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FAQs about the Sailfin Tangs, Genus Zebrasoma Selection

Related Articles: Genus Zebrasoma, Sailfin Tangs

Related FAQs: Zebrasomas 1, Zebrasomas 2, Zebrasoma Identification, Zebrasoma Behavior, Zebrasoma Compatibility, 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,

Damaged fins can regenerate with good care... water quality, nutrition... and time... weeks, months.

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Zebrasoma compatibility    11/15/14
Hi WWM Crew,
I have a few stocking questions and wanted to get some advice. I currently have a 155 bow tank. It has a 2.5-3" Desjardini Tang,3 " Niger Trigger, a pair of 3" Tomato Clowns, a 3.5" Powder Brown Tang, a 2" Koran Angel, and a 4" Sleeper Goby. It looks empty now, BUT I know in time it will "fill out".
My desire is to add a Purple Tang, and a Yellow Tang. My understanding is that the 3 Zebrasoma's together will spread any tension. Would I better off with adding multiple yellows and a single purple?
<Likely just the one of each is the route I would go... Zebrasoma flavescens tend to fight amongst themselves in time in smaller, more-"square" volumes>
Thank You for your Wisdom!,
<Well; accumulated facts/FAQs much more like it... am still hoping to find/realize ties between this "knowledge" (i.e. intelligence) and REALLY hoping for enlightenment re what this all means (to/for me): wisdom.
Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Zebrasoma compatibility     11/16/14

thanks for the quick response. So that I'm clear and NOT unnecessarily losing fish, the suggestion is one yellow and and one purple?
I'll add them at the same time after quarantine. Should I go with a smaller purple than yellow? Would that alleviate stress?
<Both about the same size (three-four inches overall length)>
Again, thank you for all the help!
<Ah, welcome. BobF>

Re-stocking     2/24/14
After a bout of Marine Ick that killed several fish, I removed my remaining Blue/Green Chromis to a QT via a freshwater dip with Methylene Blue.  This left my tank fish free for 8 weeks to break the parasite cycle.  My main tank is a 500ltr reef with 100 ltr sump.  Remaining in my main tank were  1 x cleaner shrimp, 1 x fire shrimp, 1 x tuxedo urchin, half a dozen turbo snails and a couple of red legged hermit crabs.  I have just a few easy to keep coral frags.  With the eight weeks coming to an end, I have been researching how/what to re-stock with and have come up with the following in the order I intend to introduce them. Please could you let me have your thoughts on the selection and the order of introduction:  My original 7 x Blue/Green Chromis, 1 x Royal Gramma, 2 x Percula Clowns, 2 x Long Fin Bannerfish, 1 x Yellow Tang, 1 x Sailfin
<Zebrasoma... Which species? Two get too large; one is border-line...>

 or Regal Tang, 1 x Flame Angel, 2 x Neon Gobies - I plan to spread out the introduction over several months with each fish freshwater dipped with Methylene Blue and then at least 2 weeks in QT before going into the main tank.  Would all of the above be OK with a freshwater dip?  Many thanks for your help
<Yes; and should go together fine... I would place the Heniochus last. Bob Fenner>
Re: Re-stocking. Tang sel., rdg.      2/24/14

Many thanks for the prompt reply - I was thinking of the red <Sea?> sailfin tang but I see what you mean re size so would go for the Regal Tang instead or possibly a Convict Tang.
<Better choices>
  Would all three Tangs get along and have room or better to go with Yellow Sailfin plus either Regal of Convict.  Kind regards
<I'd leave out the... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FishInd3.htm  scroll down. B>

Re: Tang Stocking    11/22/11
Hello again Mr. Fenner
<Mr. Phan>
I am confused by your recommendation with the purple tang. Why is the purple tang an acceptable choice while yellow, Sailfin are not since they all have the same body type? Sorry to be so naïve considering I have read your books (including the new release) every night before I sleep!!! Dai
<Ahh! Is indeed of the same genus, and the general relationship/likelihood of compatibility twixt and among congenerics does hold, but the colour difference is of significance here... as is my perception concerning your longing for a similar fish species, but not the same. Cheers, B>

