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FAQs on Genus Acanthurus Tang Systems

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

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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

Tang ID Part II 4-14-09
Thank you for the ID. and I can also agree with that. But for the main question from my original e-mail, how long do you think I could keep this fish in my tank? As stated prior, it is a 90gal. standard rectangle with about 60-70 lbs. of live rock and just 2 small damsels and an orchid Dottyback. Everything seems fine for now but I know this fish gets big. I would like to keep it but I would not be able to put this fish in a larger than a 125 gal. tank for about 1-2 years. The earliest I can put the fish in my 125 gal. would be 3 months. I could stand to turn a profit on this fish since I only paid $40 on it because I was the only one who know what it probably was. What should I do for the best benefit for the fish?
Thanks again for you time.
<Hello Nick and sorry about the wait. To answer your first question these tangs, the A. dussumieri can get up to 14 inches some even 20 inches! You might be able to keep him in the 125 gallon for 1-2 years depending on his growth rate and current size but, I would advise passing this fish along to someone with a larger tank. These guys need space (hundreds of gallons) and I don't think 125 gallons is enough. Merritt A.>

Lieutenant Tang Tang Comp. Stkg, Water Quality, Reading, 2/23/2009 Dear WWM crew, <Hi Rusty> I have a question about the Lieutenant Tang <Acanthurus tennenti>, Is this fish an ich-magnet like the powder-blue tang or is it about as hardy as a yellow tang in terms of being parasite prone? <There is not much information available, but anecdotally, I would say it is as vulnerable as any other Tang. Tangs in general, do tend to catch it more readily than fish.> Would this fish be OK in a 180 gal reef with a 55 gal sump with a purple tang, a yellow tang, 2 ocellaris clownfish and 3 Bartlett's anthias and 3 green chromis? <In my opinion, no. This fish can grow to over 1 foot in length, so a 180 gallon system would be too crowded with the species you've mentioned, you would likely have serious behavioral\aggression issues. Do also remember that when adding more than one species of Zebrasoma, do add them at the same time and both as juveniles.> Also, would it be OK to use tap water in a reef system with corals if I a treat it with a quality product, such as Seachem Prime or Amquel? Can the use of algae filtration, such as a large amount of Chaetomorpha, curb or eliminate nuisance algae growth that tap water is known to produce? <Previously posted several times on the site. Start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm > <Mike>

Re: Lt Tang follow up 2/24/2009 The other stocking plan I have is just having a single Sohal Tang, Would a sohal tang be OK in a 180 gal reef with 2 ocellaris clownfish, 5 green chromis, and 5 Bartlett's anthias if I introduce the sohal last as a 3"-4" specimen with no other tangs? <Hi Rusty, I think this would be a better choice than what you listed previously. Do make sure that the Tang is eating and in good health before purchase.> <Mike>

