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FAQs about Purple Tang Compatibility 

Related Articles: Purple Tangs, Zebrasoma Tangs, Yellow Tangs

Related FAQs: Purple Tangs 1, Purple Tangs 2, Purple Tangs 3, Identification, Behavior, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction, Yellow Tangs, Striped Sailfin Tangs, Zebrasoma Tangs, Zebrasoma Identification, Zebrasoma Behavior, Zebrasoma Compatibility, Zebrasoma Selection, Zebrasoma Systems, Zebrasoma Feeding, Zebrasoma Disease, Zebrasoma Reproduction, Surgeons In General, Tang ID, Selection, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease,

Other than algae, Zebrasoma tangs generally leave other tankmates pretty much alone. Eusynstyela cf. misakiensis

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Purple Tang Compatibility    2/26/14
I purchased a 3" purple tang and two ocellaris clowns to go in a 55g tank.
<Z. xanthurum require a much larger system.>

  In the future I would like to add a flame angel, Lemonpeel, or bicolor (just one).  Do you foresee the tang having an issue with one small dwarf angel if I add it one to two months after the tang? 
<Aggression is going to be an issue do to system size. In an appropriate sized system there should not be an issue although I would add the Centropyge before the Zebrasoma.>
Sent from my iPad
<Sent from Jordan's laptop>

Regal Tang Introduction with Purple Tang      1/20/14
Hi Crew ā€“ 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 Iā€™m thinking a Regal tang could work. If so, would a small +/- 2.5ā€ 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>

Re: Tang possibly has HLLE. + Z. comp.     5/14/12
Hey Bob,
So i took your advice and put the tang in the display tank.  Everything seems fine with it, eating well and very active.  I am starting to have second thoughts though on putting a purple tang in my tank, for two reason.
 The tang is constantly darting around the tank, making me think it is too small of an aquarium for it.  Second reason being my dwarf flame angel has not come out of hiding within the live rock at all today, not even to eat. The first day i put in the tang they all ate together(including tang and flame) did not see fighting at all.  The tank is 46"(length) by 35"(width) by 14"(height).  Other fish include a Copperband butterfly, 2 clownfish and a yellow watchman goby, 6 fish total.  The only plus i have found with adding the tang, is that it made the flame angel lay off the butterfly, but to the point where the flame angel would possibly die, due to not eating or stress?
<Hopefully no>
  The flame is literally swimming very slowing in a area no bigger than 10" * 10".  Weird thing is, the tang goes nowhere near the area to even bother the flame(from what i have seen).  I would rather have the angel instead of the tang, the fighting between the Copperband and the flame was very minimal anyway, more likely them trying to establish who is the dominant fish, and would have probably stopped after a few weeks or so.  Basically i am wondering if one, tank is too small for the tang,
and two having a flame and purple tang together is not a wise choice?
<Not usually problematical>
 I read that purple tangs are aggressive fish, but the flame was the most active fish in the tank prior to, which lead me to think that it would work out.  So if you think i have to choose one or the other so be it.  I just want to know if there could be any sort of indicators i can look for to determine that they will live fine together.
Thanks again! Giancarlo
<I'd wait for now. BobF>

Purple and Powder Blue Tangs... comp.  11/29/11
Hello Mr. Fenner
<Hey Dai>
I emailed you last week on my Tang problem and I just bought a nice Purple Tang on Sunday. I am looking for a suitable replacement for my YT that died three weeks ago. If you recall, my PB is way too aggressive for my Sailfin and you suggested the PT instead.  He is now in the holding tank since Sunday inside my aquarium but the PB won't leave him alone.
<Switch them... put the PB in the holding tank for a few days, the PT in the main/display... Often this re-sets the social hierarchy...>
The PB keeps thrashing his body against the holding tank and the PT is doing the same but not as aggressive. I would like to know when I should release the PT into the aquarium? The PT almost cost me 200 bucks and I hate to lose an expensive fish like that.  Thank you very much.
Dai Phan
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: Purple and Powder Blue Tangs 11/29/11

Hello Mr. Fenner
<Big P!>
Short of the cyanide method, catching the PB is impossible as I have tried in the past four years with this guy. Just kidding... :) as I know how you feel about that method of collection. Should I just release the
PT and pray? Dai 
<Worth trying... do w/ lights out, toward evening. BobF>

Second opinion on keeping two tangs in a 4x2x2 6/22/11   6/23/11
<<Hello Ross.>>
Asking for a second opinion on keeping two tangs in a 4x2x2.
<<So a standard 120 US gallon set up.>>
Im planning on keeping a Purple Tang with a Achilles Tang would this work if I added them at the same time
<<The purple tang being one of the smaller of the Zebrasoma genus (get up to 22cm in the wild but most captive specimens average about 10-12cm) could work in this set-up provided you don't overcrowd it with a full wall of live rock or decorations (translation: leave as much surface area open for swimming as possible while still providing hiding/grazing places). I would avoid two tangs in this 4 foot long set up, and I would especially avoid the Acanthurus achilles. There are success stories here and there but in general these fair poorly in captivity, this tank size isn't suitable for an adult especially when you consider the psychological crowding with another tang (yes aggression). If you do go with a tang from the Acanthurus genus there are far better/more responsible choices.>>
Do you have any ideas that might stem aggression thanks.
<<Space, lots of space, and even then there is no guarantee but certainly your chances of avoiding aggression between the two would be increased with more available area, I wouldn't do it in this set up however. Cheers, - Adam J.>>

