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FAQs about the Sailfin Tangs, Genus Zebrasoma Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: Genus Zebrasoma, Sailfin Tangs

Related FAQs: Zebrasomas 1, Zebrasomas 2, Zebrasoma Identification, Zebrasoma Behavior, Zebrasoma Compatibility, Zebrasoma Selection, Zebrasoma Systems, Zebrasoma Feeding, Zebrasoma Disease, Zebrasoma Reproduction, Yellow Tangs, Purple TangsStriped Zebrasoma TangsSurgeons In General, Tang ID, Selection, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease,

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Scopas Tang Feeding 7/26/09
Hello All!
<Hi Esther>
Once again thanks for all the help you have given me in the past, my tank is the better from this site!
<Great to hear.>
So, long story short, after being patient for 2 years, I finally got my Tang. We waited until we could provide the environment it needed, and then waited until we found a good specimen.
<Excellent procedure.>
The Tang has been doing great in QT for 2 weeks now, although he/she is a rather skittish when we clean the tank, but has no signs of any illness yet.
<Normal behavior.>
The Tang has been eating New Life Spectrum Pellets, mysis and finely diced silversides soaked in Selcon with gusto! But will not touch any Nori, lettuce, spinach or broccoli that we offer it. I am just concerned that since it is normally a herbivore, that this heavy of a meaty selection will be trouble for it's digestion. Do we need to remove the meaty offerings until it eats some veggies? I looked in all the Zebrasoma pages and couldn't find a similar post.
<I have a Tomini Tang for quite some time, that exhibits the same feeding personality. I also feed NLS Pellets, among other foods soaked in Selcon, and I can't say enough about NLS, it is an excellent nutrition
source that will provide your tang with most, if not all the nutrients it needs. The Selcon will provide the rest.
My Tomini has been doing/looking great since I switched to NLS. You may want to try offering Nori on a weekly basis, the tang may just try some, but I wouldn't fret if it doesn't.>
Thanks for your feedback in this matter!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Has Tangy become a vegetarian?   1/16/07 Hi everyone, DiAnn here. First the details: 55 gal tank, 60 lbs live rock, protein skimmer, 10% weekly water changes, ammonia/nitrites/nitrates all at 0, ph 8.3, temp 79. Inhabitants: 1 yellow tang, 2 percula clowns, 1 rusty angel, 1 lawnmower blenny, cleaner shrimp, coral banded shrimp, long-tentacled anemone (sp?) and a  bunch of pulse coral -all doing fine. Feeding: twice daily - morning Ocean Nutrition flakes which all eat with gusto; evening - frozen mysis shrimp; also I have a clip with Nori which the tang eats daily. Now the problem: I have noticed that the tang no longer seems interested in the mysis. Instead of eating it which he use to do with gusto now he either ignores it and instead continues to pick at the algae or he will eat only a few bites. I have noticed that since I upgraded my protein skimmer from a SeaClone that I now have a better crop of microalgae. Could it be that the tang just no longer cares for mysis since he now has a better grade of tank algae (which he constantly picks at) or is there something else going on?  Thanks. <Zebrasoma spp. are largely algae eaters... particularly with age/growth. Not to worry here. Bob Fenner>

Tangs/Feeding...Not Enough Info...A Detective With No Clues 10/6/06 HELP!! My Large (8-9 in.) Black Tang Won't Eat!!  I've tried: 1.                   Live brine; 2.                   Frozen Mysid; 3.                   Frozen brine; 4.                   Macro algae (sea lettuce, red algae); 5.                   Spirulina flakes; 6.                   Zooplankton; 7.                   Freeze dried plankton; 8.                   Marine pellets; 9.                   Sea Weed-various brands; 10.               Fresh shrimp; 11.               Fresh Squid; Out of all this, he/she ate seaweed for a few days but no won't even eat that.  Seems to be digging around for something in the live sand bed, but this cannot/is not sufficient.  Any help would be appreciated. <Bill, not enough info here to even suggest something.  How long have you had the tang, water parameters, size of tank, other inhabitants, etc. James (Salty Dog)>

