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FAQs about the Tang Compatibility 2

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

Related FAQs: Tang Compatibility 1, Tang Compatibility 3, Tang Behavior, In General, Tang ID, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease

Nasos can be outright feisty, particularly if in too small a system... they need several feet of room. Even when small.

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Fish Question - S/W Hi there, <Hello> I have a 150 gallon (English gallons not USA) tank with 90 kg of live rock, numerous hard and soft corals. I am transferring my stock from a much smaller tank into this larger tank. Fishwise, I have 2 wrasses and a coral beauty. I want to add 2 tangs at the same time, however I am undecided as to which 2 to add from a lipstick tang, Red Sea Sailfin, purple or yellow tang. I realize the latter 3 are of the same genus, so only one of those will have to go with the lipstick - my preference would be the Sailfin... would this be compatible with the lipstick? <Yes, the Sailfin would be fine with the lipstick tang. I think that would be the better choice because the Sailfin tang does not get as aggressive as the purple or yellow tangs. Good Luck. MikeB> 

Tang Sizes Hi, We have a 3 1/2" Yellow Tang. She has been in quarantine for 8 weeks while the 200 gallon main tank stays fallow. We lost our blue tang while going through the quarantine process. Our hope is to add another Blue (Hippo) and a Kole Tang. We know we have to add those before the Yellow can go back in (and that means at least 4 more weeks of quarantine).  If added first, would it be okay to add the Hippo and Kole while they are still small (say 2")? <I'm thinking the small Kole and Hippo will work, they are from different families so there shouldn't be much aggression, but I wouldn't put the Kole in with the Yellow Tang.> If you think it would be better to go to mediums, we will do that - it's just that it is more of a pain for quarantine. Also, we have heard mixed things about the Kole's disposition. Do you think it would be aggressive to the other tangs when it gets bigger?  <Doug, here is a link that you should read regarding tangs and tang compatibility. http://www.wetwebmedia.com James (Salty Dog)><<?! RMF>>
Tang Sizes
Sorry - forgot to ask this (in regards to quarantine of a Kole and Hippo Tang). If purchased small, could the 2 be quarantined together in a 20 gallon cycled tank with plenty of PVC? We have heard that the Hippos get really stressed if put by themselves. <I've answered that in your first post. James (Salty Dog)> 

Tangling With Tangs! (Pt. 2) Thanks for the fast reply! I really appreciate it. <Glad to be of assistance!> I have a couple of questions from what you said. If I were to have one or two blue tangs (maybe 2 would be too many) would they be ok with the Yellow tang? <I have kept this combination together many times with good results.> I like the Chevron Tang. Would it be ok with a Blue and Yellow tang? Thanks for the help! Steve <Well, Steve, these guys are pretty good with most other fish. However, with other tangs, you almost always run the possibility that someone just won't like someone else! These guys usually keep to themselves, and sort of hanging a different "niche" than the other tangs, so this at least gives you a shot at making this work. Introducing all of the tangs at a young age to your large tank gives you the best shot at success, IMO. Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.> 

- 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 -- > 

Sailfin that doesn't seem to sleep Hello, I am new to the saltwater world and have a question. I have a 75 gallon saltwater tank, lots of rock and places for my "New Friends" to hide. I have 1 hippo Tang, 1 mimic Tang, 2 small clowns, 3 small green Chromis, 1 red knob star, 2 cleaner shrimp. All the fish will go to sleep and rest when I turn the lights out except the sailfin. She/He is new to the tank about 3 days now but I can see her swimming in the dark tank. I turn the lights out in the room the tank is in also, so it is dark, but she seems to not sleep like the other fish, is this normal? She is fine all day eats like a pig, mixed diet swims all day seeming very happy. Also how many fish can you have in a 75 gallon tank, and does size matter of the fish added, [example] do three small fish equal 1 larger fish. Thanks in advance for your help. I am trying to learn as much as I can, I always ask as many questions as I can at the store that I get the fish from, but sometimes they do not know the answers and I hope I getting the correct information to keep a healthy happy tank.  <There is no rule of thumb for stocking levels. So much depends on the activity of a fish and how large the fish can get along with surface area of the tank and so on. I pasted a link that you can read on this subject. As far as the tang not sleeping, I've also had a couple tangs that displayed this behavior. It went away after four or five days. I left a "night light" on so the tank was not completely dark. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/morestkgfaqs.htm  Good luck. (Salty Dog)>
Sailfin that doesn't seem to sleep
Thanks for your reply. I have to take her back to the store as now she is fighting with my two other tangs. I guess it is just like people all have different personalities, and this one is just not so nice. She wants the whole tank to herself, she is big so maybe she would be happier in a larger tank. She is so beautiful but this morning ate the fin of my mimic tang. Thanks again for your reply.  Deb <Deb, this is a perfect example of why tangs need a large tank. You did the right thing by taking him back. James (Salty Dog)>

Mixing Tangs (2/2/05) Hello,  <Greetings, Steve Allen with you tonight.> I have read through most of your tang facts and cannot find a answer on mixing Sohal tangs with Naso lituratus and Paracanthurus tangs. I have just moved up to a 6 ft 125 gal tank and am trying to plan the livestock additions with both compatibility and timing to introduction. I enjoy tangs greatly and hope to have more than one if possible. Thanks for your great web site it is has been a great help getting me started with my last marine tank. Thanks in advance for your help. Brad Newberry <Well Brad, while the mixing of Surgeonfishes is generally discouraged due to territoriality, it is sometimes possible to mix them when you are dealing with different genera, especially in a sufficiently large tank. Even so, I was amazed by the vicious attacks my Yellow Tang directed against a newly added Achilles. I had to pull the Achilles within a few minutes for fear the Yellow would shred it with its scalpels. Unfortunately, the genera you mention all have a rather similar body shape, which increases the likelihood of aggression. The other problem is that your tank is too small for all 3 of these fish. The Naso easily attains 18" and really belongs in at least a 240G tank. The Sohal, which is known for its aggression, grows nearly as large and 180G would be the absolute minimum for this fish. Since you state this will be your "last" marine tank, you really owe it to yourself and your charges to stock fish that are appropriate for your tank as adults. My best recommendation would be to add either one Paracanthurus or one Sohal and choose a mix of compatible non-Tang tankmates. Best of luck to you.>

Tangling With A Tough Tang! (Sohal Tang In Mixed Tank) Hi crew, <HI there! Scott F. here today!> I would really love to get a Sohal Tang for my 180 tank. At the moment there is not much livestock in the tank, so I am just "planning" at this stage. But if I am to introduce a Sohal later then I need to plan for it now in the other fish I choose. <Absolutely...these fishes have a well-deserved reputation for being rather poor citizens!> Generally speaking, I am nervous about adding a Sohal simply because of the horror stories I have heard about them being so aggressive. <These stories are usually true. These fish can be extremely nasty. Quite honestly, I would not attempt to keep one of these fishes in anything less than an 8 foot long aquarium, simply because they do reach considerable size, "patrol" a large territory, and need larger water volumes to keep up with the copious amounts of metabolic wastes that they produce. I'd rethink keeping this fish in a 180, myself.> Ultimately, I plan on having an angel (maybe a Maculosus OR Passer), some other smaller tang (yellow - not another Acanthurus -maybe a Hippo???), and one other medium-bodied fish (non angel / tang). <IN a large enough tank, you could certainly add another tang, but in a 180, it could be potentially problematic. Personally, I'd try another tang or two other than the Sohal in this sized tank. That's just me, but I've seen a number of Sohals "for sale or trade" locally that were in situations that just didn't work out.> The tank is to be what I term a marginal reef set up - that is to say there will be hardy corals (Toadstool Mushroom, Star Polyps, and shrooms) - but nothing that could be termed as a reef tank as such. <I nice setup for a fish-oriented display! Natural is always cool!> Is a Sohal a good choice, or is there considerable truth to the scare mongering? <Sadly, the truth really is that these guys are bruisers. I'd entertain other tangs in this setup...Much more appropriate for long-term success, IMO!> Cheers, Matt <Best of luck to you, Matt! Regards, Scott F.>