Fish Mix Question. Purple and Tomini Tangs  5/4/2011
Good Morning and thank you for your help in the past. Love the site as I am sure you hear often!
I have a 150 gallon FOWLR tank with about 100 pounds of rock. The tank is well established. It is not overstocked and can accommodate 1 more fish.
I have a 4 inch Purple Tang in the tank now and wondering your thoughts on it being compatible with a Tomini Tang in a tank of the size of mine.
<IF there is sufficient "physical break-up" of the environment (let's say, your rock arranged in bommies where the two can get out of visual contact), these two will likely get along. A size differential will help, as well as the newbie being introduced under cover of darkness. If might be helpful to float the Ctenochaetus in a large plastic colander in the tank for a day or two>
There are no other Tangs in the tank with the Purple Tang now and he does not appear to be aggressive to any of the other fish in the tank. Thanks for your input.
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Tang vs. Butterfly'¦Aggression Toward Newcomer -- 08/11/10
Evening Crew,
<<Hey Chris>>
I purchased a copper band butterfly fish today to combat the Aiptasia in my tank.
Unfortunately my purple tang has developed a hate on for him and has been chasing him around for the past couple of hours.
<<Not unusual among aggressive species, but often subsides after a bit. I'm guessing the Purple Tang is the alpha-fish in this system (I have a specimen of Acanthurus leucosternon that does the same, to any new additions).
I'm hoping that this is just part of establishing a pecking order.
<<Very often, yes>>
Do you think it will stop or will I have to remove the tang to allow the butterfly to establish himself?
<<This is one possibility, but in my experience Chelmon rostratus is able to fit in with most any Tang species--after a bit of 'laying down the law' from the already established tank inhabitants, of course. As long as there is no physical harm occurring I would give it a day or two for the aggression to calm down (in these instances, things often settle down after only a few hours). If problems persist beyond this (or worsen at any time), then a 'time-out' for the Tang will be in order--though be aware this is no guarantee in itself that these too will then get along>>
Let me know your thoughts.
<<Have done so>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Lion/Tang Comp  12/30/08 Great website! <Ahh!> I always seem to find my answers by using the Google search, but I have one I can't seem to find. I'm taking down my reef tank and will only have a 90 gallon FOWLR tank remaining. Right now the only fish in the 90 is a 6" Volitans Lion. I love my 4" Purple Tang that is in the reef tank now. Would he be ok in the 90 with the Lion? <Very good odds yes> I know a 90 is too small in the long run, when I'm done with school in a year my wife has agreed to let me buy something in the 220 range. Thanks for your help. Jeff <Welcome Jeff. As stated, there is little likelihood of trouble twixt these two species, sizes here. 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>>  

Daily Q&A. Xanthurum Tang beh., comp.  4/5/07 Hello WWM Crew. <Wilson> I've read your FAQS along with your featured articles and found them always to be informative. Basically -- My problem is that I recently placed my purple tang into my tank (90gallon FO), and by the 3rd day he is having some problems.  When I fresh-dipped him, he pretty much fell to his side and was very unresponsive for 2 minutes (do I have a weaker individual?). <Mmm, maybe... did you aerate this water ahead, during this dip/bath procedure? Could be simple hypoxia...>   Strangely enough, the first 2 days he seemed to be fine, exploring the rock-work and feeding on Nori/mysis/brine/shrimp/bloodworm.   He doesn't feed (all his other tankmates are fine.) or graze on the 3rd day.  When remaining "still" .. he seems to bob very slightly left-right and up-down as well (difficulty to remain exactly upright.)  Now the fish seems to want to just hide, and his breathing rate doesn't seem to be too fast/slow.  There is no detectable fin damage or colour fading, and no signs of HLLE (a popular subject on purple tangs when searching.  The stomach area seems to bulge a bit with pinching in the areas surrounding it (attached picture doesn't show it too well) <Mmm...> The purple tang has shown some sign of slight aggression towards the other tankmates (a Foxface and a smaller clown tang), <Yes... these closely related fishes utilize similar niche/resources... there should be some competition, territorial expression twixt...> but that's only if the other fish approach it.  The Foxface responds by erecting his spines (are they fighting ?) <Yes> What do you recommend me to do ?  Figured I'd solve the problem before it gets any worse (lost one of my favourite fish because I didn't' act fast enough). --Thanks in advance, Wilson <Well... this Zebrasoma was likely traumatized in the collection/holding/shipping and re-handling process... takes a good couple of days getting to us from the Red Sea... and do sometimes take a while to "settle in"... And the presence of the other Acanthuroids is likely having a further negative effect of its development, expression. If you have another suitable space, system, I would move this fish to it... If not, re-arranging the rock work substantially, offering algal food at either end of the tank... may diffuse agonistic behavior here. Bob Fenner>

