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FAQs on Genus Acanthurus Tang Compatibility

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

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Mixing Acanthurus Tangs in Large Tank    4/21/17
Hi WMM Team,
<Greetings Brad>
So I'm just about to upgrade my current 300g reef to the new tank that I'm building which is a ~1100g tank, 16'x'3'x3 (plus the sump).
I'm super interested to get your input on if there's any chance of success mixing Acanthurus tangs such as Powder Blue, Brown, Black, and Achilles (there will be other tangs such as Naso, Regal, Convict, Scopas, Purple, Yellow, Sailfin &c) along with wrasse and Anthias, along with a decent amount of rockwork/coral.
<Yes; easily done in very large volumes... A "Just" here; Just make sure the system is stable and optimized, AND that the Tangs are healthy initially... Likely month-long quarantine/acclimation in a large-enough (a hundred gallons let's say) isolation system... for observation, possible bolstering of health before placement in this display tank. NO FUN having issues, or trying to net out specimens eh?>
I know that this would normally be a total no-no, but given such a large tank + introducing them at the same time, is this all but guaranteed to fail or is there any likelihood of success?
<A good likelihood of positive outcome. Friend Pablo Tepoot (of Spectrum pelleted foods, cichlid farming... marine import biz) has a similar huge tank... with most all these mixed in; successfully>
I know that these fish school in the wild, at least with their own genus.
<Species really>
My plan would be to quarantine them all separately, and then introduce the acan's together (with the other fish already in the established tank). I'd probably do it on a weekend so that I could monitor the situation and extract a fish if need be-but obviously if you just think this is a terrible idea then I wouldn't attempt it.
<It is a good idea. One I'd do myself>
At least from my experience, I've had a great deal of luck mixing large angels and wrasse from similar genus without much fuss in my 1500g tank, but not sure if this is a different animal (pun mildly intended.)
Appreciate any guidance you have to share!
Best Regards,
<Do please send along periodic reports of your observations, events. Bob Fenner>
Re: Mixing Acanthurus Tangs in Large Tank

Awesome, thanks Bob!
<Welcome Brad>
I was thinking that this approach would be somewhat similar to African cichlids where you distribute the aggression so it's not a 1:1 battle.
<I'd say/warrant that the situation is very similar>
Just wasn't sure if that was likely to work with these tangs. I'll definitely keep you guys updated and will provide some pictures!
<Ah, thank you. B>
Best Regards,

Tang vs. Mimic Tang – 12/09/14
Dear Wet Web Crew,
<<Hey DC…Eric here>>
I am in the process of slowly stocking my 200 gallon reef tank. I currently have a yellow tang, Kole tang, tiny hippo tang, a pair of ocellaris clowns, a radiant wrasse and pink margin fairy wrasse. All are quite healthy and get along reasonably well.
My newest attempted addition is an Acanthurus chronixis, just starting to turn from his half black angel mimic phase.
It's a beautiful golden brown and perhaps the Kole tang is jealous of his beauty because he was instantly on the mimic tang with tail beatings.
<<Does happen…though I have kept as many as five Tangs from ‘four different genera’ in a system somewhat larger than yours. And I currently have ‘seven’ Zebrasoma flavescens in my 375g reef display that have been ‘getting along’ for the past 6-7 months. Many factors play in to having success here, such as method/order of introduction, differences in size (or lack of) of the individuals, their individual personalities…and a good measure of luck. Something else I think can make a big difference re aggressiveness is how well the fishes are fed on a daily basis>>
I put the mimic in an acclimation box attached to the side of the tank and kept him there three days. After what appeared to be disinterest by the Kole, I let him out only to have the tail beatings begin again. He is once again in the acclimation box.
<<Mmm…perhaps it might work better to reverse roles here and put the aggressor in “time out” for a while>>
How long can I keep him in the box?
<<Reference my comment just previous>>
How long before I give this up as a lost cause?
<<Up to you…but if the aggression isn’t causing any real physical damage (i.e. – more show than fight), you may want to put the Mimic in the tank for a day or two to gauge if things are going to settle down>>
Final question, would it pay to put the Kole in the box and let the mimic out
<<This is what I would try. The Kole is ‘established,’ it can be beneficial to remove that advantage though still no guarantee>>
and if so for what length of time?
<<Seven to ten days should do to give the Mimic time to settle in and become ‘comfortable’ (assuming the Yellow Tang doesn’t take up the fight in the Kole’s absence)…and better in my opinion if you can place the Kole in a separate system “out of sight” during this time. It may turn out these two individuals will never get along, but I think you are doing what you need to do to try to make it work>>
Thanks in advance for your always excellent advice.
<<Happy to share…EricR>>

Bariene Tang and Powder Blue Tang, comp.      8/9/12
I have a 233 gal reef tank and I have a medium Bariene Tang in there and wanted to know would it be ok to put a Powder Blue Tang in there as well?
<I give you good odds that these two will coexist in this size setting...
the usual provisos re Acanthurus leucosternon are posted on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Clown Tang Problem, Please Help (Attacking the hand that cleans) 03/04/11
Was cleaning my saltwater fish tank and my clown tang just punctured my thumb with his back spikes.
Im bleeding and it stings.
<<Ill bet>>
Do you know if they are poisonous and if I should be concerned?
<<They are not venomous in the sense that a poisonous snake is venomous but any open wound exposed to the concentrated bacterial webs in our systems is certainly prone to secondary infection. Clean the wound well and disinfect it, and keep an eye out for any sign of infection that may require a Doctors attention and a wary eye on that tang from now on>>
Thank you.
<<Quite welcome EricR>>

