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FAQs on the Powder Blue Tang 1

Related Articles: Powder Blue Tangs, Acanthurus Tangs

Related FAQs: Powder Blue Tangs 2, Powder Blue Tang Identification, PBT Behavior, PBT Compatibility, PBT Selection, PBT Systems, PBT Feeding, 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,

A beautiful adult specimen in the Maldives.

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Got the Powder Blues As I love marine life, I am going to try and do as much research as possible before I make a big decision in my little biotope. I just purchased the nicest looking specimen of Z. desjardinii, about 2" long, a few days ago. He's doing splendid on the Ulva and other assorted macroalgae I've been growing in my refugium just for him. I have read that Z. desjardinii is one of the most docile members of a very aggressive family of fish. My question is this, I also really think Acanthurus leucosternon is a beautiful specimen as well. Since the Z. desjardinii will be introduced into the system first, and will have more than ample time to adapt, would it be possible to add the Acanthurus sp. with a chance of coexistence? The tank is a 180G reef. Thanks in advance. ***Hey Brandon, Z. desjardinii is one of the largest Zebrasoma species. While hardy, and a great fish for larger tanks, I wouldn't mix it with any other tangs in a tank that size. 180 gallons sounds like a lot, but it's still only 6' of real estate. These tangs can get rather territorial. About the powder blue. Stay away from them. They are an extremely delicate species, and shouldn't be collected/imported. Most don't make it through collection and importation to begin with. Those few that do mostly die in the wholesalers and stores. Of the very few that are left, most die in hobbyist's tanks. Although there are success stories here and there, those are the exception and should not be used as a barometer to gauge the hardiness of this species. It's a large, active, surge dwelling species with a huge territory in the wild. It doesn't adapt to being kept in a glass box. It's one of those fish that should be left in the ocean, the few that acclimate and live do not justify the further collection of this fish. Regards Jim***

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 Powder Blue Rehabilitation First I would like to commend all of you For the fine job you do! <That's very kind of you.> Answering all these questions Helping everybody you can. <I know we all try.> Even when the common Sense in a lot of persons seem to be absent, you always Pull through. The Dedication, you all have Just amaze Me. The Service you supply to many with no Monetary requirements Is Unbelievable. We purchase livestock from our LFS, knowing the advice we get from them is far from the truth, when our Systems go astray, there is Bob Fenner and crew. I Really wish their were Strict licensing and a test LFS should go through before they can open. <Interesting thoughts but honestly for the most part there are caring individuals working in them.>  I Do not think I will live to see that. I have recently Purchased Robert Fenner's Book, and found it to be OUTSTANDING!. <One of my personal favorites and a top reference book.> I bought at the local LFS and They Told me they herd it was a good book. My comment was " I can see you obviously just herd about it, If you had read it, You would keep your live Stock in much better shape" <Perhaps they didn't see something? I know when I worked in a store we stayed pretty busy.> Anyway I do have a question, sorry about the length, it is easy To Email all the bad, but I needed to say this, hoping All realize The value of what they are getting at there disposal. I have read persons Getting mad at the crew because they didn't like what you have said, But I wont go there! Hats off to you crew!!!!! Here is my question. >From time to time I go to LFS, and buy the livestock that is not doing well. I am not trying to encourage them however, They will die either way. <Believe me I understand why you would do this but the idea is that if they lose enough fish of a certain type the pet store will stop ordering them.> If they get healthy and I am satisfied, I Sell them to good homes. I wouldn't Even ask for money However , I find when People spend money on something They take care of it. I bought a Powder Blue Tang, He was getting beat up Bad by some trigger fish and a Type of Sea Bass. LFS moved him in front of me And he looked really Bad. LFS Guy said "You Take, 20 Dollar" So I Did. I have him in a hospital tank, He is very skinny, He does Eat. (Hosp. Tank is 30 Gal) I soak Spirulina flakes (Soaked with Zo?And Selcon) Some Brine & Mysis. He barely has no color in his face Were it is suppose to be Black. He sometimes Swims very fast but then lays down. When he lays down sometimes his breathing is Labored, Sometimes not. He seems alert to his surroundings. And as I said he is extremely Boney. Tank has 300gph Power Head. Added Extra Aeration, As I know Powder Blue Tangs Need Lots of Oxygen. Readings are All ok at this time. Do you think this is Cyanide or Just a bad Malnutrition? <Hmmm or an internal parasite of some kind.> He Does Not have any signs of Ich at all, which surprises me. His eyes right now are Clear but his face seems sunk in. Can you give me advice. <You might try some Caulerpa and just adding the Selcon or Zo?to the tank. Vitamin C will help the fish. You might consider adding some cleaner shrimp to the quarantine area if safe for them. There's something irritating the fish. Usually if its cyanide the fish is gone within a couple of weeks.> By the way I do not make money of the fish, It either goes to the next bad fish or as last time I donated to the Save the Reef Foundation, Here in Florida. Its Only a little Here and there But any bit helps I Guess. I thank you for your in put ( Other than being an Idiot for doing this) My Success rate is about 60%. Thanks.... <Good luck, MacL> 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,

Very Thin PBT - What to do?  >Hi Marina,  >>Hi Tyler.  >It's me again. Just curious if you had found out anything on his swollen stomach.  >>Well, I've gotten some ideas, but nothing concrete.  >I wanted to clear up a couple of things as well. He is always swimming around and grazing on rockwork.  >>Alright, so I believe we can rule out stress, as long as he's not "pacing" the tank. What we're looking for is natural behavior here. However, should you decide to treat him for internal parasites, you MUST put him into a hospital tank to do this.  >He likes to sit up by the powerhead at night after he is fed. He is eating Nori more aggressively and is always alert. He does look like he is putting some weight on.  >>EXCELLENT! I am very happy to hear this, Tyler.  >How long does it usually take fish to die from cyanide poisoning?  >>There are so many variables that I can only give you a broad range, which is from instantly (moot), to about 4-6 months depending on species. I believe this is a high-calorie requiring fish, given its natural diet and swimming behavior/activity level. So, *if* the problem is cyanide, I wouldn't give him more than three months from collection.  >Can they recover from this in anyway?  >>No, the damage is permanent. To the reef from which they're collected as well.  >Thanks.  >>Alright, I'm going to relay portions of Anthony's response to you first: first, in regards to behavior - "...this fish comes from very high action/dynamic areas of a reef (surge) and as such is more sensitive (read: shows stress earlier/first than other fishes). <snip> ...of the fish hanging out near the power head(s). <snip> ...a very typical behavior (stress induced) of Powder Blue tangs in captivity along with "pacing" (running back and forth along the glass as if in pursuit of its own reflection). For reasons not entirely clear to us, the behavior stops with the addition of much better/higher water flow."  >>In regards to treatment and diet - "a preventative flush for parasites would not be bad at all. Seachem sells Metronidazole in a powder form (tube) that can be added to food or water. Not a bad idea here. <snip> ... this fishy needs some fatty and high protein foods. Short and sweet solution would be to get the fish eating frozen Mysis and freeze dried anything soaked in Selco or Selcon. Judging by the glimpse of corals in the background of the picture, it seems like this chap has enough connections to get some Gracilaria from a local merchant or direct them to IPSF.com for "tang heaven". I strongly encourage anyone desirous of keeping a PBT to grow their own Gracilaria in a refugium."  >>Now, Scott Fellman brings up an important observation regarding white, stringy feces; this is a strong indication of bacterial infection. This could be secondary. If this fish has those feces, then an antibiotic (after trying the anti-parasitic meds) would definitely be in order here. As to the swollen belly, it very well could be that it appears so abnormal because this fish is essentially badly starved - as in concentration camp starved. The second pic you sent he does look fatter, let's keep that trend going! Marina

