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FAQs on Genus Acanthurus Tang Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

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

Too thin...

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Acanthurus maculiceps; dis., fdg f's       10/25/19
Bob and friends have been helpful with my exotic Butterflyfish conundrums in the past, so I'd like to chat tangs now.
A week ago I purchased a 6" maculiceps from a lfs whom was in their tank with 1.019 salinity and 1.5 Cu (Cu + hypo is toxic in any combination afaik, so I was aware the fish may be stressed).
<Mmm; clarification please re the concentration and type/product copper in use. Cu++ can be harsh on Tangs; too often w/ long/er exposure leading to detrimental effect>
It had been there 2 weeks and was swimming around, but wanted to hide.
<This behavior to be expected>
Fish had a very healthy
weight, no ragged fins or bumps so I purchased and proceeded to do my prophylactic tank transfer method which included 20 gal bins, dim lighting, clean water, transfer with colanders and towel over half of bin for comfort.
It's been a week and I cannot get it to eat. Algae wafers, nori, frozen assortments, nothing.
<Mmm; could attribute this to degree w/ the copper exposure, being moved, new...>
It's not breathing heavily or labored, there is no redness, slime, bumps, dots, cloudy fins or eyes...honestly, it reminds me of those fish that are juiced that won't eat but have vibrant coloration.
<Ahh! I wonder where this fish was collected... which country?
So, my question is, what would you do? I can add Methylene blue to aid respiration and promote calmness. I can abort TTM at this time and move it to a larger established quarantine.
<Yes; this latter is what I'd do. >
I could try dewormer with Levamisole (I saw its feces in the bucket used to bring him home and no sign of internal worms).
<I'd forego such anthelminthic use w/ this species, this set of conditions and simply move it sans further delay>
What do you think?
<I suspect this fish is clean, and needs to be placed in the main display system>
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Tiny Clown Tang, fdg.  9/30/09
I was at my local LFS 2 weeks ago and saw a tiny clown tang (1-2").
<This, Acanthurus lineatus, is a difficult species even starting with specimens of reasonable length>
This guy was also skinny to the point of starvation. The LFS was selling him for $37 but the sales guy didn't think he'd make it as he was not eating. He basically would chew but spit out the mysis shrimp that was fed
to him.
<Try appropriate sized Spectrum: Read here:
I've always wanted a clown tang and told the sales guy that I thought I'd be able to save him. So he practically gave him to me. I have a established 300 gallon tank that i was hoping to raise him in but soon realized that he was just to small and weak to defend himself against my juvenile hippo that is twice his size. I witnessed the hippo constantly charge and attack the clown. I immediately put the clown in a 10 gallon tank with 10 pounds of live rock. In the last week in a half the clown and seems to have flourished under my care. The problem is other than picking at the live rock the only thing he'll eat is Spirulina brine shrimp soaked in vitamins.
I've tried mysis shrimp, tiny pellets, emerald entree but he only eats the Spirulina brine shrimp. Will this be adequate for now as I'm soaking the brine shrimp in Zoë and Zoecon. Will the brine shrimp soak in the vitamins?
<To some extent, yes>
Thanks in advance.
<The Spectrum product. Bob Fenner>

Acanthurus thompsoni, What To Feed? 08/02/09
Hi WWM Crew,
<<Hello Susanne>>
I've recently added what was supposedly an Acanthurus nubilus to my tank, but after looking at him closely, I'm pretty convinced he's really an Acanthurus thompsoni.
<<Mmm, okayboth similar re mature size and feeding habits>>
He has the white tail, the black spot at rear base of the dorsal fin, and generally matches the few pictures I could find pretty much to the dot.
What I could find, mentions this fish is a zooplankton feeder.
What exactly should I offer this fish to eat, and how many daily feedings should he get?
<<A couple to several feedings of small meaty foods (frozen mysis, plankton, krill, glass worms, etc.)and do also look in to obtaining/offering the small (1mm) New Life Spectrum pelletswill greatly benefit this/all your fishes>>
Does he eat macro algae at all?
<<Likely some, yes I like to offer Two Little Fishies Sea Veggies (the shredded variety) to all my fishes...and periodically soaked in Selcon>>
So far, he seems a lot more exited about the frozen foods (brine, emerald entree, mysis) the rest of my fish enjoy.
<<This is not atypical>>
Thanks for your help!
Best regards,
<<Happy to share EricR>>

