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FAQs on Achilles Tangs Stocking/Selection

Related Articles: Acanthurus TangsNaso

Related FAQs: Acanthurus Tangs 1Achilles Tangs 2, & FAQs on: Achilles Tangs Identification, Achilles Tangs Behavior, Achilles Tangs Compatibility, Achilles Tangs Systems, Achilles Tangs Feeding, Achilles Tangs Disease, Achilles Tangs Reproduction, & Acanthurus Tangs 2, Acanthurus Tangs 3, Acanthurus ID, Acanthurus Behavior, Acanthurus Compatibility, Acanthurus Selection, Acanthurus Systems, Acanthurus Feeding, Acanthurus Disease, Acanthurus Reproduction, Powder Blue Tangs, A. sohal, A. nigricans & A. japonicus, Surgeons In General, Tang ID, Selection, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease,

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Achilles Tang        10/27/17
Greetings WWM Crew!
<Hey Dan!>
I hope all is well. I have been wanting to keep a small (~4") Achilles tang in my 5-ft. mixed reef tank. I understand I will have to move the Achilles at some point, but I think I will be able to enjoy a small one for a couple of years.
<At least... if raised from small, a five foot long system might do for several years>
My aquascape is open with swim throughs. Strong, non-linear flow. I have an efficient nutrient export system where my nitrates (<5ppm) and phosphate (<0.03ppm) are low.
<All good>
All my inhabitants are healthy and happy with an occasional spat between the purple & yellow tangs.
<Ah, yes>
I have a lot of wrasse for pest control & aesthetic reasons: 3 leopard wrasses (bipartitus, meleagris, and choati) ~4" each, red Coris wrasse ~7", 2 different fairy wrasses ~ 4" each, yellow Coris ~4", melanurus wrasse ~4"
2 Zebrasomas for algae control: purple tang ~6" and yellow tang ~4"
2 cleaner shrimps
10-12 peppermint shrimps for Aiptasia control
various snails
My husbandry in terms of feeding is 4-5 different types of algae based pellets in the morning and then LRS, Rods, & PE Mysis at night.
<Tres bien!>
My main concern is aggression with the Zebrasomas, particularly with the yellow tang. He is just territorial with a particular cave in my reef
tank, otherwise he does not bother anyone. I can always use my acclimation
box and/or mirror on the side of the tank trick to reduce aggression, but
re-aquascaping is highly unlikely due to my corals. So, I want your
opinion if it is a good, worthwhile endeavor to try a small achilles tang?
<If the Achilles is small; as you state, about four inches overall or less,
you should see only minor "jousting" twixt it and the Zebrasomas>
Many thanks in advance.
<As many welcomes. Do please write back w/ your observations. Bob Fenner>
Re: Achilles Tang      11/1/17