Very Thin Powder Blue Tang  >>Hi, this is Marina again. I had to respond to you ASAP because I took a look at your tang and he is painfully thin.  >Here is my PBT. Does he look skinny to you?  >>As above, painfully so, this fish appears to be entirely unhealthy I'm afraid.  >Like I said, he eats Mysis like a pig and is eating Nori. Should I be concerned? Thanks.  >>There could be a couple of things going on with this fish, both mean that he may eat a large amount, but simply cannot process what's taken in. Parasitic infection (internal) is one, and another, more common unfortunately, is exposure to cyanide. Parasitic infection is treatable, cyanide exposure is not. Feed the heck out of this fish, and read up on Acanthurus leucosternon here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/powdbluetg.htm   (Although as time goes on, more and more people are having good success with these fish.) Marina

Very Thin Powder Blue Tang - Follow up  >Thanks for the quick reply.  >>You're welcome, I feel the fish looks bad enough that it was warranted.  >I will start feeding him as many times a day as he will eat. Should I try foods high in protein?  >>I wouldn't target in that manner, what's most healthy is as much variety as he will take. Along with (or in lieu of) that, soaking in the supplement, Selcon, will help greatly. He definitely needs vegetable matter, so if he doesn't take the Nori, try romaine lettuce, "nuked" broccoli (soften the flesh for the fish), spinach, "nuked" kale/Swiss chard, zucchini.  >What symptoms are related to internal parasites?  >>What you're looking at and describing fits BOTH internal parasites and cyanide exposure results. If you've had the animal for 6 months or less, then it makes the cyanide exposure more of a possibility. Do Google our homepage for "internal parasites", just in case, but I wouldn't treat him at this point, he's far too thin in my opinion to handle the strong medications.  >All my other fish seem fine. Thanks.  >>Good, glad to hear that. It may be that he's had a very rough go of it, these fish ARE delicate. Hopefully your set up is such that he's got the best chance of recovering, or at least putting some weight on. If you check today's daily picture, I specifically posted a healthy PBT for you to see what they should look like, and I specifically chose an aquarium specimen, for comparison. Best of luck! Marina

Very Thin Powder Blue Tang - Follow up  >Do I ever appreciate the advice.  >>I'm glad to help.  >Today, he ate Special Formula VHO.  >>EXCELLENT!  >I will try different foods each day. Just to let you know, because I never said, my tank is a 135 reef with more than enough rockwork to graze on. Thanks and I'll keep you updated.  >>Then I think we'd be hard-pressed to find this fish a better place, yeah? I'm keeping my fingers crossed! Marina

Opie, the Skinniest Powder Blue Tang - Part IV  >Thanks for all the responses, it is very much appreciated.  >>You're quite welcome, Tyler.  >I don't think water flow is an issue, since I have four MaxiJet 1200 powerheads in the tank along with the spray bar returning the water from the sump.  >>Honestly, considering the areas where this fish is found, it's difficult for the home aquarist to duplicate the heavy movement found in these frontal reef zones. Closest I've seen is one of the LBAOP's California displays, and what they have is a HUGE (and loud) surge-bucket setup. The water movement in that display is TREMENDOUS considering the relative size. (And boy did it get a little bit scary a couple of times feeding, the rocks you have to step onto can be quite slippery!)  >One more question & I will leave you alone.  >>No no, please don't. We're all interested in this fish's progress, Tyler.  >Would you recommend feeding him with the Metronidazole in the display or in a QT? I did a search and got mixed answers. Thanks for all the help.  >>Absolutely always do any and all treatment in quarantine/hospital tank. Marina

- Singing the Powder Blues? - Hi Crew, I need you opinion regarding whether I should be concerned about my power blue tang.  I just noticed a small grayish patch (appears similar to mildew or a bruise) near its tail (see attached close-up picture).  Typically this would not concern me but I did have a previous powder blue tang that had a similar area that continually expanded until the fish rotted-away.  This previous powder blue tang did have other health issues as it's fins were rotting, it had a reduced appetite, a cloudy eye and a near-complete loss of coloration.  This previous Powder Blue tang died in my quarantine tank so the fish in my display tank were never exposed to it. <Understood.> I have had this current powder blue tang for over three months and it has always appeared to be very healthy.  As you can see from the "full-fish" picture, it appears well (at least to me).  I am just concerned of the possibility that this gray/black patch could be the same problem (just in an early stage) my previous powder blue tang died from.  My water parameters are: Temp: 78 deg F, Salinity: 1.0235, NH3=0, NO3=0, NO4= 5 PPM, Ph=8.1, Ca=380. Does the attached picture provide enough detail to diagnose the problem? <Yes and no.> Should I be doing anything to address this? <Well... I've seen a couple of the lightly colored tangs that are able to turn dark in spots... and it's not always related to their night/fright pattern. I'm thinking of a Unicorn Tang I took in trade that had some spots not unlike the ones you describe and what appear in the photos. The back spots continued long beyond the fright pattern, but did go away on their own in a couple of days. I don't know what those spots were but do think they are related either to color alteration like night/fright or a sign of stress or both. Not certain this is what's going on in this case, but it's worth just keeping an eye on things for now, make sure it is still eating well... get ready to treat just in case... get the quarantine tank fired up.> This fish is in a 180g tank with 200 pounds of rock so catching it is nearly impossible. <Actually not... three 50 gallon Brute trash cans should do the trick. Use a one inch drain hose and siphon the tank into the cans... put some of the live rock in there, put others into bins. Once water is down to eight inches or so, just scoop the fish out and refill the tank. But don't think you're at this point yet, but do consider giving the fish a pH/temperature-adjusted freshwater dip on the way into quarantine if you do end up having to catch it.> Thank you for your help!
<Cheers, J -- >