Vampire/tennenti tang - powder blue tang, comp.  12/24/10
Hi WWM crew.
<Hello Adam>
I'm in the process of building a 260 gallon wall mounted tank in the house my partner and I are building.
<Nice! I love these installations>
I presently have a Sohal Tang that was meant to be the focal of that tank, but she's grown faster than our house is going up (we are a year behind schedule)
<Tell me about it.. can be testing at times for sure>
and she's outgrown my current 90 gallon. I don't feel right keeping her in those conditions for another 7 months, so she's going to a much more suitable 700 gallon reef a friend of mine is building.
<Well done.. I would have to say that I would not have placed the Sohal even in a 260 myself>
I'm researching possible replacements, and I'm quite enamored with the Vampire/tennenti tang.
<Very nice>
I can't find much info on this fish, but as it will be a smaller animal than my Sohal, I don't want it to be my only Tang, if I get one.
Powder Blue Tangs are my second favorite fish, but I recognize they are the same genus, and that Powder Blues are considerably more aggressive. <I once named the one I had at the time 'Osama Bin Tang' ;)>
I've read that tennentis are quite docile, but I'm not sure if I could pair a Powder Blue with a tennenti in a 260 gallon system if I bought the Powder Blue quite small.
<Should be fine, definitely want to add the A. leucosternon last of all, well after the other is established & perhaps as you say at a smaller size>
Any feedback would be appreciated, and merry Christmas!
<You have it, and have you considered making this system an Indian Ocean biotopic display? Both these fishes can be found there...perhaps you could pick a specific place and match the rest of the fishes/ corals>
Adam LeClair
Re: Vampire/tennenti tang - powder blue tang, comp.  1/9/11

Hi Simon,
<Hello Adam>
I wanted to share a little update with you:
My Mystery has been removed and sold to someone from a local reefer forum. I'm either terrible at making traps, or it's a smarter fish than I thought, as all I caught with the four traps that I made were snails and crabs. I ended up having to remove all my rock to get it out (Grrrrrrrrr).
<Ah well>
I also had some fortuitous news from my LFS. They put in a request for a Tennenti on their last order and lo and behold, one showed up.
<Yes, not a particularly difficult fish to find>
I've got my name on it, so once it's proven that it reliably eats prepared foods I'll be bringing it home.
<This is good practice, with QT included of course>
It's a juvenile, so it should be perfect for my 90 gallon for the next 7 or 8 months.
<Mmm, I can only recommend buying fishes that you can house properly now>
If I could get a female Lineatus, do you think it would get along with the one I currently have in my 90 gallon, or would I needed to have added them together?
<I would not add anything else here, wait for the big tank IMO>
My question for you is about stocking lists for my next tank. My two favourite families of fish are the wrasses and tangs, but it's always such a fine dance figuring out what can and will live together.
<Because this is not an exact science>
My LFS had a M/F pair of Flame wrasses (Cirrhilabrus jordani) come in on the same shipment as my Tennenti, I've never seen them in person before and I completely fell in love. I don't think they would be appropriate in my current tank, as the Lineatus will have been living in it solo for nearly a month before they would come out of quarantine. I also have a Cinnamon clown pair that recently started laying eggs and they seem to have exclusively claimed about 1/4 of the tank. I never noticed them being aggressive until I took the Sohal out, but now they even attack my hand when I scrape the glass. The female drew blood yesterday, so they probably won't be making the move to the new tank. The egg laying is cool, but so is my skin.
<They can be aggressive>
Do you think that I could get away with a harem of Lineatus and Flame wrasses in the same 320 gallon tank?
<Not something I would do. Pick one species for a harem and enjoy it>
I realize that dimensions may be as important as volume, so to give you an idea, the tank is a custom build and will be 6'1" long, 3' feet wide and 30" tall, more square than long.
<Nice! I like tanks with good width, mine is a similar shape, but larger>
I plan on having plenty of rock arranged in several 'islands' with open sand between them.
<Great! This is how mine is set up, with a couple of large cave structures as well>
The LFS also brought in a Rhomboid wrasse that took my breath away, so if it was possible to have harems of three kinds of wrasses in a tank that size, that would be my choice for the third. I like the three most expensive wrasses in the hobby though, so if I'm going to do this I need to be sure they'll get along. From what I've read here, I think three species might be pushing it.
<If you are having a harem then I would stick to just one species>
If that combination is possible, how many females would be appropriate?
<I cant recommend placing harems of three wrasse species.>
And is it acceptable to add females later?
<All should be added at the same time>
I've read your entire wrasse compatibility page and the general rule seems to be 'add them all at once' and 'don't give one male females, but not the other'. I just don't know if it will be possible to get that many animals of the desired sexes at the same time. I could most likely get male Flame and Rhomboid wrasses at the same time to add together with my Lineatus, but I don't know how many females of each species I could get at once.
<If they could be kept, collected together in another tank/s and then added to the main system together this would work, but really you should put the order in to the LFS to have them all brought in at the same time>
Then for the tangs - I love the Tennenti, but it's not the most colourful fish in the sea. I will obviously be adding it to the 320 first and giving it some time to make it's claim, then I would like to get one of either a Powder Blue or Brown, depending on if I can get a healthy specimen of the right size (and right species if it's a Powder Brown). After that I'm not sure what other tang to add. I think three Tangs will probably be the max for that tank, so I would like the third to be as colourful as possible. I was thinking maybe a Zebrasoma xanthurum, as they are quite spectacular, but I don't know if this pairing would be possible given it's innate aggression.
<Mmm, the Zebrasoma is not so aggressive really, not compared to the Acanthurus. Would add this first, depending on size/s. You could easily have one of the Ctenochaetus species here>
Maybe a smaller specimen, added last, but I'm open to suggestions.
<Place before the Acanthurus, especially if smaller>
I don't plan on adding many more fish, except maybe some very small guys that will sit on the sand/hide in the rocks after a good population of copepods has established itself.
Once again, thank you for your time and advice,
<Good luck Adam, this is an exciting time for sure!>

Achilles and Powder Blue Tang Together? 06/30/08 Can an Achilles and a Powder Blue get along in a system of 800 gallons...if both the same size and added at the same time? <<I have mixed Acanthurus species, and seen others do so, in displays of some several hundred gallons so yes, in systems of size such as yours it is my estimation you could do this. In fact, in a tank this size I suspect you could even get away with pairs of the same species. And just a side note these fishes enjoy, even require, a LOT of water movement. Regards, EricR>>

