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FAQs about the Striped Sailfin Tangs, Zebrasoma desjardinii, Z. veliferum: Compatibility

Related Articles: Striped Zebrasoma Tangs, the Genus Zebrasoma,

Related FAQs: Striped Sailfin Tangs 1, Striped Sailfin Tangs 2, & FAQs on: Striped Sailfin Tangs Identification, Striped Sailfin Tangs Behavior, Striped Sailfin Tangs Selection, Striped Sailfin Tangs Systems, Striped Sailfin Tangs Feeding, Striped Sailfin Tangs Disease, Striped Sailfin Tangs Reproduction, & Zebrasomas I, Yellow Tangs, Purple Tangs, Surgeons In General, Selection, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease,

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Flasher Wrasse Question      11/10/18
Good morning crew!
A quick question on stocking Carpenter's Flasher Wrasses. My current system is a 75 gallon reef (plumbed in line with a 30 gallon mangrove tank and 20-tall sump) - so total system volume around 100 gallons. My current fish stocking list is as follows:
Desjardinii tang

<Yikes; will get MUCH larger in time>
Potters Angel
Helfrichi Firefish
pair of Ocellaris clowns
Tailspot blenny
I've been planning to add a small harem of Carpenter's Flasher Wrasses - 1 male, 2 females.
<Mmm; I wouldn't w/o re/moving the Zebrasoma first... not enough psychological/room here>
I finally found someone who has females in stock. I wanted to clarify a couple of things:
1 - I've read in 1 or 2 places that it is best NOT to quarantine these fish. I wanted to get your opinion on this. My usual quarantine is 6 weeks for all new arrivals. Thoughts?
<IF the fish/es are in good (apparent) shape, full-bodied, feeding, they may benefit from quarantine... THEY ARE JUMPERS! A small opening may find them out on the floor; more so in small/er volumes. IF they were mine, I'd likely utilize a dip/bath (see WWM re) and simply place them in the main/display>
2 - I've read that I should add the females first. Is that advisable, or would it be ok to add the females and male all at once. My concern is one of the females turning male while the male is in quarantine if I wait.
<For a trio... this setting, I'd place all at once>
As always, your input is greatly appreciated.
<Again; I'd trade out your Tang in advance of introducing the Wrasses. Bob Fenner>
Re: Flasher Wrasse Question     11/11/18

<Hey Charles>
Thanks for the prompt reply. I do plan to upgrade to a significantly larger system in the next couple of years (though I’m well aware of the danger of using that as a plan for fish size). Are there any particular signs in the tang’s behavior I should look for to indicate it has reached a size that is “too big” for its current home?
<"Jousting" so to speak... chasing other fishes, swiping at them w/ its caudal peduncle>
If I were to remove the tang and replace it with, for example, a purple tang, would there be enough space for the wrasses, or is this a case of either the wrasse harem or a tang?
<More time; yes. Z. xanthurum is "more calm" and doesn't get as large as the other Sailfin sp.>
Am I just all full at this point with species space in the tank?
<Per the livestock you list fish-wise, yes. Again... you can review what I stated earlier. >
I’d like to have one more species in there to provide additional movement and color.
<For me; I'd go w/ the Flashers, maybe switch the tang out for a Ctenochaetus species. BobF>

Something nipping my tangs’ fins          6/13/16
I have an established 125 gallon reef tank. Not including corals, the livestock includes:
1 purple tang
1 yellow tang
1 snowflake ocellaris clownfish
3 yellow and purple wrasses (Halichoeres leucoxanthus)
1 starry blenny
2 neon gobies
1 electric blue hermit crab
1 scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp
1 pistol shrimp
(Alpheus immaculatus) that hitchhiked on live rock when tank was first set up in 2008.
Recently, something is nipping at only the dorsal and anal fins of the purple tang and the yellow tang.
<And not the caudals... unusual>

Their pectoral and caudal fins are fine/untouched. No other fish are affected. The tank is well fed and the tangs are fat, active, and otherwise, healthy. It seems this is occurring only at night, as I notice the bits of their fins missing when lights come on in the morning.
<A good clue here... as you know, the tangs, most reef fishes lie down to "sleep" during dark periods
With the exception of the 2 neon gobies and the skunk cleaner shrimp – which were the most recent additions – all of the other livestock have coexisted in the tank for 5+ years without the tangs’ fins getting eaten. It only started happening sometime after the gobies and cleaner shrimp were added.
<Mmm; well... not likely the Gobiosoma... the Hippolytid might be the culprit; but my principal guess is...>
What do you think it could be?
<The Starry Blenny>
I can’t imagine the gobies nipping their fins at night. My first suspicion was one of the nocturnal inverts, but the tangs coexisted with the pistol shrimp and hermit crab for years, with no chewed fins. Could it be the skunk cleaner shrimp? Or something else?
<Yes, and yes. Removing one for a few weeks should be telling. Bob Fenner>

