangs can and sometimes will eat open brain corals but I never thought a Hippo tang would be on the list. <Thanks fo sharing.  While the experience here is anecdotal, and likely not a representation of how the species acts in general, it is still a good reminder on that 'ole salty clich? "There are no guarantees." Animals aren't made in factories, they are individuals. Having said that typically when a captive animal exhibits strange predatory or feeding behaviors it is due to something lacking in the offered diet.> Thanks, hope this comes in helpful to someone, Ryan. <Thanks again for sharing. Adam Jackson.>

Ick & Seachem <test kits for copper>, YTBTang comp.   4/14/07 Gentlemen: <Some> To make a long story short: <Okay> We have two blue tangs with Ick.   We placed them in a 10 gallon marine quarantine tank <Mmm... I wouldn't do this... Want to mention for posterity, browsers... just too stressful for some species (Surgeons in this case) to crowd conspecifics together in a small volume... Now, that being stated, placing many of such species crowded together in a much larger setting isn't as stressful...> and began treatment with a product called "Copper Power"  (1.25% copper sulfate) but the ick remained. <Insufficiently administered... Need to use WITH testing... a chelated copper test kit: Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cryptchelcucures.htm>   We decided that the problem is that they wanted 2.5 ppm and our test kits range (Aquarium Pharm) on the high end went from 2.0 to 4.0  -- no way to be accurate. <Ahh!>   So we bought Seachem Cupramine and the Seachem copper test kit (figuring that Seachem would accurately test Seachem) and moved them to ANOTHER 10 gallon quarantine tank. <Mmm, just one specimen of Paracanthurus per please> After putting the proper amount of Cupramine in, the Seachem test registered ZERO, so we tried what Seachem called the Reference test and it read zero as well.    We returned the kit and got another one that had a different lot number from the same dealer with EXACTLY the same results.  The dealer tried to use the test in his store and got zero as well.   He gave us a third test kit and it was dead too. <Bunk!>     I drove across town to another dealer and bought ANOTHER Seachem test kit.  Yet another different lot # and ZERO readings (even for it's own reference test). <I'd be writing the fine folks at SeaChem re this experience...> A third dealer told me he discontinued the Seachem test kits because of the same problems and the Seachem Company's seeming to just shrug their shoulders. Has anyone else experienced this same problem? <I have not, but do believe that considering your trials that this may be a bunch of either "old" reagent kits, or perhaps a bad "batch"... Again, please do contact the company re... They are "real" and very interested in the utility of their products, I assure you. Bob Fenner>
Re: Ick & Seachem, & Paracanthurus comp.   4/15/07
Thanks for your speedy reply.   I wrote Seachem once and never heard back, but I'll try again. <Ah, good> One other thing just for fun.   The blue tangs in question .. normally we'd never house them together in such a small tank.  We thought that our 55 was big enough for them to be separate, <Mmm, generally no> but it turned out that they never leave each other's side. <Good> They school together, eat together and .. you know that thing Blue Tangs do where, when they get tired, they just flop over on their sides and make us think we've killed them?   Well, these two fight to decide who gets to flop on top, but they always flop together -- not even NEAR each other but as if they'd been stacked for storage.   So, we keep them together and do twice as many water changes. <Good> thanks again. <This is a social animal in the wild... and am very glad to find your two are compatible here. Bob Fenner>

Mixing a Regal Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) and Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) in an Aquarium of Unknown Size.   2/12/07 <Greetings!> Can I keep a regal tang with a yellow tang and a bi-color angel and a few damsels?   <If your tank is as big as the ocean.  You would need a large tank to happily house these two fish.  By large I mean at least 135 gallons in which both fish are introduced at the same time if you want to avoid problems and even then you are at risk.  I would not recommend it.   Hope that helps.  -Mich>  