Acanthurus coeruleus, comp....   -02/20/08 Hi crew, <Mohamed> I have a 200g tank with +- 25 yellow tangs and 3 blue tangs, they are all doing fine and feed regularly. <And change a LOT of water no doubt... Quite a school> I like to add a number of the same fish so that they can school. <I see> I have divided my tank in half which has 8 small yellow tangs, 2" in size and 2 medium blue tangs. I will like to buy 15 medium blue tangs but will like to know will the 8 yellow and 2 blue tangs kill the 15 blue tangs or quarrel until they settle? <This is too much already... I'd hold off, just have a good number of one or the other> After a month after adding the blue tangs, I will like to remove the division. Once again will they kill each other once I remove the division or quarrel until they settle? <Not likely to kill each other... these two species are disparate enough in their behavior, recognition of each other. Bob Fenner> thanks Mohamed

Re: Acanthurus coeruleus, comp.  2/25/08 Hi Bob, <Mohamed> Thanks for the information this far. <Welcome> I have been getting mix information on the blue tangs aggression. I have noticed that 2 of my blue tangs have bullied 1 quite badly. <Can happen> Are the Acanthurus coeruleus (blue tang) known to be aggressive or are their aggression short lived, for a day or so? <Can be so bad as to kill off all but one in a tank...> They do seem to be more aggressive than my Yellow tangs. Thanks Mohamed <These Zebrasoma can be the same.... BobF>

Mixing A. lineatus and A. sohal....not gonna' have a good time  - 4/8/07 Hi guys, <Hey Wes...> I really appreciate all the time you all put into answering people's questions. <Thank you!> WWM is probably my most trusted source of online info. <A very nice compliment...thanks again.> I've been thinking about adding some tangs to my aggressive FOWLR tank. <Okay.> It's a 55g but I'm planning (in about a year) of upgrading to a 180g. <I would probably wait until then to add any surgeons. I would especially not add more than one to a system of this size...wait for the upgrade.> I'm definitely planning on getting a sohal tang <Then wait for the 180...and even then I'd be very cautious in mixing an Acanthurus sohal with another surgeon. In fact odds would be against you on this one, even in the largest of tanks.> and have been batting around the idea of getting a clown tang as well. <Together with the A. Sohal. Not a good idea my friend, not in the least bit...not advisable at all.> After reading all the info on your site, I'm beginning to suspect there's a good chance these two wouldn't get along together. <More than a good chance!> Is this true, even in a 180g? <This would be true even in a tank of double this size.  The boisterous personality of these two fish, not to mention they are con-geners would be a near disastrous mix.> Would I need to get an even bigger tank to house these guys for the long term? <Very big, one that exceeds the size of your average home aquarium, and even then my above comments would still hold true.> I really would like to have both, <It would have to be separate systems.> but if it's a flat out bad call, <These two animals have territorial issues with other tankmates, and especially other surgeons and mixing them is just not a good idea.> I'm content with sticking with just a sohal. <That would be best, but wait for the upgrade.> I'm also planning on getting an Atlantic Blue Tang (or possibly a sailfin tang) <Mmm...still not a good idea, at all...but better than the clown tang.> and a Porcupine puffer. <Too big.> Currently, my tank inhabitants are: Dogface puffer Blue-spotted grouper Snowflake Eel Bluejaw Trigger (Male) Banana Wrasse (which I'm thinking of giving back to the LFS) Two large hermit crabs <This is already far to much for a 55 gallon tank.> They're all small, about 3 to 4," except the eel of course. I realize that even in a 180g, all these fish together may be a bit of a crowd long term, <True.> but I figure I may lose one or two of them over the course of 5 or more years. If I have the good fortune of that not happening, I do realize I may need to give a couple away, which I'd be willing to do if need be. <Yes the tank is overcrowded as it is...> I'm considering returning the wrasse not for any major reason, but mainly because he's a bit too "hyper" of a fish for my tastes and also tends to hide a lot which doesn't seem normal to me for a wrasse. Maybe I'm wrong here? <Depends on the individual specimen and the personalities of those around him. He may be suffering from psychological/territorial crowding.> He also seems to pick at the hermits when he feels like. <Normal.> Thanks in advance for any advice! Wes Shive <Adam Jackson.>

Powder Blue / Powder Brown Compatibility   3/8/07 Hello, <Hi there>             I have an interesting situation on my hands.  I ordered a Acanthurus japonicus and a Zebrasoma desjardinii for my 90 gallon aquarium.  For the most part, my tank is an LPS specialty tank with an assortment of LPS corals and inverts shrimp, crabs, feather dusters, etc.  The only other fish are a pair of Premnas biaculeatus. <Hopefully small... can be/come quite territorial> I didn't plan on stocking any more fish other than these two tangs.  My problem is this I received a Zebrasoma desjardinii (3 inch) and a HYPERLINK " http://www.wetwebmedia.com/powdbluetg.htm"Acanthurus leucosternon (4 inch).  I sent the company an email with pictures of the mistake and asked for a resolution.  I would not have ordinarily ordered a HYPERLINK " http://www.wetwebmedia.com/powdbluetg.htm "Acanthurus leucosternon, due to their poor survivability in captivity. <I agree with you... Need much larger systems to do well... and are VERY prone to "coral reef disease"> I received an email back that I can keep the fish and that they would send me a Acanthurus japonicus and that it was in the mail already.  My problem:  there are no local LFSs that will buy my Acanthurus leucosternon.  My local shop would be happy to take it, but not pay for it. <Mmm, Craig's list? A local marine/reef club?> Since I have this beautiful fish, I was wondering if there was any hope of survival in my aquarium. <Some... but not enough to interest me... Hopefully you have not placed this fish in your main/display tank> I consider a 90 a bit on the small size for 3 tangs, and never planned for it in the first place.  I also am aware that I will now have two fish of the Acanthurus genus together and figured that could be a problem.  Currently I have acclimated them all, freshwater dipped them, and they are split up in two separate quarantine tanks. <Thank goodness> If there was a good chance of survival, I would at least like to give it a try.  I am also concerned that if the fish goes to my local LFS, it may not make it out alive.  They have never kept any tangs other than the yellow tangs and usually have a few dead fish every time that I am there.  This would be the reason why I mail order everything.  Please advise, Brian <Well... I would be investigating (seriously) where you might move the PBT to... in case things don't "work out"... The much more important, real issue here is parasitic disease... and the concomitant stress that will VERY likely bring it on. Be ready to remove, treat all fishes. Bob Fenner>

