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FAQs on the Powder Blue Tang Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: Powder Blue Tangs, Acanthurus Tangs

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

Is another tankmate harassing your tang?

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine

Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Dear Bob

I really love Tangs; my Powder Blue is my favourite fish and is certainly doing well in my tank.  He's always on the go and will eat almost constantly.  He gets dried seaweed (Nori) every day and occasional frozen Mysis Shrimp and some flake foods occasionally.  I worry though that the dried food isn't good enough for him -- does it have enough nutrients?   Would i be better giving him some fresh spinach or lettuce as some books suggest?

Of late he's developed an annoying habit of chasing one of the wrasses, at first I thought it was bullying, but i realised he was chasing the wrasse so he could eat its faeces -- is this normal behaviour or does it suggest some sort of nutritional deficiency in m y feeding regime?

Sorry to have to ask such an embarrassing question 

Peter, London 

Well Peter, you're to be commended in keeping an Acanthurus leucosternon so happy and healthy. Most specimens dwindle in captivity, suffering greatly from capture, holding, shipping and overall processing from the Indian Ocean tropics whence all are wild-collected.

            Dried foods of quality are fine for this species and all others, though as you state, this Tang has a high caloric intake need. In addition to the dried algae, Mysis and 'some flake food', I strongly encourage your adding a good staple pellet food on a daily basis. My fave is Spectrum pelleted by NLS; a proven winner in terms of palatability and high food value.

            As regards terrestrial greens as marine fare; I'm not a fan'¦ most are of little real nutrition, and some can result in actual internal disease. I would eschew the use of spinach and lettuce (the last almost entirely a water and cellulose placebo as food).

            And yes re the coprophagous nature of this and quite a few other fish groups. There is nothing to worry about here.

Powder Blue Tang feeding; using WWM       6/3/18
Hello Team,
I have read that the powder blue tangs like Nori Seaweed (natural/roasted).
<Mmm; insufficient nutrition>
Please advise. I am worried that my live rock does not have enough algae on it.
<Nor this. See WWM re Acanthurus leucosternon period, foods/feeding. I'd be mainly utilizing a good pelleted food (Hikari, Spectrum brands...). Bob Fenner>
Re: Powder Blue Tang feeding      6/5/18

Hello Bob, thanks for the info. A bit of a moot point now as the little bugger decided to shuffle of its mortal coil within 48 hours of being introduced to the tank.
Never mind eh, the joys of a marine reef tank owner.
<Thank you for the update Eamonn. Again, this isn't an easy aquarium species. Look to other Acanthurids; reading on WWM et al. Bob Fenner>

Thin Powder Blue Tang     5/3/13
Hello again crew. Seems like I've been writing you guys a lot lately.
<... w/ too-large image files>
 This will hopefully be my last question for a while! I ordered a Powder Blue Tang online.
<This fish is starving>
 When he arrived he was very thin but he was eating right away. He was even searching for food in the acclimation bucket! He has not come down with crypt and eats voraciously on Nori and Rod's Food soaked in Selcon.
<Ah, good>
 But as stated he is very thin. I am just wondering if there is anything more that I should be doing for him?
<Yes... NLS Spectrum pellets.... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbtfdgfaqs.htm
 Other than supplying him with an endless amount of Nori.
<Very little food value in Porphyra sheets, other algae... Bob Fenner>
 I have attached a few pictures for reference.

Re: Thin Powder Blue Tang     5/3/13
Thanks Bob. Sorry about the image sizes. I can resend with smaller sizes if you would like.
<Ah, no; too late>
 I have various sizes of NL Spectrum Pellets that I can offer.
<Oh, good>
Should I be soaking them in the Selcon solution?
<Maybe for a short while (a minute or two)>
 I am appalled in the condition that this fish showed up in.
<Very common for all wild-caught fishes to not be fed after capture...
through packing, shipping... often even while at wholesale facilities...
And Tangs as you note, eat/forage continuously by day>
 This is the second tang that showed up like this. First one was a Naso that died 4 days after arriving. I could not get that one to eat. Needless to say I will not be ordering from that company in the future.
<Ah yes; good point... Dr.s Foster and Smith (through Quality Marine) is a valid source>
<Welcome, and thank you. BobF>