Hippo tang and Wellsophyllia incomp.  12/30/06 Hi, I own a 180 gallon tank and have had it for 3 years. I have 4 tangs and a regal angel all doing well in those 3 years that they have grown up nicely. I have been able to keep coral, like Galaxea, frogspawn, zoos, and bubble coral. I just bought a Wellsophyllia and nice opened piece of candy coral that has 3 big buds on it. I noticed that the Wellso had gotten nipped and the candy coral had been picked up from the left and moved 6 feet to the right of the tank. I thought maybe its the angel, but he doesn't go near them. I then placed the Wellso under a cave and put the candy back to the left side of the tank and waited to see who was doing it. I also suspected the vlamingi because i have seen him grab Nori that's attached to live rock with a rubberband and pick the rock up by pulling the Nori, he's a big fish but it wasn't him either. Its the hippo tang. <Mmm, does happen some time> My 2 questions are, i need to get rid of that tang right, his behavior not going to stop and any future coral hell chew or literally carry off, is that right? <Yes, likely so> The second is if the Wellso has a tear can it heal or is it pretty much done in a few weeks? <Can heal> What can i do to bring it back from its deflated state and back to its gelatin state. Please let me know. I hate to get rid of the hippo since i raised him for 3 years but if it has to be done let me know. If i replace him with another smaller hippo tang will this still occur. Harry <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/trachydisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Blue Hippo Tang Problem 10/14/06 Hello <Greetings> A week ago we purchased a Blue Hippo Tang, a Six Line Wrasse and a Dragonet.  We introduced them to our 150 gallon tank all at once.  In the tank prior to that, we had live rock and 5 green Chromis.  We did have damsels but got rid of them because we knew they would be too aggressive towards the new fish. <They tend to get that way> All seems to be going well except for the behavior of the Blue Hippo Tang. He stays on the same side of the tank with the green Chromis, hiding in the live rock. <Can be common if they are the same size> He seems to have chosen one particular green Chromis and always stays with him.  He constantly swims on the side of that green Chromis, rubbing up against him, cornering him and lying on his side.  The Chromis could swim away at any time but he chooses not to.  It's almost like they are playing but I know that probably isn't the case. Is this normal behavior?   <Sounds like he could be adjusting to the new tank mates> Also, we have put seaweed in the tank for the Tang but he doesn't seem to eat it.  We feed the Chromis flake food and he did eat some of that last night.  Today we are going to try feeding them frozen food; maybe the tang will eat that. Thank you for your help! April <Hippo Tangs eat more zooplankton than algae.  It is good to offer it, but they will prefer meatier foods.  Frozen Mysis or Formula One/Two would be a good place to start.  Cheers! - Dr. J>

Mixing more than one Paracanthurus   8/4/06 I have a question for you. I have a 3.5 in Blue Tang in a 100 gallon tank with a few other fish. I added another blue tang that was 1 inch and he went after it pretty good. <Not surprising...> I had to take him back. I really want another Blue Tang and wanted to know if you thought I would have more success with a tang of similar size as the one I already have. Thanks! Jamey <Mmm, nope. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/paraccompfaqs.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tangcompfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Stocking, Compatibility, Suitability - 03/28/06 We would like to add a Blue Hippo Tang to our tank. <<Mmm...a large tank I hope...>> We have been waiting for months to get a good specimen. <<Wise>> Our LFS has 2 that have been eating well for 2 weeks and the LFS will keep them another week before selling them.  One is large around 5 inches and the other is smaller 3 inches.  The fish we have are listed in the order they were added to the tank. 2 clowns (1.5in), Tennent Tang (5.5in), female Blue-throat trigger (7in); Niger trigger (2in), Flag Fin Angel (2.5in), Flame Angel (2in), and male Blue-throat trigger 4in).  We also have 3 XL cleaner shrimp, 1 bubble-tip anemone, 1 Ritteri anemone, pulsing xenia, 150+ hermit crabs, 25 super Nassarius snails, 10 Pacific conch, 26 Zebra turbo snails, 1 purple impact urchin<<neat!>>, 2 tiger tail sea cucumbers, 2 sand-sifting stars, 3 Burgundy stars, and 5 large brittle stars.  Ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 15ppm, <<You should work on bringing this down.>> salinity 1.025, temp 76 - 82, pH 8.2.  The 800 watts of metal halides are wreaking havoc on temp.  We may have to buy a chiller or redesign our hood. <<Or bump up the heaters so the temp doesn't fall below 79/80...82 isn't all that bad.  My tank reaches 82 degrees every day during the summer months, and here in SC that's the bigger part of the year.  You could also employ small fans to blow across the surface of the water to help with evaporative cooling.>> Which size blue hippo would be the better choice?. <<How big is your tank?  With two anemones (and especially with the Ritteri) you need to be very mindful of water quality...much more so than if this were just a FOWLR setup.>> Our Tennent tang can be a bit pushy. <<Indeed...and at 5.5" I think you will have a tough time adding another tang unless this tank is VERY large.>> The only problem we had was when we introduced the male blue-throat into the tank.  The female did not like him and would click at him and bite him.  He did manage to survive the attack and now everyone seems to tolerate each other. <<I think you were lucky...these triggers are best ordered/introduced as a pair...I'm glad it worked out for you/him.>> That was about 4 weeks ago.  We have an in tank refugium that we purchased after the problems with the triggers.  We figure the Blue Tang will live in there for a while.  Our tank is a 200-gallon FOWLR and several inverts. <<Mmm, no...not in my opinion.  The presence of the anemones in this tank means it doesn't fall under the same care guidelines as a FOWLR and needs to be geared more toward the needs of the anemones.  You will need to maintain much lower nitrate levels/better water quality all 'round than you presently have/would need to if this were a true FOWLR.  You will also be more limited on your fish selections because of the presence of the anemones.  I'll be surprised if the Flagfin doesn't become a problem as it matures.>> We have a Tunze filtration system with a Tunze Protein skimmer on the rail system. <<good stuff>> Tank has been up and running since October 2005.  We have a DSB 4-5" Oolitic Aragamax.  Total of 180lbs of rock only about 75lbs being good live rock.  The other was live rock but had been sitting outside for 6 months after the previous owner tore down his tank.  Do we have enough room to eventually add 2 (male & female) Bimaculatus Anthias and a green mandarin (when our tank & live rock mature)? <<All things considered (system size/occupants), I think you're better off passing on the Hippo tang.  I think the Bi-Color Anthias are a good choice, I would even recommend you add a trio of females with the male (allows a more natural "pecking order" and will give the females a better chance/rest than having a single female for the male to constantly harass).   As for the Mandarin, you (it) might have a chance with a mature sand bed/rock in this size system...though I would prefer to see the addition of a large external downstream refugium for it and the anemone's sake.>> Thank you for your help. Jeri <<Happy to assist.  Regards, EricR>>