School of Yellow Tangs I searched and couldn't find an answer so here it goes. I have a 250gal reef tank with a G-2 Skimmer, 8 cubic feet of bio balls, and I change the carbon every other week. The tank has been running well for about two years. The water stays crystal clear and the only losses are attributed to aggression. I have a pair of maroon clowns that chase off anything that comes too close to their anemone. They also lay eggs regularly, but the other fish usually eat the eggs before they hatch or shortly thereafter. I have three purple tangs that swim together and generally don't bother anything non-tang. There is about 120lbs of live rock and a number of LPS corals. Now for my question. I would like to add a school of yellow tangs. I know I need to outnumber the purple tangs, but by how many. I have five on hold at the store and have asked for 2 - 4 more. I now they will mow down a lot of algae, but I am fine feeding them regularly. I just don't want to buy a whole school of yellows and have them get picked off one by one. I tried adding a Desjardin tang that was bigger than the purples, but they cornered him until he died. Thanks for the great site it has been a tremendous help.  Ben  <Ben, Ben, Ben, you will be creating a time bomb. A 250 gallon tank is not large enough to do what you want. There will be constant fighting between the tangs. Even with just the yellows and no purples, the least dominant yellow will always be picked on till death, then the next least dominant and so on and on. Believe me because about 20 years ago I tried it and I thought it would be neat, but all I ended up with was two yellow tangs out of seven. These were housed in a 240. James (Salty Dog)>

- Adding Another Tang - Hello, I have 72 gallon tank with 75 gallons of live rock. I currently have.. a.. 1 yellow tang b.. 2 false percula clowns c.. 1 one-spot Foxface d.. 2 cleaner gobies e.. 1 cleaner shrimp f.. 1 royal Gramma g.. 1 bubble tip anemone h.. 1 green star polyp I was wondering if it would be possible to add a regal blue tang. <I would recommend against it in this tank. Given that the tang you have and the tang you want both reach plate size, this system is not sufficient to house either of them long or short term. Would be best to save towards a multi-hundred gallon system and then you'd be able to mix tangs all day.> I have had my yellow tang for the longest and have had no problems with adding the others. Would this work? <Not in this tank.> If not is there another type of tang that I can add? <Honestly, I wouldn't add any other tang to this system.> Thanks a lot, Ben M. <Cheers, J -- > 

- Mixing Tangs - Hello, <Hello.> I am interested about mixing tangs. <Ok.> I currently have a 72 gallon tank with 75 pounds of live rock.  <Well... we can stop right there; this tank just isn't large enough to mix tangs. You need several hundred gallons to do this successfully.> I have a yellow tang, a one-spot Foxface, 2 false percula clowns, a royal Gramma, a bubble tip anemone, a green star polyp, and 2 cleaner gobies. I know that yellow tangs can be aggressive to new fish but I have had the tang the longest and added the others with no problem. I was wondering if it would be possible to add a regal blue tang in my tank.  <Would not do it. Both these fish can grow to plate size and will soon be competing for resources. Buy a larger system first.> I was hoping with the difference in shape and color would reduce problems. <Won't overcome the limited space in this system.> Would this be possible? <It is very possible, just not in a 72 gallon tank.> If not is there any other tangs I could add? <Think about a larger tank.> Any help would be much appreciated.  Thanks, Ben M. <Cheers, J -- >

Mixing Angels- A Good Idea? HI Bob, <Scott F. in today> Great site. I am in the process of restocking my 75 gal  system. I currently have one fish, a 4" Flagfin angel, which is healthy and eating nicely. <A nice fish with a somewhat spotty survival reputation...Glad yours is doing well!>   I would like to add a pair of Saddleback clowns and  possibly an African Flameback angel.  Would the Flameback and the Flagfin  cohabit?   <Tough call. Generally speaking, it is possible to mix some different genera of Angelfish together in an appropriately-sized system. The African Flameback is one of the smaller Centropyge, and may work with the Flagfin, which is in the genus Apolemichthys. However, your tank is sort of "on the border", in terms of acceptable size for mixing angels, IMO. I guess the bottom line is that it is a potential risk. Even though it's a feisty little fish, the Centropyge may still have some challenges when being introduced into a tank with an established angelfish. I would probably err on the side of caution and not mix multiple angels of any genus in any tank of less than 6' in length, simply because of the well-studied territorial needs of these fishes.> If this is not appropriate I would then like to add a 3-4" Powder  Brown Tang (Japonicus). <This is also a potentially problematic fish...Often offered as the "Powder Brown Tang", Acanthurus nigricans is a fish that generally does not do well in captive systems. The "White Faced Tang", Acanthurus japonicus (often mistakenly labeled the "Powder Brown Tang"!) is a better choice. Do check the Surgeonfish FAQs here on the WWM site for pictures on more information on each. That being said, I would hesitate once again to add this fish; I am not a big fan of Acanthurus or Paracanthurus tangs in any tank less than 6 feet in length. They range over large territories in the wild, and do better with roam to "roam" in captivity. I think that the smaller Zebrasoma flavescens (Yellow Tang) is a much more adaptable choice for this sized aquarium.> This would total 4 fish in a system with 2-4" of  live sand and 20lbs of live rock.  I will be adding more rock in the future  since the holidays($$$) are over. Would this be too big of a  bio-load?  My current water parameters are Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates  20, Ph 8.2, Salinity 1.21, temp 78F.  I am running Marineland Bio wheels  off of an Eheim canister 2215 along with a Sea clone 150 skimmer( it works for  me) and power heads for circulation. I also conduct 10% water changes  weekly.  Any suggestions or info will be appreciated. Thanks. <Your maintenance practices sound great! I would recommend that you stick to adding some smaller fishes instead. Perhaps a Pseudochromis species (careful- some can be rough!) or a Halichoeres species wrasse. Colorful fishes that stay relatively small...Good choices for a medium sized tank like yours. You could probably add two, possibly three smaller fishes to this tank, IMO. Have fun researching the possibilities! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> HPD - Sohal Eating Soft Corals - Please can you help. I have kept a marine tank for 6 months now - so am still a beginner. I have a 400 liter tank. All chemicals are correct and tank has a good amount of living rock. Fish stock is: 3 x clown 1 x Purple Tang 1 x Sohal Tang 1 x Hawkfish 1 x Flame Angel 1 x Bristle Star 1 x Cleaner shrimp Coral stock is 1 x Finger leather coral 1 x Soft Medusa coral 1 x Mushroom coral 1 x Red branch sponge coral Everything has been going really well until 3 days ago when the Sohal Tang started to bite small bits of the ends of the Medusa Coral. He hasn't bothered any of the other corals. I have noticed he seems to do it less when he has just been fed. But I am feeding 3 times per day with enough food for the fish to eat for 3-5 min.s - and he makes sure he gets his fair share! The only thing that changed at the same time as the biting was the introduction of the Bristle Star - could that have upset the Sohal? <It may have upset the Sohal, but these are not children that act out to annoy you. Likely the nipping at the corals is coincidental with the introduction of the brittle star. Observation of these fish in the wild show that they feed constantly, and as a result these tangs are notoriously hard to keep as they get larger. It's quite possible your fish is not satisfied with three feedings a day.> If so, is it worth waiting to see if things settle down again. <Likely not to happen.> I have called my supplier and he says it is the first time he has heard of a Sohal attacking a soft coral and has offered to change the Sohal. But, I am really quite attached to him. Any advice would be really appreciated. <This behavior is not apt to change without some intervention by you - either the fish or the soft corals will have to go... or if you wait long enough the tang will take care of that for you.> Thank you so much for an excellent web site - and search facility. I have learned a huge amount through it. Regards David M. <Cheers, J -- >

Tank size and Tangs Hello there after a bit of advice. I have recently set up my first marine tank (and loving it). I have a 275ltr tank with two external canister filters and a UV sterilizer. It currently houses a clown, filefish, Yellow and regal Tang. All seem to be getting on very well including the two tangs (which surprised me) they seem to follow each other all day. I am hoping to add a Small boxfish (adult size of 6in) and eventually I would love a Naso (lipstick) Tang, would these tangs be OK will each other? I understand the tank size may be to small, but all are juvenile at the moment. How long could I keep these fish before upgrading to a larger tank? and what size would you recommend. Keep the excellent work up. Danny >>>Hello Danny, I had a long reply typed out, and lost in unfortunately to the crappy spell checker on this site :( The short version is that your tank is too small to even consider adding the boxfish at this point. Avoid stocking your tank right up to the limit, as this leaves you no room for error. To keep all the fish you mention at close to adult size, you will need at least a 135 gallon tank. The Naso get's too large and grows too fast to put in a tank the size of yours even as a juvenile. Good luck! Jim<<<