Hi Bob or Crew at WWM,
<Hey Dan>
Thank you for the quick response with my last correspondence and your invitation to report back on my quest to find an Achilles tang. As you know, the Hawaiian legislation is making the search difficult with all my LFS. Luckily, I just found a suitable size, 3 ½ inch Achilles at LiveAquaria.
<Ah yes, and good>
I have the following questions regarding the quarantine process:
1. I have a 15 gallon quarantine tank that has served me well in terms of acclimating difficult to keep fishes like my leopard wrasses. What are your thoughts in terms of a 3 ½ inch Achilles, would it be more beneficial to have a short QT period (~ 1 week) vs. a full QT period (2+ weeks)?
<Likely somewhere either one or two weeks; only to be determined by your observations of the fish's apparent health, stability>
The thought here is to get the Achilles in a larger, surging display tank with stable water parameters asap.
My methodology is always to observe and then react based on how the fish is behaving.
<Mine as well>
2. When it comes to treating delicate fishes with medication, I do not treat my QT tank if the fish does not show any sign of parasite/disease. I think copper, etc. will cause undue stress and maybe more deleterious, especially when it is not necessary.
<Very harsh on this species. I would resort to other (albeit less effective treatment moda: extreme drop in spg... 1.010; perhaps consecutive pH adjusted freshwater dips/baths, and moves to re-set up system... to exclude intermediate phases>
I may perform a preventive dip prior to transferring it to the main display tank.
<Yes I would; as well as one on the way into quarantine from shipping>
I use Blue Life Safety Stop, it is a 2-parts dip (part 1 is formalin and part 2 is Methylene blue).
<Ah yes; am very familiar>
If the Achilles shows no sign of parasite/disease, should I even use the dip at all?
<I would dip unless the fish is shaky from being moved>
Again, I want to minimize as much stress as possible.
Being in this hobby for years, I always appreciate your work & contribution to help hobbyists like myself and further this niche, challenging, but rewarding hobby.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Q re: Tang behaviour, compatibility. Incl. Achilles f'       10/17/16
Hello crew. Firstly, thank you so much for existing! You guys do a fantastic job for our community. Truly invaluable.
<We're so glad/fulfilled to find our efforts of use to you, fellow aquarists>
To the point. I've been reefin' for about 14 years. At present I have a 180g (6'x2'x2') reef with about a 2" sand bed and about 150lb of live rock.
The inhabitants thus far include an assortment of small fish (4 - BG Chromis, 3 - lyretail Anthias, 2 - yellow watchmen, 2 - clownfish, 1 - mandarin dragonette), a one-spot foxface and a yellow tang. I recently lost a Naso I had had for about six years and, after what felt like an appropriate mourning period and approval through my domestic legislature,
I decided to get a tang I'd always wanted - an achilles. I decided to purchase it from LiveAquaria in hopes of procuring a genuinely healthy specimen. My question is about compatibility and 'normal behaviour' twixt surgeon fish genera.
<Ah yes; a concern with these and their related (the Foxface/Siganids) families of fishes. >
You see, my yellow tang was perfectly content living with the foxface and the Naso, but with the similarly size/shaped achilles it seems to have something to prove. I'm confused though; anytime I've seen fish dislike each other, it has been abundantly obvious and relentless. With these two it actually feels like they are just... sorting out a pecking order?
<Yes... to degrees...>
Is that a real thing amongst tangs?
<Indeed it is... they are constantly looking, testing, challenging what they consider competitors... for feeding area>
They swim together, and they can eat in relatively close proximity to one another with no issues. But they also have intermittent spats of posturing and the occasional light crossing of tails. They, along with the foxface are in an extended time-out in my 80g bare bottom QT with some copper to knock back some ich I saw after Styx was introduced to the main display. They have several lengths of 3" PVC (they stinking love that stuff, swim in and out for hours - I like watching them in the QT as much as in the main display...) and seem to be doing fine with the near constant exposure to
one another.
In your near-infinite experience, is this a situation that would be best ended now by trading my yellow tang for something less confrontational, or is establishing a hierarchy likely?
<Mmm; if it were me/mine, I'd try introducing the new/Achilles with all present. DO select for a small specimen.... 3-4" overall length if possible... Such that it will be subdominant to the current Acanthuroids>
I had also thought to re-introduce the foxface back to the main display first (in about 2 more weeks), then the achilles a day or so after, and then the YT to kind of take the YT down a peg. I thought that Zebrasoma and Acanthurus would differ enough to tolerate each other, but now I'm not so sure. Advice?
<As stated. You will see more "jousting", but as long as there's not physical damage, I would not be concerned>
Thank you so much,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Achilles Tang - Possibility of Addition   9/28/12
Greetings, WWM Crew,
I appreciate the information you have posted on your website, which has taught me some risks of the Achilles Tang. I currently have a 280g tank (72" x 30" x 30") and
I was wondering whether I could safely add an Acanthurus Achilles doing only a preventative freshwater dip. The other tank inhabitants include an Oxycirrhites
Typus (3"), a Chelmon Rostratus (4"), a Siganus Vulpinus (2.5"), a Siganus Magnificus (6") and a Siganus Puellus (3"). The tank reads 1.025 for salinity, 0 for ammonia, 0 for nitrate and 0 for nitrite using an API test kit. The Achilles tang will probably be 4.5" to 5" long,
<I'd start w/ one an inch smaller>

and I will be providing flow via Koralia pumps and a Tunze Wavebox. We are also considering adding an Acanthurus Leucosternon
<Mmm, quarantine this and the Achilles for a few weeks ahead of introduction>
or an Acanthurus Sohal,
<I wouldn't w/ the other Acanthurus and Siganids here... too mean>
and a Zebrasoma Xanthum <xanthurum>, though I would appreciate your advice on addition order and whether or not these are acceptable additions considering the tank size.
Thanks in advance,
Justin J
<Welcome in time. BobF>