Royal Gramma aggression against Pacific Blue Tang 8/11/05 Good morning WWM Crew! <Hi there, Leslie here for the crew this evening> A bit of background:  I have the royal Gramma who wasn't doing so well in the QT. You suggested adding an air stone and he perked up over night!   <Glad to hear that worked for you and that the fish is doing well.> A week later I added him to the main tank.  I also had a 2 inch Pacific Blue Tang in a QT (different tank) which I added to the display tank last night.  The Royal Gramma immediately started posturing at the poor fellow.  I let him posture thinking he'd settle down, but after ten minutes of that I actually saw him take a nip at his flank. <Ak, bummer> I turned the lights off and everyone went to their respective "corners" and the tang found a cave in which to settle down for the night.  I realized this morning (albeit a bit belatedly) that I hadn't rearranged the rocks to confuse everyone. <Woops, its never to late!> Display Tank parameters: 90 gal MegaFlow All-Glass aquarium (48"L x 18"W x 24"H) single strip 40 watt light so far (upgrading fixture in a few months for corals) 23 gal sump w/Mag-7 for return Aqua-C Urchin Protein Skimmer closed loop manifold with Mag24 2 - 600gph powerheads in opposite corners 120 lbs live rock 120 lbs live sand (4" DSB) Temperature:  80 degrees Fahrenheit pH: 8.1 salinity: 1.023 Ammonia:  0 Nitrite:  0 Nitrate:  10 - 20 (hard to tell with the strips) 2 - A. percula clowns (mated pair, 1 is 1 1/4", 1 is 2") 1 - Brown Striped goby (3 1/2") 1 - Lawnmower Blenny (3") 1 - Royal Gramma (2 inch) 1 - Pacific Blue Tang (2") The tang is the last fish I am planning to add.  My question:  is it too late to rearrange the rockwork to help the Tang settle in better without the Gramma's aggression issues?   <Nope, not at all.> Should I simply allow them to figure it out for themselves (not sure I like that idea).   <I am not fond of that idea either.> I'm tempted to remove the Gramma (though I'm not looking forward to the chase) and put him in solitary confinement in QT for a week to let the tang settle in better before adding him back. <This is actually a pretty good idea. However you are right the chase will not be fun and can be stressful on the inhabitants. The times I have had to remove fast moving trouble makers, I opted for removing all the rock. Although a big and messy a project, I find it less stressful on the fish. You may want to consider this as long as you are planning to rearrange the rock.> Your thoughts or suggestions would be most helpful.  Thank you. <Your most welcome, Leslie>
Royal Gramma aggression against Pacific Blue Tang (Follow up) 8/15/05
Thanks, Leslie.   <Hi Bekha, Your very welcome!!!> By the time I got home last night, my husband had already rearranged the rocks <My kinda guy !> and everyone was behaving themselves. <That's great news!> He said that as soon as the rocks were rearranged, they settled down to ignoring each other.  This morning, it was the same - no flank nipping, no aggression, nothing.  Everyone ignored everyone else. <That's wonderful. I am glad it worked for you. I am sure the fish, especially the Tang, are happier.> It looks like the rearranging of the rock did it's job, but we're keeping an eye on them just the same. <Always a good plan.> I have to admit, I really wasn't looking forward to rearranging the rocks and removing them to get a fish out of there! <I certainly do not blame you. It is a messy job! If you want to re do the aquascaping that's one thing but to have to, to remove a  misbehaving fish is another story.  If we see any more aggression, we'll snag the aggressor and put into QT for a week. <Excellent plan.> But from the looks of things this morning, all looked well. <What a relief eh?> I'm attaching a pic of the tank now (I actually like the way he rearranged the rocks!) Bekah Rogers <Wow not only is your husband thoughtful, he's talented as well. Best of luck with your tank, Leslie>