Lighting and Fish Compatibility Hi--well another question or two that hopefully is not a bother.<No, Not at all.> I am expanding my FOWLR from a 55g to a reef 90g with a 30g sump.  My present lighting system on the 55 consists of 4x65W PC half actinic and half daylight.  For many reasons, I will not be able to go to MH on the 90g tank which I hope isn't your immediate answer and also I have no intention of getting into the high light requirement corals, sticking mainly with the softs. So, the first question is can I mix PC with VHO?<Yes, Absolutely.>  My first thought is to add 220W of VHO, half actinic and half daylight.  If I can mix them, what temperatures would you suggest?<2 actinic and 2 67k.>  If I cannot mix them, what do you think of adding another 4x65w of PC to the 90 for a total of 460w?<I don't think it will be enough if you go that route.>  Is it better to just switch altogether, again assuming no MH and go to all VHO?<No, Mix them.  The more light you have the better.  Just make sure they are the same temp. agreement.> Second half of the question is in regard to Tang compatibility.  I presently have one yellow tang.  I've been told that tangs need to be in odd numbers but am not sure if that refers to a specific type of tang.  For example, is it safe to add one Blue or perhaps a Naso, don't think I have enough tank for the Naso though? As always, thanks much for your advice. Larry <Larry, Mixing tangs can be tricky.  I would mix them when you turn the tank over.  Don't put the yellow in first and then a week later try and add one.  They will fight.  Yes, the tank is too small for a Naso tang.  good luck.  mikeb.>

Tang compatibility Hi crew, This is Ooi from Penang island, Malaysia. << I am jealous. >> I have currently maintain a 100 gal FOWLR tank with 7 fishes (1 banner butterfly, 1 purple tang, 1 Eibl angel, 1 damsel, 1 yellow tang and 1 maroon clownfish. I have a few questions on marine fish compatibility : 1. I plan to add in a Rusty Dwarf Angel (Centropyge ferrugata Randall) of 1&1/2 inches size. Will there be any problem to my existing Eibli Dwarf Angel (Centropyge eibli Klausewitz) of 1&1/2 inches size as well ? 2. My yellow tang keep fighting & chasing with my purple tang especially when they swim close to each other. The purple tang is 2 inches in size but yellow tang is 3 inches+. << Very common. >> Now my question is Shall I remove one of them ? << I don't think so.  I'm not sure how much rock you have in your tank, but as long as you give them hiding places they will stop fighting in a few weeks. >> My friend have a yellow tang which is smaller in size (about 2 inches also but slightly smaller than the purple tang) that I plan to interchange mine yellow tang with his, just hoping that the new yellow tang will not fight with the purple tang. will this work ? << Actually yes, this will work.  Sometimes by changing their surroundings they become shy and scared (which is bad for them) but it does help to relieve their aggression. >> 3. In general, assuming same size, which tang will normally win in the fight... yellow tang or purple tang ? << Good question.  Not sure.  I'll say a purple. >> 4. My purple tang body is covering with many white big spots on her body. << Probably ich. >> It is not actually the white spot disease but just like a discolour/fading color of spots on her body. I suspect is due to fighting or bitten by yellow tang. is it possible ? or it is a fungus or other skin disease ? << The fighting can cause it.  Fighting stresses the fish and they are not as healthy to fight diseases. >> Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks so much ! Best rgds, << Good luck. >> Pujieh Ooi <<  Blundell  >>

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)

Tang compatibility Thanks again Matt.  So basically, my tang is goin to be aggressive to every other fish I put in my tank after him. <I would consider it a very likely possibility.  A small tank only enhances these problems.>  I was thinking of a long nose or Pakistani butterfly around same size as him. <Both of these are going to present your tang with a similarly shaped, similarly sized target--in the tang's mind, competition.  I wouldn't expect good results if you add one of these.  If the tang was removed, though, both could do well.  The longnoses are a bit easier to keep and feed IME.>   Is he going to be aggressive toward them? <Always impossible to say one way or the other, but I would make plans assuming that it will be.  If possible, can you acclimate the butterfly in a sump or refugium, or better yet separate the tang in a container for a while?  Always helps a new addition if they can settle in and feel comfortable first.>   And if they change for several different reasons, couldn't it just be because he's new to my tank and getting adjusted as to why he's changing colors? <Yup.  Or it could be from the stress of fighting, or capture, etc.  Again, it's hard to say one way or the other but I wouldn't worry too much about it.> Brett

Tang Compatibility Hi gang, <Hi Brandon, MacL here with you tonight.> Have another tang question. While most questions I've read deal with the fallout of an addition, I'm trying to be proactive. <Very wise.> I've kept many a saltwater tank before, but am trying my first 'coral garden' and therefore my fish menu has changed dramatically. The only occupant of my 125G tank is a 1.5" to 2" Acanthurus hepatus. I had in with him a Red Sea sailfin, and they got along great. As a matter of fact, the hepatus tang tried very hard to school with the sailfin. I ended up donating the sailfin to a friend with a much larger tank (I did it out of love), I'm contemplating adding a tang that won't get as large at maturity. I really love the powder blues, but have read they are probably the most aggressive and hostile of all tangs, <That and they really do seem to be more susceptible to ich.> and of course the purple tang, probably next in line. <Purples are hugely aggressive in my experience but with a great deal of caution you can sometimes combine them with other fish.> Since I have added the most docile tang first, can I add a small powder blue or purple tang, or is that inviting trouble? <Definitely want the fish to have different sizes. If you  Paracanthurus hepatus is large you'd want to add a small purple tang.> Should I stick with the standard fare Z. flavescens? <I think you could add the purple just do it cautiously and do it when you can watch them for an extended period.  Also remember that tangs get very territorial and it sometimes helps to rearrange they living quarters.> Thanks in advance!

Adding a wrasse with aggressive tang. Hello! <Hi Gretchen, MacL here with you tonight> I just discovered your site and it has been a huge help to me! <Thank you kindly> I apologize if you've already addressed this issue, I read through the FAQ on wrasse compatibility and didn't see my exact situation... I have a 120-gallon marine setup with the following fish: 3 Green Chromis (1" each) 1 Maroon Clown (1") 1 Long-nosed Hawkfish (3") 1 Flame Angel (2") 1 Pearlscale butterflyfish (3") 1 Purple Firefish (3") 1 4-spot yellow Coris (2") 1 Diamond Goby (2") 1 Sailfin Tang (4" with fins extended, 1" body only) Up until two months ago I also had a beautiful exquisite fairy wrasse that I was particularly fond of.  The wrasse passed away, we think it was because he was pestered unmercifully by the 8-line wrasse that my LFS assured me would be fine as long as we bought them together.  I've since returned the 8-line in exchange for the sailfin tang.  I'd like to get another fairy wrasse but I'm now concerned that the tang won't allow it. He was pretty obnoxious when I brought the butterflyfish in although the tang had only been in the tank a few days himself. <Similar body shape size, and honestly while your tank is large for what you have in there its not going to be big enough. The wrasse should be a different story because he is a much different shape.>  He's since settled down and stopped harassing the butterflyfish (possibly because the butterfly outsizes him by a bit) but I'm concerned that he would bully a more docile fairy wrasse unceasingly. Is there a way to add a fairy wrasse safely? Would you recommend quarantining the tang for a few weeks? <I recommend quarantining everything before they go into the main tank.> Any help that you can provide would be greatly appreciated! Many thanks Gretchen

Powder blue tang I have just bought a powder blue tang, I told the person in the shop what   fish I already have, they said it should be ok. when I put him in I had no   problem with any of my other fish except my yellow tang, do these two  normally get on?? <The Powder Blue is not easily kept by hobbyists period. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/powdbluetg.htm and the related FAQs files (linked, in blue, at top). Members of the Tang family often quarrel, particularly ones of similar body shape and size... Bob Fenner>