Should I, shouldn't I... an Achilles Tang. Stkg./sel.     12/11/11
Greetings to Bob et al. at WWM!
<And to you and yours>
Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying this holiday season.
I've read and re-read the information on the Achilles tang here at WWM and many places on line. I still can't figure it out so I guess it's time for me to ask some educated questions of Bob and Crew.
My system is 72x24x30 housing a 7" Emperor Angel, 5" Powder Blue Tang, pair of clown fishes, and a Sleeper Banded Goby. Water flow supplied by two MP 60s and one MP 40 running at 50+%.
I was thinking of re-stocking after several recent losses due to Cryptococcal infection, so off I went to my trusted LFS - just to browse. The owner is a good friend and so I always go around the isles feeding Spectrum pellets to his fish, as one of the things I really enjoy is watching fishes eat. To make a long story shorter, I found a 2 1/2" off colored Achilles tang eating pellets like he thought he was a goldfish. I didn't really believe it, so I went every couple of days and this guy consistently eats pellets with gusto. Since then, he has regained his coloration somewhat, still looking a little on the thin side. It has been three weeks, and he now swims right up to me when he sees me! Yeah, I know it's fishy love!
The LFS owner has agreed to hold him for two weeks during which he is treating his system with a combination medication that he got from Dr. Aukes of National Fish Pharmaceuticals. He told me it was a combination Copper/Praziquantel and he is dosing his system once a week. I question how effective this is as he has a HUGE skimmer and there are new fish introduced twice a week.
<Often such situations are akin to Russian roulette, equines leaving the barn, all visiting the free clinic on varying weeks>
Anyways, I was wondering what you think my chances of success will be with this particular fish - yes, please bring out your crystal ball!
<Not good in general; and with the A. leucosternon in place... poorer>
My thoughts are, he is small, he can go into my 20 gallon long while I QT him, treat with PraziPro, then Cupramine for 3 weeks at 0.35 ppm, then watch another two weeks, if all is well, into the DT he goes!
My gut is telling me to stick with "easy" fish, like the Tomini Tang (Ctenochaetus tominiensis)
<Yes I would>

and forget the Achilles but he is just SOO CUTE!
I am excited to find such a personable specimen, yet I also know that I am one who really enjoy the health and happiness of my fishie friends. I am afraid that my system or QT process will not be optimal and he will be killed by me.
Please let me know your thoughts!
Thank you, as always,
Jamie Barclay
<Another system... Bob Fenner>
Re: Should I, shouldn't I...an Achilles Tang, plus quarantine methodology choice/s    12/12/11

Good morning, Bob!
<Hey Jamie>
Thank you for your candid reply! And, thank you for making me a more "conscientious" host to my marine friends! It is very interesting to admit that once I read your answer, I felt a great weight taken off my shoulders.
I can look at my tank and "see" the Tomini doing well in it. I have "stress" when I imagine the Achilles. I guess that with this hobby, like you have said so many times, it is a decision that we make and with each comes its consequences!
<Ah yes>
Here is another question. In light of what I've shared with you regarding the "treatment" that all fishes go through at my LFS and the fact that there are two shipments in each week...Do you think it is correct to make the assumption that the thinking that "they are treating the fish" or "quarantining" the fish LFS is completely false?
<Not completely, but close...>
The fishes are still being exposed to whatever ailments that are introduced with each shipment...So, if a fish has been there for a couple of weeks, looking well and appears to be well adjusted to aquarium life - eating well, associating well with people and its surroundings. I should not hesitate to bring it home to my own quarantine. If left there longer, it will just be subjected to more possible scrooges and stresses?
On quarantine, and I've read most things at WWM and online, there seems to be three main trends:
1. Passive quarantine - get the fish eating, watch, observe for 6 weeks.
If nothing, into the DT it goes. Treat only with obvious signs of infection.
2. Cupramine plus Praziquantel Prophylactic Quarantine - get the fish to eat, once eating treat with 3 weeks Cupramine, then Praziquantel for a week or two.
3. Hyposalinity Quarantine - get fish to eat, lower salinity to 1.010 then watch for 4-6 weeks, if nothing, then start raising salinity after arriving
at 1.023 then Praziquantel for another week or two, then DT.
The forth type of quarantine is less popular it seems, and that one is - get fish to eat, treat with Quinine Sulfate or Chloroquine diphosphate through one treatment (7 days for QS and 10 days for CD), then watch for two weeks. If all is well, then DT.
Which one do you see the home aquarist succeed at more often?
<The first... as it is by far the most common>
Again, Bob, Thanks a Million!
You have, again, saved me from another headache!
My husband wants to thanks you most sincerely as I just told him that the Achilles is off our list.
<Cheers, BobF>
Re: Should I, shouldn't I...an Achilles Tang   12/12/11

Dear Bob,
In your opinion, which is the most effective quarantine procedure?
<Depends on the species, family involved>
I guess, the most thorough will be the Cupramine plus Prazi, but I also worry about exposing the fish to unnecessary copper which I've read often shorten the fish's lives. What are your thoughts?
<FW dips/baths... w/ formalin... if determined reasonable... This is gone over on WWM. B>
Thank you!