Tang and Clown Questions... 7/12/05 Crew, I have a 90 gallon tank, with a small Naso Tang, maroon clown, black and white damsel, 2 cleaner shrimp, 3 small hermit crabs.  Please help with some questions... Will a Pacific Yellow Tang be ok to add to this complement? <Likely so> If not, what about a Threadfin butterfly? <Would likely fit> I read some WWM info and it says that they eat (worms, snails, crustaceans),  would my small hermit crabs be eaten? <Not likely... the most probable source of trouble will be interaction with your Maroon> I am considering buying another Maroon clown since I have seen some pairs in my LFS, but I have read that they can be aggressive towards other clowns.   <And other life> Is it common to add a larger Maroon to create a pair or are they caught as a pair? <Best to purchase small... tank bred and reared... and have grow up together... Unless in very large systems, there is often behavioral trouble with adding another. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Nathan

Aggressive Hippo I have had a saltwater tank up and running for about 8 months.  I have added the following inhabitants (in the following order): 1" Percula Clown, 3" Sailfin Tang and 4" Hippo Tang, and a 3" Niger Trigger.  My tank is a 55 gallon (4ft long) with an Aquaclear mechanical filter, CPR BakPak (I have been thinking about upgrading to the Remora C based on your recommendations), <Mmm, a good investment... for a larger tank... which I strongly believe you'll end up with> 2 Maxi Jet 600 (160gph), 50lbs liverock, and 40lbs of reef grade sand (About 1.5" depth).  I also have a serpent star, a red Linckia, 1 sea cucumber, 1 mushroom coral, 10 Nassarius snails, and 6 hermit crabs.  My tank parameters are 1.022, 9dkh, 8.2, 0 Nitrates, 78 degrees (Night) to 79 degrees (Day).  I change about 3 gallons a week and add Kent's Trace Elements, Prime, and Kent's Superbuffer. Since I have added the Niger Trigger (About a week ago), my Hippo has been harassing him constantly.  I had always assumed that the Niger was going to be the more aggressive fish. <Not being new, not in such a small system> The Hippo has a few scrapes on the side of him (Small white lines that are like bite marks), but the Niger Trigger's fins are jagged and he was cowering in the corner for the first couple of days.  With time, will the Hippo stop harassing the Niger? <Maybe... I'd isolate the Tang (put in in a floating plastic colander for a few days) and see if this helps> What do you think the odds of success are with these inhabitants? <Mmm, fifty fifty, with small level of confidence limits> Also, how long do you think they will be okay in this size system? <Not okay now...> Finally, what size tank would you recommend for these inhabitants long term (Over the life of the fish)? <Two, three times this size> Also, do you think the Percula will need an anemone to be happy with these inhabitants? <Nope> Thanks for the help.  I have been reading your site and found it to be very informative.  One final question, do you think UV lights are worth the investment for parasite or bacteria reduction?   <In some settings, yes... not as worthwhile in yours as what you might otherwise invest your money and time in...> In the beginning, I had some minor issues with parasites due to lack of understanding of the parasite life cycle (I did not wait long enough during treatment before moving the fish to the main tank). <Very common human/aquarist experience. Glad to find your intelligence, perseverance has won out over simply quitting, giving up. Bob Fenner>

Tang compatibility <Your 55 gallon tank isn't large enough for two tangs even if they weren't fighting. As they grow, they will quickly run out of room. This certainly adds to the aggression you are seeing. James (Salty Dog)> I am sure this question is here somewhere but I cannot find it. I have had my aquarium set up for about a year now. Initially did fine until I upset my blue tang. It got ich and I lost all fish. Being new, did not know that I had to wait weeks before adding more fish so I continued to lose more fish to ich. My tank is now great and am trying again. I have had a yellow tang and two Clownfishes for a couple of months now and was ready for my blue tang. I added it today and the yellow tang started attacking it. How can I help them adjust. I really do want to keep both. I do not want any more fish just corals and inverts.  <Read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/paraccompfaqs.htm James (Salty Dog)> 