Are tangs "reef-safe"? sort of 10/5/04 Thank you for the response Anthony. <always welcome mate> Well, that is not good news...  My refugium is functional but not attractive (hidden in my basement) and my Lobophyllia was planned to be a centerpiece of my display tank. So it seems like a such waste to have the Lobophyllia hidden in my refugium <well... do so at least for healing and to buy time to make a decision> (although less of a waste than having the Lobophyllia eaten!).   <eggs-actly> Did I just happen to get a purple tang with an unusual taste for food?   <nope... they have a history like many tangs for nibbling coral. The family at large are occasional to frequent nibblers. To the tune of, say... 30% nip corals and 70% do not. Most American literature says tangs are "reef-safe". But many European authors cite tangs as not "reef-safe". Depends on your perspective of that 70/30 split <G>. I have owned several Zebrasoma tangs that were just terrible about eating coral... loving Xenia, LPA brain corals (like yours) and other cnidarians. Naso tangs also have a deserved reputation for nipping too> From everything I have read about tangs, they are completely reef-safe.   <everything in American hobby books ;) DO visit some of the big message boards though and take a poll of how many folks have had this happen. Proof is in the pudding as they say> This tang lived very peacefully with my corals for several months.  Is this unusual (for a Zebrasoma to nip at corals)?   <understood... it is somewhat of a minority that nip corals> My yellow tang seems perfectly happy to eat Nori and to leave the corals alone. --Greg <yellow tangs seem to me safer among popular species in the trade. Due in part, perhaps, to their locale - yellow tangs from Hawaii don't have much in the way of an abundance of soft cnidarian tissues to choose from... a lot more algae instead. 'Tis the rationale behind getting Hawaiian Moorish idols and not others from the South Pacific in fact. Anthony>

Question Regarding Tang Compatibility Hello, I have a 260 gallon,  8' long tank formerly FOWLR that I am converting to a reef.  I would like to get a sohal tang as the centerpiece/alpha dominant fish.  My question is whether or not I can add any other type of Tang(s) without a potential problem down the road?  Also, have you ever heard of the use of an Ocean Clear/Nu-Clear type pressure canister filter contribute to high nitrates? Excellent web-site and advice.   Thank you in advance, Gisho >>>Greetings Gisho! Just last week I witnessed a sohal tang beating the heck out of a newly introduced vlamingi tang, in a 2000 gallon tank. The new tang had to be removed immediately. So, 260 gallons doesn't seem like so much space, especially considering the size and temperament of this particular species. If you attempt another tang, make sure it's of unlike body shape, say a Zebrasoma species, and add it first.   Regarding canister filters - they are harmless, if somewhat superfluous additions to a reef tank. Nitrate is produced, but not converted into anything else, unlike what happens in your sandbed or live rock. I would leave it off the reef tank, it's just not needed. Regards Jim<<<
Question Regarding Tang Compatibility
Thank you Jim for your timely and excellent advice. A quick question:     You mention that Zebrasoma species might be ok. Could I keep perhaps a small     school of three-four yellow tangs with the sohal if I introduced them (the yellow tangs)     first?  The yellow tangs are compatible together, yes? Thank you in advance! Gisho >>>Happy to be of assistance my friend! Yes, you can certainly put a school of 3 to 4 yellow tangs in that tank! In fact, that would be best. That way the sohal tang is unlikely to pick on any single individual. Introduce all 3 (or 4) to the tank at the same time. After they are established, you can introduce the sohal tang (who's been fully quarantined of course.) Cheers Jim<<<

Space Issues (8/25/04) Hi, I have recently purchased a yellow tang (doing great) and, I just purchased a blue hippo tang. I have a 55 gal tank (4' wide 2' high) and the yellow tang is about 3" and the blue hippo is about 1". I also have 3 damsels (2 blue 1 striped), 5 hermit crabs, and one camel shrimp (all doing fine). I was wondering if I have the space to keep both of the tangs? Thanks. <Not in the long run, sorry to say. Minimum recommended tank size for Yellows is 75G and for Hippos is 100. To keep both safely in the long run, you will need an even bigger tank, on the order of 180G. Steve Allen.>

Nemo and Yellow-Tail OK Together (8/25/04) Thanks Steve, I did as you said and rearrange everything, then added the "Nemo" I watched the tank non-stop for an hour or so, and he didn't touch the fish.  Your idea worked thank you so much!!!! <Glad to hear. Hope it stays that way.>  If you don't mind could you give me some extra points on how to NOT kill everything again! HA! <The best I can give you on that is to carefully analyze the event for contributing/precipitating factors and try to learn from any errors. Good luck! Steve Allen.>

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.

Tang Wars Hello,<Hi, MikeD here> I'm going to purchase a large Atlantic Blue Tang to add to my 75 gallon tank. I currently have a medium Hippo Tang and a medium Yellow Tang. Should I have any major problems with my new addition?<You bet. Somebody's likely going to die!> The Yellow and the Hippo get along great from the very beginning which was surprising to me. Not one confrontation have they been in! Not even much raised fins! I really LOVE the way this Atlantic looks at my LFS! He's such a brilliant, bright blue!<They ARE incredibly beautiful> Is there anything specific that I should know about him before adding him?<Well, only that any adults I've kept can whip their weight in wildcats and I'll be surprised if it doesn't decimate the other two in short order. My suggestion for an Atlantic Blue tang is a minimum 125 gal., six foot long tank> Thanks so much!<You're welcome. IF you decide to try it anyway, I'd suggest keeping your net handy to fish out survivors> Melissa

Multiple Tangs <Hi, MikeD here> Hi, thanks for your response, actually what I was dreading. Mike mentioned that you can have more than 1 in large tanks or display tanks <Sometimes, depending upon the species  and/or combination of same>, but mine is actually 6 foot so I could I  have 3 if they find their own territory? <72" isn't a large tank, my friend, and actually what I suggest as the ideal MINIMUM size for a marine FOWLR system> I'm going to remove the rock that they like sleeping under, so they can reestablish new territories. Do you think this may help. <No, in fact I suspect it may make matters much worse> As there is heaps of live rock and other places for them to occupy. Any other suggestions as I really don't want to get rid of two of them as It takes me ages to get fish established and keep them alive, without having to take them out again. <OK, this is DEFINITELY not the answer that you want, but most books agree on several basic points, such as 1)100gal/6' is the minimum tank size suggested for tangs, 2) in most cases tangs ought to be kept one per system because of aggression, and 3) the aggression often gets worse as the fish grow and mature. Hippo and yellow (Zebrasoma) tangs are two that can SOMETIMES be kept together in groups of 4-6 in larger tanks (300 gallons and up), but usually only if added all at once and when very small. My honest suggestion is to find homes for 2 of them and find other non-tang replacements that you really like.> Waiting for your reply. Thanks Carmen <Sorry it isn't what you want to hear, but you are welcome>
Multiple Tangs, Follow-up
Hi Mike. <Hi, Carmen> Thanks for your reply.<You're welcome> I was wondering since I have a large tank, 6 foot with heaps of live rock and potential territories, if I remove the flat rock that they love to hang out in this would make them reestablish a new territory. Do you think this would work. Maybe worth a try anyway.<It can't hurt to try, but keep in mind that it may make matters worse as well> I didn't notice them fighting until last week when I added some more live rock and actually moved this rock and then put it back. Since then they have been at it.<It may be your placement, with you being a Tang Martha Stewart> Thanks Carmen

Tangs Fighting Hi Bob it's Carmen from Cleve again. <Hi, You've got MikeD here today> Just wondering if you could give me some advice.<I can try> I bought 3 small regal tangs about 6months ago. They all got on really well as they were slightly different sizes. But now as they are bigger the smaller one is fine, he just leaves the area if the bigger ones go near him, however the other two bigger ones are similar size now and they constantly bicker and chase each other.<This is actually normal, and the reason most books suggest one per tank> Their fins are slightly tattered and they now have small scratches on their bodies from fighting amongst the rocks. Their coloration has faded slightly compared to the smaller more peaceful one. I know this is territorial behaviour, but I was just wondering if this will continue or will they eventually work out their disputes.<Often the dispute ends with one fish left alive> Should I remove one?<I'd remove TWO> But then they will just start on the smaller one, wont they???<Yes, Ma'am, eventually> What do you suggest. There are plenty of other areas that they could go hang out, however they keep fighting over the same rock, where they did once just all sleep peacefully in.<What you see in a sale tank or a huge tank is one thing, but the books are pretty specific about one per tank as they grow larger. This is why.> Thanks, waiting your reply.<Sorry it isn't the one you wanted. Good Luck!> Carmen