Tang families (sic, genera) and tank size   2/19/08 Mr Fenner, I would first like to note that I have read several of your online publications recently and found the detail to be of great value. Thank you for your efforts in relaying information to marine hobbyists such as myself. <A pleasure to share; a hope to relate information of worth> I have a question about the various families of tangs in relation to their suitable home aquarium size. I read through your documentation on wetwebmedia.com and there are only a few noted tank volumes recommended as a minimum for the families; <Ah, genera> the Acanthurus, Ctenochaetus, and Zebrasoma all note a guideline size starting at 50 gallons. I was wondering if the data is current, <Mmm, not really is likely a reasonable response. Having been a content provider in the trade and hobby for... is it really more than forty years?... much of my in-print work is woefully dated... and worse... extant w/o this note> and if perhaps you had some additional recommendations or adjusted recommendations for tank size for any of the 5 major families on the site? <Well... for most small species of Acanthurus, all the Bristlemouth and Sailfin species, really a fifty gallon volume that is otherwise not crowded... will suffice... that is, with otherwise good maintenance, nutrition... keep these species alive, healthy for something like a "normal" average maximum life span... However... Some Acanthurus get quite large (saw an absolutely gorgeous group of five A. blochii yesterday diving off Crescent Bay/Manta Ray Cove here on HI's Big Island... I do hope my video of them came out... and I do wish I knew enough re editing, placing such on this/these devices that I could immediately (if not sooner) share this with you... But these were all more than a foot long body length (more with their caudals)... These would need hundreds of gallons... Naso and Prionurus species likewise need hundreds of gallons... systems of at least a couple metres/six foot "run"/length to be happy, grow, survive for any real period of time... Oh, and Paracanthurus... should not be kept in anything smaller than a 75... It should go w/o saying, but am always aware that many less-sophisticated folk may read this... that "bigger is better" for sure... behaviorally and physiologically with these and all other fish groups.> There are several message boards that I frequent, of which they all have a group of people who state that the minimum tank size for most tangs would be something with a 6' length, and nothing smaller than a 75 or even 90 gallon for Zebrasomas or Ctenochaetus. Is there any data that supports specific sizes for these tangs? <Mmm, anecdotal experience mostly... There are historical, institutional longevity records for some species... but these are almost always kept in vastly larger systems... But I've kept, personally can account for the most popular species care in the stated volumes by our and other service companies...> I only ask out of curiosity, personally, I have a 180g tank and have been in the hobby for a couple years, but would much prefer to gather all the data that I can as a reference. Thank you for your time, it is much appreciated. Alex Liffick <Thank you for your interest, asking. I do ask in turn that when you have confidence, time, that you consider joining our WWM Crew in aiding others. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Acanthurus japonicus...Opinions On Minimum Tank Size -- 09/19/07 Hello crew, <<Howdy Joe>> I just had a few quick questions regarding the white-faced tang. <<Ah yes, two species commonly labeled such...Acanthurus japonicus and Acanthurus nigricans...the former is a very suitable aquarium fish...the latter not so much>> On your website you state the minimum size tank it should be housed in as being 50 gallons. <<A bit too small in 'my' opinion>> ReefCentral.com states the minimum size should be 75 gallons. <<Hmm...>> Live Aquaria says 125 gallons. <<Bigger 'is' better>> Marine Depot says the minimum size is 100 gallons. <<This is probably the 'ideal' minimum size tank for this fish>> Right now I have a 75 gallon tank with about 90 pounds of live rock (I want to get about 20 more pounds). <<Why? Where will the fish swim?>> I have a 29 gallon sump with a third of it being a refugium with a huge ball of Chaetomorpha. <<Excellent>> The current residents to my tank are two Amphiprion ocellaris clownfish, one mandarin dragonet, one flame angel, and one firefish. There are two emerald mithrax crabs and two hermit crabs. There are also a bunch of assorted snails. I would like to get A. japonicus but am not sure if my system could handle it. Do you think that it could? <<Mmm...maybe. Though similar in size to Zebrasoma flavescens (Yellow Tang), Acanthurus japonicus is a bit more active/requires more space...in my experience/opinion. If you limit stocking and are willing to minimize the rock and provide ample swimming room in the display (while still providing hiding places/night shelter for the fishes) then this fish may do fine. The extra rock could be utilized in a separate vessel/dedicated refugium with DSB to the increased benefit of the system>> Also, if I could get it, do you believe that a 29 gallon quarantine tank would be okay for the full month time (with frequent water changes of course)? <<Would be fine...do be sure to add some short lengths of suitable sized PVC pipe to give the fish a place to hide/make it more comfortable>> I plan to upgrade to a 180 gallon tank in a couple years, but that is not a guarantee that it will happen. <<Indeed, many such plans never come to fruition>> I'm guessing that if I was to get the tang that it would be the last fish in my current system? <<Yes>> As always, your help is greatly appreciated! Joe <<Happy to share my opinion. EricR>>