Atlantic Blue Tang stopped eating 03/19/2008 Hi WetWebMedia Crew, <<Morning, Andrew today>> A few months ago I upgraded from a reef 90 to a 215 gallon with a 65 gallon sump that had Caulerpa growing in it. All water parameters were normal. The aquarium had been crystal clear until 4 nights ago when the lights went out in the main display tank, and the lights cycled on in the sump. About a half an hour later, I noticed the tank was muddy dirty. Alarmed, I looked everywhere in the tank to see what could have caused it. I looked down in the sump and noticed that the Caulerpa was looking pretty pale so I pulled it all out. I also observed a spider and a lady bug in the sump water. I immediately went to your website to read up on Caulerpa, and started to get worried. I didn't have any salt water available because we had just performed a water change. I already had a PolyFilter in place, and immediately added activated carbon. The protein skimmer was skimming like crazy and had an odor to it. I even turned the ozonizer on. I observed the tank all night long hoping everything would be fine. The tank cleared up completely after a few hours. So far, everything seems fine except my Atlantic Blue tang (who use to eat like a pig) suddenly doesn't want to eat anymore. She has two other tang tankmates; a Sailfin tang and a Yellow tang. The other two tangs still eat like pigs. All the other fish are doing fine. <<Continue to provide greens, maybe add some garlic or Selcon to attract the tang to eating again. Probably been spooked from the tank water issue. Very delicate species of tang>> The Atlantic Blue tang will swim up to the algae clip as though she is going to eat from it, but them swims away and doesn't eat a single bite. When I feed in the morning, she swims up to the food as though she is going to eat it, and then swims away not grabbing a single bite. She does, however, graze on the live rocks and sand. I have also noticed that she doesn't appear to be the dominant tang anymore. She is somewhat passive now. <<As the tang is still picking from the rock and sand, i don't think its anything to be overly concerned about. Try feeding as i mentioned above>> Today I ordered some Red Tang Heaven from Indo-Pacific, hoping she might eat that. I read about this stuff on your website and ordered it several months ago. My tangs absolutely love the stuff. <<Good deal>> Do you think the Caulerpa crashed and caused the tank to go dirty? I don't think it was from the liverock because it had been in the 90 gallon for almost a year, with the exception of a few pieces that I bought from the LFS, already cured. <<Its possible it did cause the water issue yes>> Any suggestions as to what might be wrong with the tang? Is there anything I can do to save her? This is my favorite fish and I would feel really sad if something were to happen to her. <<See above, also read more here including linked articles and FAQ's http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acanthurTngs.htm Your help is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Nancy <<Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Re: Atlantic Blue Tang stopped eating 03/26/2008 Hi Andrew, <<Hello Nancy>> I just want to thank you for your hopeful response. My Atlantic Blue Tang loves to eat the Red Tang Heaven purchased from Indo Pacific Sea Farms. She decided to pose for me so I took her picture (see attachment). I hope you post it on your website so others may see what an awesome fish she is (maybe picture of the day?). <<Really glad I could help. The photograph is a real nice picture, captures the Tangs face really well.. Thank you for submitting this, lets hope it finds it's way to the picture of the day slot ;o) >> Thanks again, Nancy <<Thanks and good day. A Nixon>>

Question about Acanthurus lineatus... fdg.   - 12/05/06 <Hi Steve, Mich here.> I acquired a nice clown surgeonfish about a month ago.   <OK> He seems to be doing quite well, has a nice thick body (bulging stomach and no slimming behind the head), and has not had any of the aggression issues that I read about prior to buying him.   <Does not mean he will not mature into behavioral problems.> When I first got this fish, he would eat Mysis, Nori and flake food.  Now, he constantly feeds on algae in the tank, but seems disinterested in any other foods.   <His natural behavior is to scour the rock for algae ...no flake food in the wild.  I would interpret this as there is currently enough algae to keep his belly full.> He'll occasionally nip at the Mysis shrimp, but really only seems interested in algae growing in the tank.   <This is a good thing.> I have some sort of unidentified turf algae (looks like Chaeto but is much thicker & attaches to the live rocks) that he aggressively eats, but this is almost gone now.  Do I need to be concerned about this or will the constant browsing of algae in the tank be enough to sustain him? <It sounds like it is enough to sustain him in the immediacy, but I would not just assume it is sufficient for long term growth.  I would occasionally offer Nori, if he eats it, I would continue to offer it as it may mean he is not getting enough from the algae in the tank.>         90 gallon reef tank with a 29 gallon refugium. <Not good! Way too small for this fish!  He can get to 15 inches in length.  Aquarium should be at least 180 gallons!  I hope you plan to upgrade if you are committed to keeping this beautiful fish.> Thank you, <Welcome, -Mich> Steve

Clown Tang... Acanthurus lineatus? Mis-mixed, poor English   6/13/06 Hi! Just got subject fish. Our LFS said that he had it 1 month. It would only eat live Tubifex. <Unusual> It measures 4 in. Good girth. 240 gallon tank, lots of circulation, protein skinner, UV light. Please..... how do we get him EATING NORMAL? Soaked live Tubifex in Selcon and Zoe for 24 hours. Feeding frozen krill, Mysis, mussel, clams, spectrum Thera, Nori, all soaked in Selcon and Zoe. Is LIVE TUBIFEX WORM enriched good enough ? <No> This is a FOWLER tank. 6" Clown trigger, <...> 4" Blueface angel, <...> and 4" Miniatus grouper. Thank you, Dale <Dale... where're the spaces twixt your words, sentences? Poor English, mate... disrespectful and backward. These fishes are incompatible... Please read re Tang Foods/Feeding/Nutrition FAQs files here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm and the Compatibility FAQs files re the Balistid and Angel. Bob Fenner>