Nasos, and other Tangs <HI, Mike D here> I started to write and the Email went away , I apologize if you got this twice. I was wondering if you could help,<I'll try> I am finally getting my dream system put in soon A 10' - 12 ' Aquarium.<Sounds beautiful!> I have a Large 8" Naso, 2 Regal Tangs (1-4" 1-1.5")<Here's one problem> 2 clowns , 1-Comet (Marine Betta) 1-Coral Beauty, These are presently in 210 6' Tank The Naso is Kind of mean, I thought they were suppose to be Mildly tempered.<NO! The word "Tang" refers to part of a knife, in reference to the blades found on the caudal peduncle or base of the tail. These are weapons that can be used to deadly effect on fish perceived as competitors or a threat!> She excepted the smaller Regal, and the coral beauty with no problem , I had 2 copperbanded butterfly, Before I could get the poor fish out She had back the butterfly in a corner, Swatted her tail ant the butterfly and dang near sliced her in half, I never saw such a thing.<I have...use caution as they can do this to fingers too!> I was trying to net the butterfly out but I was too late. I have a 3rd 1." Regal but she was too tiny for this system and wasn't doing well. She's good now, these 2 smaller tangs were my rescue project. So far so good. When I get this new tank running. Is a Powder blue OK with the rest of the tangs.<NO!! Emphasis mine! Many tangs, and yours looks like a good example are one per tank. By Naso, I assume you're referring to Naso literatus, which is a small member for this family of giants. The Powder Blue tang, by the way, although known as an "ick magnet" when small, often grow up to be extremely belligerent adults!>> The Naso seems to be fine with other tangs, the all swim together, although I think From time to time the Regal can be a pain for the Naso,  The regal will swim with Anything that will swim with her.<I wouldn't be surprised to see the regal attack and kill the other regal eventually. My suggestion, since they are getting along so far is to NOT add another tang, and as you've already seen, if you decide to add an angelfish or such, try a smaller specimen and allow it to grow up in the tank. It's quite likely your tang will attack any other large fish you introduce.> Thank you in advance for your Help<You're welcome> Scott

Mixing tangs <Hi James> I am sure that you guys get blue in the face answering tang compatibility questions, but here is one more. <Not me I love tangs.  You have now met an official tang fanatic.> In a 90 gallon reef with about 100 lbs of live rock that contains a yellow and a Sailfin tang, would it be possible to add another tang from the Acanthurus species?  <Its my opinion that if you add another tang you should add it from the Acanthurus species.  Something with a different body shape and something with different color and perhaps size is going to work in the tank much better than adding another Zebrasoma.  You already know the caution about size but really with most of the Acanthurus they just get so large.  I just added a Vlamingi tang into a 120 gallon tank.  It started a couple of weeks ago at about an inch long and in just a short period of time has almost doubled in size.  Growing big is fine for my purposes because I have a tank ready to move him into but just a thought for you.  Do you know how hard it is to get a fish out of a tank?  Major major pain.   I am already aware of the potential size of my Sailfin and plan to trade him in at my LFS whenever he begins to get too large. I am lucky to have one nearby that readily accepts healthy trade ins. If this idea is a go, what species do you recommend that could possibly work out the best? <Hmmm, species, species.  Well you are probably thinking powder blue, powder brown, achilles, but I have to mention a few others.  One of the prettiest fish I have ever seen was a Pacific Mimic Surgeon, also called a chocolate tang Latin name, Acanthurus pyroferus.  In all fairness not all of them are beautiful but I would encourage you to look at some of the not so popular tangs.  They are amazingly beautiful in a tank. I also truly, truly love the Naso tangs.  And while you didn't mention it the Blue hippo tang or regal might work well in the tank.  Just one more thought, be prepared for fighting of the tangs.  The two there already have established their territories and won't especially like having someone new come in.>  I have more experience with the Zebrasoma  species.

Mixing tangs Hi! I love the site and I spend most of my internet searching right here. I have a 110 gal pentagon tank with 65lbs of live rock, 2 cleaner shrimp, about 20 crabs of various type and 3 Chromis. That's really it. The tank is relatively open. I currently have a purple tang and I love her. I have read all about the tangs and adding them. I know that they are not really compatible except in 4's. <Fours?>   Question is can I add a blue tang to a tank this size. I have plenty of food resources and so I was wondering if 110 gal is big enough for the both of them.  I will strew around the rock to mess up the territory for the purple to help them settle in.  What do you think. John <If the Blue Tang (I take it this is Paracanthurus hepatus) is much smaller (less than half) or a bit larger than the Purple I give you very good odds of them getting along here. Only experience/trial will tell however. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mixing tangs Hi! I love the site and I spend most of my internet searching right here. I have a 110 gal pentagon tank with 65lbs of live rock, 2 cleaner shrimp, about 20 crabs of various type and 3 Chromis. That's really it. The tank is relatively open. I currently have a purple tang and I love her. I have read all about the tangs and adding them. I know that they are not really compatible except in 4's. <Fours?>  {  \\johnwatson Yes, the LFS, and they are very good, as well as your site, said that adding tangs in group of 4 all at the same time is a way to keep them. They will school in (small) groups but not 2's. The problem is that very few people have a tank large enough to handle that many of these fish.\\johnwatson } <... there are some Surgeonfishes that are found in associations of several to many individuals in the wild... most are best kept singly in captivity unless the system is large (hundreds plus gallons), and the usual admonition re similar shape, size acanthurids being placed in close quarters together. Bob Fenner>

Lessons to be learned - Mixing of Tang >Hi, guys... >>And gals. >I love your website, and your articles and WetWebMedia web-pages have been extremely valuable to me over the last few years -- for which I am very appreciative.  >>Nice to hear. >I have a 140G reef tank, which is doing well, and includes a 4" purple tang, royal Gramma, true percula, Midas goby, lawnmower and 3 small sapphire Chromises. The purple tang has been a good citizen. I was in need of some algae control, and my LFS (which is pretty reliable) recommended a Naso tang.  >>Ok. >I researched WetWebMedia, and learned that there is always some risk mixing tangs, even in a 140G tank, but went ahead and added a 4" Naso that had been eating well. I was hoping for the best, as the Naso lived with a purple tang at the LFS before I brought him home, and as the tang shapes were somewhat different.  >>Yes, best to mix genus, but also must include disparity in size, account for personalities, and so on. Purple tangs are one of those that are known to become QUITE aggressive, even with fish so dissimilar as to be entirely different families. >However, after proper acclimation and insertion, the purple tang immediately began "cutting" the Naso. I turned off the lights for the rest of the day, but had to go out of town for two days (my wife fed the fish for me in the interim, and added green dried seaweed in an effort to keep the purple tang happy and distracted).  >>Oh no. In EVERY case, when this behavior is seen, the fish MUST be immediately removed. It is cruel to leave it there. I also note you don't mention quarantine - another excellent reason to have a quarantine going is that, in this case, had you had it set up, the Naso could have been immediately removed to safe surroundings. >However, upon my return I couldn't find the Naso, and assume he was hounded to death by the purple tang. >>Shredded is more like it. A very bad mistake. >My question(s): Was I taking an unacceptable risk by adding the Naso, i.e., was this a dumb thing to do?  >>A Naso not large enough to stand up for itself, yes, I would have to agree. Also, 140 gallons is tight for the tangs that would become large enough to hold up to an established purple tang's advances. >Would a Kole have been a better choice?  >>No. >What lessons should I learn from this unfortunate experience?  >>That tangs are individuals, the wisdom of quarantine, not to add ANYTHING before a trip is planned, and that size disparity is one of the "musts" in mixing tangs. >Or is this just part of reef-keeping?  >>Absolutely not. >Thanks much, as always, for your thoughts. Best, Ralph Block >>You're quite welcome, and I am pleased that you went ahead and wrote in. Too many people would not wish to write of such a mistake. However, there are even MORE who would insist they can mix fishes that have a very real capacity to do terrible harm to one another, or would ignorantly do so not realizing the damage such a pretty fish can exact. Thank you for writing in. Marina
Lessons to be learned - Mixing of Tang another time
>Hi, Marina...Thanks much for your thoughtful response.  >>You're welcome, Ralph. I hoped I hadn't been too harsh, but also really wanted to make an impact on other folks reading this. >I feel worse knowing that I screwed things up, but it's better to know these things so they won't happen again.  >>Indeed, lessons learned. >Actually, I didn't mention it but the Naso was probably larger than the purple tang, length-wise, but obviously he wasn't a match for the purple's much more aggressive personality.  >>Nor could it stand up to a well-established resident. >I did call my LFS guy when the cutting began, and he said not to worry, that this happens often, that the Naso would find a quiet place to hide and that the purple would leave him alone in another day or so. WRONG!  >>VERY WRONG! Shame on HIM! He should know better. >I think I was deceived by the purple, as he has left all my other fish alone up until now. >>This is most often the case except with animals that are very similar and from whom it may perceive a potential territory threat, or food competition. >Another lesson in this important principle of fish having problems with similar types.  >>With some fish, absolutely, with other fishes, it's not. This is where I hope to impress upon others the importance of research. >And I will certainly look very hard at the quarantine tank recommendation.  >>Please do, it's often a lifesaver. >Thanks again. Best, Ralph >>You're welcome. Marina 