Purple Tang.. Compatibility 2/27/07 Bob, <James for Bob today, John.> How big does a Purple Tang usually get in captivity? <Under ideal aquarium conditions, usually 10 inches.> <<Mmm, most maybe six... RMF>> I read conflicting reports as to how big they get in captivity, anywhere from 9" to half that in captivity. I have a 90 gallon tank with 100 lbs of rock, eventually an SPS reef tank.  I am going to be adding a Mystery Wrasse and a C. lineatus. Will the Purple Tang get along with these fishes? <It should, but I don't believe it will get along with a 4-foot tank.  They do require a large amount of swimming room.  If the tang is small, you can get away with it for a while, but as it grows, it will need/require larger quarters.  Read here and linked files above for more info on the Purple Tang.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/z_xanthurum.htm Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> John

Purple Tang comp.     1/14/07 Hello WWM Crew, <Hi Scott, Mich here.>      First of all, I can't tell you enough how much your site has helped me in my understanding of this hobby. I really appreciate the work you folks do to help novices such as myself.    <Great to hear this.>   I wonder if I can ask your advice regarding the suitability of adding a Purple Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum) as the final (fish) addition to my system. <OK.>      Some system details for your reference...   The display tank is 135 gallons, with a 1/2 " sand bed and about 100 lbs of live rock (more live rock will be phased-in in 10 lb increments over time). Recirculation rate is roughly 1400 GPH over two internal overflows to a Ecosystem 3616 mud sump. I have some Chaetomorpha macroalgae in quarantine which I plan to add to the sump in about a week. <OK.>      Lighting is a blend of three 150 watt HQI's and four 160W VHO Fluorescents. Lights are turned on and off throughout the day so the peak wattage never goes higher than about 450 watts.   I change out two gallons of water about five times a week (this just works easier for me than doing larger but less frequent changes). I keep four sieve bags of carbon (about 1 cup each) in the sump, which I rotate out one weekly. Sump also contains a Euro Reef  CS 135 protein skimmer which pulls out about 2-3 cups of very dark, noxious skimmate weekly. <Very good.>      Current (non-fish) inhabitants include a healthy colony of star polyps, Discosoma mushrooms, zoanthids and a cleaner shrimp. Also a few very beautiful encrusting sponges made there way in through some live rock and are now thriving. <OK.>     Current fish inhabitants are as follows.   Green Banded Goby (Gobiosoma multifasciatus)   Neon Goby (Elacatinus oceanops)   Purple Firefish (Nemateleotris decora)   Bicolor Blenny (Ecsenius bicolor)   Sunrise Dottyback (Pseudochromis flavivertex)   Four Line Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus tetrataenia) - In separate quarantine for now   Flame Angelfish (Centropyge loricula) - In separate quarantine for now   In spite of my efforts to keep the system maintained, I have a light film of green/brown filamentous algae over much of the live rock and along the back of the tank. I am hoping the Flame Angelfish will nibble on the algae, but thought the system could benefit greatly from the addition of a Purple Tang (I found an extraordinarily beautiful 3" specimen from the Red Sea at my LFS today).   With the hope of avoiding fish aggression issues, my thinking is to add the Four Line Wrasse, Flame Angelfish and Purple Tang all at once (after 3-4 week quarantine of the Tang) then stop adding any new fish. After that, I would only (gradually) add suitable invertebrate life. <I think this id both wise and possible.>     Based on your experience, would you comment on the fish stocking level - Is this about right or will it "overload" my system? <Should be OK.>   Also, I have heard that Purple Tangs may (1) become overly aggressive over time and (2) become susceptible to HLLE problems. Do you have any thoughts or experience you could share in this regard? <Yes, both are true.  Keep the water high, vary the diet, use a vitamin supplement such as Selcon and make sure you tank is grounded and doesn't have any stray voltage.>   Thanks in advance for your reply. <Welcome!  -Mich>      Scott

Purple Tang/Compatibility  6/25/06 - Hello, <Hello Tyler> I currently have a 135 gallon reef stocked mostly with small fish like fairy wrasses, leopard wrasses & a couple of hawkfish.  There is currently a sale from an online store for small (couple of inches) purple tangs.  I would like to add a couple.  What are the chances of them getting along if added at the same time?  Obviously, I would place them in a QT before placing them in my 135. <The Purple Tang does not fare too well with others of it's own kind, and, especially, other zebrasoma tangs.  Read here and related articles, FAQ's above title bar.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks. <You're welcome.>