Clown Tang in a small world?   -- 7/3/07 I absolutely love your website. It has helped me correctly set-up and test my brand new reef tank. This is my second tank so I'm not a complete novice here but I do have a quick question. I have compromised with my self ( very hard to do) and set up a small reef tank ( by small I mean only 20 pounds live rock for a 46 gallon bow front tank). The reason for this is I want a free swimming tang with easy to keep polyps, inverts, mushroom, maybe a pulsing xenia ( the most fascinating coral I believe there to be). <I'm sorry, but even a 46g tank with no live rock would still be too small for a tang. Even the smallest tangs should be in tanks at least 75g or larger.> I don't have any questions on the corals, I've kept them successfully before so I don't really need to get into the footprint of the tank here.....so finally here's the question. 46 gallon bow.....little live rock (doesn't even come up half of the tank....lots of swimming room) i have 3 VERY small green Chromis's (peaceful) and am IN LOVE WITH A SMALL CLOWN TANG. Can there be a more beautiful fish...I don't think so. My main goal in all of reef keeping is keeping happy animals....is my tank big enough for a 2-4'' clown tang. <Oh, absolutely not. Assuming you're talking about the Acanthurus lineatus (also called the "lined surgeonfish" or "clown tang"), they need very big tanks (at least 180g) and are one of the harder tangs to keep alive. They are especially active and large fish (adult size is up to 15 inches!). As they grow older they also tend to get more and more aggressive.> Which will un-doubtably grow... I know they love to swim and I would never dream of suffocating one for any amount of time. Is this do-able. <Not for long. You might be able to keep it for a little while. But it will outgrow your tank in no time. And once it does, you'll probably have a hard time placing it since they need tanks larger than those of most aquarists and tend to not always play well with other tangs.> if not I will make my peace with it and move forward. <I'm sorry if this information bums you out, but this is just not a fish you can keep in a 46g tank.> What do you guys think?? <Honestly, I think you should stop thinking about tangs. Get your hands on one of Scott Michael's books on reef aquarium fish and keep making good use of this site. I'm sure you'll find a fish you can love and which will do well in your tank too. :) > Thank you for your time here. <Happy to help. Sara M.>

Sohal confusion  - 12/29/06 Hello, <Hi Andy, Mich here.> reading your sohal FAQs, and I am confused.  On one page from your site : - "<foot an a half long>" - "<generally max's out at about eight inches in captivity>" - "<ughhh! I really wish pet stores would stop selling this beautiful fish. 2 foot long as an adult, most stunt and die prematurely in private aquaria.  This is truly a public aquarium fish at best>" <Maximum Length is 15.7 inches or 40 cm referenced from  www.fishbase.org and "Marine Fishes" by Scott Michael.> and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Asohal.htm  stating this is an excellent tang for "large rough and tumble systems" (whatever that means :-)  ??? <It means don't put it in a calm peaceful community tank, it will destroy the balance of this type of system. Sohal Tangs (Acanthurus sohal) are highly territorial and will chase, chastise and occasionally kill competitors in captivity, thus a "rough and tumble system".>     Bob seems to say a Sohal is ok in a 6' tank, others seem to say an 8' is a minimum.   <I think bigger is better, but I would trust Bob's wisdom and experience here.> So, bottom line, for an experienced home aquarist with top notch circulation and filtration (Tunze Tunze Tunze, large refugium, etc.) is a 180 gallon (6'x2'x2') a good home for a sohal? <In the care of a conscientious aquarist, yes.> Thanks... <Welcome. -Mich> -Andy

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> Achilles Tang Good day, I am in the process of (6 months into) setting up my 180gallon tank. I have been in the salt-water hobby for over 3 years now, and this is my latest upgrade. My setup consists of the following; 180gal Softie tank, about 200lbs of live rock, 40gal custom sump w/10 fuge (Chaeto growing wonderfully), Iwaki WMD40RLXT circulation pump, ETSS 750 dual injector Skimmer, Japanese Iwaki MD40RLT Skimmer Pump, Dual-250watt PFO MH w/XM 10K bulbs, IceCap 660 w/2 46.5" Super Actinics & 2 46.5" Actinic White, MAG 18 on dual SCWD's, 25watt Sterilizer, 2-250watt Titanium Heaters.  <Sounds like no expenses were spared.> As for livestock, I have a 3" Sailfin Tang, a 3" Yellow Tang, 2" Blue Velvet Damsel (darn girlfriends, anyways!), 1" Yellow Tailed Damsel, 1" Coral Beauty and 2 small decorated gobies. As for corals, I have a large Yellow Spaghetti Leather, 6-head Green Torch, 5-head Hammer Coral, several various Zoos and various mushrooms. I want to start thinking ahead now, to ensure that I can have the best possibilities for raising an Achilles Tang as my "Show Piece" fish (about a 4-6" specimen), hopefully to add him within about a 6 month time frame. I understand this fish requires very good quality water, as well as room to swim, which I would hope my 180 would afford him. <The 180 will be large enough for the Achilles. I recommend doing 10% water changes weekly to keep down nutrients and replenish trace elements that were used/lost. A healthy diet is also important. By the sound of your system and all things being done right, you won't have a natural food supply other than clippings from the Chaeto, so I suggest supplementing the dried algae soaked in Selcon. This will help very much in building up the fishes immune system along with his overall health. Good luck. James (Salty Dog)>  I would appreciate any suggestions you may have. I am hoping that I'm on the correct route, but most definitely eager to learn more.  <Do read the FAQ's on tangs on the Wet Web Site.> 