Powder Blue Tang question   1/29/13
Hello WWM,
I've had a large (4.5 inches)
<Mmm, no; medium. Gets about twice this length>
Powder Blue Tang for the past 8 weeks in my 180 gallon FOWLR.  The tang eats well, on a diet of Spirulina brine shrimp, mussel meat, formula 1, and daily Nori sheets.  His stomach is not pinched in (indeed he has a little belly on him) and he is not thin behind the eyes (per your article) but I can see his spinal column quite easily, especially on the anterior half of the fish. 
<Then is thin... not atypical; and can be fattened up >
The tang is quite active and behaves normally, but should I be worried about this?
<Mmm, no. I'd use Spectrum pelleted as a basic/staple... a few times daily.
Will be plump in a few weeks to months>
  I know tangs have laterally compressed bodies, but I wondered if this was normal.
<Easily starved in transit from the wild, through the chain of custody...
Bob Fenner>

Help! Powder blue tang stopped eating   12/24/10
<Happy Xmas eve>
I have a powder blue tang in a 180 gallon tank that stopped eating and swims at the bottom of the tank like he cannot see.
<Perhaps s/he cannot>
He is bumping into the glass tank and the rocks. He is not very active at all. Water and tank quality is the same and no changes. I am not sure what to do. He does not have any signs of disease on the outside.
<Most often such cases/symptoms point to long/er term avitaminoses... deficiencies in diet... To some extent correctable at times...>
I checked the body and eyes and they appear clear. I do not know what to do. We have had the Tang for about 9 years now and do not want to lose him. Please help.
<Put the two words "Tang blindness" in the search tool here:
and read the cached views. Perhaps addition of supplements to the water, foods will rectify the situation. Bob Fenner>
Re: Help! Powder blue tang stopped eating   12/24/10
Thanks Bob. I will search the site as suggested but I am very concern that he is not eating.
How do I get him to eat?
<Please read where you were referred to. All I know re this issue is archived there. BobF>

Good morning all- I'm trying my "luck" with a powder Blue. I've done very well with tangs in the past, the only reason I'm in the market for one is that I put what was supposed to be cured live rock in my 3 year old reef tank for some fragging of xenia. Well, wasn't cured. Powder brown went down, needless to say I won't trust this shop again and I also fault myself for not taking the time to make sure and cure it myself. Sorry for the rant. The new Blue is doing well. I found a great one at the store, no scratching, eyes, skin, and color are PERFECT. He was eating spectrum pellets at store and was eating pellets and picking at rocks within 10 min.s of introducing to my tank.( I know, no QT, feel free to slap wrist here) He hasn't yet touched the green Nori on the clip yet, will try some brown and red to see if he just prefers a different flavor. What is the best food for a powder blue.
<Mmm, best... to be in the Indian Ocean picking about...>
Is spectrum +A fine for the long haul?
<Yes... friend, originator and still maker and distributor Pablo Tepoot has had a few Acanthurus leucosternon on hand for years, fed solely this food>
If he doesn't like Nori, what is the best Macro Algae to buy for this tang?
<Gracilaria, ogo... likely>
Have you guys ever tried the ISPF tang heaven package.
<Oh yes... Gerald Heslinga's products and business is known to me>
I have to reservations on spending 60-70 bucks for good Macro if it's the best way to go.
<I would only make the purchase if you're intending to attempt further culture yourself... Otherwise dried varieties are fine, purchased at local to etail "food stores">
Here in san Diego, the reef stores have been declining in quality so I'm limited as to local stuff.
<Ahh! I too reside in San Diego, and do regret that there are so few independent/mom and pop outlets (PetCo and PetSmart duking it out mostly to credit)... Do ask Pat Hurley's group at Aquatic Warehouse, Ron Elander at Octopus's Garden or the Hoffa's at Fountain's... unless you're further east (Mike's...) or north (Tri-City), for help, special-ordering. Bob Fenner>
Your help is and always has been much appreciated. Thank you.