Purple Tang Hi, first I'd like to say that your site is very impressive and the chat line has a lot of great information.  <Thank you!>  I have a 30 gallon tank but I am changing to a 75 gallon tank Next Friday. I have 2 clown fish, 5 tiny green Chromis, 6 small crabs, a 2 inch coral beauty, a 4inch Foxface and a 3inch purple tang. For several months they have all gotten along together.  <Let me first comment on your first aquarium -- it sounds extremely overstocked.>  I plan on moving them into the 75 gallon. Also I plan on buying a powder blue tang and was told that would be ok because the size and shape are different from the purple tang.  <You are correct that the tangs differ a lot in shape. They shouldn't be a problem together, but this brings me to a different subject -- in my opinion, your tank is way too small for those tangs. I will continue this further down.>  However I was planning on purchasing another or even 2 more purple tangs. I know they are the most aggressive of all tangs but heard about the 3 or odd number of same tangs together rule. in your web page they talk about that. My question is if I have a powder blue and a purple tang, do I need to get one more purple tang to make 3 tangs or 2 more purple  tangs to make 3 of the same kind of tang. Please give me some advice.  <First of all, do not attempt to add all of the tangs to such a small aquarium. 75 gallons is not large enough to house a "harem" of tangs. Purple tangs can be extremely aggressive to others of their same species. Adding more than one can be a problem. Adding a total of 3 tangs may prove fatal to all of the tangs. I doubt very much that you will establish a "pecking order" among your tangs. While this may apply to discus (a freshwater fish), it will most likely not apply to keeping tangs. If you were interested doing such, I would recommend an aquarium over 200 gallons. This should provide enough space to "successfully" house many species of purple tangs together. Second, I would not attempt to keep more than two tangs for your aquarium. Both of the tangs you mentioned are extremely aggressive and are some of the tangs which are much more prone to disease than other tangs. I would aim to only keep one tang for your aquarium. Adding more may prove extremely stressful on the tang. To repeat myself, I strongly urge you to keep one tang for your 75 gallon.>  Thanks in ahead.  Harry <Take Care, Graham.>  

Re: Purple Tangs I have taken your advice and have not added any more purple tangs, only one in the tank. My question now is can I add a coral beauty and flame angel together. I heard no on dwarf angels but have read what Bob Fenner told another person they could with a 75 gallon tank if done when small and at the same time. is this true? if so does it have to be at the same time or can it be done at separate times? <If you're going to be adding both, you're going to be taking a huge risk. There is the likelihood that once these fish get settled in they will attack each other. Yes, it can be done. But, I would not recommend it. If you were to do it, add them both at the same time.> Also could I add a coral beauty and a watanabei angel together, would there be problems?  <I doubt there would be any problems. The Watanabei angelfish is generally a peaceful planktivore. They should be fine together.> One last question. I know dwarf angels tend to fight one another, is it the same if you have a dwarf and a full size angel together. <A dwarf and large angel should be fine together. However, your system is way too small for housing most larger species of angelfish unless you plan to soon upgrade them to an aquarium over 150 gallons.> please let me know and thanks for your wisdom on tangs earlier. <No problem. Take Care, Graham.> Harry

Tang(ks) Hi Graham,  <Hi Mark.>  Many thanks for you prompt reply.  <No problem.>  My tank dimensions are 40"L x 18"H x 14"D. I don't want to do anything detrimental to the Tang's health of course, but what negative effects, both on the tank, my other fish, and the Tang itself, would putting the Tang in my system have?  <Provided you do not have an extremely heavy biological load, the tang shouldn't be much of a problem to the tank. If anything, the tang may benefit the tank by consuming unwanted algae. As for other fish, the tang should also be fine as long as it's the last (or, one of the last) fish added to the aquarium. Once settled in, the yellow tang may become aggressive to new additions. It's important to add the most aggressive fish last to prevent any territorial aggression. As for the tang itself, it would do much better in a longer aquarium. They would be much less stressed in a longer aquarium than they would be crammed into a smaller aquarium. However, it's up to you whether you want to put a tang in your aquarium. The tang will certainly live in your aquarium -- however, as I said above, it would be better in a larger aquarium. As I stated in my previous email, tangs are grazing fish which will swim... a lot. If you want to get a tang, you're more than welcome to do so. If you do buy the tang, remember that it will grow. Eventually (within the years), you may want to upgrade to a larger aquarium. To repeat, the purchase is up to you. Just remember that the tang would do much better in a larger aquarium.>  Regards, Mark <Take Care Mark! Best wishes, Graham.> 

Quick Tangs stocking question (or rather Quick question...) I've a 240 gals tank and I'd like (in the future) to add 3 tangs : 1 Naso Lituratus, 1 Zebrasoma Veliferum and 1 Acanthurus Leucosternon or Achilles (I know those are difficult but my tank is too little for a Sohal and my LFS has always some GOOD shipped and quarantined Leucosternons).The main question is about aggressivity as i know all tangs more or less are very territorial so I'd like your advice about stocking order. (my opinion is Zebrasoma, Naso and Acanthurus) <I can tell you've obviously done some good background research beforehand (stocking list sounds great; none of the fish are in the same genus and all have a relatively different shape). As far as stocking order goes, I would add the Z. veliferum first, A. leucosternon second and the N. lituratus last. To prevent any aggression which may occur, add the new fish to the tank at night when the lighting is off. On a completely different topic (this may help in the future), the genus is also capitalized while the first letter of the species is not (such as Naso lituratus or Paracanthurus hepatus instead of Naso Lituratus or Paracanthurus Hepatus -- this is the proper way to spell many Latin or Greek terms). If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to email one of us back. Take Care, Graham.>

Tangling With Tangs (Pt. 2) Thank you for quick response. <My pleasure!> I appreciated all your advice. If I change my original plan to just add 1 yellow tang or purple tang only to my current tank (with 1 Sailfin), do you think that they can tolerate each other? <It is possible in a large tank, but the introduction of another Zebrasoma species into a tank which houses an established Zebrasoma can result in severe problems for the newcomer...I'd advise against it> The reason I doubt is because I have seen a friend who keeps 1 Sailfin tang together with 2 brown tang for >1 year without problem (only 60 gal tank). <Wow! He'll definitely need to upgrade to a much larger tank! The Sailfin can hit 15" in length easily, and needs a very large tank to even come close to living out a natural life span...If you intend to keep several tangs together (in an appropriate-sized tank, I might add), it is best to add them all together as juveniles to help maximize chances for success and to minimize potential aggression> Can you please advise the ranking with Sailfin tang to your previous ranking  (Yellow, Purple, Hippo, Naso)? <Well, the Sailfin is right there with he Yellow Tang, IMO, in terms of hardiness. I really love this fish. The problem is it's huge adult size, and need for enormous amounts of space. This makes an otherwise great fish one that I would not recommend for most hobbyists.> Have a nice day ! Note : I'm always be prepared to move to larger tank if necessary. <Well, that is important- but if you intend to keep a Sailfin, or a group of tangs, you really need a huge tank (like 500-750 gallons or more, in my opinion) to adequately provide for them. A lot of people may disagree with me, but if you've ever seen these fishes in the wild, you'll understand their need for large amounts of space. It's more humane, and a much better way to go in the long run.> Best regards, PJ <All the best, PJ. Good luck! Scott F.>

Tang ID 2/18/04 Thanks again Anthony I really appreciate your time and information. <and I do appreciate your willingness to learn and grace while I'm grumpy :) Sincerely> I think you are right, though the only reason I did write you is because I didn't know what I had in my tank ( Vlamingi). When I said that I had mostly tangs I should have listed them,  I don't have my tank pack full of tangs. <ahhh, good. Indeed I did infer that "mostly tangs" in a 125 gallon tank meant more than a few. You had me worried :p> The Vlamingi is one, Naso lituratus ( that I wanted to be my show fish ) then a purple tang. Other fish I have are 2 false Percs, six line wrasse, and 2 lyre tail Anthias, oh and a rabbit fish. I've had the purple tang, and rabbit fish since I started my first tank that's been two years now. The lipstick and Vlamingi I've had both for a little over a year know but the Vlamingi has tripled in size since I bought him. <yes... they really are bruisers, and commonly outgrow even large home aquaria. Some public aquariums refuse to accept them as donations because it enables out industry to continue to import/buy these large fishes for inappropriately small tanks> He had to be only the size of a 50 cent piece when I put him in my tank. The lipstick tang has widened out but still has only grown 1/2 inch in length. Is the growth rate of these fish that different? <many would say so, yes> The Vlamingi , rabbit and lipstick tang all swim together all day. The purple tang spends most of the day in and out of the rock work as well as the six line wrasse. Will there be any sings of stress on the vlamingi or do you think I should trade him now? <having tripled in size in one year in on par and does not bode well for his residency. As a subadult, it really cannot stay in  125 and continue to grow normally/well... especially shared with another Naso species and other fishes. I'd look for a bigger house for him bud> I'm not trying to kill the little guy by waiting till there is a problem but he is gorgeous. I would hate to see him go. Well once again I have taken to much time. Thanks again. Scott B <Without the other Naso in the tank, the Vlamingi could stay a bit longer... a decision to be made. But an easy one IMO - the Vlamingi is a public aquarium fish. Best of luck, and thanks again for your interest/desire to be a conscientious aquarist! Kindly, Anthony>