Pacific Blue Tang and a Lawnmower Blenny having "issues" To begin, please allow me to compliment your staff on their knowledge, accuracy and well researched articles regarding numerous marine aquarium subjects. I have come to rely exclusively on your site before making any decisions about my reef. <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words... but please don't rely on just us... even though we are a substantial number, and diverse in our opinions...> I have a 75 gallon reef (four feet long) with about 80 pounds of live rock, 60 lbs or so of live sand, Caulerpa and shaving brush macro algae. One Pacific Blue Tang (about 2 inches or so), three "Lime" Chromis (so says the LFS where purchased, but they don't match pictures/descriptions available...they behave like Chromis and they think the Tang is a Chromis and they try to school with him whenever possible), and a medium sized (about 3 inches long) Lawnmower Blenny purchased with some algae eating snails and Emerald Crabs. The Tang and Chromis came first and after the algae was more established the Lawnmower Blenny et al. The tang eats absolutely everything and I make sure to provide him with additional supplements of vitamins and dried seaweed (which he loves). He also likes to nibble on the Caulerpa (which I put in there for him and to utilize nitrates). When I added the Blenny, the Tang became very curious about the Blenny and tends to hover over him. If he sees the Blenny on a rock he rushes over to the rock and gets very close to the Blenny. Sometimes he rubs himself sideways on the Blenny. The Blenny does his best to ignore him and usually moves to another rock, but I'm wondering if I can anticipate problems in the future. Thus far, both fish are healthy and eating well and have the nice rounded shapes to prove it. Will the Tang get worse as he gets bigger? <Likely will get "better", more tolerant of the blenny... they're having a bit of antagonism bordering on detente action right now... quite natural... as both utilize the same sorts of foods, space in the wild... resource partitioning behavior is one fancy term> The Blenny is starting to stand up for himself a little (his movements in the Tang's direction usually send the tang scurrying back to his resting place). They have been together for about a month now and the behavior seems to be rather consistent. Thus far neither fish has actually touched the other (except for the rubbing thing) but I would like to know your thoughts. The research that I had done on these Tangs indicated aggressive behavior with other Tangs but not really other fish/invertebrates. Thank you for your consideration to my question. Pam Cradic <All will very likely be fine with time going by... as you noted re the Damsels, most fishes are rather "autistic" in terms of self-recognition (no mirrors?)... and these two fishes will soon identify as conspecifics. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pacific Blue Tang and a Lawnmower Blenny having "issues"
Dear Mr. Fenner, Thank you so much for your response...I am relieved. One more question...if you were to choose a tank mate for the Pacific Blue Tang, what would it be?  (preferably something that doesn't eat corals, or invertebrates). I would like to add one more fish and though there are many and varied opinions, they are almost too many and too varied. <Almost> My first thought would be another Tang, as they are just so much fun, but I certainly don't want any battles or chasing (too stressful for the fish...too stressful for me). Your advice would be appreciated. Regards, Pam Cradic <Perhaps a pygmy dwarf angel of one species or another. C. argi, C. aurontonotus... Bob Fenner>

Re: questions about blue tang biology Dear WWM Crew, <Elizabeth> I'm doing a report/project on the (Pacific) blue tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) and can't find some particular info off the net (I haven't been able to find very many good books, either). First; what natural enemies/predators does the blue tang have? <I imagine the "usual suspects" like larger basses/groupers, sharks, triggerfishes...> Second; what is its current population? <Try looking up this species distribution et al. on fishbase.org You can use the common name... or scientific if you know which blue tang this is...> If you could answer these questions it would be unbelievably helpful to me and I would be ETERNALLY GRATEFUL to you. The project is due Tuesday, Jan.18 2005, so if you could get back to me before then I would rejoice extensively. Thank you a great deal, Elizabeth Shearer A 3" and a 5" Hippo Hi, I've read that tangs are better off as either a single or a group of 3 or more.>Yes, in a very large tank<  However, many people seem to have 2 Hippos without problems.>The hippos aren't quite as nasty together as two yellow tangs would be<  We have a 5" Hippo in one tank and a 3 - 4" inch in another.  A yellow tang will be the only other tang, and we plan to add her after the Hippo (or hopefully, Hippos).>Add the hippos first, then a few days later add the yellow tang< We're combining tanks to one large 70" long x 30" wide system (200+ tank with a 90 gallon sump and refugium).  We have 150 lbs of live rock, but a lot of room was intentionally left for swimming.  I know there are no guarantees, but do you think there is a chance that the 2 would get along well in the same system (long term)?  If it is almost certain to cause long-term stress, we will get rid of one (just really hate to if not necessary as they are both pets).>In a 200 gallon system, two hippos and one yellow should be OK, but you really should add another 50 lbs of rock unless you have supplemental wet/dry filtration<  Thanks, Doug