Forcipiger flavissimus and Zebrasoma flavescens in the same tank 10/17/05 Greetings, Please excuse me if I have overlooked the answer. I've searched the site and have yet to find the answer to this question: Will F. flavissimus and Z. flavescens live peacefully in the same tank? Your B/F section indicates that the F. flavissimus should be introduced early in the life of a tank so that it may "stake a claim." Everything I've read about Z. flavescens says that it is a peaceful resident and warns that I should have only one to a tank. Since both of these fish reach approximately the same adult size, will the Z. flavescens be too aggressive for the B/F (another potentially large yellow fish competing for resources)?  <Mark, I would put the long nose in first, then a week or two later the tang. They should get along well. You may see the tang chase the long nose occasionally but no harm should be done. James (Salty Dog)> 

Re: For James (Salty Dog): Forcipiger/Zebrasoma compatibility 10/18/05 James,  <Dan> I read your answer to this question and have a closely related tale to tell. You gave me the same advice some months ago (no blame! all fish are different!) with unfortunate results.  We put a Forcipiger into our 120 gal FOWLR. A few weeks later, a purple tang was introduced (slightly but not hugely bigger than the BF), a transfer from another smaller (55 gal) reef tank that we have. The two fish got along great for a few weeks, and then the tang started "following around" the BF and occasionally nipping.  A few days later, we found the BF severely chewed (most fins gone) -- the poor thing died within a few hours. I am making the basic assumption, perhaps wrong, that Zebrasoma species all have about the same aggression levels. From what I read, the purple and yellow tangs are very similar in this respect. Was I mistaken? In any event, I would consider this combination risky in my (unfortunate) experience. We replaced the BF with a long-nosed Hawkfish, which the tang completely ignores. Mr. Fenner, if you're looking over James' shoulder (so to speak), do you have any experience with this combination?  <Yes, Mr. Fenner does review all/most answered queries. If need be, he will insert a comment here. All tangs are aggressive to conspecifics, but most, if not all do get along with other fish. I believe the purple tang is slightly nastier than the yellow tang. As you mentioned, all fish are different and an unexpected problem can arise. As I mentioned in the previous mail, put the Butterfly in first and get a foothold, then a week or two later, the tang. Being the longnose does have some yellow color, there may be an occasional chase but no body damage should occur. You didn't reply to the original query, and now I'm thinking you mentioned these two fish were going into a 55 gallon. I know you mention a 120 above but this is related to a different event.  Anyway, if they are going in a 55, then I would choose one or the other as a 55 is too small to keep these fish together. My answer above is based on properly sized housing for these fish which gives them more room to roam resulting in less hostility. James (Salty Dog)> Just wanted to pass this on. Regards, Dan 
For James (Salty Dog): Forcipiger/Zebrasoma compatibility  10/19/05
James,<Dan> The two fish were introduced into a 120 gal tank, BF first, exactly as you describe.  The tang had been living in an established 55 gal reef tank, but was quickly running out of room.  We transferred the tang into the 120 gal FOWLR a few weeks after the BF was introduced, much as you suggested. I am not doubting your knowledge or firsthand experience regarding the compatibility of Forcipiger and Zebrasoma species when introduced in the order and fashion described.  I just know that in *my* case, the results were unfortunate, and I wanted to pass that on to the general WetWebMedia community.   I hope no feathers (fins?) have been ruffled, as it was not my intent.  Your site, and Crew, continue to be a much-prized resource. <Dan, no fins ruffled.  This is what is unique among fish, humans for that matter also, is that certain individuals do not behave as expected.  The pygmy angel is another example.  Most I have kept are good reef fish.  Then again, certain individuals will pick on corals and clams.  Most are not after the meat but feed on the slime they generate.  Nonetheless, it causes the corals/clams not to open which degrades the health of the species.  James (Salty Dog)> Warm regards, Dan

- Adding Purple Tang - Hi Bob, <JasonC here in his stead.> It is an honor and pleasure.  I need to know, I have a 135-gallon tank (72 L x 18 w x 24 h) with about 250 to 300 pounds of live rock in the back forming a wall.  <That's a lot of rock... is there any water left in your tank?>  I will be redoing this tank to add a better sump, pump and take out some of the live rock in the next few months.  I have currently a Blonde Naso and a Hippo tang and they both are about 4". I have a Raccoon Butterfly and Yellow tang and they are about 3" a Fuji devil and a coral beauty and they are about 2". And 12" engineer goby.  This tank does not have any sand. It does have flow (6 maxijets1200) but I will be adding 2 Tunze 6000s, later in the year.  I have a chance to get a 4" purple tang. Can I get away with adding him to my tank?  <Probably not while that yellow tang is in there.>  Or am I at my fish limit with this tank?  <Physically, biologically you could probably fit this fish, but socially you could not. I doubt the yellow tang would tolerate a similar shaped fish.> Thank you very much in advance for your respond. <Cheers, J -- > 
- Adding Purple Tang, Follow-up -
JasonC, Thanks for the very quick response. <My pleasure.> JasonC even if the purple tangs is larger than the Yellow tang, do you still see a problem? <Yeah... he's still the late commer to the party...> I am more worry about the Naso tang than the Yellow tang. <Could also be a problem just due to territory issues, but... typical tang aggression is with same shape tangs.> By the way on the live rock. How much should I have in my tank 150 lbs, 200 lbs. <Yeah... wouldn't do much more than that.> Thanks for all the advise and the great help you all offer to us. Your site and all of you people expertise is a very value tool for all of us in the hobby. Thank you and keep up the good work. Carlos
<Cheers, J -- >