Sailfin Tang skinniness 12/18/05 Hi Crew, <Nicole> There is something wrong with my favorite fish, our Zebrasoma desjardinii. We have had him for almost a year now (purchased 1/28/05), and he has always been very healthy, active and curious. About a week ago, I noticed that he looked kind of skinny, but I wasn't sure if I was just imagining it, so I kept my eye on him. He seemed to be eating just fine, but he seemed like he was lacking some vigor in the way he went after the food. About four days ago, I thought I could see a redness just under his eyes, but not on the surface of his skin. It was like the lights were kind of shining through, like when you shine a flashlight through your hand. <Good observations, descriptions> Again, I wasn't sure if it was something new or I was just being hyper-vigilant. When I got home this evening, he was hanging out near the bottom of the tank, which is not like him at all. He did come up to eat, but again, he seems a bit lethargic to me. So the symptoms are: lethargy; redness under the eye; skinny. <Good review> Here are the tank specifics: 150 gallon tank with refugium and skimmer (sorry, my husband handles all the "hardware), lots of live rock pH = 8.2 Ammonia = less than 0.25 <Mmm, should be zip...> Nitrates = 0 Nitrites = 0 Spec. gravity = 1.022 <I would raise, keep this near seawater strength... 1.025> Calcium = 390 Alk = 6 (107.4 ppm KH) I have buffered this and will re-test tomorrow Temp. = 26.3 C Other inhabitants (who all seem very healthy, by the way) are a Lemonpeel Angel, a False Percula, a Black Sailfin Blenny, crabs and snails. The Blenny is the most recent addition to the tank. He was added back in September after a month in the QT. Lemonpeel and Percula were added to the tank back in April and March respectively. So how can I best help the Sailfin Tang? We have a QT, but since I have no idea what is wrong with him, I have no idea how I would treat if quarantined. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Nicole <Hard to imagine that after a year your Sailfin is lanquishing from either long term exposure to less than healthful conditions, and/or nutritional deficiency... but this is the likely scenario. I would try bolstering the fish's health by soaking foods in a supplement (Microvit, Selcon...) and offering some fresh marine algae... that you're likely culturing in your refugium. Additionally, I would add weekly dosings of Lugol's solution (for iodine). Oh, and raise your spg as mentioned above. Hopefully you will be able to reverse this trend.

Foods for Sailfin Tang Thank you for all the advice to date. We went back and forth last week about my new 55 gal setup. I went this weekend to pick out my first fish. I was sold on triggers when I want in, but fell in love with the Red Sea Sailfin Tang. Can you please recommend a diet for her? I have been feeding her flakes and brine shrimp, but I have heard that I need lots of algae for her to graze on. What is the best way to go and, also, how do I stay away from lateral line disease. << Jason, all this and as much more variety and frequency (in small doses) as you can afford. Nori or kombu from the oriental section of the food store would help, especially if treated with a vitamin supplement, including iodine, and some live rock for picking at all day. Bob Fenner>>

Indian Ocean v. Red Sea Sailfin III 11/11/03 In Calfo and Fenner's new book Reef Invertebrates they list Z. veliferum as a potential bubble algae control creature;  did they mean to include all members thereof  (including the Pacific or Hawaiian Sailfin) or is the Desjardin Sailfin the one commonly believed in aquaristics to be the right candidate? <as stated in the last e-mail, my friend... they are the same species (Desjardin/red sea Sailfin is simply a Z. veliferum) but anecdotally they are believed to be more inclined to rasp bubble algae: <<it is possible that a race of fishes (same species...different locale) is evolved or predisposed to eating some prey items over another. There is a strong belief in aquaristics that this is the case with the Red Sea Sailfin>> best regards, Anthony>

Indian Ocean v. Red Sea Sailfin 11/7/03  I think this link answers the question below:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zebrasom.htm  <Okey-dokey>  Desjardin's tang is both from the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.  <yes... and more importantly, is no longer a valid species but rather a synonym (same species) with Z. veliferum (common Sailfin)>  Yet the LFS sells the Red Sea for more than the Indian Ocean.  <correct... extra cost of shipping - the most significant part of the cost of any fish>  I want it to eat bubble algae. Does one do a better job than the other?  <it is possible that a race of fishes (same species...different locale) is evolved or predisposed to eating some prey over another. There is a strong belief in aquaristics that this is the case with the Red Sea Sailfin>  I also don't want it to get too big. Does one stay smaller than the other?  <nope... they are all too big and too aggressive for most aquariums (under 100 gallons or larger if mixed with other tangs). TO control bubble algae, treat the problem (nutrients, lack of QT, etc) and not the symptom (the bubbles) for best results. Anthony>

Scopas tang hello. I've just started putting fish in my 55 gallon tank. so far i have 3 Chromis and 1 scopas tang. they are well and eat lots but the scopas doesn't eat my algae! every where it says that tangs are voracious algae eaters but this doesn't seem to be the case with mine, any feed back would be great <some tangs are picky and do not eat nuisance algae...try feeding him lifeline or some sort of herbivore food. good luck, IanB> thanks a lot 