Adding a Sailfin tang 8/7/11
Hi guys, thanks so much for all the advice over the years.
My issue is this: I have acquired a pacific ocean Sailfin tang recently and he is in my quarantine tank, has been for two weeks now. I would like to add him to my main display tank (150 gallon,
ammonia=0/nitrite=0/nitrate=<10) but there are already four yellow tangs in there. These, along with a blue faced angel, two percula clowns, jade wrasse and a mandarin fish.
Is it possible to do this? If so how? Do I need to move rocks about as well?
Thanks so much,
<Mmm, yes; likely can just be summarily moved... w/o changing decor. Bob Fenner>
re: Adding a Sailfin tang...a few more questions. 8/7/11

Dear Bob,
That's great. Thanks for the advice. Is there likely to be some bickering between the tangs when I introduce him to the main tank? If so, is it likely to last long?
<Some "sword swiping"... for a few days.>
From reading articles on WetWebMedia, it at times, suggests that it would be a bad idea to add another tang to a tank that has established tangs in it.
<Depends on size/shape of the system, sizes of the contenders, a percentage guess>
I really don't want to make a mistake here by adding a Sailfin if there is a possibility that there could be territorial issues.
<... always a possibility>
Do you think that, on balance, it 'should' be OK? Sorry to be pedantic!
I've made mistakes before and regret not seeking out good advice.
I presume you would suggest completing the month quarantine period first.
Thanks so much or getting back to me so quickly and again for the great advice. You really are so appreciated.
<I give you good odds. B>

Butterflyfish/Heniochus/Compatibility 6/13/2011
<Hello Tom>
I recently acquired a beautiful Heniochus Butterfly. It is a small to med. specimen. I have several other fish in a 120 gal tank.
The Sailfin Tang is considerably larger than the Butterfly, and will not stop pestering it. It makes attempts to bite and ram <slash> with it's tale.
I have not seen this with any of the others that I have added. What can you recommend?
<As long as the Heniochus is allowed to feed, and the skirmishes are not too violent, I'd leave be for a few days and see if things calm down.
If not, you will likely have to remove the Heniochus. Another thing you may try is to rearrange the rockwork near the tang's hideaway which can reduce territorial issues.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: 26/02/10 Possible parasite on Metallic Foxface 2/28/10
Hello Simon and WWM Crew,
<Hello Mike>
WOW! I'm impressed, yes I do have a 250 watt Ebo in the tank which I had been wanting to move and of course neglected to.
<Just buy one of those plastic heater guards for it, or put it in the sump>
I now have him out of the 225 gallon and into a very spacious 10 gallon quarantine.
<?Spacious? At least in here you will be able to get a good, close look, although I'm not sure I would have moved him at all>
Unfortunately I have not been quarantining the corals (mostly lps) and clams (3 Maximas) just dipping the coral in Seachem dip and occasionally fw dip. Clams I check for Pyramid Snails and clean shell, a little afraid to dip them, your thoughts?
<Mmmm, without proper quarantine you do leave yourself open>
I will keep him in qt for a bit and oh yes, have attached some better pictures.
<I see these, and I would hold off treating until you know the issue. Bob has commented that your Z. veliferum is also a potential cause.. have you considered aggression between fishes here? I do think this is an injury of some kind><<And in looking at these better pix, I am pretty sure this is a "poke", physical injury here. Perhaps by the Zebrasoma. No treatment suggested other than time going by, keeping an eye on the players. RMF>>
I was going to treat the quarantine with copper or Paraguard, a friend had mentioned formalin (is effective with isopods?) but wanted to hold off on treating him until I could get your feedback.
<A dip w/ freshwater should remove Isopods, but you should be able to identify these easily. Now you have him out you could do this before re-introduction to the display, which is what I would probably do. Have you read here re: isopods? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/isopodfaqs.htm>
I appreciate the kind words as this guy was worth every penny, he is a beautiful fish!
<Yes, but do consider that you may have a compatibility problem>
Oh btw, had the chance to listen to Bob and Scott out here in Denver and hope you guys will be back through soon!
Thanks Again!
<No problem Mike!>
More Re: 26/02/10 Possible parasite on Metallic Foxface 3/1/10
<<And in looking at these better pix, I am pretty sure this is a "poke", physical injury here. Perhaps by the Zebrasoma. No treatment suggested other than time going by, keeping an eye on the players. RMF>>
<I agree, in fact looking at my response here I have provided an incomplete answer, as I did indeed mean to say that this will heal on it's own, without medication, but I have omitted this! Apologies! Simon>