Adding a new fish with a purple tang Hi, guys...<Hi Ralph, MacL here with you today.> I have to make a difficult stocking decision, and am compelled to go to the "Go-To" guys again; you've been extremely helpful in the past, which I deeply appreciate. <Very kind of you to say.>  You guys are a wonderful resource.  At the risk of trying your patience, I think it's necessary to first give you a bit of background information: <Never the background stuff helps.> I have a one-year old 140 gallon reef tank, in which I've had some problems off and on (virtually no problems in my previous tank, a 65-gallon, but that's another story).  I have finally gotten rid of a nasty hair algae problem, and my corals are now doing very well (i.e., Xenia, Scolymia, trumpet, fingers and mushrooms, cup, polyps, hammer, even a recently-added elegance). <Very nice from the picture.>  Water temp is held constant by a chiller and heater, at 76-77, and the EuroReef skimmer and frequent water changes, sand vacuuming, etc are keeping the water quality quite good.  In short, the inhabitants are happy now. <Great.> One strange problem I had about 4-5 months ago was that something occurred that resulted in the death of most of my fish.  I researched this extensively (including asking you guys, among other fish experts), but nobody could come up with a reason for this tragedy.  Victims included a royal Gramma, percula clown, Kole tang and yellow Midas goby, each of which had been happy for over a year (including the prior tank from which they came).  These fish died within three weeks of each other.  The only survivors (besides the corals) were a large purple tang and three small sapphire Chromis, and a shrimp and purple clam. <Did you ever find out why? Have even a clue? Was it some type of major fluctuation? Some type of parasite? Some type of poisoning?>  The only coral to be affected was the Xenia, which almost died off entirely, but has come back very strong, and is thriving now. <Xenia are sensitive to ph as I recall.> Since then, I have added only a few corals, crabs, starfish and snails -- and a couple of gobies (one of which is a mandarin...OK, I know, these are very hard to keep), all to help out with the hair algae.  All of these critters have been doing well for the past 4-5 months (though the Mandarin is still fairly recent). <Great, as long as the mandarin has a large selection of pods he will do fine and since you have such a huge amount of live rock in there that should be plentiful.> Sorry for that long preamble; just wanted to get you most of the relevant facts.  Now, here are my questions:   Is it too early to begin to think about adding a couple of fish?  Is it likely that the water quality is sufficiently acceptable (still don't know what killed those fish 4-5 months ago)?  <I would think you could add another fish easily. The big thing is to quarantine if you can and to watch the new fish closely to make sure that if it was something like a parasite it won't attack him. Often, and let me make sure and say this is in MY experience, I have seen fish in a tank get ich, recover and the ich be gone yet basically the fish have developed an immunity to the ich unless they get stressed. But new fish will not have that immunity and will end up with a big problem. That is not to say that is what happened before but just to guide you in what to look for.> If I added a true percula, would the purple tang go after him? <Size and body shape wise the tang should not bother him however if the tang has been by himself he has likely become very territorial and that could be a big problem. You may need to do some rearranging to get it to work. Often the rearranging end the territorial problem.> Would it be advisable to add an anemone, perhaps a rose anemone, at the same time to provide the percula (or other clown) with a hiding place in case the tang chases him around?  <If you have the right lighting the anemone might be a possibility but you need to make sure your fish will work with that particular type of anemone. My percula's didn't like bubble tips.> Would there be other fish that the purple tang (who's pretty much had the entire tank to himself) would be less likely to beat up on?  He has been fairly aggressive in the past. <Honestly no, if he's territorial, he is territorial and the only way to help with that is to rearrange when you add another fish. And PLEASE NOTE, I ONLY SAY THIS BECAUSE YOU HAVE A FAIRLY LARGE TANK, sometimes it works to add two fish at once so the one doesn't take the total beating.> Or should I hold off on adding any fish for another month or two? <For health's sake you might want to wait but the territoriality won't change in that time.> Any other suggestions? Thanks much, guys, and have a wonderful Holiday Season. <Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Happy Hanukah and any other holiday out there. MacL> Best, Ralph (Block) Hi, guys...<Hi Ralph, MacL here with you. Long letter in reply to your first one to come shortly. But thanks for they picture they always help.> just sent you a long letter asking about stocking, involving the purple tang etc.  I realized that you might get a better perspective with a picture, which I have attached.  Thanks again! Best,
Ralph (Block)