Powder Blue Tang Not Eating - 02/02/07 Hi, <<Hello>> Thank you for your very informative web page on care of PBT. <<Thank you for reading it>> I purchased one from a store about 5 days ago that has been grazing steadily on Macro algae and picking on the live rock as well.  This fish is very active and swims around continually.  She is the only fish at present time in what for 2 months has been a live coral reef only 60-gallon tank. <<Mmm...this tank is too small for this fish in my opinion...much for the reasons you have just stated>> Temperature is a steady 80 degrees (I use a 500-Watt Finnex Titanium Heater with Controller) <<Ah!  I recently acquired a couple 300-watters when my Won Brothers locked "on" after three years usage.  The Finnex seem like fine units so far>> However the PBT refuses any frozen food I put in the tank...even the algae based garlic enhanced frozen food. <<Not all that unusual...I'm also skeptical of the utility of the "garlic" enhancement.  But yet another reason these fish should be in a large and mature system>> She however eats red Cyclop-eeze I put in the tank...but that is so tiny it hardly will sustain her. <<Hmm...is quite nutritious really>> Can she survive just eating the Macro algae and live rock pickings? <<There's likely not enough of this in this tank for the long-term and the tang will eventually require supplemental feedings>> Ick should not be an issue hopefully because I freshwater-bathed her, run a UV sterilizer and no other fish have been in this tank. <<It should be obvious if this protozoan pest is the problem>> Any new occupants will be quarantined for 2-weeks before they are put in with this fish.  Do you have any comments or suggestions to give me? <<I would continue the Cyclop-eeze and keep trying the mysis and purposeful algae/tang foods (maybe some fresh "Nori" from the supermarket), along with some glass worms and blood worms (all soaked in Selcon).  Hopefully the fish will "learn" to accept these other foods in time>> I thank you in advance, Brian B <<Regards, EricR>>
Re: Powder Blue Tang Not Eating - 02/03/07
Hi, <<Hello Brian>> Thanks for the info. <<Welcome>> Pardon my ignorance but what is "Nori"?  What is Selcon?  Where can these items be purchased? <<"Nori" is the Japanese name for various edible seaweed species.  It is as nutritious (maybe more so in some cases) as the proprietary "hobby" seaweeds and usually quite a bit less expensive.  It can usually be found in the Asian food section of your local supermarket or at an Asian grocer.  The "Selcon" I referred to is a food booster that is vitamin enriched and high in necessary fatty-acids.  It also seems to have some "attractant" properties.  Soaking foods in Selcon prior to feeding increases the nutritional value measurably and may also entice finicky feeders.  A simple keyword search on the NET will produce many possibilities for purchase...here's an example: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=5009&ref=4177&subref=AA&cm_mmc=PPC-_-Yahoo-_-fish-_-selcon >> Thanks, Brian <<Regards, EricR>>

Powder Blue Tang/Feeding...Growth  6/5/06 Hey guys and gals, <Hello Ross> Thanks for the great site, there's always something new to learn every day (whenever I'm bored at work and start browsing the FAQs!). I thought I'd share my experiences with feeding my powder blue tang. When I first got him he was painfully thin and was almost a compassion buy, I really wanted to try and bring him around. At first he wasn't eating at all, and didn't know what the heck seaweed on a clip was, so I started off with small sheets of Nori wedged in between the rocks in the tank. Eventually he seemed to get the idea that this tasted better than all the other stuff! Through time and patience he eventually realized that hey, this stuff on the clip is the same as that stuff down there, and hey presto, he started feeding from a clip. I guess all told the process of getting him to feed from a clip took around a month, there was a lot of finger crossing and hair pulling in the mean time, and it was very much trial and error. I'm a year on now, and he's grown about another two inches in length and looks downright porky, with not a hint of whitespot. <Great to hear.> Hope my experiences with leaving little bits of Nori in between rocks helps someone else wean their PB onto veggies... <Will post your experience.> My question is (he's about six inches in length now) how long can I expect him to take to grow fully? I've had him for about a year, and now he's in a 6ftx2ft2ft tank so has a bit of room to grow in. He gets an unlimited supply of seaweed from his clip as well. Just wondering what to expect in the future! <All depends on nutrition, water quality, etc.  Difficult to predict. James (Salty Dog)> Many thanks, Ross.