Adding a palette tang     Hi I have a new tank it's a 125gal tank that has been up since the first of August. I have a firefish, glass goby, small blue damsel,2 percula clowns , 3 small royal grammas, and 2 camel shrimp. I have a 30 gallon sump with a 200gal ability  ASM-g skimmer. I have a 800 gallon per hour powerhead that I leave on most of the time (except when feeding). I take a powerhead and get any sediment that the currents didn't get up every day. I was wondering if a palette tang would be alright in the tank. I'm not getting it right away, I would like the algae and live rock to grow a little more. I also might get a ultraviolet light system if needed. thanks Jonathan <Should be fine. Bob Fenner>

Hippo tang Hiya Bob and crew! Hope none of ya have to work too hard this weekend!  Any who I wrote in awhile back about a hippo (P. hepatus) I had rescued in terrible shape, he is big fat healthy fella now :-)  I originally intended to sell him but, I love this fish, appropriately named Rocky.  So naturally I had to buy another tank!  The thing is that I have a another hippo in a different tank and now would like to join them together in the larger tank.  The fish are about 5-6" and the other is at least 7". The tank is still cycling and I intend to add a snowflake, a pair of tomato's and a teeny Volitans before introducing the hippos.  Hoping the others will be a bit of distraction?  Planning on adding them at night at the same time w veggie clips at each end of the tank. Please let me know your thoughts on this and any suggestions you may have! <This may or may not work....I would try it and if their is any aggression you can always remove one of them. I tried the same thing with my 14" Naso Vlamingi and my little 6" Juvenile...and all is great...they are side by side 24-7. Good luck, IanB> Thanks again! Amanda

Hippo tang and Dogface  <Hi J.R, Mac here>   First, I have to say that I enjoy your website and search it often for information. <Always nice to hear.>  I am usually reading about others' questions, but now I am in need of help/advice.  My Hippo Tang has gotten into the habit of biting my other fish. <Rut row>  At first, I thought she was harmlessly imitating my small Black and White Heniochus who likes to eat off of the other fish.  I just added a Dogface Puffer two days ago, and I have noticed the Hippo biting the Puffers fins.  One fin has several bites out of it. <So serious enough fighting that there are hurts being inflicted.>  My Yellow Tang also has two recent nips in its fins.  Have you ever heard of a Hippo with this kind of behavior?  <Actually I have heard of tangs attacking other fish. I don't believe it is all that common but they have been known to kill other  fish.> Its easier for me to accept this between the two Tangs, because they do have the occasional tail-duel.  <Territorial battles.> I would like to think the Hippo is only asserting its position in the tank to the Dogface and that this initiation will pass, but I don't want the Dogface to suffer and potentially die.  <It is very possible that there is just a minor territorial scuffle going on, however, if you have any battling going on in your tank it opens up potential problems.  Stress related problems such as ich, etc. I would indeed watch what is going on very carefully >Will this behavior pass, or should I take other action?  <You don't mention here the size of your tank and whether or not you can possibly separate the fish.  It really concerns me when there is what sounds like problematic fighting going on in the tank for all species.  I would seriously suggest separating these fish or perhaps taking the one causing all the problems out and placing in a separate tank.>   Thanks for your help.

Blue tang aggression 19 Aug 2004 Thank you very much for your reply. <Hi Ian, MacL here on the follow-up.> We followed your advise by isolating our puffer and commencing medication. He and we are much happier! <Very nice to hear that!> It was our regal blue tang that was attacking him. Since our puffer has been taken out, the blue tang has started to attack the other fish by once again nipping at their tails. <Regal tangs are fairly known for doing this.  You haven't mentioned what size tank you have, is it large? Does the tang have lots of swimming room? These fish get, for lack of a better word, "bored" easily, they need swimming room and room through thing and under things. The need Caulerpas and other types of algae to be constantly grazing on. If you don't have any of that you might consider hanging strips of Nori every couple of days.> What has caused this change? <It is worse because the aggressive tactics worked. He got rid of one fish now its others.> We would like to keep our blue tang, but not at the expense of all the other fish in the tank. Can you help? We want our puffer back.. <Once again how big is the tank? How is it aquascaped, you can make changes there that might make a huge difference. Let me know please, MacL> Once again, many thanks.

Baby Blue hippo Tangs Hi Guys! Great Website Just a quick question I got a 280 gallon tank with a 5/6 inch Hippo tang in it already. I was at a local pet shop and a saw a schooling group of fat and I mean Fat Baby Hippo tangs. There were 4 of them and they are all about an inch. I was just wondering if it was safe to add them or would the big hippo try to kill them or even eat them. Any advice would be appreciated as the store has them on hold for me. Thanks, Jay <Hippo, Palette, Pacific Yellow Tail Blue Tangs... Paracanthurus (hepatus) is one of the few "exceptions" to the general rule of Tang conspecific aggression... likely the newcomer/s would do fine with your existing one. Have you seen here?: http://www.WetWebMedia.com/paracant.htm Bob Fenner>