1 2 many tangs! Aloha WW crew,<Howdy!> Is it possible to house a yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) with a convict tang (Acanthurus triostegus) in a well lit PC 96wX4 + PC 65wX2 75 gal reef tank with 80lbs live rock?<I would not try this as they are the same body shape which could cause aggression problems.  Also the convict and the yellow both get large, I would only add one of the two, preferably the yellow.  Cody> thanks Rob

Three Tangs Is a Crowd (2/5/04) Hi, <Hi, Steve Allen Tonight> I have been reading around for hours trying to find something similar to our little situation with no luck. So here goes: We recently (Dec) took over a tank (60 gal) that has been up for over a year. It came with a Clown, Achilles Tang, Yellow, and Regal (the Achilles being approx 4 in and they get smaller from there) <When was each of these added?> we also have an anemone (LTA), clam and fire scallop and three horseshoe crabs. Although the fish were there when we picked up the tank I feel like they were new mostly because they are little guys. So far everyone seems to be happy. Then we lost an anemone and this seemed to cause our ammonia to increase from 0 to .25 to 1.0 we have FINALLY gotten it back down by cutting out the flakes that we had gotten from the previous owners and went to Brine (which I now see leaves something to be desired) and Nori. All other readings: salinity 1.023, ph 8.2, nitrite 0 (sometimes trace), nitrate 10, calcium 432.  So the point is- our Achilles who was normally dark black and well colored and stopped "coloring up" in the morning. I mean that he/she stays the grayish color and is generally less active now, not lethargic though. Also I had taken him from the tank because of white spots and treated him and fw dipped him (as well as the regal- who looks excellent now hope it lasts) <Not likely if you have Ich in your tank.> both seemed to be doing well - yes I am going to get a q tank this weekend, but we got this tank as we moved into our place and we are still getting in place. So, he stays gray and now he has a dark spot near the top of his body it has a brown color to is and you can really only see it when he is the gray color.  I am not good at descriptions but it resembles a fingerprint and it is getting larger. Also his lips don't look quite normal anymore they seem more extended, and he darts about occasionally (not his typical movements). Could this be from the blue <Methylene?> dip and fw dip I gave him, or from lack of nutrients with the brine, or some other disease? Please help I have a pretty decent understanding of the tank and system just not of diseases. I am not sure that he has much time left.  Also we have a magnum 350 <Not a very good choice for a marine aquarium>, two powerheads and two bio wheels 4 55w compacts (2 ak). Note as of yesterday I think that our filter is not working correctly, it will not stay full (possible contributor to ammonia level?) and I will be getting another one also this weekend- best suggestions?) <Get a good protein skimmer instead of a canister filter. Do you have a ump or do you need to hang it on the back of the tank? For mechanical/chemical filtration, I prefer power filters to canisters.> Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you sorry about the length... <No problem.> Melissa <OK Melissa, sounds like you guys dove right into the deep end here. You have a very difficult set up to deal with. Do you have any good books to read? If not, go get "The New Marine Aquarium" by Michael Paletta and "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by our very own Robert Fenner.  Your tank is too small for your Tangs. First of, they will eventually fight to the death unless in a huge tank. Not only that, each individual you have needs a bigger tank even as the only Tang in a system. The Yellow needs at least 75G, the Regal 120G and the Achilles even bigger. Achilles Tangs are not hardy at all and not many survive in tanks. They need a big tank with impressive circulation and LOTS of unfettered swimming space. There is no possibility of you keeping this fish alive in your system. Yours may well have ich, and may be in shock from the FW dip (though this was the right thing to do.) The best thing you could do for this fish if possible is to find fish store that has a hospital tank to try to nurse him back to health and sell him to someone with a better system for him. If your white spots were ich, your other Tangs will almost certainly get it. Search WWM for more on Ich. Best treatment is a hospital tank for all of your fish for a month and 6-8 weeks of no fish in your tank.  If I were you, I'd unload all of the Tangs and switch to more beginner-type fish that would fit in your tank. The Royal Gramma, Shrimp Gobies and Firefish come immediately to mind.  Lastly, anemones are not for beginners. They require perfect water conditions and intense lighting. Read about them on WWM, but I doubt you will be able to keep the LTA alive either.  I hope this is not too discouraging to you, but I must be honest/realistic. You will be much more successful with a different mix. Do spend some hours reading the books I mentioned and the relevant materials on WWM. Also, do be patient. It is the key to long-term success. Hope this helps. I look forward to hearing of your progress.>

Tang Troubles (2/4/04)   Hi Crew, How's the weather today? <Where Bob is (Kona) I'll bet it's nice. Here in SLC it's snowing and cold.>   I had a tang acting very weird yesterday and thought you might have some idea what happened. My tank is 90 Gallons, 6" DSB, with  Live Rock. With the Yellow tang I have 2 Percs and 1 Orchid Dottyback. Ammonia and Nitrite are 0, nitrate at 20 and ph at about 8.3. I came home to find the yellow tang upside down on the sand at the base of some live rock. I helped him up and he swam in somersaults for a few minutes and then seemed very dazed. He acted like he was blind... Didn't react to my hand on the glass and kept bumping into the walls.  Well I did a huge water change and by the end of the night he was swimming normally and eating algae again. <Smart move.> I couldn't think of anything I'd done differently lately that might have leeched some chemical into the water. The only thing I could think of was do Orchid Dottybacks have any kind of Toxic venom if they bite other fish? <No> He can get kinda nippy sometimes at feeding time. Or is it most likely  that there was a contaminant in my water? <Yes> Thanks for any ideas you might have. Bill  <Hard to say for sure what went wrong, but strongly suspicious for some sort of toxin. Do you have a sea cucumber by chance or some other potentially toxic invert. The water change was a good move. Be prepared to do this again a couple of times. Do consider running carbon and/or Polyfilter for a few days. Was any sort of cleaning or other chemical treatment done in your house? I hope the Tang is still doing well. Steve Allen>

Sohals and Zebrasoma (Yellow Hawaiian) Hi Bob...hope I'm not bothering you.  Just read your article on Sohals in WetWebMedia (great article by the way) and was wanting to ask a quick question.  There's a beautiful Sohal down at my LFS that I've been eyeing for some time now and think he would make an excellent "show" fish for my 110 gallon reef tank.  However I currently have a Zebrasoma flavescens that has been very successful in that tank.  Do you think that mixing different spp. of surgeonfish (not simultaneously either) is possible...especially when talking about non-conspecific spp. in terms of shape and size? <Will likely get along for the interim (months), but the Sohal will become "king of the tank"... and eventually too large for the 110... Oh, I would add any other fish livestock you intend ahead of its introduction> Most literature recommends adding surgeonfish simultaneously...but I haven't really been able to get any comment on adding different spp. of surgeons at different times. <Different genera/shapes... mix better than congeners... but there is a wide range of individual variation... the bigger the system the better, the smaller species, smaller individuals first...> Any thoughts? Thanks!  Michael Dunkle  Rollinsville, Colorado <Wish you were out here diving with me in Hawai'i. Am presently out of dive partners. Bob Fenner>