Sohal tang aggressive?  12/30/06 Hello Crew <Hi Wayne, Rick Oellers (via proxy of Graham T.)> Happy New Year to you all. <Thank you! And to you and yours!> I have a 210gal FOWLR with some softies, 100lbs of LR (will have another 100lbs in the next month),<Good Idea.> and just hooked up my AquaC EV240 w/Mag18 (wife got it for me for Christmas).<Wish my wife would do that...>  I currently have a Volitans Lionfish 9", Harlequin Tuskfish 5", and a Yellowtail Damsel.  Everybody gets along great. <Damsel... interesting. How big?> I've been thinking of adding a Sohal Tang to the tank.  I've read they can be aggressive.  What do you think about this choice? <(Rick) A Sohal tang (Acanthurus sohal) added *last* to your tank is a good addition to the community you have currently, with one condition. The specimen should be around 3" or so to avoid over-aggression. In addition to the referenced aggression, slightly less documented is this species' poisonous scalpel! I (Rick) found out the hard way when trying to revive a seemingly distressed specimen in a shipping container, when SMACK! he got me! I recoiled at first, then again, and again as the real pain set in. What a wallop!> Wayne <Rick Oellers & Graham Tasker> <<Thank you both! RMF>>

Mimic eibli tang   Acanthurus tristis   8/29/06 I am interested in purchasing a mimic eibli tang. <And I just saw one of these at Jenkinson's Aquarium here in NJ>   As they get older do they change their coloration to more of brownish, yellowish color or do they keep their juvenile coloration which is that of the eibli angel? <Mostly the latter> If so, is it better to get a smaller one since it will probably take years to lose their juvenile coloration? <Have only seen ones of 3-4 inches ever offered in the trade.>   Would they get along with other tangs of different shape and species? <Mmm, should if not "too crowded"> Thanks, Alan <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Clown Tang/Compatibility?   7/7/06 Hi guys (and gals), <Hello Edward> At the local fish store there is an employee that I really trust I will go to him to answer almost any question I have. And on multiple occasions I have checked the accuracy of his statements with your website or others and he is usually dead on. So I he has been helping me setup my new 100 gallon reef tank, including plans, stocking, setup, he has even gone as far to come out and help me with my aquascape free of charge. I only mention all of this to show the level of trust I have in him. Now today I brought in a water sample to show him the progress of my new tank. My cycle is complete and my water conditions are perfect. While I was there I saw the most beautiful clown tang, he told me the tang came out of one of his friends aquariums that was too small. It was in this persons reef tank for almost a year and lived totally peacefully with other tank mates. He also said it would do great in my tank. I bought it and after reading some of the stuff I have seen on this great website I got a little nervous. Do you think this beautiful fish is going to be a nuisance in my tank? Has he let me down or is there a possibility that this clown is an exception to the rule? Thanks again for all your help! <Edward, there are a few items that I find questionable.  First, it is not advisable to put a tang in a newly set up system.  Second, this fish should not be kept in anything much smaller than a 150.  Third, this is a very difficult fish to keep for any length of time.  In this regard, I am referring to the Acanthurus lineatus (Clown Tang).  There is a similar tang, Acanthurus sohal that is much easier to keep.  Sounds like his friend had very good luck, which leads me to believe the tang is a sohal. As far as compatibility, they are aggressive toward other tangs. This fish also requires very clean, highly oxygenated water.  Do read here for more info on the genus Acanthurus. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acanthurTngs.htm  James (Salty Dog)> Edward
Re: Clown tang   7/10/06
Thank you for the quick response! <You're welcome.> I do agree with you, there are a few things that are questionable. First off even though it is a new tank my water parameters are perfect and I have about 100 lbs of fully cured live rock from a previous system, I do agree it is a little risky. <Yes, in new systems pH levels can be unstable.  Personal experiences.> The size of the tank, you are right on. He did not tell me that this fish would need such a large environment. I am positive that this is a Clown Tang. It is about 3.5" to 4" and like I previously mentioned, it was in a successful reef tank for about a year. The guy that originally bought it had it in a 55 gallon tank and can no longer house it. Do you still think there is no way to keep this beautiful fish happy in the environment that I have to offer? Or is he going to attack anything in the tank? <You can get by for awhile in your 100 gallon, but as the tang grows, he will need larger quarters.  Tangs do like to swim and like plenty of room. As far as attacking, they are only aggressive toward other tangs.  He may chase a fish or two out of his territory, but no battle wounds should occur.> <<Mmm, actually Acanthurus lineatus is "aggressive" towards anything that challenges its dominance in its space... will cut aquarists hands even... RMF>> Thanks again. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Atlantic Tang/Compatibility James,  6/15/06 <Carrie> (Hi, query is 2nd paragraph, sorry I forgot the question mark.  I wanted to elaborate on the conduct of my Atlantic tang to give an interesting fact or two on this tang so others who have it do not wonder why this "peaceful tang" is so snippy.  It sure was a shock to me! Alrighty then!  I currently have a 2" Atlantic tang still in her "brat" stage.   Research has proven as young juveniles they inhabit the reef with a damsel that they need to be "tough" to live around, yet outgrow their "brat" stage at 3 or 4" as they start to school with the larger fish. It is said they are one of the most peaceful Acanthurus. <Peaceful with other fish, not with tangs.> So, my  question is this, after the "brat" stage, could I add a true powder  brown (Acan. jap.)? <By "after the brat stage", do you mean adult, when the tang gets its blue coloration?  If so, you will probably have some fighting.  Large tanks will lessen the issue. I KNOW they are of the same genus, but due to the docile nature of both of them, I wondered if it would be possible to mix these two Acanthurus in a 150 gallon reef or add a total of 3 Acanthurus.  (that may only apply to the same KIND of fish, huh?) <Oh no, very territorial unless you have a huge tank, 200 gallons+, would have better luck with different species.> I have a tank growing Caulerpa, and use a clip for my baby brat now. Nice thing is it doesn't go "bad" if it doesn't get eaten like Nori and other seaweed sheets.   She has fattened up too, so her health is quite good.  Point is, I have plenty to feed them all. <If you do plan on getting a Powder Brown, be sure it is the A. jap and not the A. nigricans as they are difficult feeders.  Read here, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/GoldRimSs.htm> Thanks again! <You're welcome.> Carrie :)