Several Questions (11/28/04) If only I had found you guys about a month ago! <Glad to help now. Steve Allen this evening.> Primaries: 105 gal tank with bubble ball sump, protein skimmer producing about 50 ml.s daily, 110 watts compact lights (tank is 18 inches tall), 150 lb live rock. Temp 77 all other parameters within normal. <In medicine, we joke that WITHIN NORMAL means "we never looked," rather than "within normal limits."> There is a 1/4 inch coral sand bottom. Food: Mysis, Emerald Entree, Nori.  Inhabitants: 3 Damsels, coral beauty, snowflake eel, arrow crab, cleaner shrimp, flame hawk, and low light corals (mushrooms and polyps). Question 1:  There is a green algae growing (since the end of summer) on the live rock (I didn't recognize it on you FAQ pages). <Check Julian Sprung's excellent Algae book for ID and other useful info. Inexpensive and useful.>  It is in small clumps that raise to about 1/4 inch high. There are no hair-like projections. <I cannot ID on that basis.> Frankly, I find it very attractive but am beginning to worry about this is interfering with the growth of the beneficial micro algae. <Perhaps, but just what do you mean by "beneficial" microalgae.> Any ideas what it is and is it okay in the tank? <The "algae problem" is primarily and aesthetic one. If you like it, keep it as long as you can control it so it does not overrun coral. Most  folks prefer the appearance of purple/red coralline algae to the green stuff. As long as you are testing and keeping nitrates down, this is not a dangerous problem.> This recent worry comes from the issue in question 2. Question 2:  My local shop sold me on a powder blue tang. <How nice of them to sell you such a difficult fish without adequate info.> Curiosity about its home waters led me to the net and on to you. Of course now having read through your pages, I am worried sick. <One can succeed with this fish. Check here for an excellent article Bob Fenner wrote about this fish: http://www.marineland.com/seascope/ss_Issue1_04.pdf > It is a very healthy specimen, colors are vivid and intense and the fish is fat. <All good signs.> He has been in my tank about a week without issue <Yet. Ich is the biggie with these guys. Pray it does not get an infestation.>, no disputes with his tank mates either way and has found several ways through the rock, going in one spot and coming out another. He is extremely shy and as soon as I try to feed the fish, he disappears. <It will take time for him to get used to his new environs.> He is grazing the rock but isn't eating the green algae mentioned above. I have baked Nori so am heading to the store to get dried. <Julian Sprung's Sea Veggies are great and are sold at Petco.> Given the above parameters, do I need to be changing anything to accommodate this powder blue tang? <Read the article.> Question 3: I have a very young and small French Angel that is in my quarantine tank.  He has developed fin and tail rot.  I have added Kanamycin but the instructions are extremely vague. <Most likely because there is little scientific data to support any given course of therapy.> It says that the dose may be repeated in 24 hours. <OK to do so then.> How do I use this product and how long before I can add this angel to my display tank? <I would watch the fish for improvement in the fins. Do some on-line research regarding use of Kanamycin in fish. You might want to see if there is an vet in your area that is knowledgeable about fish. Do not put in the main until clearly improving. I'd also suggest you start saving for a bigger tank. As your angel and tang grow, I'd say they need a 240 to thrive.> Bob <Hope this helps.>