- Powder Blue Blues - Hi Crew, I know you hear this constantly but I just want to reiterate how much I appreciate the information you provide! Three days ago I purchased from my LFS the (soon to be) latest additions to my 180 gal aquarium: a ~2" Foxface Lo, a ~2" Purple Tang and a ~4" Powder Blue Tang.  Currently these three fish are in my 20 gal hospital tank (Salinity=1.024 SG, Ammonia=0.25 PPM, Nitrite=0.25 PPM, Temp=81 ?F, Mardel CopperSafe Chelated CuSO4, Whisper 30 filter + sponge filter + ~15 lbs live rock).  The problem is the Powder Blue Tang is beginning to develop some type of wound (lesion/abrasion/fungus?) in about three areas (photos attached).  Two spots are approximately pea-sized and one is slightly smaller than a dime.  These patches appear to be slightly raised or to have a few bumps within a discolored area (possibly as if a repeated abrasion). I would not describe these areas as having a "cauliflower appearance". The Powder Blue also occasionally shakes and swims in quick circles. <I wouldn't be so concerned about this as much as I would be about these 'wounds'.> My LFS suggested this is not a reason to worry as it could just be "shaking off" a parasite or minor infection that will soon be cured by the copper. <Do believe the opposite, that the shaking is just a natural behavior and the spots are a reaction to the copper. If I were you, I'd discontinue the copper treatment unless you are sure there is a good reason for it, i.e. Cryptocaryon [ich] or similar parasitic problem. Many tangs react poorly to copper and it should only be dosed at very low levels. I realize the Powder Blue is a notorious ich magnet but it would be best to observe the problem first rather than just treating the tank with something that may do more harm than good at this point.>  Although I would not describe this fish as having a voracious appetite, it does appear to be eating (Spectrum Thera+A anti-parasite food, Nori and homemade food with Selcon).  The three fish do not appear to be the least bit aggressive toward each other.  I do not see a single ich spot on the Powder Blue but the Purple Tang appears to have a substantial case of Cryptocaryon. <I'd separate these and treat them individually - not only for the reasons I just listed, but also because a 20 gallon tank is rather small for these three fish.> Do you have any idea what is wrong with my Powder Blue Tang, if this is anything I should be concerned about and, if so, how to cure this?  Could the Copper be irritating this fish? <Possibly - would be my first guess.> I noticed my (Red Sea) Copper test kit is not made for chelated Copper but I did add the recommended amount of CopperSafe to previously copper-free water so I am hoping (at least initially) the copper concentration is correct.  My Copper Test kit measures 0.3 PPM Cu (exactly what the kit recommends as the "optimum copper level") but I have read that the proper ionic concentration is 0.15 PPM.  Can any correlation be drawn for chelated copper concentrations when using a Copper test kit intended for measuring ionic copper? <No - wrong test.> Thanks again for the help! Greg Wyatt <Cheers, J -- >
- Powder Blue Blues, Follow-up II -
Thank you for the response. <My pleasure.> I sent you a follow-up picture of this Powder Blue last night with a more serious problem so we will probably be crossing emails. <Indeed, have seen this photo and replied.> This fish now has a large, fleshy hole on top of its head. <Yeah, no good...> I have added Maracyn and Melafix to the hospital tank in hopes of combating this but I am not really certain of the cause so I hope to get your input once you see the picture. I have another problem as I have only one hospital tank so I really have no way of separating the Powder Blue Tang and the Purple Tang.  Luckily, these fish appear to not be the least bit aggressive. <Still, much can happen when you're not watching and more so once one of the two begins to weaken.> The purple tang has now gone from being completely covered with ich and black spots to having only very few remaining spots. <You do realize that these parasites have life cycles - they often disappear only to return at a later time in greater numbers.> So it now appears that my choices are to remove the copper and deal with ich or to leave the copper and possibly be damaging the powder blue. <Is what I would do.> There are two hermit crabs that are still alive in the hospital tank (discovered them in the sand a few days ago) so I hope this is an indication (although not very accurate) that copper levels are not overly high. <As I stated yesterday, hermit crabs are tough and will tend to make it long beyond other inverts in the presence of copper. You might also look for something that might be absorbing the copper.> Please recommend what I should do - copper or not.  I guess another option is to remove the Copper and add Ich-Cure (formalin & malachite green).  Would this be a better alternative? <The formalin-malachite green is probably better for tangs - the coppers tends to knock out a useful bacteria in their digestive systems which then exacerbates the fish's problems. I would concentrate on water quality for the moment, and really consider getting a second quarantine tank so you can guarantee no one will pick at this wound.> Greg
<Cheers, J -- >

- More of the Powder Blue Blues - Hi Crew, I am just checking in again with my Powder Blue Tang problems.  Although your advice has likely not changed, I guess I am just hoping you will see something in the attached picture or some little bit of information will trigger you to say: "Oh, I've seen this before and all you need to do is this..." (hey, I can always hope -- right?). I am now treating this fish with Maracyn, Maracyn-Two and Melafix.  Instead of improving, the situation just appears to be getting worse (see attached picture). <Not good - at this point you have a better chance of winning the lottery than seeing this fish recover.> In addition to the large wound in the fish's head and discoloration on its sides, now its fins are rotting off.  Half of the left pectoral fin is now gone and the dorsal fin is rotting in about a 1/2" section.  The right eye has now also clouded over.  The only slight encouragement is that this fish still has a healthy appetite.  He is regularly eating Formula II, Spectrum Thera+A and Nori.  There are also hundred of tiny white creatures crawling over the glass in the hospital tank.  I am hoping, since these are large enough to see, they are only harmless 'pods of some sort although some are surrounded by "legs". I have spent MANY hours scouring the web to fins photos or descriptions of fish diseases, trying to determine what this is and how to treat it but obviously this is not working.  My best guess is that this is some sort of external bacterial infection. <Actually, what I see from the photos is a fish in serious decline...> Since I have read that bacterial infections can quickly take over at temperatures above 76?F, I have lowered the hospital tank temp to 75?F.  I am doing 25% daily water changes (taking water from my 180 gal main tank to minimize drastic changes) and all parameters are staying fairly normal (1.023 SG, 0.25 PPM ammonia, 0.25 PPM nitrite).  I have tried to keep the ammonia down but I think the combination of gram positive and gram negative antibiotics has really reduced my biological filtration capabilities. Is there ANYTHING else I can do to try to save this fish? <My friend, this fish is very likely doomed. If these pictures were all I had to go on, I wouldn't bet on it if it were the only horse in the race. I'm sorry to say this, but if it were mine, I'd be considering euthanizing it rather than prolonging the inevitable.> Do you know what disease this could be? <It seems to me to be just general break down, and no real specific or single disease.> Should I try an anti-fungal medication? <I wouldn't do anything else at this point except end its suffering.> I do not like to keep treating this fish without knowing for certain what is wrong but I really do not want to see it die either. <You are already doing this, watching it die, I mean.> Sorry for the long email but I am just want to be certain I am doing everything I can to help this fish (rather than harm it).  I greatly appreciate all the great advice you provide via this forum! Greg
<Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Pax, J -- >

Question on powder-blue tang Question on powder-blue tang and... Anthony says Caulerpa Good? (AKA the Pigs started flying post and snowballs were just spotted...) Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in his stead... Steve and I decided to duct tape Bob to his desk chair and feed him applesauce with a slingshot because he insists on being a world traveler instead of working on the new Reef Invertebrates book...Ha! OK... now what's our excuse?> Please find attached an image of my tang. If you look on the side at high magnification you will see something. Is it a scratch or a parasite or HLLE? Looks like some "white stuff" like sand on the side close to the right gill. It is aggregated and it is almost along the gill on the black. <thanks for the picture... it was very clear and helpful. Illuminating a compliment and criticism of your system... 1) a compliment to your obviously thorough attention to nutrient control as the live rock wholly in the picture is devoid of any soft turf or nuisance algae. Just carbonate rock and corallines. 2) (the crit) Because of your strict nutrient control... the tank is entirely inhospitable to an average herbivore... let alone a delicate (nutritionally) herbivore species like the Powder Blue. Your fish has enlarged olfactory pores and HLLE.. almost certainly mitigated by a dietary deficiency. No supplemental feeding can replace the quality of natural algae species... you need to have some. And if brine shrimp or terrestrial plants make up any significant part of this fishes diet (spinach, lettuce, etc)... I am no less surprised of its condition. Regular readers of the WWM FAQs hear me rant about how Caulerpa refugiums are useless for most systems... well, SURPRISE: this is a great application for a Caulerpa refugium. Fish displays with high bio-loads and heavy herbivorous fishes will flourish very fine if you add/install a fishless Caulerpa refugium. Let the plants grow quick and absorb a lot of nutrients, harvest the plants and feed them to the fishes... the fishes excrement will help to grow new plants! A wonderful cycle. Marine algae like Nori seaweed are helpful too. Still... such tangs still get a lot of microplankton in the algae they eat. Feed crustaceans like Gammarus and mysids as well> Did he attacked or was attacked by a starfish? <nope... few starfish if any could catch this tang> Please advise. Sound stupid but I hate loosing an animal... <not stupid at all my friend. I admire your empathy> Regards, Mike <best regards, Anthony>

Re: question on powder-blue tang Hi Anthony, thanks for the quick response :-D <my pleasure> I did feed it with Nori seaweed and mysids shrimps as well as brine shrimps but it does not seemed to eat any of those. <keep offering the Nori and mysids. Throw the brine shrimp away... seriously. It is a nutritionally hollow food and fish literally starve to death on it. Find some live rock from a high nutrient tank (LFS or fellow aquarist) that has a bunch of scrub turf algae on it. Let him graze naturally in the meantime> He is a new addition to my tank (Aug. 15) and started to show these HLLE next day at night. <very interesting! and rather sudden... could likely be stress induced. Is this a smaller tank? Powder Blues are notorious for pacing (swimming nervously back and forth) in tanks that are too small (under 6' long... needing 100+ gallons) or in tanks with modest water flow (They like VERY strong water movement). Do consider if these are possible my friend> Since it takes a couple of days setting a refugium, I guessed I will give him Caulerpa in the mean time. <helpful indeed> Is it too late or there is still hope that he will recover ? <it can easily recover> Thanks for your good advice. Regards, Mike <with kind regards, Anthony>