Atlantic Tang vs. half black angel  6/5/06 Why would a 2" Atlantic blue tang (Acanthurus coeruleus) pick on a newly introduced  Halfblack angelfish (Centropyge vroliki) that is about 3"? <Not likely in the size/shape system stated below> It darts after the angel and darts away just as quick, but the angel doesn't move....kind of funny.  But, the angel is staying in the top right of my 6' 150 aquarium.  Should I remove it? <... not quite yet> Is it sick?   (looks fine) Will this behavior continue or is this just a peeing contest?  Should I return the 1/2 black?  The angel is picking here and there, but not eating a whole lot and was not interested in the razor Caulerpa and "clipped to the side, but the tang loves it....the little fatty!  Ate a little this morning. I didn't think there was a compatibility problem with the two, though I KNOW the baby Atlantic tang can be a little spit fire when young, but mellow with age.   At the store, they had to take out a yellow tang that was picking on it.   (just FYI) Maybe put the angel in my 29 gallon (has the Caulerpa) until the tang ages a little??? UGH!  Just let me know your thoughts.  Thanks! Carrie :) <... I wouldn't move this/these fish/es. Bob Fenner>
Re: Atlantic... Tang vs. half black angel    6/6/06
Hi Bob, and thanks for the reply. I had to, contrary to your advice, which I usually follow, remove the angel as all her dorsal and tail fins were being chewed! (blue is all gone)  I mean, including shredded the tips of the pelvic!  Funny the angel has no interest in Caulerpa! <Maybe too busy trying to avoid being bitten>   I finally found she likes prime reef.  Turned her nose up at everything else, taking a "taste" and looking at me like I'm nuts!  She seems very calm and I DO have a full reef (150 gallon) and I have read about the controversy among aquarists concerning dwarf angels in a reef, but my research lends me to believe the Halfblack is on of the few "okays" and unlike the flame, not nasty. <Agreed>   This angel seems very peaceful.  I want to give her a few weeks in the 29 gallon. Okay, sorry to go off roading there!  One other question. The baby tang (I got when it was skinny and now it is fat, but I noticed a "triangular" white spot on the upper back. I am not sure what it is, but I am going to use the focus (binder) and the appropriate med (from SeaChem) I found binding them to the food I can feed sick fish in the aquarium and not hurt the corals...... in fact, my anemone ate a piece and I freaked out and called SeaChem. They said don't worry and they were right!  (this was 6 months ago)  I highly suggest everyone to look into this product and not traumatize our fish by chasing them to the ends of the earth for QT.  Just my humble opinion. <Appreciate this> On the paved road again!  So should I move the angel back to the 150 to cower in the corner and be shredded by my punk Atlantic tang, or let her recover and fatten up a little? <The latter now that it's been moved> I thought to feed her a broad spectrum of SeaChem med (blue tube stuff) to eliminate possible tail rot that can occur from nips..... or is that only f/w? <Both> Thanks again, Bob! Did you see my other email about the Anthias/midas blenny experiment?   <No> I added pics of the changing...... this is 8 month AFTER I got the 3 Anthias! (lyretail) Take care and thanks in advance! Carrie :) <Bob Fenner>

Help with achilles and Goldrim Hey, I have had an achilles tang and he did very well but soon got tired of the 55 gallon aquarium in which he lived. <Too small for this species...> I no longer have him. He was a medium sized fish and now I have a 125 gallon aquarium with only the other fish that get along very well with the achilles but they are not all in the tank yet. <?> I am introducing everyone slowly to be safe. They are all very small to medium sized fish. his buddy was a medium coral beauty angel. When the tank is established pretty well, I want to add a medium sized achilles tang and a medium sized Goldrim tang.  I plan on introducing them at the same time so as to avoid territorial problems.   <Not likely... not enough room for these two here> I will get a much bigger system by the time they get big enough to need it. My goal is to have about 600 gallons.  My problem is that I cannot find GOOD or extensive information on the achilles or the Goldrim. <What I know is posted on WWM> I have been all over the internet and in some books. your site was the most help but do you have any or know where to find more   plentiful information? <The references found throughout the site, printed works... I'd learn to generate a computer-based bibliography... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm and the linked files above> I don't feel comfortable housing anyone without being able to keep them healthy. If I take it out of the ocean I had better do the best I can to make it comfortable in its NEW home.  Well thanks for listening to my rambling..  Anything you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, James Gage.  Batesville, AR.   <Do make a sojourn or two to a large college library... Bob Fenner>
Re: Help with achilles and Goldrim  - 05/16/2006
   Thank you for your help.  Do you think a 240 gal set up would be big enough for these two?  thanks, James <Yes... this should afford both these Acanthurus species sufficient space. Bob Fenner, out in Hawai'i diving with both>