PB Tang & French Angel, Part 2 (11/30/04) Good Evening Steve, <Hello again.> Thanks, the article re: Powder blues was an immense help.  <Great to hear. Bob has done great things for this hobby.>  Actually I am beginning to feel a little encouraged. I have a fan coral skeleton in the tank and the tang spent the entire day grazing on it's algae. It is also showing signs of territoriality chasing a little blue damsel out of the area. <all encouraging signs. Now pray for no ich.> Hopefully, my tang is a male, as I understand they are much smaller specimens. <Not much.> Now back to the main problem, the French Angel. I am feeding this little guy about 4-5 times a day, all just enough for him to eat in an effort to fatten him up a little in the belief that the bacterial infection is the result of a poor immune system. <Surely contributory. Always helps to be well nourished. Consider soaking in vitamins and Selcon. You may want to soak in garlic too, which promotes appetite and may have antimicrobial and immune-boosting properties.> He is a voracious eater. <Always encouraging.> Question:  The day I started the Kanamycin I noticed that his right eye started to get cloudy (all over)  In 24 hours the left eye started to cloud as well. Could the Kanamycin be responsible for this, or is this further evidence of bacterial infection? <The hard part is that it could be either and there is no way to tell.> Trying to decide whether I need to 2nd dose or remove treatment. His tail and fin rot has definitely stabilized. Opinion? <You're going to nail me down on this one, eh? Sometimes a single dose is enough. It would be reasonable to let the Kanamycin go away via filtration and water changes. Keep the water pristine and the fish well-nourished and it will hopefully recover. If it appears to be worsening, you might want to choose some other antibiotic, perhaps at the recommendation of a vet who knows fish. It is certainly worth the effort and expense to work to get this fish health and thriving again.> Acanthurus leucosternon Hello at Wet Web, <Howdy> I brought in a beautiful Powder Blue (arrived 4 days ago), and to date he is not interested in any of the aquarium fare. He is housed with one roomie, a Purple Tang, who was introduced into the system at the same time as the Powder. They get along fine. I've been reefing and aquaculturing since 1990 and have many Tangs in my systems, the youngest of which I've had for almost 3 years, and they all commenced feeding within a day or so. The Powder does pick at and pay close attention to the Nori I placed in the tank, but he doesn't inhale it like all my other Tangs. I realize it takes time for certain fish to acclimate to their new surroundings, but the Purple Tang who was introduced to the system at the same time will eat anything offered, and the Powder shows no interest. <Different species... often takes a while on arrival to acclimate> Is there something special he may go for to get him started?  <Live rock with various species of algae growing on it> Unfortunately, there are no "lead" fish in this system, so he has no one to watch and "catch on." He and the Purp are it; no other fish will be added. Water quality is good. Checked all parameters (I'm anal about that!). Mr. Powder has great color--very blue and very black face--no fading, etc., does not "appear" stressed. I realize 4 days isn't all that long, but I'm not accustomed to not being able to get a fish to eat within a day or two. For the record, I've tried the following frozen foods: Spirulina Fortified Brine Shrimp, Regular Brine Shrimp (have never known a fish that wouldn't go for Brine), Formula I, Formula II, Prime Reef, and a couple others. He's not interested. I've also tried some Spirulina flake, etc., and no go. Suggestions? <Hopefully time will see a change in this specimens interest in food. Not an easy Acanthurus to keep in captive conditions by and large. Bob Fenner> Many thanks, Peggy

Feeding a Powder Blue Tang WWM people, <David D. at your service this evening> I purchased a medium size Powder Blue Tang from my LFS approximately 2 weeks ago; I have a 100 gallon tank. <OK> This tang had been living in a reef tank, but was donated to the LFS as the previous owner was leaving the state. My question is what do these tangs eat other than algae on the rocks <Won't eat hair algae. Will eat some Caulerpa> small bubble algae <unlikely to eat this>, and the Ocean Nutrition Green Marine Algae sheets I clip in the tank? <Will definitely eat this. If you want a cheaper alternative, try Nori from the Asian section of the supermarket. Get the dried form not the one that has been baked. It's much cheaper than the greens at the LFS>