Purple tang I have read through your faq's on purple tangs and I found one that relates to my problem, but I have a few other questions. I recently moved my purple tang from qt to my 55 gallon. His other tankmates were a blue damsel, lemon damsel, yellowtail blue damsel and a gold striped maroon clown. My question is that today I noticed my clown on the bottom of the tank with all of his fins chewed badly. From what I have read, it was probably the tang. My question is that I have the clown in the qt tank now so that his fins can heal but will I ever be able to reintroduce him into the tank or will he just get beat up again? <In this size, shape, kind system, very likely it will never get along with this Tang> Also, would adding an anemone help him when I add him back in? The 55 is soon to be a 135 gallon in a few months, so would I have a better chance of just keeping the clown in qt until the move? Thanks for all of you help,  Deanna <I would wait on all till you have the larger system... then place the tang in a floating colander of size (plastic, for draining pasta normally) and keep it there, separated from the Clown for a week or so... and read re anemones...: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/index.htm  Much to understand, go wrong...  Bob Fenner>

Purple Tang  <Hi Mike> I was wondering if you have ever come across a Purple Tang that swims very aggressively especially when the lights dim. I just recently added a Foxface to my tank (could that be the issue ). The tang will swim very aggressively from the top of the tank and dive toward a clam then he swims backwards the entire length of the tank. the fish eats well and the water parameters are fine. He has no other symptoms that can be seen only this erratic behavior.<Sounds like the tang is just establishing that he is the head cheese.  James (Salty Dog).>Thanks...Mike

Re: x-mass tree worms and purple tang Hello again gents. I have a Porites coral with xmas tree worms all over it and was wondering if I get a purple tang will it try to eat the xmas tree worms? <Your Porites with Xmas Tree worms is likely safe from a Purple Tang, but still not likely to live long term. These are known for dying in captivity. Their secret has eluded the hobby. We are not even sure what the worms eat.> Also do the purple tangs bother open brain corals and hammer, anchor etc.? <No, Tangs in general do not bother corals.> Thanks! <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Purple Tang Bully Thank you for the advice on placing my flame wrasse.  He was starting to pale out and smash his head in the QT tank so after a week, no signs of disease I gave him a dip and placed him in my 55 gallon. <Ah, good> His color is very good now, but my purple tang has become aggressive.  He used to live peacefully with my maroon clown, but now he is mad and is nipping clown and wrasse.  For the first few days the wrasse would barely come out and when he did the purple would chase him back in to hiding.  He seems to hold his own a little more now, it has been five days.  But there is a little nip out of the flame's top fin and both little bottom front fins on the clown are about half the size they were.  I never see the aggression towards the clown, maybe it happens at night, but it is obvious the purple doesn't like the wrasse.  I thought the clown was being nipped by a big white-spotted scarlet reef crab, so I removed the crab, but the nips I see are new.  Other inhabitants are 6 tiny hermits, about 1/2 inch, 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 brittle star, and 2 feather dusters, all of which are not bothered by the purple tang.  My question is whether this aggression will continue, it has been five days and it seems a little better but there is physical damage, though minor, to the fins of the other 2 fish.  The tang of course looks better than ever.  Also the clown doesn't seem to care that the tang has nipped its fins, it still swims right next to the tang following it around like it always has.  I have 5 little green Chromis, and 3 neon gobies in QT right now with about a week left, I was hoping that adding these might reduce the tang's aggressiveness, will it? <I would try removing the Purple Tang (to the quarantine tank) for about five days or so... this move, isolation will often quiet down a natural bully> I wasn't planning on adding any more fish to the tank after that.  But I do have another question about a blenny I saw in a display tank at an LFS.  They called it a yellow or gold Sailfin blenny from Tonga.  They said it was pretty rare and there was a long waiting list for it.  They didn't know the scientific name for it and I looked through all the blenny stuff on your web site and haven't seen this particular one.  It is one of the cutest fish I have ever seen, looking very cartoonish, very big eyes and flat forehead.  It has a fatter and shorter body style than most of the blennies and looks the most similar to what they call a black Sailfin blenny on ffexpress, except it was a very bright true yellow.  Do you have any idea what genus this blenny is in so I could research it more, and you know what it is, is it a good fish for an aquarium or not, also would it mix with the other fish I have, if I was to ever get one with the long waiting  list. <This fish might well get along with what you have if the system is large enough. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sabertoothblens.htm What you have seen is likely Meiacanthus ovalauensis> Thank you so much for the wonderful advice in the past, it has saved my fish. Kylee <Glad to have helped you help your livestock. Bob Fenner>

"Reef-Safe" Purple Tang? 6/15/03 I have a 55 gallon tank. It has a Colt Coral, Torch Coral, Large Pearl Bubble, Open Brain and a Green Daisy Polyp. I have one fish in there. He is a purple tang. He has been in the tank a few weeks and has only recently picked at the Open Brain and just the Open Brain. He picks at it just like he does the live rock. Is this OK? <not uncommon unfortunately... and not OK. It will kill the coral(s) in time. Zebrasoma tangs are often picky on corals. The American hobbyists tend to tolerate it... but several prominent European books/authors do not regard tangs as reef-safe at all. I agree that they are serious nibblers at times.> Will it hurt the Open Brain? <will kill it for certain in time. They must be separated> What should I watch for? I don't want to move this fish back with my Foxface Rabbit, Coral Beauty, and Blue Headed Wrasse in my other tank if I don't have to. Is the Open Brain like a rock to the tang or has he developed a taste for meat. <the latter> I feed him Two Little Fishes Seaweed, Formula one, Sweetwater Plankton, Flake food and Mysis Shrimp. Happy Father's Day!..............Chet <to you in kind, best regards. Anthony>