SW compatibility Hi, Is it safe to add a Powder Blue tang and a true Percula clownfish (tank raised) along with my stars and stripes puffer, 5 damsels, Clarks clown and a yellow Hawaiian tang in my 75 gallon SW tank? <this will be to many fish in the long run, also I would hesitate before adding a powder blue tang, many of these fish simply do not adapt well to captivity and need almost pristine water conditions in order to survive. Also your yellow tang and the powder blue may fight constantly.> I was told that you can't put 2 tangs in the tank because they get aggressive towards each other, is this true? <in most cases YES> Also when adding a true Percula clownfish, is it safe to add just 1 or do I need a pair and are they aggressive towards other clowns? <DO NOT MIX TWO DIFFERENT SPECIES OF CLOWNFISH> Considering my Clarks clown is bigger then the true Percs would get, I don't think they would bother each other. All of my fish in my tank are  pretty peaceful fish except those damsels when it comes to feeding time. Thanks a lot, -wazuh2o-<I would forget about the powder blue and the Percula clownfish. The larger Clarkii clown will probably kill him. Good luck, IanB> P.S. Great site!<Thanks>

Compatible Compadres? II >Marina, I do have great filtration but I have heard tangs don't do well with other tangs and I was told not to get a Copperband butterfly because they were delicate and some require a special diet, Is this true? Thanks >>Tang mixing is indeed tricky, but it can be done.  Copperband butterflies are not delicate in the world of butterflies, and are actually quite often used to control the pest anemone Aiptasia.  I've not known them to be especially picky eaters.  Marina

Tangs--Two's a Crowd in a 75 (1/6/2004)  Hi Bob- <Steve Allen tonight>  I have recently upgraded from a 29 to a 75 (about 2 months ago). Currently I have the following livestock:  1 Yellow Tang  2 Ocellaris Clowns  1 Royal Gramma  1 Dwarf Pygmy Angel  1 Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp  5 Peppermint shrimp  1 Serpent star  1 Brittle star  2 Sea cucumbers  6 Astraea snails  12 blue leg hermits  1 Small bubble tip anemone. <Do you have enough light??>  1 small bubble coral  1 small group of Sun polyps <Are you aware of their special feeding needs>  1 Finger leather coral  and a few mushrooms.  <A nice mix, though I fear for your anemone and your sun polyps. Do read carefully about and provide for their special needs.>  I have about 40 lbs of live rock and will be adding another 30 lbs of live rock very soon. My wife would like to add an additional Yellow Tang and possibly a Regal Blue Tang. The LFS say to either have 1 yellow tang or 3, but not just 2. Is that information valid or can I go with just 2? Can I also house a Regal Blue Tang with the Yellow Tang(s)? <No. First off, your tank is too small for more than one Tang of any sort. Secondly, it is too small for a Regal Blue Tang at all.> Lastly should I wait to add new livestock until I add the rest of the Live rock? <Yes>  I know I have probably passed my limit on questions, but I want to be responsible about this and not chance losing any animals that I already have, or may come to own. <Tattoo that on the back of your credit card hand. Seriously though, this is good thinking. You have a nice tank. No sense risking it with a poor livestock choice. I'd suggest you consider one of the following Shrimp Goby, Banggai Cardinalfish, Flasher Wrasse or Canary Wrasse (Though the last one might go after small shrimp as it grows). I'd suggest a Dart fish or Firefish, but I fear your Tang will become more aggressive as it grows and would intimidate these skittish fish to much. Go buy "Marine Fishes" by Scott W. Michael for an excellent species-by-species guide. Enjoy the search process. Skip Tang #2 and find something more suitable to your tank. Thank you in advance for your help. Rich <Hope this does help.> 

- Adding Another Tang -  Hi Bob-  <Not Bob today, but JasonC...>  I have recently upgraded from a 29 to a 75 (about 2 months ago). Currently I have the following livestock:  1 Yellow Tang  2 Ocellaris Clowns  1 Royal Gramma  1 Dwarf Pygmy Angel  1 Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp  5 Peppermint shrimp  1 Serpent star  1 Brittle star  2 Sea cucumbers  6 Astraea snails  12 blue leg hermits  1 Small bubble tip anemone.  1 small bubble coral  1 small group of Sun polyps  1 Finger leather coral  and a few mushrooms.  I have about 40 lbs of live rock and will be adding another 30 lbs of live rock very soon. My wife would like to add an additional Yellow Tang and possibly a Regal Blue Tang. The LFS say to either have 1 yellow tang or 3, but not just 2. <Hmm... I wouldn't try more than one of the same tang in a tank of this size.> Is that information valid or can I go with just 2? <I'd go with the Hippo Tang.> Can I also house a Regal Blue Tang with the Yellow Tang(s)? <One or the other, but not both - again, would skip trying to pair the yellow tangs, disaster will likely result.> Lastly should I wait to add new livestock until I add the rest of the Live rock? <I would.>  I know I have probably passed my limit on questions, but I want to be responsible about this and not chance losing any animals that I already have, or may come to own. Thank you in advance for your help. Rich  <Cheers, J -- > 

- Acanthurus lineatus  - Dear Bob, <Actually, JasonC here today...> I am really interested in purchasing a Lined Surgeonfish.  My dealer gets them regularly and right now has a 5 inch individual.  He has been there for about 3 weeks.  He is very fat and has great coloration.  When I go up to the glass he becomes very curious and checks me out.  I have been there a few times to observe him and every time he is eating algae and Mysis shrimp.  If I purchase him, he will be placed in an 90 gallon FOWLR aquarium with a 3 inch Yellow Tang.  Water quality is excellent and the water movement is about 12 times turnover.  There are a ton of hiding spots for him and the other tang to hide.  Do you see problems with them getting along in this size of tank? <Yes... these fish are well known to be hyper-aggressive in captivity and with growth. Additionally need a lot of space, more than a 90 gallon tank will provide.> If size is a problem I will be upgrading to a larger tank in the next year. <Then I'd wait to get one of these until then... keeping in mind that it still might very well kill many of your other fish.> There is a lot of algae growing in the tank and I will give them Nori soaked in Zoe and maybe Mysis at least twice a day. Thank you for your advice. Sam Reef (Real name) <Cheers, J -- >

Oh, Those Nasty Tangs (12/13/2003) I have recently started a 30 gallon marine aquarium and in the LFS there was a display of many tangs. I bought a yellow tang, and also a Sailfin. <Bad impulse decision> The first couple of days the two fish got along very well, but eventually the yellow tang started to get very aggressive towards the Sailfin and eventual killed him. <Totally expected. Tangs can only be kept together in very large tanks. Not only that, Sailfin Tangs grow to 16" in length. They need an absolute minimum 180G tank, preferably bigger.> I've recently discovered that yellow tangs can become extremely aggressive and territorial when it 'comes to other tangs. <Next time, research first, then buy.> Here's my question, I also have a watchman goby, will the yellow tang eventually turn on him?  and also what kind of fish are compatible with a yellow tang? <None in this tiny tank. The Tang will grow to 7" or so and will feel crowded in there even alone.> <My advice is to return the Tang unless you plan on getting at least a 75G aquarium within the 6-12 months. You need to do a lot more research on the sorts of fish you should be keeping. Start with Michael Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium" and Bob Fenner's aptly titled "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist." The philosophy of the latter is vital to the future of marine aquarium keeping. So many of these fish are wild-caught. Every marine aquarist has a duty and responsibility to care for them wisely and minimize losses. Never buy a fish (or any animal) before you know how to care for it. I am personally remorseful for the animals who have died due to my ignorance. Best to learn from the mistakes of others and not from the deaths of additional fish. Sorry to preach, but I feel stronger and stronger about this as time goes by. The needless slaughter in this hobby is immense. If we all become "Conscientious Marine Aquarists" the death rate will plummet and we will avoid the sort of meddlesome government regulation they already enjoy in the EU. If you want to stick to a small tank, return the Tang and look to a few smaller, less-active fish like the Royal Gramma, Firefish, Flame Hawkfish, or perhaps an ocellaris clown. Enjoy the search.> HELP ME PLEASE! <Hope this helps, even if it hurts to hear. Steve Allen>

- Mixing Tangs - Hello, I'm in the process of setting up an 85 gallon Fish-only Marine Tank.  I was wondering if I could mix a Yellow Tang and an Orange Shouldered Tang together. <I wouldn't put two tangs in a tank of this size.> There would be tons of rock for the fish to hide in, and fresh macroalgae would be provided weekly from a large refugium. <Still to small for two of a type of fish that need room to swim.> If these two species couldn't co-exist what other species would you recommend. <You can have several other fish, I just wouldn't put two tangs in this tank.> I will probably get the Yellow Tang no matter what.  So if these two aren't compatible what other kind of tang could live with the Yellow Tang. <Really... I wouldn't put two tangs of ANY type or any size in this tank.> Thank you for time. Sam
<Cheers, J -- >

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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