Re: Marine Stocking List, Achilles Tang, Rosenblatt's Jaw sel. -- 3/14/10
Thanks for the quick reply, just a couple follow up questions, first, since I already have the Powder Brown Tang, he's about 4" max, and I will be adding the Achilles Tang last should he be larger or smaller to diffuse aggression between the two?
<Discernibly smaller... Large/r Acanthurus achilles rarely do well being caught, held, shipped... specimens in the 3-4" or so overall length range are best for aquarium use (to start)>
My second question is, my
research on the Blue-Spotted Jawfish all suggests that his temperature range is at least 74F-80F with some places suggesting 76F-82F,
<No my friend. I have been out in this species range... the water temperature is rarely in the lower 70's... I'm attaching an article written for the pulp 'zines (I'm a content provider to the hobby and trade), that is not yet in print. Please don't post this on the Net... for your perusal>
I'm not implying that you're wrong it just seems everywhere has their own idea, I plan on keeping my tank at a steady 78F which seems to be a happy median on the requirements of the fish I plan to keep.
<And as you'll see this species has other "not often supplied"
environmental needs (deep sand bed of material suitable for burrow making, width of system...) that almost always results in much shortened life spans in captivity>
My priority is the health of my fish so even though the Blue Spotted Jawfish is a beautiful fish and I'd love to keep one, if I can't accommodate it properly I won't risk it.
Thanks again,
<Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Mixing Tangs (Can be done, but'¦) -- 09/19/09
I know I know the title alone probably has you cringing.
<<Not at all, mate. If the system is large enough and consideration given/configured for such, this can be done. My own 375g display houses five Tang species from four genera>>
But I'm not "new to the game" of fish keeping by and large and this is why I'm seeking advice.
<<I have more than three decades in the hobby myself'¦but can always listen to some advice>>
I'll readily admit I'm SOMEWHAT of a risk taker with my fish (as far as species selection).
<<You should read some of Dr. Ellen Thayer's adventures/thoughts on marine fish keeping>>
Currently I have a 125 reef with a 30 gal sump.
<<Mmm'¦marginal for a multiple-Tang system'¦but much will depend on your species selection here>>
At least IMO lightly populated with an African color variant Midas Blenny, Neon Goby, Copper Banded Butterfly (Like I said I'm a risk taker ;P
<<I have one as well>>
He eats like a hog and I've had him for a while and waited for quite a long time to get one that I could demonstrably see eating frozen before buying),
<<Can make all the difference>>
Scooter Blenny (Same as Copperband waited a long time to find one that seemed suitable to be taken home)
<<Indeed'¦yet more suitable/often easier to keep than the 'more popular' Dragonettes offered>>
and my newest addition, which is a Half Black Mimic Tang (Acanthurus chronixis).
<<Neat fish'¦one of my five is the 'Chocolate' Mimic Tang (A. pyroferus)>>
There's one more fish I'd really really really like to get which is probably going to cause an eye roll, and that's an Achilles Tang.
<<One of my absolute faves'¦and one I don't have'¦but not because they aren't available. This Tang is surprisingly delicate as Tangs go'¦just acquiring a healthy and undamaged specimen can be a challenge'¦and it requires a very large system with very dynamic water movement and much swimming space for its long-term good health>>
This would be the last fish added to the system and will probably be a while coming due to the fact that they're hard for my LFS to get and I am selective about what I'll shell out cash for. But assuming I find a healthy looking Achilles on the smallerish side as they can be aggressive is it plausible to keep it in the tank with the Mimic without causing problems.
<<I have an Acanthurus leucosternon housed with my A. pyroferus with no issue (the Mimic was introduced/established before the Powder Blue was added)'¦so housing aggressive species together can certainly be done. But I think the bigger issue here is the size of your system and its suitability for the Achilles, period>>
Obviously I'm primarily worried about the Achilles beating up the Mimic as the Mimic is of the more timid variety of tang and the Achilles is a no nonsense type of fish when it comes to running the tank.
<<Agreed'¦but behaviors can be modified/intensified when fishes are kept under unsuitable conditions>>
They are both Acanthurus which is generally a no-no except in very large systems, but I'm wondering if the fact that one is a Mimic of a pygmy angel might allow me to get away with it what with the addition of the Achilles last.
<<Honestly my friend, I don't consider your tank big enough for the Achilles on its own>>
Your advice on this matter is greatly appreciated as I've gotten nothing but good stuff from you guys in the past!
<<I would love to be able to tell you to 'go for it,' but the truth of the matter is I would not expect the Achilles to survive'¦and certainly not thrive'¦in the long term. I do think however that you could house two tangs in this system'¦perhaps a similarly sized Zebrasoma or Ctenochaetus species with the Mimic>>
Adam Jones
<<Happy to share'¦ Eric Russell>>