Zebrasoma Dietary Issues <Hello, Ryan Bowen with you today> I love the amount of information on this site that has helped me in the past, I have found several messages that seem similar to my problem. However most of them deal with new fish, or some sort of change. <Change creates an equal and opposite reaction, consistently.  It's the only thing you can count on in an aquarium!> I have a 70 gallon setup, the current batch of fish seem very healthy short of the tang.  The water quality is very stable with no Ammonia, Nitrates are Nitrites.  I have a tomato clown, Cow fish <Not well suited for this tank...He'll be HUGE someday>, Yellow tang and coral beauty. There have been no changes for the last 6 months in number and type of fish, nor changes in the tank.  The chemical levels have been stable as well for that time frame.  Actually over the last four years he has never been sick or shown any ill signs, I have been lucky a have kept a good tank.  Learned my lesson years ago bringing a sick fish into a healthy tank (Uggh). The tang is 4 years old, and grown from a small animal.  I have been rotating the feeding buy giving frozen brine, red worms and algae.  Brine two days and the other one day each.  This last week the tang has not eaten, and is very thin.  He hides only when I approach, and swims near the top the majority of the time.  He has gotten pail but no other visible changes or problems. I am thinking maybe he suffering from diet problems or maybe even old age. <Sounds to be more like a dietary issue.> I have a quarantine tank and was considering moving him over, however I am concerned about the additional stress of the change.  What do you suggest? <I suggest offering more algae, such as Nori, or Gracilaria, soaked in Selcon.  I'd also try some frozen formula 2, on a feeding grid.  Test for oxygen levels as well- Tangs are highly sensitive to changes in the oxygen level of your tank.  Did you recently slow circulation?> Thanks Ron

Scopas Tang Hi Guys,  <<Hello, Tracie...>> I need some help on my latest little guy/girl for my tank. I recently (3 days ago) purchased a small Scopas tang. He is a great little guy, and (brace yourself), thinks my yellow tang is his mom.  <<Well, they are of similar shape and also same Genus.>>  He follows the yellow tang around, and loves to eat the seaweed when she does. However, he won't eat anything else. I have tried plankton, live brine, and formula 1. Any suggestions?  <<No worries. Zebrasoma tangs are pretty much vegetarians in the wild. For feeding in your tank meaty foods are also good, but I wouldn't sweat it at this point.>> I know the green seaweed isn't enough for him, but what can I do? I have grown considerably fond of him, and don't want anything to happen to him. The yellow tang and the Percula eat all the above mentioned and look for more. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  <<Patience.>>  Love your website and find myself on it for hours. I just feel a sense of responsibility, in making them as happy as possible. Thanks. Tracie <<If you haven't scoped [pardon the pun] out this page, you should: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zebrasom.htm Cheers, J -- >>

Yellow Tang I need your help with a Yellow Tang. Nitrites 0, Ammonia 0, Nitrate 100, <Your nitrate levels are awfully high. While it is believed nitrate, in and of itself, is not harmful to fish, it is an indicator of associated dissolved organics, which are harmful. Ideally they should be near zero, but anything under 20 ppm is ok for fish only.> ph 8.4, all these were after a 20%+ water change. When I first got the Tang, over a year ago, it was bright yellow, healthy, etc. A few months later, he started to lose his coloring, so I started feeding him the sushi seaweed sheets and Selcon. <A good move, but you may still need a greater variety. I would add to this regimen some Formula Two or similar herbivore frozen food and a vitamin supplement.> He loved it, tore it up. But he never got his color back but it didn't get any worse. Recently he's not eating the seaweed sheets, but still picking on regular flake food and frozen brine shrimp. He is very, very pale yellow, almost white and his skin just doesn't look right. I recently lost a Blue Damsel. My other Blue Damsel basically all of a sudden started to harass it. I think because it was sick, not sure what it had couldn't tell because the other one really chased it. I don't think it was a parasite, maybe some fungus or bacteria, but it just stopped eating. By the time I got it out it was too late and was tore up. Should I take the Tang out and treat it separately or treat the whole tank. <Treat the whole tank by raising water quality and changing the diet a little. See notes above. This sounds like a reaction to the environment. If you correct, its color may return. Larger and/or more frequent water changes, aggressive protein skimming, use of activated carbon, etc. to clean the tank.> I have a couple of peppermint shrimp and hermits but I can put them in a small tank. Other tomato, royal Gramma and blue damsels look fine. Thanks <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Tang question The purple tang that I had for approximately 2 years recently died. One day it was fine--eating well, the next day it was lethargic, not eating and looked as though it was being vacuum packed throughout the day. It just kept getting thinner and thinner throughout the day until it died, all within 24 hours. <Very strange> Weird thing is the tang ate sand from the substrate. <Not unusual> The sand would completely run through the digestive system. I don't remember it ever not eating the sand and it seemed to run quite a bit of it through its system. I asked the LFS about this and was told it is not normal behavior. <Most I have watched pick it up in their mouths and blow it out their gills, after sorting out and eating the microalgae and other food items in the sand.> Well, I now have a juvenile orange-shoulder tang and it is eating the sand too. I'm sure it's not just picking at it because sand comes out the other end. I have slightly larger than sugar sized sand for the substrate. Is this something to be concerned about? <I would not be.> If so, what action can I take? Thanks in advance. Chad <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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