Re: More Re: 26/02/10 Possible parasite on Metallic Foxface 3/2/10
<Hi Mike>
Thanks very much, <No problem> I'm looking at yanking the Zebrasoma and the largest tang C. striatus from the system. Both were mellow when smaller now very territorial <Yes> and I'm now living proof how much room is needed to house these guys!
<The Zebrasoma is indeed a jumbo fish for sure>
That would leave Acanthurus Pyroferus who seems to be more mellow. While I have you, can I introduce a M. Meleagris in my 225 with a Halichoeres ornatissimus?
<I would think this would be ok here. Have you read our FAQ's on these? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/macropharyngodon.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/halichoeres.htm, the Halichoeres is a better pick>
Thanks again!
<No problem, Simon>

Mixing Zebrasoma tangs -- 07/21/08 Hello, <Kiet> I need some advice on a situation that I have and would appreciate your expertise and thoughts. I currently have a 125 gallon SPS reef tank with four fish and about 150 lbs of Live Rock. I have plans to upgrade to a 250 - 300 gallon system, but that will not happen for another year or so. The currently ruler of the tank is a 3 inch Desjardini Sailfin Tang that I added a few months ago. Everything is currently running beautifully and the tank provides my family with hours of enjoyment and relaxation. Now for the problem, about a month ago I took in a friend's Yellow Tang because his tank had a leak and he wanted to drain it to fix the leak. To make a long story short, he will not be setting up his tank again and I am stuck with the Yellow Tang in my QT tank. I would take the tang to a LFS, but my daughter has grown attached to it and would like to see it in the display tank. I am certain this will create problems since both tangs are of the Zebrasoma family <Genus... of the Tang Family, Acanthuridae> and the Sailfin has been established for some time now. My question is, would it be possible to house the two in the same tank? <Possibly...> I have read that some people rearrange the rock work to confuse the established fish to alleviate aggression issues, but this would not be feasible for me as many of my rock pieces have coral that have spread to adjacent pieces. Also, because of the amount of rock that I have, there would be no way to easily catch and remove the Yellow Tang if there are aggression issues. Could you provide me with some other ideas or procedures that I could try to make this work? Any insight into this issue would be appreciated. Thank you, <Perhaps floating the new fish in a plastic colander at the surface for a few to several days... will give both a chance to become acquainted, yet not be able to get to each other. These two do sometimes mix okay... in a large, uncrowded setting... better with some obvious size difference... Best to "let out" together toward evening, dark, sleep time in the tank. Bob Fenner>

Help with tangs. Hello Sir! <Howdy> I just came across your great web page today and I was hoping that you could provide some insight for me. I'm very new to the saltwater game so I need some help with something. Here is the breakdown so far. Currently I'm running a 72 gallon bow front, with about 100 to 105 pounds of live rock, a skimmer and Fluval 304 with 2 bio-wheels. In the tank I have 2 damsel (sp?)<yes> fish and one pretty big, and very beautiful Sailfin tang from the red sea. This fish is wonderful!! So smart and friendly, he even lets you kind of pet him. <Neat> Anyways, here is my problem. This past weekend, I added a juv. emperor and a flame angel. So far my Sailfin is really going after the emperor. <Yes... these two occupy about the same niche in the Indian Ocean, Red Sea... best to remove the Emperor... otherwise I can almost assure you "signs" of stress and duress will soon occur...> We have re-arranged the live rock and it did slow him down a bit but it hasn't totally stopped it. The emperor is eating fine, but he's not fighting back or anything. <If it is not much larger (which I doubt) it will end up losing... If you asked me ahead of time I would tell you that your chances of these two cohabitating in such a small volume is tiny... need hundreds plus gallons...> Any ideas? I was thinking about removing my Sailfin from the tank for a little while and totally re-arrange everything in the tank. Maybe that will work? <Perhaps, but I doubt it... would stick with the smaller sub-dominant species, the Flame Angel... Please read over the partial posting of the section of my latest book on the WWM site, "A Fishwatcher's Guide... to the Fishes of the Red Sea... and consider some other, more suitable species originating from there instead.> If you could provide any insight that would be great. Thanks!! Jason Karby <Talk with you soon. Bob Fenner>