Weaning Fish To Prepared Food    3/2/06 Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> Frequent the site and love all the help in the past......thanks. <On behalf of all of us- you're quite welcome!> Real quick, I have a very happy and healthy Achilles Tang. I have read in you site that these fish can be hard to "train" from eating flake or pellet food. He eats algae off the live rock like a pig, but when I place it in the clip, or feed them frozen formula two, he seems not to see it or eat it. Is there any suggestions you have, like a rubber band to a rock or another way I can get him to eat the seaweed or the food? Let me know ASAP. Thanks again, Jeromy <Well, Jeromy, my favorite method would be to place the food on a rock or a piece of dead coral. Given time (and a keen sense of smell) the fish will find it! It will work almost all of the time! Hang in there! Regards, Scott F.> 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>

Blue tang will not turn blue I have a Beautiful 10 month old blue tang. I caught her in the Gulf of Mexico. She is still a beautiful shade of yellow with all fins outlined in electric blue. I feed all the usual algae, etc. she eats it all. should I be adding something else to her diet ... or does it just take longer to turn blue because she is captive <Mmm, good question... Have seen this species of quite different sizes retaining juvenile color (maybe three plus some inches overall) and OTOH in adult colors at smaller size in the wild... I would not be concerned here... this fish will turn as the saying goes. Bob Fenner>

Feeding A Finicky Tang I just purchased an Achilles Tang, because I could not resist. <Can't blame you- they are gorgeous fish and great to have if you can meet their needs> It is about 4 inches, beautiful color, and in my quarantine tank for 4 days (will stay there for 4 weeks). <Excellent! A key to success with this fish!> It gobbles up Nori, but nothing else.  I have tried frozen brine, Mysis, and Cyclop-eeze all soaked in garlic or Selcon.  But he still only eats the Nori, should I be concerned?  Is there anything else I can do? Thanks for your help! <Well, the fact that he is eating is a great sign! Nori is marine-based, so it does provide valuable nutrition. However, you do want to get him eating as many different foods as possible, of course. I would look for a source of my favorite macroalgae, Gracilaria, which is an excellent supplemental food. You can get a starter supply from e-tailers like Indo-Pacific Sea Farms or Inland Aquatics. You can easily cultivate it yourself with a little effort. In the meantime, just keep trying a variety of frozen foods. Hopefully, he'll come around at some point. Keep it up! Regards, Scott F>

Sohal question in my 230 Reef This question is for Bob Fenner if possible.    <Go ahead> Bob, I am the guy who has the 6" Asfur in my 230 soft coral and invert reef.   The Asfur (who my kids named King of the Red Sea) is doing great and readily eats out of my hand.  He has been doing well for about 4 months now. I just added a 5" Sohal which will be the only other fish in this tank (except for a school of Red Sea Chromis).  I want to give them room to grow and be healthy long-term.  The Sohal was in quarantine for two weeks before going into the 230.   My question is the Sohal eats of the live rock all day long (this is good).  However, I have a lot of red bristly macro algae that grows on the rocks.   The Sohal loves this stuff.   The problem is he has some of it stuck on the outside of his mouth.  I guess it is kind of thorny.    He is eating everything in site but I do not want him to get an infection on his mouth or anything.  It has been on the outside of his mouth for two days now (not sure if it is the same piece or what).    Is this something to be concerned with or will he be ok?   <Not concerned this point, should be okay> Thank you for all your help.   I look forward to some of your new books out soon!!! <Me too! Bob Fenner> Andrew

Re: fish health appearance Thanks for the info on a the gray angel but for my clown tang how do u know he is well feeding? <Look at the fish "head on"... it should appear convex, rounded outward on the sides... you don't want a skinny tang... especially one that is thin in the head region. Bob Fenner> Miguel

Re: fish health appearance It's really hard to tell for my clown tang? are you saying the body should be larger then the head? <Yes, wider in profile> if that is the case my fish I don't have that  I see no cones on the fish I can tell when his stomach is empty that mask of the fish is quite large compare to the rest of the body! <Please read through the Acanthurid fish sections where I keep sending you: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tangs,.htm and the linked files beyond... there are examples and pictures of well-fleshed, and not high/low index of fitness tangs there> I feed the 3 time a day a salad thing for tangs and flakes what is a good food that gets them fatter ? <READ. Bob Fenner> when I first got the clown tang is was hard to feed but not now I just want him to be healthy thanks Miguel 

What do you guys think about this response on Clown Tangs? Hello: Our experience with Clown Tangs is that no matter how well they eat, they tend to last six months to a year in captivity. <Mmm, our experiences don't differ much. Acanthurus lineatus ranks low in my scale of aquarium suitability.> They are very susceptible to stress from other species, especially other Tangs, and once they get stressed, they get lateral line erosion and die. The reason it's on our list is that this species is not a solitary tang. In the ocean, they swim only in large schools, and tend to not do well unless they are kept that way. <Actually... small to large specimens are almost always encountered as individuals, NOT in groups. Don't know the reason/s why this species doesn't fare well in captivity... but suspect that it and others (e.g. A. olivaceus) are "used to" much larger territories than small fish tank confines... and overall "stress" is their undoing. Bob Fenner> Dave

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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