Mimic Tang/Pygmy Angel Compatibility - 05/13/06 Hi guys - <<Very astute gals here as well>> Love your website and how informative it is.  Quick question: I have a Golden Pygmy Angel (have had for over a year), and am thinking about getting a Yellow Mimic Tang, and am wondering, if since the tang mimics another species of pygmy angel, I will have problems with aggression between the two of them? <<Hmm, I have kept different pygmy angel species together in years past.  Several factors to consider here size of the system, size differential between the fish (if any), and of course, individual personalities of the fish themselves.  If these are favorable then yes, there's is a good chance the two will learn to get along>> Thanks advance. Best, Alex <<Regards, EricR>>
Mimic Tang/Pygmy Angel Compatibility II - 05/13/06
Thank you for getting back to me so quickly - and of course I meant 'guys' in the non-gender specific way! <<You're welcome...and understood <grin> >> Keep up the great work. <<Will try, Eric Russell>>

Clown Surgeon, other Tang... comp., macroalgae avail.   4/1/06 Thank you Bob, that cleared it up somewhat. Also just wanted to ask if you have received an email I sent a week ago. Not sure if it got lost or something? <Don't recall... anything that was missed... lost...> I know you're busy, so if the reason is due to the backlog of questions, I apologize for my impatience. I have included the email here: <Ah, good> "Hi Bob, I am considering purchasing a Clown Surgeon (Acanthurus lineatus) and have researched widely on this fish. I would like your opinion on whether it will be suited to my tank. I have a 900 Litre tank currently housing a blue-spotted ray, and 3 small snowflake eels. I plan to complete the tank with 2 blue-lined snappers and 2 H. acuminatus. Do you see any possible problem if I were to introduce a Clown Surgeon? <Mmm, not with what you list. This may become a/the alpha fish here> I understand they are aggressive and require a higher level of care. And I am concerned it might cause trouble with the snappers. If I don't get the Clown surgeon my other option is an Acanthurus Sohal or a Naso Lituratus. <These can also be "bold", particularly the Sohal> I know that this is involves a high degree of speculation, but I am trying to avoid possible personal disappointment and stress for my tank inhabitants. Have you had any experience with this (these) fish? <Oh yes> Also, I am having trouble finding any retailer in Australia which sells Chaetomorpha...Can you suggest any way in which I can get my hands on some? <Perhaps some other hobbyist... are there BB's for the marine aquarium hobby? I would query otherwise re on Reefs.org, Aquarium Frontiers, ReefCentral re...> (Am also not sure on the current legality of importing/retailing this type of macroalgae.. I have emailed Aust. Quarantine but so far no reply) <Do take care to not break the law> I do have access to red macroalgae however, and I was wondering if red algae is suitable for consumption by any of the above mentioned surgeons. <Many species of Reds, yes> Will (can) it also serve as a denitrifying component in my refugium? <Definitely> Thanks in advance, Joe. <BobF>