Rule of thumb on tangs? Mr. Fenner: I went out on a limb purchased a Purple Tang from the display tank of my dealer where it has been kept with another yellow tang for nearly one year now. I have been admiring this tang in the tank since I began researching the hobby and the store owner agreed to sell it to me today. Unfortunately, to my dismay, when I brought the tang home and placed the bag in the tank, my yellow tang immediately began swiping the bag with its tail and acting very aggressive towards the fish in the bag. Both fish are of nearly equal size. I currently have the purple in a quarantine tank but am afraid that when I add it to the display tank, my yellow will be aggressive towards it. Do you think I should see if I can return the tang to the dealer? Does this behavior sometimes subside? I would certainly hate to endanger either one of these beautiful fish by placing them in a situation where they will pester each other to death. I truly appreciate your advice and the time you have spent responding to my questions. I look forward to hearing your wisdom on this situation. Thank you, Jason <<Hmmm, don't know about the wisdom bit, but here's my take on the possibility. Try the Purple one more time... after leaving the lights on your system for twenty four hours straight (won't hurt anything) and moving a good deal of the "decor", live rock about... this will disorient the Yellow which may still "joust" then and occasionally (i.e. ongoing), but unless you see real damage, don't be too concerned. Similar sizes, shapes, resource utilization in tangs (and other fishes) result in these agonistic displays... Bob Fenner>>

Purple & Yellow Tang Would a purple tang get along with my yellow tang in a  75 gallon tank, or am I asking for trouble? Thanks. <<I'd give you good odds they would learn to get along... their might be some "jousting" from time to time (especially initially), but your order of introduction is right... and they should do fine. Bob Fenner>>

Clown Attack(ed by Zebrasoma, News at 11:00!) I mentioned in a prior email that the maroon clown that went in last week took up residence in the plate coral. During my hours of observing the tank today, I noticed that the purple tang is picking on the clown a lot. The tang (which seems to be becoming the dominant fish in the system--even dominating the larger yellow tangs) will hover over the plate coral and then nip at the clown. The clown will retreat farther into the plate coral to avoid these attacks. It doesn't appear serious at the moment, however, it also doesn't seem common that a Zebrasoma will be that aggressive toward another fish not of its same genus--and especially to another fish that is minding its own business and not really moving around the system that much, like the clown. From what I can tell, the clown is the only fish in the system that he picks on (other than a few innocuous tail-offs with the yellows). Also, I haven't observed this behavior until today--so it seems to have started recently. Is this aggressive behavior between the tang and the clown normal? At this point, should I just keep a watchful eye to make sure it doesn't get out of hand between these two? <Any evidence of physical damage? Probably not... and yes to all marine fishes being "aggressive" to a degree... Likely no worries here.> Hope you had a nice weekend. Chat soon. <Ah yes... finished the pectiniids (a family of Stony Corals), and am doing my bit, editing Scott Michael's upcoming re-do of "Sharks and Rays"... and a friend helped with a PP mock-up that I'll be presenting next month at the WMC... a fab pet-fish wknd for sure. Bob Fenner>