Powder Blue Blues! I have had my Powder Blue Tang home for a week now. I don't have a quarantine tank.  <Gotta get one of those!> He has been fine up until now but today he seems weird. He is going back and forth from one end of the tank to the other really fast. Hasn't done this before constantly. He seems to be rubbing on the rock a lot more than he used to. My levels are PH 8.2, Ammonia 0.5 which has been like this for about 3 weeks, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20. My Lionfish's behaviour hasn't changed at all.  <Detectible ammonia is not normal-please re-check and verify the reading. Take appropriate action to see that you don't see any ammonia reading in the future.> I am starting to get real concerned and am going to get a quarantine tank tomorrow and set it up. <A good long-term move. Keep a sharp eye on the lionfish, as well. Be sure to quarantine all future purchases for 3 weeks before placing them in your main system> I know this fish is hard to keep in captivity, what should I do? <The first thing is to take a good hard look at your tang. Are there any apparent spots, sores, parasites? At this point, removing him to a hospital tank may be a prudent move. You should perform a freshwater dip before placing him in the hospital tank (see www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm for more information). Keep a close eye on the tang during its stay in the hospital tank, and be prepared to take appropriate action should symptoms continue. These fish require careful feeding (lots of algae in their diet) and above average water quality for optimal long-term health.> I don't want to lose it. What is the fastest way to get the quarantine tank running with sufficient biological filtration? <Generally, you should keep a sponge filter or media in your sump at all times for such emergencies. At this point, you may need to rely on one of commercial nitrifying bacterial cultures to "jump start" your filter. Keep observing your fish carefully, use the resources on wetwebmedia.com, and always, always quarantine! I'm sure that your tang will do okay if you act promptly. Good luck! Scott F.> Thanks, Ian Roff
Powder Blue Blues II
The tang seems to have a few very small spots on his side and his face has kind of turned white instead of black. The blue areas are starting to go pale as well. He has seemed to settle down a lot bit but is still rubbing on the rock. What should I do? <Well- sounds like ich, but difficult to be certain from here. If it were me, once I verified that it was ich, I'd perform a 3 to 5 minute freshwater dip, followed by a stay in you hospital tank. I would administer a commercial copper sulphate treatment and follow the manufacturer's instructions for use. Always test for copper if you elect to go this route. You need to make sure that you are maintaining a proper therapeutic concentration. Keep a close eye on your fish during the treatment period, maintain high water quality in the hospital tank, and good feeding. Copper is very effective, but is tough on tangs if administered for long period of time; do be certain that ich is indeed the condition that you're dealing with. Check out this FAQ: wwwmarparasitcurfaqs.htm  to make sure. Good luck, Scott F.>
Re: Powder Blue Tang, Possible Ich Outbreak Hi Scott it's me again sorry for all the questions but I am getting even more concerned after reading some information on the site about ich and fish dying. <Not a problem, my friend-that's what I'm here for> My Lion seems to be twitching a little bit a using his pectoral fins to swat at himself, just started. my wife reminded me that last Saturday we stupidly put in a cleaner shrimp that became dinner 3 hours latter. Could this have anything to do with this problem?  <Possible but unlikely. And the idea to use "biological" cleaners, such as shrimp is generally a good idea, actually> How can I tell for sure if it is ich? <Fish with ich generally exhibit "scratching", and a sprinkling of small white spots throughout the infected fish's body> Will this cause me to have to do something drastic to my main tank? <At this point, I would operate on the assumption that all fish in your main system are infected, and follow the freshwater dip, copper sulphate treatment protocol in your hospital tank as outlined previously. If it were me, I'd let the main system run without fish (leave the inverts alone) for at least a month performing routine maintenance as usual during that time) while treating the fishes in the hospital tank. DO NOT add any medications to your main system! With time, patience, and quick action on your part (not to mention, careful observation), you will be successful at beating this malady. You're on the right track-keep it up! Regards, Scott F.>

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 Ready To Move In! I have a quick question about moving a Powder Blue Tang that I am going to move to my display. What is the safest and least stressful way to move him to the display? The display systems water and quarantine are the same through water changes. <Glad to hear that you quarantined him properly! That's going to make a huge difference in his long-term health! By creating consistent, identical water conditions between your quarantine tank and main system, you will really lessen the potential stress of moving this fish to his new home.> Should there be a freshwater dip before placement and if so how long? <I would do a freshwater dip on this fish after he completes the quarantine process successfully. I do perform a freshwater dip on arrival of the fish, just before I place him in quarantine. IMO, another FW dip is not needed unless you notice some kind of parasitic condition, and, of course, in that case, you wouldn't be placing him in the main system yet! A tip in creating a stress-free move to the new tank: Don't use a net, which can damage this fish. Instead, use a plastic specimen container to "scoop up" the fish and then place him in the tank. It's much less stressful for this guy.> Thanks again for all of your awesome help in making this Tang healthy. It has been about a month and a half now and with all of your great help he is finally ready and in top notch form. Thanks, Ian Roff <Well, Ian- thanks for visiting our site, and for sharing your experience quarantining a fish that has a touchy reputation! I think you really did it right! Good luck! regards, Scott F.>

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 Blues Hi, <Scott F. at your service this morning!> I have a powder blue tang that has been kept for two weeks.  Sorry that it hasn't been quarantined but it did go through freshwater dip before going to the tank. <Well- I won't scold you at this point- but please, please quarantine all new arrivals in the future, okay? At least you did the FW dip, so you got it 50% right!> It used to behave normally. However, today I saw it occasionally rubbing itself against the sand bed and sometimes dashing around the tank. <could be anything from a parasite to a full-blown illness- hard to say from here..> Since my tank has lots of live rock forming caves, it is very difficult to catch it for medication. I have two cleaner shrimps but they did not seem to help.  I know you would not recommend cleaner wrasse but my area does not have alternatives, like neon gobies. Should I buy a cleaner wrasse to help? <Please do not purchase any cleaner wrasses, regardless of how dire your situation might be, okay? It just sends the wrong message to retailers, wholesalers, and collectors that there is a demand for these fish, which absolutely should be left on the reefs> If not, what should I do?  Are there any other alternatives to cleaner wrasse? I really love the tang and didn't want to lose it. Thanks and regards, Manus <Well, Manus, I commend you on your level of dedication and willingness to take decisive action to save the fish! My best recommendation is, unfortunately, the most difficult one-You need to remove him to a separate tank for observation and/or treatment (once you confirm what the illness is. DO refer to the disease FAQs on wetwebmedia.com). Assuming it is ich, you would be best served by removing all of your fish to such a treatment tank as well, because the illness (assuming, once again that there is one-and it sounds like there might be one) is in your system, whether it's obvious right now, or not. Don't take any chances- err on the side of caution and get the fish out! Let your main system sit without fish for about a month, which will result in the near elimination (notice I didn't say "complete"-that's virtually impossible in any system) of any parasites that are present in your system. After the "fallow" period, you can more-or-less safely return the cured fish to the tank. It's not a fun procedure, but it really can work1 You'll certainly learn the value of quarantine for new fishes- it's a lot less painful for you (and your fishes) if you do that first! But you seem eager and dedicated to your animals- I know that you're going to do just fine in the future! Good luck!>