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>

Skimmer Selection, crowded Tangs, warm water cool-water shark Hello bob, Hope all is well I would like to know if you can help me out here first my by guiding me to a good skimmer for my tank what is about the most efficient for big messy eating fish my tank is 125 gallons? <The Euro Reef if you're investing... though a Turboflotor will do> Do you think this new filter setup sounds like enough for my tank I will have 2 over flows that will come down to my 55 gallon sump then go through the U.V sterilizer <The UV should be the last item to be passed through... on the waters return to the main/display system> and protein skimmer is there any thing else I should ad to that I'm not sure what else to use? Will this be efficient enough for my 7 inch stars and stripes puffer 8 inch leopard shark and 3 inch honeycomb grouper <Do add a bunch of carbonaceous material somewhere here... these fishes are going to drive your pH, alkalinity down with their advanced growth...> and after I get my sump running and everything I would like to add a tang possibly a Sohal, Achilles, or orange shoulder tang which would you rate the best for my tank?  <All this going into a 125? No room... as far as suitability period, the Sohal, then olivaceus, last the Achilles> I know how you say the leopard shark is a cool water species but my LFS says every time they get them in they are in warm water <Define "warm"... most all are collected in waters that rarely go to seventy degrees F.... most in the fifties and sixties Fahrenheit... Research this elsewhere... Plug "Triakis semifasciata" or just Leopard Shark into... fishbase.org, elsewhere... this is a subtropical animal, living between 45 and 20 degrees North latitude. That's a fact, Jack.> and they live long every time so is it that if they acclimate good and long they will do better I'm not sure but I don't see no problems with mine and he eats good. Sorry for the so long message but just wanted to make sure I got everything and thanks for any info you can give me. Pam Reinsmith <Good luck to you my friend. Believe what you will till experience changes your mind. This shark lives for more than 24 years in the wild, almost never 24 days in tropical tanks. Bob Fenner>

Atlantic Blue Tang Hi guys! I must say that it is wonderful to see people who are so willing to help others as you guys do. I read the new FAQs daily, and have gained a wealth of information from the WWM site. I can't thank you enough for this service! <We all volunteer our time here in the sincere desire to help others, but getting thanked once in a while really helps invigorate us. Thank you!> I have a 60 gallon tank, with 80 pounds of live rock, and 100 pounds of sand (40 of which is live sand). I am almost done cycling, and am in the final selection process of fish. <Bravo! I want to take this opportunity to point out how incredibly smart it is to plan out all your fish before adding any. This avoids many conflicts between species.> My ultimate goal is to have a reef tank with the main focus being blue clams and soft corals <May not be a great choice as clams are filter feeders and many of the soft corals release strong toxins.> though I know that it will be some time before I am ready to try this. I am designing my tank with these long term goals in mind. I have decided that we want 2 Percula clowns, and a royal Gramma. I am looking for one additional fish to add. I was thinking a juvenile Atlantic Blue Tang (Acanthurus coeruleus) but am getting conflicting information. Some places say that they can reach 9 inches (WWM), or that they can reach 13 inches (some other sites). <Burgess's Atlas puts them at 23 cm which is about 9 inches.> The WWM info said they can be kept in a moderate sized tank - but other sites have said that they need a minimum of 100 gallon tanks. Is a 60 gallon tank considered a moderate sized tank, or would this be too small for this type of fish? <100 gallons should be in your future with this fish, but a juvenile could start out and be happy in a 60.> Also, I can't seem to find information on juveniles vs. adults - will they both acclimate well? <In general, juveniles adapt the best, but not babies. Somewhere in between. For this fish, 3-4 inches.> I would prefer to start with a juvenile, but don't want to harm the fish by getting too small of one. I have read the WWM info on Acanthurus species, and the FAQs. I have also searched the web for other info - but it seems to conflict (as everything in this hobby seems to!) If you could help point me in a general direction, I would appreciate it! I just want to make sure that we can provide a good home for this type of fish - or start looking for a different fish if necessary. Thanks! Kate
<You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

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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