Torn Up Mimic Tang - 11/24/2005 Evening gentlemen, <Sabrina with you today - not exactly a gentleman, though.> Advice please.. 90 gallon tank live sand 90lbs live rock 2 Percula Clowns (2" and 3") 2.5" Royal Dottyback 2" Regal Tang 3.5" Yellow Watchman Goby Two stars CB Shrimp The above critters are stable.  Anything else that's been added to my tank has not made it.  Algae Blenny died of starvation.   <Should only be added to a well-established aquarium with plenty to eat - and should very quickly be trained onto prepared foods.> Yellow headed Jawfish was killed by larger of Percula Clowns (about 3" clown).   <Uncommon....> Fire Shrimp was entangled by large red brittle star and Dottyback tore a chunk out of the shrimp's midsection.  Camel Shrimp was entangled and eaten by large red brittle star literally within 10 minutes of introduction.   <Not terribly surprising, actually.> Even if the star didn't catch the camel shrimp, the Dottyback was certainly checking him out.  So, I wanted a new fish that could hold his own.  I purchase a yellow tang (Acanthurus pyroferus  ~ the one that looks like a lemon peel angel).  The sales guy at Big Al's recommended this fish because of a tang's weaponry, he'd be able to take care of himself.   <But, you already have a tang in this tank....  which has had time to become established - bad news, for the new tang.> As well, this fish would be about 4". my largest fish.   <As they say, size isn't always what matters.> The tang was very outgoing, never hid and feeds on flake, frozen brine, and seaweed.  The first day I noticed the Dottyback checking him out.  I witnessed a quick nip and the tang turned on the Dottyback chasing him away.  For the next 3 days, I watched all the fish getting along.  This new tang would be swimming alongside with my Regal Tang <Entirely possible these two were "sizing each other up"....> and my clownfish playing in the water flow. Day 7, I notice two small flesh wounds (which seem to have healed now) on the body towards the tailfin and I realize that there may be an issue, so I've been watching.   <It's my opinion that these wounds were likely put there by the other tang.> Day 8, no new wounds. but the Tang seems to be fighting my Goby for territory. the larger cave in my live rock.  The Watchman Goby comes at the yellow tang with open mouth and the Tang holds his ground simply flaring up.  Day 9 and 10. the Yellow Tang is swimming near the top of the tank, still actively feeding but his fins look like they've been picked at/chewed.   <The other tang, the aggressive Dottyback....  I find it highly unlikely that the watchman had anything to do with damaging this fish.> Day 11 and 12, the yellow tang stays hidden in the rock work only coming out for perhaps a minute over the 4 hours that I was in view of the tank.  When he was swimming around, nobody bothered him.  I also notice through the rockwork that his tailfins look like they're in a little worse shape then what they have been.  One other observation: the front face area near the eyes of the tang are grayish. I believe he was totally a healthy yellow looking when I got him.   a) is the grayish color due to stress? Or due to him hiding and not getting light?   <Stress/damage....  perhaps disease.> For example, my Regal Tang almost looks pale blue when he's been hiding or when the lights have been off. <That's a different matter entirely.  Most fish will get paler at night.> b) Do fins grown back? <Can, yes, if the fish is given the ability to do so - meaning, no aggressive fish to keep damaging him, good food, etc.> c) Given that there's no new flesh wounds, and the two small wounds that he had have almost fully healed, should he be okay?   <If the other, established animals continue to "pick" on him, no.> Can this fish defend himself given the critters in the tank?   <Possibly - if you do some SERIOUS rearrangement of the rockwork, make it look like a completely different "place" to the fish....  but two tangs in this tank will always spell trouble.> The tang does not back down from the Dottyback or any other fish.  I'm wondering if the Dottyback is doing some ambushing from behind picking at his tailfin. Does this tang, or do all tangs have the barbs???    <All.> Any recommendations?   <As above - and omit one of the tangs.  Oh, and a VERY serious recommendation, here:  USE A QUARANTINE SYSTEM.  Much is archived on our site regarding this....  please read, and start using a quarantine tank for new fish.> I don't want to lose this fish.  Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated.  I like my Dottyback and my Clowns, but it seems like the larger Clown and Dottyback won't allow any new critters in the tank peacefully, although the clowns have left this tang alone from what I've seen.   <Aggression from Perculas is a little uncommon, unless among con- or near-specifics, but I would be a touch worried about this Dottyback.  Some do tend to be overly aggressive.> Oh one other question, how are tangs resistance to itch?   <"Ich", actually Cryptocaryon....  Again, much is archived on our site; please start reading.  Some tangs seem more "sensitive" to it than others, but all are susceptible.> Is it common? Uncommon? <Again, read....  as with most other marine fishes, it is entirely possible that one could bring ich (or other, worse diseases) with it to your established system - which is why (or part of the reason why, anyhow) you should employ a quarantine system, here.> Thanks!!  -Dave <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>
Torn Up Tang - II - 11/24/2005
Thanks for the response. <Sure thing.> Alas, yellow tang has died. <I'm very sorry to hear this.> The corpse was missing both eyes and the entire tailfin. <Yikes.> Two things I wanted to comment on... your website suggests adding tangs directly to tanks without quarantine because of stress issues. <Mm, there are many opinions regarding this.... Mine is very strongly that the risk to the existing livestock and display is far, far too great not to quarantine. The chances of an unquarantined tang bringing ich into your display are far greater than the risk of stressing the tang with some time in a good quarantine system.> The sales guy who is big on quarantining new fish also mentioned not to worry about quarantining the tang. Another note with tangs, I've heard many people keeping 2 tangs together. <Sure, but for how long? And at what cost to the animals?> I thought tangs were only an issue in a smaller tank or if they were the same color. Surely one blue tang and one yellow tang each no more than about 3.5" in a 90 gallon isn't crowding them? <Look at your results - somebody in there wounded the new guy.... I'd wager money that it wasn't the Dottyback alone.> I watched the two tangs together over the two weeks... probably 8 hours over lighted viewing time in total. I didn't really witness them going at it. In fact, seemed to me like they were almost playing together in the water flow most of the time. <Often their aggression might be mistaken as such, especially in smaller individuals. Even still, if there really wasn't any aggression now, there likely would/could be in the not-too-distant future.> Only aggression I saw was from the Dottyback who would 'pick and run'. <Also a significant contributor, I'm sure.> On another note, my clown was DEFINITELY involved in the yellow headed Jawfish death awhile back... <Oh, sorry for any confusion, I don't disbelieve you in the least - just stating that it seems a touch uncommon. Certainly not impossible by any means.> Are tank raised clowns less territorial? Or does it matter? <Most anything captive bred tends to be a little less territorial, but this is something that's also highly dependant upon the individual animal.> Thanks for the words of wisdom. <Sure thing. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Orange Shoulder Tang 8/28/05 Hi Bob,             I've been receiving mixed signals about the Orange Shoulder Tang. Your site says that it is extremely aggressive, comparable to the clown tang. But FFX and the Marine Fishes book says that it is fairly peaceful. If you could help me sort this out I would be very grateful. <Brian, from info that I can find, it is a peaceful fish.  If keeping more than one, it is advisable to put both in at the same time, or if keeping with other tangs, put the Orange in first.  They do require a large tank, 135 gallon minimum.>  Also I have an orange skunk clown that has a case of ich that is puzzling me. I mean that it isn't acting the way ich normally does. Some days he is covered in spots, others he is ich free. I guess this is stress related so I've been soaking his food in garlic drops. I am going to give him a freshwater dip to rid him of the bulk and then put him in a hospital tank and medicate him. I f there is anything else I can do, could you please tell me. <Do just as you say.  Might want to add some Selcon to his food.  James (Salty Dog)>             Thanks in advance <You're welcome> <<RMF still stands by the opinion that this is one of the more aggressive Surgeonfishes... best to have it be the purposeful "king of the tank"...>> Brian

Mimic Tang 5/6/05 Hello Crew, <Cheers> It has been awhile since I have had to email for help, But I do have a newly acquired mimic tang that will not eat. <Hmmm... is this fish in a QT tank? If not, please understand/learn the critical need for QT. It saves many fishes lives. And in cases like this... it gives the creature a chance to settle into captivity with minimal stress (and eat/heal sooner!) rather than being thrown into a competitive or stressful display tank. We have a lot of info (FAQs and article(s)) on Quarantine in our archives if you'll take the time to browse> I talked to the LFS where I purchased the fish and was told it was net caught not Cyano, <Agreed... they are commonly imported from areas like Fiji where collection techniques are rather proper> and the ones in his store are eating brine now and picking at flake. I have tried Cyclop-eeze, red, and green algae, Spirulina flake, Mysis, OSI flake, Vibra pellets, brine shrimp and the fish will eat nothing, it is slowly wasting away and fear it will pass on shortly. I have placed it in my refugium where I have sever types of macro growing in the hope it will pick at the algae at least and it does not appear any better. <actually... diatom (brown) algae is a natural staple> I have tried soaking several foods in garlic and offering this as well and even went as far as placing the fish in a clean pail with water from the tank and adding food so it was right in its face and will not bother with it. <Please consider adding b12 to the tank (one crushed pill per day) as well as soaking foods in B12. It cannot be overdosed easily at all... no worries (its water soluble). A B12 injection might actually save its life (consult a local vet... its not that expensive to get a B12 shot)> My tank is fine in all other aspects, I have a powder blue and regal that both eat and are in great health (other then a little ick from time to time which I have never bothered treating and they seem to get rid of it on there own). <Yikes!!!!!!!!!!! This IS the problem, my friend. Even if the other tangs did not actually nip, chase or harass the mimic... their presence was unnatural and very stressful for a newly imported fish that missed a fair chance to stabilize in QT. The lack of isolation may end up contributing to this fishes death. Please do (again) consider it for the future> Any more advice I can try or is this poor fish doomed already? Thanks, Drew <best of luck and life... Anthony>