Powder Blue Blues (Pt. 2) Hi Scott, <Good Evening!> Thanks a lot for your prompt reply. Please let me clarify a bit more so that I fully understand what I have done wrong.  The powder blue tang did initially go to quarantined tank.  But it's only for 1 day.  The reason is when I return home on the second day, the quarantined tank is very cloudy and the fish seems a bit more stress than before. So, I decide to simply put the tang to the main tank. <I understand your reasons for moving him so soon, but quarantine should be a 3 week process, minimum...You can use a more capable filter in your quarantine tank, which should keep the water clear, and chemically stable.> My powder blue tang is about 4 inches.  The quarantine tank is only about 10G.  Water is from the main tank, so with exactly the same water parameter.  The biological filter is a sponge that has been placed in the main tank 3 days before setting up the quarantine tank.  The quarantine tank just got a simple hang-on filter from Eheim, a plastic flower pot as cave and a heater. Can the small size of the tank the cause of the cloudy water?  How about a 20G?  This is the maximum size I can afford since I'm living in Hong Kong and the flat here is usually quite small. <I think you're using the right kind of filter...perhaps you could employ a finer grade of filter pad inside to better absorb fine particulate matter? Regular (2 to 3 times weekly) small water changes and careful feeding during quarantine should help, too. Thanks and regards, Manus <I think you are definitely on the right track! Just keep refining your techniques...I'm sure that your tang will make a full recovery with your fine care! Good luck!  Regards, Scott F.>

Powder Blue Tang My Powder blue tang  <often called an "ich magnet">  has been acting weird the last couple of days. He just came off copper about six days ago. He hasn't eaten in two days and was breathing really crazy hard.  <The breathing concerns me. Something is probably wrong. Have you tested the water for ammonia, nitrite, PH, etc?>  So I figured that the ich might not have been totally gone so I redosed him yesterday and today he looked much better.  <Are you testing the water for copper?  Too much can quite easily kill the little guy.>   He ate less than what he used to during the initial copper treatment but he seems like he is coming around.  <Copper will disturb the symbiotic bacteria that reside in the intestinal tract of surgeons/tangs. I would expect a loss of appetite during treatment.>  I had just noticed that he seems to be breathing through his right gill only. The left one isn't moving at all. What could this mean?  <His gill(s) may be burned from the copper.>  It is in a quarantine tank and has been for about three weeks now. I have been changing 25% of the water every day and adding ammo lock to the water.  <I assume you're adding ammo lock because you've had a problem with ammonia? Ammonia alone can burn the gills of any fish.>  No matter what I do I just can't seem to get him to a 100%. Maybe I removed the copper too soon after showing no signs of ich.  <Extended copper treatments (weeks instead of days) are never good. IMO, if this were my fish, I would get rid of the copper, give the fish a freshwater bath (same PH and temp as the QT), keep the tank water at a constant temperature, and optimize the overall water quality. I would also vacuum the bottom of the QT every day for at least two weeks. This will help get rid of the cysts that have fallen to the bottom of the tank.>  I removed it two days after no sign of spots on his body. Does copper kill ich and make it fall off the fish?  <Ich, even without the presence of copper has a life cycle that occurs on and off the host. Before adding this fish to the main tank, it needs to be ich-free for at least 3-4 weeks.> Thanks, Ian Roff <My pleasure. For more detailed information on fish disease, treatments, and thousands of other saltwater topics, check out wetwebmedia.com. Best wishes, David D.>

-Closed loops and PBTs- Hello to all at WWM: I have only 2 questions this time. I know you're going to say.......just two? Here goes: 1) I want to add more circulation to my existing 110 gal FO set up. Currently I am using an Iwaki 30 RXLT for my return pump from my sump. I have another Iwaki 30 that I wanted to use in a closed loop for circulation. The Iwaki has one inch fittings but I am not exactly sure how to get the water from the main tank to the pump. I will be using one inch flexible tubing but is there some type of elbow I need to go over the top rim of the tank? This I assume will need some type of strainer on the end.....any additional thoughts? <I've attached pictures of the gorgeous inlet to my closed loop that I made with a Mag 9. The mess of PVC parts not connected to a pump is the inlet which hangs on the back of the aquarium with the strainers hidden behind the rockwork. It doesn't have to be fancy, just make sure that the pipe is at least as large as the inlet of the pump so it doesn't get restricted. From the 3/4" inlet of my mag, I T'd it off into 1" pipe w/ two strainers. This way the flow is greatly reduced through the strainers; preventing anything delicate from being sucked up inside!> 2) I have a powder blue tang for just over 2 mos. When I first got him he was in my QT for 3 weeks and seemed to be doing well. I transferred him to my main tank and after one week......you guessed it...ich. I could not transfer back to QT since I was already using the tank for another "fish project". Anyway I decided to use hyposalinity therapy, which I have used in the past with great results. I reduced the SG to 1.009 at 81 degrees. I kept it at this level for approximately 4 weeks. I monitored my water parameters throughout the whole time (pH , etc.) I have been slowly increasing it and so far as of today it is at 1.017. All signs of if ich are gone, all other fish are doing well but my concern is my powder blue tang. My tang seems to have changed its feeding habits. It used to gobble up the Julian Sprung Sea veggies but now barely picks at them. The same holds true for all other types of food I give (Seaweed selects, flakes, Mysis, clam, brine shrimp). The tang seems eager to eat but once the food gets to him he seems to just swim around and through it but not eat it. He is starting to get thin and I was wondering from your experience can/will the tang recover and start eating more? <Powder blues aren't the hardiest fish ever, as you well know by now. Since it still eats a little, I'd pick up an anti-internal parasite food (such as Jungle's Pepso Food) and feed that to it for a while. Otherwise there's really nothing else that can be done besides making sure that every piece of food that it eats is chock full of vitamins.> By the way, I have a few tanks including 2 reef tanks for many years but was very reluctant to get the Powder Blue. This was one fish I have always wanted but knew the difficulty involved in keeping it. I broke down and got one and have been struggling for the last 2 months. Right now it's become "personal". I am pretty confident, with the help of WWM, we can get this fish back to health. I am just not sure if I am on the right track. Thanks so much for all of your valuable time. <Good luck with that beautiful fish, hopefully it will make a turn-around. -Kevin> Gene

Treating Powder Blue Tangs Dear Bob, Hi again. I have questions on Powder Blue. I understand that they are territorial fishes but one wholesaler told me that they can be put together by some means without any problem. However he never revealed how to do that. Have you heard of this before? <This is a social species in the wild. Can be kept together in aquariums, even crowded at a wholesale, transshipping facility> Common disease for Powder Blue is white spot. Currently, I'm using copper ion to treat the disease. Is there a safer way to treat Powder Blue white spot such as dipping in fresh warm water or with Methylene Blue? <Copper is not recommended... again, please read through WWM, use the search tool on the homepage re this species, Cryptocaryon> I heard that putting them in long tanks will prevent them from getting white spot comparing to isolating them in tight quarters. Is this true? <Likely will help... to reduce stress, hence likelihood of infestation> Currently I'm implementing the dip/bath fresh water system with Methylene Blue using sodium bicarbonate to control pH between 8.0 to 8.4. Is this ok? How concentrated is the Methylene Blue and how long is the dip normally? <Posted on WWM> Sorry for the long questions. <You will benefit MUCH more from a thorough understanding of these situations from reading the articles posted on WWM, and the related FAQs there. Please don't re-ask what has already been responded to. Bob Fenner> Thanks Cheers, Charles