Re: Mixing Tangs (Can be done, but'¦) -- 09/20/09
Hey thanks,
<<You're welcome>>
I think I will hold off on the Achilles for now then.
<<Probably best>>
I'm always looking for a tank upgrade during tax refund season though and wouldn't mind going for another next year, what size tank would you recommend to be able to keep the Achilles with my Half Black?
<<Mmm, dimensions are as important as volume here. On the bottom end, a 6-foot tank like a stock 210 (the extra height vs. the 180 allowing more swimming room above the rockwork) could be made to work, in my opinion; by the advanced hobbyists willing to research and dedicate the system to this fish'¦but an 8-foot tank with its extended 'swimming length' would be much better for the keeping of the Achilles. EricR>>

Achilles tang Hello, I really am intrigued in the Achilles tang and am wondering if I could keep one. <Not an easily kept species. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/badacanthurusaq.htm and the linked FAQs>   My tank is 75 gallons, water is great, have a UV sterilizer,  about 30 pounds of live rock (keeping to a minimal until get permanent skimmer), I cleaner shrimp, a few snails and hermits, and one purple tang.  Will this work or will the other tang kill it. <Not likely in this setting, but Achilles are very prone to parasitic disease, hard to keep fed in small volumes...> Thanks for your advice and think your site is awesome. Scott <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Achilles Tang Suitability Bob, <Steve Allen pitching in this evening.> So is this going to be a problem?  Its sort of hard to se which question your answering (will it work or if the tang will kill it?)  my bad. Scott <Well Scott, it is unlikely that the Achilles Tang will eat the cleaner shrimp. However, your tank is too small for this fish. You really need more like 180G. It grows to 9 inches. Quoting Scott W. Michael in "Marine Fishes": "..one of the more demanding of the Acanthurus clan. Needs a large aquarium, plenty of unobstructed swimming room, and prefers turbulent water flow. In a small tank, it will nervously pace back and forth along the front of the tank and gradually pine away.">

Achilles Tang - Specimen selection and use of FW dip with Meth Blue    7/19/06 Hello, <Hi there.> I have a few questions if you don't mind.<Sure, no problem.> I have a 100g reef system with tons of mushrooms, a torch coral, a frogspawn, two devils hands,  some feather dusters a BTA. For fish I have a yellow tang, purple tang, one powder blue Chromis and a clown goby. Oh, and a bunch of snails and hermit crabs. I want to add another fish to this mix but am wondering what. I just lost my sohal tang <So sorry to hear that> that just disappeared over the weekend, but he was doing very well temperament wise with the other tangs. <There is a good chance he was not getting along as well with the other 2 Tangs as you thought he was.> I would like to add an Achilles tang, but I know this fish has its troubles. <Yes it does and to be honest 100g is really to small to house more than a single Tang. I would suggest you leave well enough alone and choose another species.> How do I know that I have a good specimen? Please have a look at this article. It discusses specimen selection '¦ http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acanthurTngs.htm.> I read the site and you say the best come from Hawaii and are caught at night. How do I request a fish like that at my LFS?   <Hmmm, start by asking. I am pretty sure they will not be able to tell you what time of day the fish was caught, but you may be able to get information about it's source.> Also, what is the best dip to use before putting him in the tank? Methyl? Also, what amount of Methyl do I use with the freshwater and how much water do I use for the dip? Please help if you can. <My personal preference is not to use chemicals or medications prophylactically, so I would not recommend the use of Meth Blue. I would however recommend quarantining new arrivals. Hope this helps,  Leslie>