Re: Help with tangs. Mr. Fenner, Thank you for getting back to me. Well I need to ask your opinion on this again. It seems that our red sea Sailfin tang is still attacking the emperor like you said would happen. Things were much better today after we removed the Sailfin and re-arranged everything. But tonight once the lights went out, the tang won't even let the emperor out of a corner. <yes, not good> So I was hoping you could give your opinion on this. I don't know which one to keep. I've had the Sailfin since I started this tank in Sept.. And he has been wonderful and people friendly, but if he is going to attack everything that I put in the tank I don't know if I should keep him. Will he? <No, likely only other "tangs that look like it", animals that appear to utilize the same resources (food, space...), and possibly organisms it naturally tussles with for whatever reasons (competition, predation...) in the wild> I've always wanted to have an emperor, but I don't know if he's too stressed already. He doesn't seem to be, he's eating well. But he does have a few marks from the tang. <Very resilient fish... will likely "bounce back" if/when less stressed> So what do you recommend? Should I keep the tang? or get rid of him and go with the emperor and some other fish? <This choice is entirely yours... you make their world. But I would choose one or the other, and soon> Thanks again for your help! I'm recommending your website to some friends. <Ah, good. Hajime/Become yourself. Bob Fenner> -Jason Karby Sailfin Tang bites Cleaner Shrimp Hello Bob - After a few weeks of quarantine, I placed a 4" Sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma veliferum) in my main tank. I have noticed that when he swims by the cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis), he bites the antennae of the shrimp! Now the shrimp's antennae are all considerably shorter then they were a week ago. Any thoughts / ideas on why this is happening and how to prevent? Much appreciated. Andre <Hmm, well, sometimes Zebrasoma will chew on, chew up/consume shrimps of different sorts... and your shrimp will regenerate new antennae (if it's not eaten altogether) with the next molt... I would offer this tang something else to munch on... like some strips of Nori, other human-intended algae that you can get from the oriental food section... and live rock with macro-algae. Bob Fenner>

What kind of fish can add to my tank???? I have a Desjardin tang, what other kind of tang can I add with him in a 90 gallon with a goatfish, and clowns. Is a Kole tang ok to add or a surgeon fish? <<Another Sailfin tang of the same genus (Zebrasoma) should go... maybe a Yellow... from Hawai'i... or an easygoing member of the Acanthurus genus or a Combtooth tang like the Kole (aka Yellow-eye, Ctenochaetus strigosus) that you mention... or even a Pacific Blue/Hippo/Palette Tang... I'd make sure the new one(s) were a couple of inches smaller than the Desjardin's... to lessen the chance of interspecies aggression (they are going to tussle, but don't fret unless you see signs of real damage or cowering). Bob Fenner, who will be adding more graphics to the Surgeonfish family survey article on www.wetwebmedia.com and, better still, making a 32 pg. booklet on the group... they deserve it.>>

Tang compatibility Tangling With Tangs! (Tang Compatibility) 7/19/08 Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. in today!> I have a question on Tang compatibility I was hoping you could answer for me. <Will try!> I have searched the forums, but could find a question similar to mine. I have a 150 gallon reef setup which currently houses a 4 inch Desjardin Sailfin Tang, 1 Purple Firefish, and a Mandarin Dragonet. I have approximately 200lbs of live rock with plenty of crevices and hiding spots. In a system this size, would you recommend me adding a Yellow Tang? Or would it quarrel with the Sailfin since they are similar in body shape? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you, Kiet <Well, Kiet, I would tend to agree with your concerns here. Mixing two Zebrasoma species in a modest-sized aquarium could be potentially problematic. Your Desjardini will reach a very large size to boot, and will not be particularly happy to have another Tang introduced to the system, particularly if the Sailfin has been in the aquarium for some time. Much better to add a Tang species from the genus Ctenochaetus, such as the Kole Tang. It inhabits a different ecological niche than your Sailfin, and attains a much smaller size. Both of these attributes will create a greater probability for success, IMO. Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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