- Powder Blue Tang, Shoehorn Style - Hi, I currently have a regal tang about 2 inch, and am thinking of purchasing a powder blue tang. Will they fight or will they just mind their own business, as I would really like to keep one of these fishes. <Depends on the size of the tank.> My tank is 23 gallon, and has a 100 gallon protein skimmer, 55 gallon canister filter 6 pieces of live rock on the bottom, which takes up around 3 gallon, and the other 20 gallons is remaining for the fish. <This tank is much to small for the regal tang let alone a second one. I cannot recommend that you keep any more fish in this system.> Baring in mind I will have a new, and bigger set up for Christmas to move the tang(s) into. <I'd wait until you actually have the system set up and running for a couple of months before attempting a powder blue - these fish on average do quite poorly in anything but the largest systems. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/badacanthurusaq.htm > I do know that they may be aggressive towards each other, but I don't think this will be a problem, as I have seen many different species of tang in the same tank. <Well, that doesn't make it a smart or good long-term choice. I would not place a powder blue tang in a tank of this size - please don't put this fish in your tank at this point.> Please could you fill me in on these questions, I would very much appreciate it. Regards Aaron. <Cheers, J -- >

You've been misquoted! Hello guys... specifically Bob.  Are you in any way affiliated with marine depot live? <The owner, Ken Wong, his girlfriend/fianc?Amy and others there (esp. Alvin) are friends, associates in the trade>   The reason I ask is that several of their fish descriptions are copied literally word for word from the pages of your website.  Many of the photographs are the same as well.  Of particular concern to me is the fact that they have misquoted your description of the powder blue tang.  Below is your description of the fish, and in caps is the part they chose to include on their site: ACANTHURUS LEUCOSTERNON (BENNETT 1833), THE POWDER BLUE TANG;  besides being notorious carriers of parasitic diseases, most specimens don't even make it through the capture and shipping stages. But'?some of you are screaming, "this isn't a difficult fish! "?I'VE KNOWN PEOPLE TO KEEP THE POWDER BLUE FOR YEARS! THOSE HEALTHY FEW THAT ARE WELL RECEIVED AND CARED FOR - WITH LOTS OF LIVE ROCK AND ALGAE IN LARGE, WELL-ESTABLISHED REEFS - DO occasionally LIVE FOR EXTENDED PERIODS." Needless to say, the omission of the first section, along with their cleverly leaving out the word "occasionally," completely changes the meaning of your words.  You would think if they were going to lie about the ease of caring for this fish, they could at least write it themselves and not take your words and mess them up.  Also, you are not cited anywhere on the site that I could see, so I guess they are guilty of plagiarism as well (is that spelled right?) In conclusion... sue the pants off these guys.  They must be loaded, right?  Well, maybe I'm going a bit far, but it upset me to see them repeatedly copying you word for word and in this one instance (and maybe others) completely altering the context and meaning of your advice.  You've been a big help to me and my tank in the past, and I thank you all. keep up the good work! -Mario <The company did buy a bunch of images from us for internet use, but not our "spiels"... will bring this to Ken's attention. Thank you for the head's up. Bob Fenner>

Powder blue tangs Dear Bob, I have a 120 FO tank, 84"x18"x18". I would like to add a 2.5 - 3" powder blue tang to the tank. It already contains a regal tang(2.5") and an emperor (imperator) angel (in juv. colours, about 3.5"). Would the tang be ok with these tanks mates ? Nori, and veg, matter is fed in large quantities on a daily basis Thanks. Matthew Silvester, Co. Cork, Ireland. >> Matthew, I encourage you (strongly) to consider another species of tang (or other fish) instead of the Powder Blue (Acanthurus leucosternon) on three counts... 1) Though you state that you are a heavy veggie feeder, which is very good, this species really only does well in reef type systems with lots of live rock and algae... not in fish only (FO) systems. 2) The Regal (Acanthurus lineatus) tang is already there and this is a very mean, territorial species. There would be WAR with the Powder Blue losing. 3) This species of surgeonfish just isn't all that hardy period. It rates my lowest ranking (a 3), well over 90% dying within three months of wild-collection...  Look around for other species. Maybe take a look at my articles on Selection and this and other fish families on the www.wetwebmedia.com site Bob Fenner

Powder blue tang When I first started with my 125 gallon tank, I was bent on getting the powder blue tang (A. leucosternon). Over the course of three years, I tried this fish three times. Each time it failed. This is the fish that took me from the freshwater side of this hobby to the marine. Although I doubt I can get one in my 125, since I plan on getting a Sohal tang (they wouldn't get along...would they?) I would like to know your opinion on the proper selection and husbandry of this fish. Each time I got this fish, it died of Cryptocaryon and took the rest of my tank with it. I am reminded of a line in your book where you are speaking about the regal angelfish, you say "Watching one die in your aquarium is not a pleasant experience." Is there anyway I can keep this fish? Would he do ok in the fifty five set up I asked you about ( Eheim filter for a 75 gallon tank, protein skimmer, live rock) What does this fish need water parameter wise? How can you prevent ich? I read in an old edition of FAMA that there are ich medications that use hot pepper as a base, do these work? Are they safe? >> Your keen interest and intelligent, passionate interest in the hobby are obvious... There are institutions that have kept the Powder Blue Surgeonfish for decades... so it is indeed possible. One needs to start with a very healthy, minimally damaged specimen (unless you have truly huge systems, they are best kept singly)... and cause it to be as "specific pathogen free" as possible... in practical terms, freshwater dipping and quarantining the animal for a minimum of two weeks... at low specific gravity (1.016) and higher (84F.) temperature... with vigorous aeration (Tangs are heavy breathers requiring close to saturation in dissolved oxygen)... And then the fish needs to be placed in a system that has not experienced an ich or velvet infestation... with peaceable tankmates, in a tank that has been well-established, has macro and micro algae to graze...  I would not place a Sohal with an A. leucosternon... the former is too "alpha" for the latter. Bob Fenner >> Powder blue tang First, I want to thank you for answering my questions so thoroughly. I really appreciate the information you gave me about this beautiful, and unfortunately difficult fish. However, as you probably already know, I don't give up that easy. It seems odd to me that the powder blue, which looks and behaves so similarly to other Acanthurus tangs, like A. japonicus. ( my observations are based in a huge FO tank at the NY Aquarium, where this and many other Acanthurus, Zebrasoma and Paracanthurus tangs are kept as well as angels, damsels, hawkfish, butterflyfish, etc). It also seems to come from the same areas as other indo-pacific tangs, once again, like A. japonicus. I was wondering then, if collection made a difference, perhaps the powder blues from the red sea are hardy? I have read books on Hawaii's fishes and they don't seem to live their. However, perhaps this line of questioning is kinda dumb since A. Achilles comes from Hawaii and its not hardy according to you and most books/ my pet store. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.  With thanks, Yaron Aronowicz >> >> Have never seen the Powder Blue shipped out of or in the Red Sea... Though it is found in the upper Indian Ocean... Who can say why some species are so touchy? Some, like the Achilles are "soft-bodied" and I think their massive mortalities might well be largely due to handling... For the Powder Blue, definitely receiving a healthy specimen, as fresh from the wild as possible... and treating it through acclimation and quarantine to ensure it is specific pathogen free... and placing it in an idealized, high and stable water quality system OF SIZE is important... As you have observed, yes the leucosternon tang can be/is kept for long and in good shape in Public Aquariums. Bob Fenner