Achilles tang Hello, I really am intrigued in the Achilles tang and am wondering if I could keep one. <Not an easily kept species. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/badacanthurusaq.htm and the linked FAQs>   My tank is 75 gallons, water is great, have a UV sterilizer,  about 30 pounds of live rock (keeping to a minimal until get permanent skimmer), I cleaner shrimp, a few snails and hermits, and one purple tang.  Will this work or will the other tang kill it. <Not likely in this setting, but Achilles are very prone to parasitic disease, hard to keep fed in small volumes...> Thanks for your advice and think your site is awesome. Scott <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Achilles Tang Hi, I am interested in purchasing an Achilles Tang I saw at a local store.  My concern is that it is a grayish color as opposed to the black color you always see in pictures.  It is a beautiful fish, but is there any thing I should be concerned about?  << Achilles Tangs are not for beginners, and I would be reluctant to purchase one.  They often do poorly in captivity.>> Should I shy away from it?  << Color loss is not a good sign.  But here is what I would do.  If the pet store has had it for at least two weeks, and you see them feed it, and it eats; well then I would say it is okay to chance.  Otherwise I would wait until you find one that meets those three criteria items. >>Any advice would be great.  Thanks in advance. Dave << Adam Blundell>>

Pajama/Clown tang with an Achilles Tang Hi Bob, Are you in the Cook islands yet?,  <Nope. Out tomorrow, 9/26...> This time I want to ask you about this two fishes... Since the reef compatible fishes are somewhat limited, I'm thinking on adding this two to my 120 Gal Reef tank. Do you think it's possible?, or I'm only looking for trouble here?...  <Yes... Achilles, like their name implies, die very easily... and these two can/will tussle big time if both in good shape...> If not possible what other Tang do you think I might be able to keep together with the A. lineatus? Norberto. >> <Take a look on the site: Home Page , and choose one of the Ctenochaetus, Zebrasoma, a Paracanthurus, or one of the dissimilar looking Acanthurus that is top-rated by me... Bob Fenner>

Achilles Tang for sure... Mr. Fenner, I am writing to you with a question that you may answer or not.  I read your amazing book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and just loved it. It was so full of useful information and ideas about marine fish keeping.  <No argument here> I want to make my question as concise as possible so as not to waste your time. I am very interested in trying to keep an Achilles tang and would like your ideas and suggestions about how I should go about doing this. From your book, other books, and LFS employees, I have learned that Achilles tangs are a little harder to keep than most fish.  <Yes, mainly due to rough handling... this is a "softer bodied" tang (and just fish period) that doesn't handle getting netted, the rigors of capture/confinement well at all... probably ninety percent are dead within two weeks of removal from the ocean... but more below> The little I do know about them is that they have sensitive skin, need larger tanks to swim in, need vigorous water movement, and above average water quality. <Yes, well put> What I would like to know is what are the parameters for above average water quality? <High, near saturation (about 7ppm) dissolved oxygen, little detectable metabolite content (folks measure nitrates and leave it at that but much more here... need good skimming, water changes, un-crowded conditions... and I see you address this below...> What do I need to do to keep an Achilles tang in a 125 gallon tank with approx. 100lbs live rock and a 180g Berlin protein skimmer in a 30g sump with a 700g/hr return pump)? Some of the livestock might be a Queen or Emperor Angel, the Achilles tang, 2-3 butterfly's, and a few damsels in the beginning. I do plan on adding two powerheads to the tank on the inside of  <Add these first> What else is needed to keep an Achilles? I am really keen on trying my hand with one these beautiful creatures once my tank is at optimal water conditions of course).  So any information or stories about these fish would be just amazing, especially coming from an expert like yourself. I would be very honored to receive a response from you or anyone else you know that could provide information other than the std info in books) about the species Acanthurus Achilles. Thank you very much for your time and patience. Sincerely, Ryan Fick  <Glad to be of (potential) help. Do take a read over the tang materials stored on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com and if possible talk with your supplier re the following: Achilles are mainly (for the trade) collected out of Hawai'i (principally Kona/Kailua)... and you do want one from here... but some are collected at night (this is what you want) while "sleeping" on the bottom (and much less damaged psychologically and physically). Also, a starting size. 4" is ideal... You don't want one that is larger (too set in ways) to begin with. Ask your dealer to contact Quality Marine in Los Angeles... or to make these inquiries on your behalf of their suppliers in turn. And do freshwater dip and quarantine your Acanthurus Achilles on arrival (don't leave it at the shop for any longer than necessary). Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Achilles tang Hi Bob, I read your section on Tangs and was interested in knowing a little more about the Achilles tang. Would an Achilles tang do well in a 70 gallon fish only tank with a lot of water circulation and would it be the most dominant (tankmates Blue Angelfish, arc-eye Hawkfish, orange Anthias)? Thank you for your time. Sam <Only experience can tell, per specimen... try to secure one that is "fresh" from the wild, rather than one that has been languishing between there and your source for weeks... do definitely freshwater dip and quarantine the new arrival for two weeks ahead of placing in your main system... provide some sort of biological cleaner... and keep your eye on it henceforth... for parasite problems... as they will arise first with this fish. A seventy is small for this fish alone, let alone with an large angelfish species... Bob Fenner>