Powder Blue Tang I have had my Powder Blue tang home for 4 days now and it is very busy picking at the live rock (155lbs) and I put in some dried seaweed on a clip which he eats as well. <Good!> But the fish doesn't seem to want to come up to the top for flake food. <There is no flake food in the wild, so you fish does not yet recognize it as food.> I have Tetra, when I sprinkle it on the water the fish doesn't either pay attention or doesn't even notice. Is there something else I should try to do? <I would continue with the Nori for now, later attaching some other vegetable matter foods (something like Formula Two) on the same clip. Please search www.WetWebMedia.com for additional husbandry tips on this fish.> The fish is very active and playful and looks very healthy. Not getting skinny or anything. Thanks, Ian Roff <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Powder Blue Tang <Hello, Ryan with you today> I just purchased a PB Tang from my LFS and he looks to be real healthy. <Hi, these questions are posted online for everyone to refer to for help- Abbreviations such as PB for Powder Blue should be avoided.  Thanks> I slowly acclimated him into my tank (Yellow tang, Fox Face Lo, a Zebra Moray Eel, and some corals). I have read so many different things on this fish that I am beyond confused about caring for him. Some web sites say that they are impossible to keep and others say they are ok to keep, some say feed this for best results and others say different. So I figured that I would shoot you guys an e-mail because I really trust what you say. Can you tell me how to have the best results with my PB Tang? I really want him to be a success. Is Nori with Garlic and Vitamin C, flake, citrus fruits, and live rock grazing enough? <May want to try some "Sea Veggies" for a variety of macro-algae.> I am buying today a lot of extra live rock just for him because I read that you need a lot for this fish (I have some but will have a lot after today). <Yes, but it will take some time for algae to colonize the rocks- This preferably would be done prior to purchase.>  The person at the LFS said that he will eat Mysis and Krill, should this be part of his daily diet as well? <He'll eat the meats you offer other fish, he doesn't need it specifically.> Any advise on this fish to help him thrive would be greatly accepted. <This species is highly susceptible to infectious disease.  I encourage you to quarantine all new arrivals.  The more variety of greenery you can offer him, the better his health will be.  Be advised that this fish truly needs 300+ gallons to be in full health and personality.  Good luck, Ryan> Thank you, JB

Feeding New Powder Blue 8/8/04 Hi Bob et al, <Steve Allen today.> I received a new powder blue tang from Marine Center on Friday. <A beautiful, yet notoriously difficult fish.> After following your acclimation tips (nice job on the article, btw) he is now in QT. He looks healthy, he swims well and is very active but he hasn't eaten anything yet. I've tried brine shrimp (soaked in Selcon), Seaweed Selects, and two different flake foods but he seems uninterested. I've read that it is normal for a new fish not to eat for a while but when should I begin worrying? <I wouldn't worry just yet. Can you get some fresh Gracilaria or Ulva? Live brine shrimp may induce eating. Frozen Mysis might help. Garlic sometimes stimulated appetite. You can find info about this by searching the FAQs. Powder blues are delicate. The downside of on-line fish ordering is that you can't be sure he had been eating there or what they fed him. How big is the fish? Small ones and large ones can be harder to get eating. How big is your QT? He may be feeling cramped too. I'd give it a few days and try some other foods as above. Good luck.> Thanks. <You're welcome. Hope this helps.> WM P.S. great site!!! <Glad to hear you find it helpful. I certainly do.>

More on Getting a New Powder Blue to Eat (8/8/04) Hi Steve. <Hello again.> Thanks for the reply. He's about 4" and is in a 20H QT. <Sounds reasonable.> I have some grape Caulerpa but no other macroalgae right now (may be time to start growing them again, I could throw some in a 10gal.). <Grape Caulerpa isn't among the more appetizing macroalgae. Most Tangs love Gracilaria.> Marine Center claims their fish are QT'd and eating before shipping but you're right that I don't know what they fed him. I have some garlic and some frozen brine and I can pick up some live brine and frozen Mysis tomorrow. <Definitely worth a try. They do need their veggies.> Hopefully one of those will do the trick. <That plus a little "tincture of time." Thanks again. <Most welcome--do keep us posted. Steve Allen.> WM  

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine

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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