Powder blue tang Dear Bob, I purchased a large beautiful Powder Blue Tang about a month ago and he was  very healthy, no appearances of anything wrong and eating like a pig. I put  him in my 110 reef tank with NNR bed using crushed coral, am planning on  adding live sand later. As of now the tank only has live rock in it with a  3" Lamarck angel that's doing great and a large Yellow Tang that's doing great  that's been in the tank for about 1 1/2 years. All the parameters in the  tank are normal, except I had a slime algae problem but am using Kent  Phosphate Sponge now and the algae is now gone, I've been using it for about a  week now and let me say the stuff really works and fast. The only additive  I use is Seachem's Reef Complete. Just yesterday I noticed the Powder Blue  has bumps all over his sides. Nothing on the outside like worms or ick just  raised bumps. He is doing fine still eating like a pig and no erratic  behavior. Does the tang have an infection or disease, does it sound  stressed or am I worrying over nothing, the fish is beautiful and was kinda  expensive. If it sounds to you like something is wrong do you have any  suggestions and if so any treatments, its weird because the Lamarck and Yellow  are fine looking and nothing wrong with them, should I add something like  Vita Chem or Immuno Vital to add vitamins and what not for the fish, please  let me know as soon as possible if you suspect something is wrong with my  tang so I can catch it early whatever it is, he really is a quite beautiful  specimen, not to many come in as pretty and brightly colored as him. Thanks, Jesse >> Does sound like the Powder Blue (Acanthurus leucosternon) is exhibiting signs of an microsporidean (a group of protozoans) infection... but not much to worry about... these sorts of "raised dot" problems are neither treatable, nor infectious to other species... Not an uncommon ailment of larger imported specimens. Bob Fenner

PB tangs Hi Bob, Quick question, bit of a yes / no type thing really. I would like to get a powder blue tang. I realize success with this species is largely dependent on getting a good specimen. As you might recall, I get all my live stock via TMC, so a good specimen is practically guaranteed. <Agreed> Do you think this species would be suitable for my system? Tank : 84" x 18" x 20" high (hope to upgrade to 8x2x2 next June, 2001) Stock: Emperor angel 5" Queen angel 5" Yellow tang 3" Regal tang 4.5" Clown trigger 2.5" Future possible additions would be either a flame angel OR a Miniatus grouper ........ but that will not be for at least another year. The powder blue is planned in the near future ..... next month or so. I have also read both your article on wet web media, and the surgeon fish chapter in the 'Conscientious marine ..... '. I know you do not recommend the PB tang, due to poor survivability, but hope to avoid this problem by getting one from a TMC source, which I presume are all handled well. Please correct me if I am wrong. Thanks for reading, regards Matt (Co Cork, Ireland) <Thanks for the thoughtful write-up and pre-preparation... Still am a "negative" in general on Acanthurus leucosternon, but if anyone I know can have success with this species it's you... Do quarantine, freshwater dip/bath the specimen for a couple of weeks... ahead of placing it, mainly to avoid parasite introduction. Bob Fenner>

Acanthurus leucosternon survivability elsewhere, travel, life  Hi Bob Very interesting comment on poor survivability on A. leucosternon here in the UK and one that surprises me. Certainly our experience with them is excellent although I would agree that survivability would be reduced from the extended supply chains that supply this fish out of say Indonesia and to some extent even Sri Lanka. With short supply chain lines where the Leucosternon are not stored in antibiotics but are shipped fresh (similar to yellow tangs style from Hawaii which I'm sure you can relate to!!) then survivability is high and I feel then that this is a very strong species. <Yes... certainly a/the largest factor to my mind, experience> Bob, do you think that exposure to antibiotics for a long period of time before the fishes arrive in UK/USA is not the main reason for bacteria being destroyed in the gut of the fishes?? <One of a few... the mere acts of capture, holding, lack of feeding/other natural behavior, absence of biological cleaners... all add to "stress"... I really like the model proposed by Stan Sniezsko and lifted by me for the pet-fish fields of "The Three Sets of Factors that determine Livestock Health"... please see the version posted on the WWM site (www.WetWebMedia.com)... of three interlocking/acting circles of considerations: Initial state (genetic and developmental), Suitability of the Env. (a huge set of ideas), and Presence/Pathogenicity of disease causing organisms... all three play out together dynamically in our daily lives as well as fish tanks...> It's an interesting subject and one I guess we could rattle on for ages about. <Indeed... perhaps we shall> I hope all is good on your side. Are you heading off on any trips soon?? When are you coming our way?? <Yes... to Betty Ford run with drunken HHH (hashers) friends next weekend, then to Monterey here in California for the Western Marine Conference and a week dive/photography trip in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico next month, out to Pittsburgh to give a couple of talks then Bali/Lombok/Gilis to SG to ? (thus far) for a week ahead and after the Aquarama show... and elsewhere for the rest of year... to Bahamas for the Oct. "booze cruise" diving/pix making with friends, a talk at the MACNA due in August in Baltimore... maybe to England with friend Peter (who's from York originally to visit with friends at TMC..., take pix about), and wife Diana has some very reasonable vouchers (about a hundred US) to go to Munchen or Frankfurt for "a long wknd"... so maybe enroute sometime then... How 'bout you? Any fab plans for travel? Do know of some openings on a liveaboard to Malaysia 7/31-8/11 if you're interested... and will be getting out to Maui and the Big Island of HI a couple times more this year for about a week at a time... No real time commitments for the most part, so just always looking for, dreaming and scheming about trips, inexpensive fares... and have plenty of film, batteries at the ready.> Take care. Best for now, Derek. <Will you be attending Aquarama? Any interest in dive/adventure travel with us? Bob Fenner>

PB tang- swim bladder? Dear Bob I've had my powder blue tang for almost a year. He has doubled in size since I got him and seemed to be the picture of health, his color during the day is a beautiful powder purple rather than light blue. About a month ago, I noticed that his belly seems swollen and he swims in a sort of bobbing motion. He eats standing on his head and I've seen him swim on his side. Since he appears to fart a lot, I assumed he was eating too much. <Or isn't able to "use" (process, absorb) what it is ingesting> I feed green, brown and red Seaweed Selects always soaked in Selcon every day. Also Formula 2, red Tang Heaven and fresh wakame several times a week. <Sounds good, even yummy> I'm suspecting a swim bladder problem. Even though his belly is swollen, his scales are normal, so I don't think he has ascites... yet. <Ah, a descriptive term... not a "disease" per se... the result of something else> Is there something I can do in addition to soaking the food in Selcon and Zoe? Are antibiotics in order and will he need to be isolated? <I would not isolate this specimen... doubt if this situation is indicative of anything "catching" or that the move would improve its chances for getting better... would cut back on the amounts of feeding though, and only soak food once a week for a while> I'm leaving on vacation Thursday, so any treatment will have to be delayed ten days. Thanks, Linda <The ten days may be what this specimen needs to cure itself. Bob Fenner>

Powder blue tangs Mr. Fenner, I have been involved in a lively debate regarding the suitability of powder blue tangs for the home aquarium. I don't remember where I read the statistic, but it seems to me that I read that upwards of 90% of these fish do not survive over 3 months from time of capture. <That is my opinion, relating actually of historical survivability of this species (Acanthurus leucosternon)> Do you believe the mortality of powder blue tangs (Acanthurus leucosternon) is truly this high? What is your opinion of keeping this fish? <Please see my "rundown" on this species, genus, family.... posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com> Thanks for your advice. Brian Daniell <You're welcome my friend. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Powder blue Hi, I have a powder blue tang in a new 6 feet tank set-up. It was doing very well for the first week. I feed it seaweed, live brine shrimp, frozen brine & Mysis shrimp & dried flakes. In the second week, it developed brown blotches on its body, which sometimes appear to clear up, sometimes worsening. My system have an overflow, refugium with macroalgae & vigorous skimming. Nitrite & nitrates are very low. Lighting is moderate, using 6 compact fluorescent & it is a fish only tank. I'm really at a loss on the reason for the brown blotches. Any ideas? <Likely "just" general stress markings... perhaps simply resultant from capture, transport. Your system sounds ideal, so let's hope this fish resolves to health. You can read re others experiences with this species on our site here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acanthurTFAQs.htm and the FAQs beyond. Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner> Rgds, Ismael