Adding new fish (Marine selection) I recently asked a question about adding new fish on Flying Fish Express. I have a purple tang and a tomato clown, I was told that I could add another tang of the genus Acanthurus.  <Hmm, the Purple tang... Zebrasoma xanthurum is not of the genus Acanthurus> I looked at a powder blue tang and an Achilles tang. If they are an acceptable addition what size should I get them. <Both very poor choices. Please read over our site: www.WetWebMedia.com re these species, other Surgeonfishes> Bigger or smaller than the purple tang. the tang is approximately 3 in. I am not looking to get big fish I would like to have more smaller fish in my tank for more activity. if I chose to add dwarf angels how many could I add and of what type would get along. I am leaning toward the flame angel but like the keyhole also. I would appreciate any help being that your info has helped me in the past. thanks <Then do read over the WWM site. Bob Fenner>

Achilles tang Mr. Fenner, I have a few questions about the Achilles tang and a hybrid that occurs between it and the gold rim (powder brown). I have a 150g tank with a lot of LR, probably at least 125lbs, a protein skimmer, and I have excellent water conditions. I was wondering what you would think about my adding an Achilles tang to my tank as I think they are just beautiful. I have read your book and been to your WetWebMedia site and have gathered that they are somewhat touchy fish and they don't usually survive in captivity.  <You are correct... and also tend to be "ich magnets" so to speak... Very important to get healthy specimens in good shape up front... acclimate them quickly, completely, and place them in a very well established, large, optimized system> You mention that they need very high oxygenation in the water, which can be provided by lots of water movement, correct? <Yes> Also you mention that they need or enjoy higher salinity, in the 1.023-1.025 range. Other than these requirements and obvious good water quality, why do they not make it very often. <A few things... as the genus and family goes, Achilles are "soft-bodied" and take a beating being caught, moved around... Their nature tends to a "wild side" with specimens frequently injuring themselves from swimming into tank sides et al. during the first few days/weeks of captivity... Their mouths are frequently mal-affected from the above and subsequently they may give up feeding...> Do they get ich or carry it most of the time, or do they not eat or what. I just wonder because I have happened across some other hobbyists on the internet that keep the Achilles tang and just love it. <It is a fabulous species. Just on average, not easy to keep in captivity> If I were to try to keep one, what should I do to increase the fishes chance of survival? Also, I have seen another Achilles tang that is absolutely incredible looking, it is an Achilles-powder brown (gold rim) tang hybrid that has got to be the most amazing fish I have ever seen. It has the basic Achilles colors, except the tail is bright powder blue. I have included a pic of it so you know exactly what I am talking about. I just wanted to know what you know (if anything) about the fish and if it is harder to keep than an Achilles or easier, what it might take to keep it, etc. <Should be about the same> Some guy on a fish forum says his LFS is selling them and I just wanted to know if I should try it, or stick to the regular Achilles. And one last thing about the Achilles, is there a certain locale that I should try to get it from (i.e., Hawai'i, Maldives, etc) that would produce a healthier, hardier fish? <Are you in the United States? If so, the best ones come out of Hawai'i to here> As much info as you have about the Achilles and the hybrid would be great, as I am really thinking about trying this fish. Thanks, Bob <Sounds like you're about ready. Bob Fenner>