Tang Compatibility I have had a Yellow Tang in a 20 gallon quarantine for 9 weeks while the main 200 gallon tank was fallow. The only addition to the main tank during that time has been some cured live rock 5 weeks ago (Marshall base from MC). I am planning to add a second tang because we sadly lost our Hippo in the quarantine process (a new one will probably will be smaller than the Yellow, she is about 4") .  I realize we will have to quarantine a new tang for 6 weeks to be absolutely sure we introduce no ich into the system. Even with some macro algae and live rock additions, my Yellow is not very happy in the quarantine tank (skittish, hides quickly.. not like she was in the big tank, but otherwise very healthy and eats well). Yet, I know another tang should be added to the main tank before her. Would this work to add the new addition? 1) Separate the main tank into 2 sections with eggcrate (there is space between the live rock).  2) Add the Yellow to the big tank now. 3) Add another Tang to the opposite side after the 6 week quarantine. 4) Wait x days and then remove the eggcrate? The only other fish that would be added first are some Chromis (who could probably go through the eggcrate).  <Debbie, being that the yellow and the hippo are from different genera, you probably won't see much aggression at all, especially in a 200 gallon aquarium. I'd go ahead and add the yellow tang when ready, then add the hippo when it is ready.>  It is hard to have a peaceful ich-free tank!  <It will be easier as time goes by. James (Salty Dog)>  Thanks in advance!!!  <You're welcome> 
Tang Compatibility II
Thanks James! If I do that, should I be sure to get the hippo about the same size (not too much smaller)?  <I would, although I don't believe there will be any major aggression.>  The only reason I ask is that our Yellow really acted as a mother toward our small blue hippo - but I don't know if she will take to another Hippo in the same way (last time the Hippo was first, but smaller).  <James (Salty Dog)> 

Mixing Tangs: The tangs I listed were: Naso Tang Clown Tang Blue Hippo Tang Yellow Tang I have no problem scaling down. I was told by the local pet shop that this number of fish would be fine. <The number is okay... it's the habits, temperaments of mixing these sorts of territorial fishes of the Tang family that presents potential problems> How many pounds of live rock would you suggest? I wouldn't want more than a 1/5 of the tank with live rock in it, and with that little in the tank, would it really be of any benefit? Should I cycle the tank with the live rock, or with the Damsels? <A pound to a pound and a half per gallon's about right... you can add more later... but do look for "full box" deals (FFExpress does these deals... and has some great rock). Cure the whole system and the rock at the same time... no damsels need apply. Very great and real benefits of using live rock... maybe read up on this issue at the pieces stored at www.wetwebmedia.com> PS Is there anything wrong with building an aquarium stand higher than 30"? We want to make it about 10" higher so that it is more "eye level" and not so much stooping to see the fish is required. <Nope. Do make sure it's wedged in, otherwise anchored so it can't be "rocked" or tipped over... taller stands are better for larger settings, places where tanks are situated to be viewed by folks standing rather than sitting> Thanks bunches for all of your advise!!! Kim <You're welcome, Bob Fenner>

Fish community In a 55 fish only tank how would a powder blue tang, Niger trigger, flame angel, true Perc clown do?. I really like the powder blue tang, if the rest won't get along >> Powder Blues (Acanthurus leucosternon), are not easy to keep... especially in a non-reef setting... Please do read over the materials stored on the www.wetwebmedia.com site re this species... I can't discourage you enough in pursuing this species for a FO set-up... Very prone to ich/Cryptocaryon... need to be thoroughly dipped/quarantined... placed in LARGE, ESTABLISHED reef settings.... then, still half die within a month, ninety percent plus within three.... Bob Fenner, who says, the other livestock sounds okay... maybe look into another tang species?

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 I was hoping you could answer a couple question for me. I have a 75 gal reef tank with about 80lbs of LR. I have a Tomatoe clown, 3 shrimp and lots snails/hermits. I have a purple tang (3 inches) in quarantine. My local fish store told me I could add an Achilles tang. I have them both in quarantine with a tank divider. Is this going to work? <IMO, no. Your tank is too small for these two to peacefully coexist.> I thought tangs were good together as long as they were the same species (Zebrasoma). I read something on your web page about the Achilles make your other tank mates die- Could you explain further?- Thanks Anjanette <Have a nice evening. -Steven Pro>

Compatibility Hallo again, <cheers> I have had the clown tang for 6 months now...actually that is how long I have had the tank (plus cycle time) the tang is a bit over 1 1/2" long, and seems okay...I do try to feed a variety of food. but will consider the refugium option... <yes, my friend... please read more about this fish on the Wet Web Media archives. And in the Conscientious Marine Aquarist book too. The prognosis for this fish and its size are not good in the long run> though it is hard without an overflow set up. (no?)  <not at all. You will want an Upstream refugium: a small tank above your display with an overflow hole... water is pumped up and flows back down.> Anyhow, Thanks for all your advice, I have a 33gal quarantine tank at the moment...so perhaps I will try it out... <excellent! It will be fine for this tiny trigger for many months> cheers again Bob
<kindly, Anthony>

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
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