Powder Blue / Pearly Jawfish Hi Bob, Got a couple of questions to ask if you don't mind :) <<I don't think Bob minds at all, I get to answer the email... I hope YOU don't mind ;-) >> I have a 50 gallon reef, with ample filtration, great water conditions and water movement. Until last week, the only fish residents were to false Percs. When I went to the fish store last week, I saw this little 2-3 inch powder blue in a really bad tank, overcrowded by a lot of other fish, many of which were tangs and since it was so small, it was getting into really bad shape. I couldn't help it and decided to rescue the poor little guy. I know what I have isn't exactly suited for a powder blue but if it does happen to make it pass the mysterious death period of the first 2 months, I do plan to go to a bigger tank later on as it grows. <<If you do make it through this period, I would get the larger tank before it grows - large quarters are necessary to make this tang feel comfortable.>> Right now, it is doing much better than it was in that nasty tank before. Its body is rich blue and head is deep back, as compared to the pale colors it was exhibiting before. However, it only excepts very little bit of the food I offer it so far (Formula 2, Formula 1, brine shrimp soaked in vitamins, <<you should really use Mysis shrimp instead of brine - brine shrimp, regardless of gut loading and vitamin soaking are bunk.>> and rather spends his time picking off algae from the rocks, rear glass panel and the sand/crush coral. <<Yes, and you should probably try to substitute this with algae based foods, dried seaweed, Nori, etc.>> It is not showing any signs of emaciation as it is quite robust. Will he begin to eat more of what I offer him soon? Also does the powder blue eat hair filamentous algae like soft hair algae (I previously had a yellow tang and it ate all that hair algae up with a gusto). <<I would say this is different from tang to tang, but yours may find an appetite for it in time...>> In addition, sometimes it swims around the tank exhibiting the lines going down the blue part of his body (signs of aggression), I think perhaps looking for a fight? <<These color changes can mean all kinds of things, surprise, stress, aggression, depression, sleepy-time, etc.>> Is this normal for a new addition (4 days)? <<Well, most fish take weeks to adjust to a new tank so... I'd say the flashing is normal for a fish who is feeling a little out of join in a new tank.>> Lastly, I added a pearly Jawfish at the same time and this fish is quite comical. Although I hardly see it, I do enjoy watching this fish more than I thought. Its already dug itself a nice burrow with and continues to do stuff with the sand/crush coral and stirring up the sand bed. Yesterday, it ate for the first time several brine shrimps since I saw it peaking its head out from the burrow......When do you think this guy will come out a little bit more and eat a bit more? <<Well, these fish are known for staying mostly out of sight. In the burrow most of the time. Will likely only leave the hole for food if it doesn't drift by.>> Will it do okay with the powder blue in the tank? <<I think it will do fine.>> It really seems to me that the Powder Blue scares it when it swims by and it quickly zooms back in the tunnel. <<Well, the Jawfish is likewise a bit uncomfortable with the new surrounds. Give it some time.>> Does this mean that I have to get rid of one of them? <<No.>> Thanks Bob, sorry for the long e-mail and I look forward to your reply. Sincerely, Jimmy <<Cheers, J -- >>

Powder-Blue Tang Health Hello Bob- Thanks for your time and help. I have a powder blue tang who is eating quite well. I feed him brine shrimp plus, formula two, romaine lettuce, and dried algae. <Both the Nori and Formula II are good foods, but the brine shrimp and romaine are of little value.> His body is very thin (always has been) but his stomach is growing in size in that it is bulging out. It is also very lumpy looking. Should I feed a vitamin supplement? <Yes, I like Boyd's Vita-Chem and American Marine Selcon.> What could this be? <It sounds like extreme weight loss.> Is it just malnutrition and will it heal over time? <If you can get enough of the proper foods into it.> I have only had him for about 3 months. Will he eventually fatten up? I can see his ribs and spine. Could he have an intestinal parasite? <Possible> Thank you very much, Josh <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

A few questions (Powder Blue Tangs) Hello, it has been awhile since I've written in, but that's mostly due to the others who ask questions before I know that its the question I needed to ask.  <outstanding... the FAQ system works! <smile>> Thank you guys so much for providing us all with this vast database of pet-fishing knowledge.  <our pleasure> Well, a few questions this time.. I have a 58g reef tank (80g total water volume, including sumps) with 96 watt powercompacts (36" long tank.) My current filtration is: bio balls (wet / dry) , a protein skimmer that collects about a full cup of liquid every other day, and a bit over 100 lbs of live rock. Inhabitants are: white ribbon eel, maroon clown, bubble anemone, 2 peppermint shrimp, 1 coral banded shrimp, a clam I've never identified, and as of today, a powder blue tang. I know everyone says it's a bad idea to buy one, but I've resisted the urge for over two years.. the one I purchased is about 4.5" long, and is very fat, happy and colorful.  <one great problem aside from all shipping and acclimation problems notorious with this creature is that they come from very dynamic areas of a reef (surging reef crest action, even). As such... they need very low long tanks with tremendous water flow. They will stress and suffer in time without it. Some respond so severely as to even pace the tank which many aquarists recognize from seeing in store tanks (and their own) with fish such as Powder blue tangs, Nasos, spotted tangs, etc. I honestly think it is unlikely that your new tang will fare well in a 58 gall tank... all odds are against him, sorry to say> It was the first one I had seen without shipping damage or other tell-tale signs of collection abuse. As far as my water parameters, my salinity reads about 1.024-1.025 depending on when I changed the water last. To prevent problems with disease and the powder blue, should my salinity be high or low?  <nothing out of the ordinary after a good 4 week QT to screen for major parasites. Besides, your eel and shrimp will suffer with low salinity> Different LFS' have told me different answers to that one. I know my temp should be high, and it is currently 82.. is that high enough? too high?  <too high... 78-80 is fine> Ammo/nitrite/ph are dead on, calc is 450ish, nitrate slightly visible (20-30ppm depending on when water was last changed... should I remove the media from my trickle filter? is that done all at once or slowly?) <with enough live rock, good skimming and regular water changes... your tank (medium bio-load) is a candidate for removing bio-balls to reduce nitrate production. Do so slowly... portions over an 8 week period> other than that everything has gone great.. no additives put in this tank except for food for over a year now. The tank has been established nearly two years, and never has had a disease in it to my knowledge.) So on that basis I went ahead and purchased the healthy fish.. hope he does okay.. will try and get him to feed on Mysis/krill and seaweed (any seaweed type suggestions? so many to choose from these days..)  <plain sushi Nori from an Asian grocery store is a good start (like sea veggies from fish store but cheaper)> Also, I've never figured out what kind of clam I have.. I think perhaps a Derasa.. how are clams identified? From the pictures on your site I'd say it looks like a Tridacna Derasa.. it is about 3.5" in shell width (purchased it at about 2.5") and the mantle is a deep brownish/pink color with lightened blotches (looks like camouflage done up in brownish/pink) <many good pics, references on net... also Daniel Knops great Giant Clam book. Derasa is pretty distinct with flat smooth shell and limited color mantle... if yours looks like the pics, then probably a derasa> anyways, my question regarding the clam is.. it always has spit out stringers ( I have it in a low water flow area of the tank near the overflow intake, so it isn't stagnant or anything) that seem to hang about the clam until I brush them away by moving water near the clam.. which closes it up.) What are these?  <likely mucus from this heavy filter feeder... derasa clams tolerate and favor higher particulates then most clams> should I leave them be?  <yep> (should I stop putting parenthesis inside more parenthesis?(?))) :)  <("what do you mean?" (says the voice of parenthetical levity (in soliloquy)))> Thanks so much in advance, you're always a ton of help, as is the FAQ's on the site. <you are quite welcome> Regards, Bill Hammond <kindly, Anthony>

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>

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

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