Sohal then Purple Tang Introduction Mr. Bob Fenner (hero, sage and wise man), <Just a pet-fish type of guy, please> After much reading (your book, Dakin's, Delbeek & Sprung's FAQ's and articles at WWM and FFexpress and others), I still did something (I think) might have been "dumb" in the stocking order of my tank re: Sohal tang. <We can/could start a club... with a very large potential membership> Seduced by its beauty, I put a 6" Sohal tang in my system on Friday.  <Yikes... kind of big... territorial for a 110...> The 110 tank currently has: 2 small ocellaris clowns (<1.5"), a purple Firefish, a Banggai cardinal, 2 Lysmata cleaner shrimp and a sally lightfoot crab (2" wide from toe to toe). I was wanting to add a Purple Tang and, from what I read, I better do it soon!  <Yes> I will have to wait 'til Tuesday because, even though a LFS has lots of brownish ones from the P.I., <Hmm, this species range doesn't extend this far east... the Philippines have Zebrasoma veliferum and Z. scopas only...:http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=12023 Only found from the Red Sea over to the Maldives...> the Red Sea ones (bright purplish blue) are in the LFS quarantine until then. Did I blow it? Is that too long to wait? <Likely no problem... some "jousting" to be expected....> Are they going to fight like cats and dogs. From what I read, they do OK after some sparring, if added at the same time. What are my chances after waiting a 4 days?  <Still good> I will turn lights off for 24 hours and maybe take out a chunk of lace rock and replace it with a big piece of Live Rock at the same time (I think I'll have to replace at lease 2 pieces of the lace rock and get more LR in the system eventually). I know I was to add this fish last in the system order but can I still add smaller, non-tang, non-alpha fish like gobies and pygmy angels and such in the future or an I in trouble there too? <As long as they're subdominant, smart, fast, that there's plenty of hiding spaces...> He doesn't bother the current small, sedentary fish although his size and activity level scare the H out of them and they keep their distance. Technical Details: Hardware Running for 6 months, I have a 110 Ga, with Aqua Medic T1.000 skimmer, 40 W Lifegard UV, Ocean Clear 340 Micron filter, Amiracle Maxi Reef Trickle Filter. In the tank, I have 3 large (~16" dia), very holey pieces of lace lock (no live rock), 60 lbs of aragonite (oolite) and 40 lbs of live sand on top. Water Perimeters Temp 82 Deg F., SG 1.0225, pH 8.2, KH 10, Ammonia 0, Nitrite, <0.3mg/l, Nitrate, 12.5 mg/l, Ca++ 380mg/, Iodine <0.01ppm (dose 2 ml every day of Kent concentrated iodine (for cleaner shrimp. Not much algae other than Diatom. Feeding: Greens: Clip with Ocean Nutrition Seaweed Selects Macroalgae sheets Meats: 1/4 tablet of Pro Pops Marine Supreme frozen food-morning and evening. P.S. The cleaner shrimp love climbing around and giving the Sohal a "cleaning". Fun to watch. <Yes, and valuable activity> Always amazed that a smart guy like you is available to guys who do dumb things, <Umm, am actually one and the same... Must "look better" on the net than reality... Really. Your live rock addition, lace rock moving sounds good, your set-up and parameters as well. I would go ahead with your current stocking plan... Should the Sohal prove to be trouble later you can always trade it in. Such large and larger specimens are almost always in demand for large tanks/service accounts. Bob Fenner> John ILG

Cleaner Shrimp and a Purple Tang Bob, Thanks for all the good advice you've given us in the past. We had a purple tang and a fire shrimp in our 90-gallon reef. We purchased a number of mushrooms from Flying Fish Express that came in a very poor condition. We had asked for a lavender Bullseye mushroom but was sent what we believe is a lavender-tipped mushroom. The lavender-tipped mushroom was in such bad condition that it quickly began dying after a number of days. <Yikes... maybe got overheated... if lives may turn more lavender...> About 3 or 4 days after receiving the FFExpress order, the fire shrimp was dead. We've thought of several reasons for this death and wanted to get your opinion. 1. Our initial thought was that the lavender-tipped mushroom had stung the fire shrimp and wounded it beyond recovery. <What? These were NOT shipped in the same bag I trust? In the tank it may have been poisoned, and yes, stung...> 2. The purple tang never allowed the fire shrimp to clean him and so we thought that he may have finally killed the fire shrimp after all of the upset of the mushroom addition. <Not likely> Water parameters are great. One other question... Our purple tang seems to be rather aggressive. Can you recommend some other fish that we could add to the tank in light of this tang's personality? <Look on the www.WetWebMedia.com site for the Fishwatcher's Guide to... the Red Sea: http://wetwebmedia.com/redseafwgv1.htm for input here... the fishes listed or ones like them from elsewhere...> As always, thanks for your help. Regards, Michael and Lynn Rivera <Be chatting my friends. Bob Fenner>

City of Angels Hey Bob, <Rick... Anthony Calfo here in Bob's stead while he's preoccupied with braiding the hair under his arms...although I must say that his choice of beads is quite striking> I have a purple and a yellow tang in my 75 gall. They've been together for about 3 months.  <who the heck told you that would be a good mix?> The yellow is a little bigger and the two of them are ALWAYS squaring off.  <ahhh, yes... I should have read further along> The purple usually backs down and rarely takes a nick in his fins. So it's not like they are tearing one another apart, but my question is: Is this constant battling going to take it's toll on them? <absolutely... extended aggression, heightened state of stress, yadda yadda yadda... translates to higher incidence of disease and the like. Any chance of them settling in o a pecking order is long gone by the three month point> Should I remove one (yellow)?  <yes, please remove one> Maybe the reason that I'm thinking of moving one is more selfish. I'm growing to not like tangs that much at all! All they do is fight and eat!!  <whoa, buddy... don't shoot the tangs. Smack the guy that told you they would work together. The tangs are only doing what comes naturally for them...defending their feeding/breeding territory. Otherwise, it's like resenting birds for flight...hehe> Maybe if I just had one it could relax a bit.  <agreed> Angels are so much more fun to watch. <I don't know... I've never seen one. Although I loved that movie with Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage> Thanks AGAIN my friend. Keep up the good work. Rick <Thank you, sir for putting up with my humor (or lack thereof) while sharing advice. Best regards, my friend. Anthony>  

Pearlscale Butterfly & Purple Tang Compatibility What are the changes of a Pearlscale butterfly and a purple tang getting along. The purple tang has been in the tank for about 6 months. They are both approximately the same size.. <Assuming the tank is large enough to house these fish, They should do fine. They are significantly different colors and eat different foods.> Thanks! <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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