Stocking question Hey there WWM crew - I would like your thoughts on some additional fish I am considering. <I'm a'thinkin'> I currently have a 55 gallon tank (w/separate refugium) that has a percula clownfish, hepatus tang, and sixline wrasse - all long-time inhabitants (18-24 months). <The Hepatus will outgrow this tank in short order. The Hepatus that I had got really mean after a little more than a year. In fact, it got so bad I was forced to trade him in at the LFS for store credit> I am thinking about adding another percula clownfish and a trio of Talbot's damsels.   <Trade in the Hepatus, skip the additional percula and add the trio of damsels> I am wondering if this is too many damsel-like fish for this size tank? <The Hepatus is what worries me> Also, my hepatus tang nips at the tail of the wrasse a bit, and I am hoping a few more fish might give him a few more targets and make everyone happier...? <Opps...Trouble in paradise! Nope...Don't count on calming this guy down by adding more fish. In fact, I predict that it will make the problem even worse. Your tank is very small for the Hepatus and his reaction to all these other fishes will be large. How do you feel when you're in a very crowded room for a long amount of time?>    Is this a sign he's getting too big for the tank (about 4-5" now)?   <It's not just about size...He needs lots of room to roam and forage. Clowns and wrasses in the wild tend to stake out areas and stay there...The Hepatus doesn't do this and that's why your tank is small and will become too small in the near future> Other than this he seems behaviorally perfectly happy (bought captive reared).   <Hum...Never knew tangs could be tank reared. Live and learn I guess...> And of course I really have no clue if he's a "he" ;]. <Neither do I!> Thanks - Keith <You're welcome! David Dowless>

Blue tang attacking shrimp and Sailfin that lost his color I have a hippo tang that I have had for 2 years. He has been pestering my cleaner and fire shrimp. He has bitten their antennas , and now they are very short. The shrimp have to hide from him so they don't get to enjoy the tank What should I do? <I would remove either the Blue Tang or the two shrimp-because I don't think the tang will stop biting them> Also, I have a Sailfin tang, desjardinii,  that doesn't have any blue background color, he is tan. Is there any food that brings out the more blue color, or any special light? <I would feed him Nori, and vitamin enriched food> Does he get more blue-gray with age? He is only three inches.<since he is such a small specimen I wouldn't be too concerned, but make sure to feed him food with vitamins and algae> Thanks, Cheryl

Reef-safe Tangs 6/15/03 Thanks......I have one more question. Are Blue Hippo Tangs any safer as not to nibble on Corals? <no surgeonfish is truly reef-safe. Most really do behave themselves (say 7 or 8 out of 10)... but a regular number (20-30% guesstimating) are nibblers on something desirable. And its not a matter of a species or genus that are rogue... but rather certain individuals. Luck of the draw that can be prevented if you/all of us would properly quarantine an animal before adding it to the main display. During the 4 month observation in QT, you can add small test pieces of invertebrate life to the tang rather than risk all with an impatient move to the main display. Bets regards, Anthony>

Hippo tangs Bob,  What are your thoughts on keeping blue (hippo) tangs in a reef tank? what are their food and other basic requirements? schooling or solitary? When I go to my local reef retailer to observe the hippos, they are some times laying on the floor. The owner says they are perfectly healthy and this is normal behavior. I did observe the fish, and they did not have any external signs of stress or disease, is this behavior really normal in hippos? thanks, Chris <<Have seen hippo/palette/yellow-tail blue tangs (Paracanthurus hepatus) kept in reef tanks around the world, including some gorgeous ones at the Waikiki Aquarium in the "backyard" Mondo reef tank. I like them. They eat most anything, but really appreciate greens everyday (and not terrestrial, btw). Seem happy enough solo or in a group (often in association with their own kind in the wild). And, yes, this species does "lay down" a lot; in captivity and the wild. Not a worry. Just select for one that is "plump", esp. in the upper flank it/they should be concave in profile, not convex. Bob Fenner>>

Tangs Hello Bob,  I'd like your advice on the following. I currently have a yellow tang and will be adding 3 medium sized hippo tangs. I'd also like to add either a Sailfin or Desjardin. Do you foresee any problems with this? I have a 110 gallon. Thanks. <<Well, if these are the only fish livestock... May I ask why three of the hippo (Paracanthurus hepatus) tangs? If you're set on this number they would be happier if one was decidedly larger (the other two an inch or more smaller)...  With some luck/chance the Desjardin's (Zebrasoma desjardinii) will not initially be overly-bullied by the existing Yellow, nor become a bully as time goes by and it gets much larger. This Zebrasoma is a better choice than the congener "Sailfin"... in part, because of its lack of familiarity (different geographic range) with the Yellow. Bob Fenner>>