Achilles Tang Problems?????  11/24/07 View full size <Umm, no... no pic came through here. All need to be sent as attachments> Hi this is Brandy, First off love the site loads of great info.... I guess I should first start off with my tank, 350 gal., (8x3x2) Current occupants are 2 Marbled cat sharks, 1 Volitans lion (10in), 1 peacock lion (6in), 1 Stingray (6in), 1 Pink tall trigger (5in), 1 miniata grouper (6in), And my fav the Achilles Tang (7in) This is a fish only show tank no live rock no corals. As you can see in the picture, the tang stays a grey color (he has been that way since we got him, about 2 weeks ago) <This is a very large specimen of Acanthurus achilles to have been caught, shipped...> very rarely turning to black, he is very active and eats constantly, seems to be very healthy, but for the past week or so I have started to notice these spots on ether side of him. As you may be able to tell in one of the pictures with the large dark brown spot, it is raised up. Do you have any idea what this might be? <I do... having collected this species in Hawaii for many years... these markings are likely a combination of physical trauma (the handling of this surprisingly soft-bodied fish... easily damaged... and unavoidable in the way it is collected) and general stress from capture, processing, handling... being new here> I can not figure this one out, I am very concerned and watch him constantly, seems to behave normally he just has these spots?? Water levels are: ammonia 0 ph 8.1-8.3 (over the past 3 days) nitrate 5 Nitrite .1 <Should be zip, nada... this is likely an issue here... and going to get worse... the size of the system, the large fishes, particularly the sharks... produce large amounts of nitrogenous waste... Require a VERY high, thorough circulation and complete one-pass processing of wastes...> We have been having problems with phosphate, Po 2.5 (we have been using PhosGuard to lower them) We have taken the grouper out of the tank, and put him in QT, <Why?> for he has been a lighter color then normal, on and off from bright red to almost a peach color, and now that I have been watching him I have noticed he seems to be rubbing himself up against the bottom of the QT tank every so often, But his color is now flawless. Could this be in conjunction with what is going on with the tang? Thank you soo much, hope to hear from you soon Brandy! <The discoloration on the bass could indeed be related... either just as stress again, or, too probably as an infestation... Achilles Tangs are notable (hence my noting...) for bringing in Crypt and Velvet with them... I take it this specimen was not summarily quarantined nor preventively dipped/bathed... Trouble... Put the term series: achilles tang, crypt, Amyloodinium in the search tool here: http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm and read the cached views... I strongly encourage your proactivity here... to further read re the use of quinine... gather this material in preparation for treating your entire system. Bob Fenner>

Re: Achilles Tang Problems????? 11/24/2007 Sorry about that here are the pics attached. <Ah, good images... I can actually see where after the fish was hand-netted of the fence/barrier net, where the collector's thumb and other fingers were placed on its body... while moving it to the collection bucket... for slowly raising to the surface... for decompression. Know that you've provided the impetus for my making a FAQs file for this species on WWM, and am generating an in-print article re the species... and hope to see it later (am out visiting on Hawai'i's Big Island. Cheers, BobF>

Re: Achilles Tang Problems????? 11/25/2007 Thanks soo much for the help, but today looking at him the spots seem to be like open sores you can see the redness. I have attached pictures for you to see. Do you think I should QT this fish and treat for a bacterial infection? <No... moving the specimen at this point is likely to kill it outright> I have a 35 gl hex that I have planned on using, but do you think the stress on this fish will be to great, by netting him and moving him, or would that be our best bet? Thank you again, I am very concerted about the achilles he is one of my fav. fish. <Not easily kept... And this specimen is/was too large to start with... i.e. there is an ideal range per species... higher adaptability. Bob Fenner>

Achilles Tang, sel., dis.  03/09/2008 Crew - <<Mike...Andrew today>> I took a leap and decided to order an Achilles Tang from Marine Depot. It isn't set in stone for I am going to call them Monday morning to get some info on how long they have had them, eating, etc. - So I may change my mind. My question is, if needed, can these tangs undergo, hypo salinity treatment? <<Yes, they can go through hypo-salinity if required. These are very delicate to say the least, and I have seen so many die in the home aquarium due to lack of knowledge about the species. Please do read more here with the linked articles and FAQ's http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acanthurTngs.htm>> I know most can but with this particular specimen, I don't know if they can handle it. I know they are extremely difficult to take care of, but have done as much research as possible in the 3 months I have been waiting for them to be avail. They are very ich prone from what I have read, just wondering on your preferred methods of treatment if it were to come up. Thanks a bunch. Mike <<Pay close attention the "Disease: Infectious, Parasitic, Nutritional, Genetic, Social" section of the linked article above. Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

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