Stock list (continued) and soft corals Hi - I have a few follow-on questions related to the next step in my aquarium adventure. (I feel like I'm perhaps asking too many questions, but you keep answering them!) I included our previous emails for context - I now have a cleaner goby along with my clownfish, and both are doing great. For my next step I am planning to mail-order a tank-raised palette tang <Really? Paracanthurus hepatus? This is news to me...> and royal Gramma...planning to dip/bath both, and then put the tang straight in, but I was thinking of still quarantining the Gramma for a couple weeks. Or is it better to add them both at the same time? <if the system is stable... all at once> I will follow (much later) with a flame angel, and perhaps a Halichoeres (of some type) wrasse. Do the stock list modifications still sound ok? <So far...> An a different note, I followed your advice and added a small cutting from a green star polyp colony - seems to be doing well so far. I would like to try a couple other soft corals <This organism is not a Soft Coral> (xenia and Sarcophyton maybe)...however, I do not currently have any live rock in the main tank - I simply glued the star polyp cutting to the top of a large terrestrial rock in the tank (LFS called it bowl rock) - is it OK to do this with the other soft corals listed? I also currently only have two normal fluorescent bulbs for lighting - are the corals mentioned ok with that? <Maybe not the Sarcophyton, and better to wait, have the live rock in, cycled first> I might eventually upgrade the lighting and add more live rock, but was wanting to take it slow for now... <Go slow... in orderly fashion... buy, place the LR first> Some more setup info in case it is helpful: I'm now adding c-balance to maintain calcium and alkalinity, and I have a wavemaker with quite a bit of current in the tank (55 gallon...3 maxi-jet 1200s). Thanks again - Keith <Okay. Bob Fenner>

Fish (livestock selection, marine) Bob I have another question for you in regard to my tank. I have a 135 reef tank with around 200 lbs of live rock and quite a few soft and hard corals. The fish I have are Cherub angel, fire fish, six line wrasse, 3 lyretail Anthias (I don't know if one is going to make it. She has not been acting all that great lately) 2 perculas clowns, Banggai cardinal and purple tang. I was thinking about adding a hippo tang. I do not want to over crowd my tank. Do you think the addition of the Hippo would be too much? <The added fish, Paracanthurus, should be fine. A good choice here for temperament, color...> Are there any other fish you would recommend that might compliment what I all ready have? Once again thank you so much for your help and time. <Many choices... please read through, check the ratings, images of what we have posted on WetWebMedia.com) Bob Fenner> Jason

Re: fish Bob A quick follow up. If staying with smaller size fish how many more do you think I could put in this tank? <No more> I have been reading through your web site and it said not to quarantine the Hippo tang do you still subscribe to this philosophy? <For most cases yes> Would Two hippo get along better than one? <One> That is all and I will leave you alone. Thank You so much, Jason <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Restocking tank Mr. Fenner, We were wondering if a Hippo will get along with a Coral Beauty (much smaller than the Hippo) and then, will they get along with Perculas and a yellow eyed tang? If so in which order should these fish be added and how long in between each addition should we wait before adding the next? The only one we have right now is the Hippo and we have had him for about 15 months and he is pretty big!!! <In a good sized system, say 75 gallons or more, with adequate cover (live rock, etc.) these should all get along... I would place them in the order you present, with a week or more between the Dwarf Angel and then the Clowns and other Tang can be placed at the same time or no... The Hippo (Paracanthurus hepatus) may chase the newcomers, especially the Kole, for a while... but is very unlikely to damage them given the above stipulations. Bob Fenner>

Hippos Everywhere Hi Bob- <Anthony Calfo in your service> Trying to find some info. on keeping multiple Hippo tangs in the same tank and have not had much luck, so I turn to the experts. <make sure that you quarantine all hippos for a strict month in a hospital tank and then keep an extremely stable temperature in the display (two heaters) once moved... these lovely fish get white-spot disease very easily from stress> 1) Is it even possible to keep multiple hippos together? <easily and commonly> 2) Any special warnings that could be observed (i.e. only keep in odd numbers; I have heard this for other tangs). <nope...rubbish. All pot luck, but larger shoals are safer of like sized animals. Three is a minimum and a bit scary. I'd opt for at least four assuming you have a six foot tank or bigger to plan responsibly for their adult size> 3) IF possible: I am planning a 150 gallon reef tank with a bi-color pseudo and 6-line wrasse. The only other fish would be a small grouping of hippos. How many adults could this tank comfortably support? <If you want to leave room for them as adults, let the hippos be the only large fish and the other tankmates should be small as you have planned with the pseudo and wrasse. > Thanks T.J. Morgan
<best regards, Anthony>

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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