Many Thanks For All Your Help, Again (And a 'Q' on Tang Selection) -- 02/09/09 Dear All, <<Hey there Carolyn>> Just wanted to say thanks for all the help you've given me in my almost 1yr into the marine hobby - you've been invaluable! <<We are pleased to know this>> And now to the inevitable question - now that my system is stable I'm getting ready to add the tangs I've always wanted'¦ <<Uh-oh [grin]'¦ Bet I know how this is going to go>> The tank is 72 inches long and 24 inches deep (top to bottom) with a total volume of approx. 140 gallon (not including sump), not sure how much rock is in there now but it's in an open formation towards the back of the tank to give plenty of swimming room (I practically dream of tangs...). <<The open space will certainly be a benefit with the fishes you so desire>> I'd like in an ideal world to keep a Sailfin, yellow and hippo tang together <<Mmm'¦>> but have concerns about eventual size of these fish. <<As do I'¦and is but one consideration. Even specimens that haven't reached a 'mature' size can express health and behavioral problems just from 'growing up' in a too small/too crowded system>> Knowing that the hippo can reach 12 inches and the Sailfin 14-15 inches, is this just a bad idea from the start of do they inhabit different niches on the reef? <<Even a tank such as yours is too confining for adult specimens of either species, much less in there together. You could 'get by' for a while with small specimens (keeping in mind my previous comments re 'growing up'), but there are much more suitable choices available for 'long term' care. The Yellow Tang is a fine choice, but I think better companion Tangs would be a medium-sized Acanthurus species of 'moderate' temperament like A. japonicus or A. pyroferus (maybe even both!), and maybe a Ctenochaetus species like C. Tomini or C. strigosus. These are much more suitable for your tank size, in my opinion>> I'd add the tangs together after a good long period in QT, to hopefully help ease any territory issues, but am concerned about crowding given their ultimate size? <<Size, and attitude/behavior'¦ Sailfin Tangs can become brutes when large, and Hippo Tangs are just darned twitchy'¦both of which are compounded when the environment is too small>> Ultimately it's my responsibility to give these animals the best home possible, but I value your opinions more than I can say. Carolyn <<If the long-term care/health/vitality of these fishes is your goal, then it is 'my opinion' you should consider other choices than the Hippo and Sailfin Tangs. Feel free to write back and discuss further if you wish. Cheers, Eric Russell>>

Re: Many Thanks For All Your Help, Again (And a 'Q' on Tang Selection) -- 02/10/09 Dear Eric, <<Hi Carolyn>> GAH, feared as much. <<Sorry mate>> Always makes me cringe when I hear of people squeezing a regal or Sailfin into a 75 gallon tank and claiming they'll re-home it when the animal gets too big (have just had to part with my two remaining discus and that was difficult enough!)... <<I much agree'¦ More often than not, the 're-homing' to a larger system just never happens and the fish often live miserable and foreshortened lives>> Curses, but not to worry - would I be able to keep a small shoal of yellows in there (say 3, if all added at the same time)? <<Mmm, many are the hobbyists who have tried this, but I've only ever seen this work for any length of time in displays in excess of 300-gallons, and even then not always a success'¦this is not something I suggest you try in your 140g tank>> I can see my idea that my 6ft tank would negate any future upgrading was flawed (could always fit a 10-12ft'er in the garage ;)). <<Indeed'¦ At least an 8-foot tank with enough depth and height to provide adequate space for a full-grown Sailfin Tang and full-grown Hippo/Regal Tang, plus other assorted livestock no doubt'¦something approaching 400-gallons or so should do [grin]>> On the plus side, leaving the regal and Sailfin out of the equation does open up numerous other fishy possibilities! <<Ah! Now there's a positive spin!>> Carolyn <<Be chatting. EricR>>

Tang sys./sel. Question, and Copper Treatment (removal)    11/27/08 Hi Crew Before I start, you guys probably get this a lot, but without your site I would not have a tank but a messy pile of failed reefkeeping I've had a small 20 Gallon reef set up for about 3 months now, to see if reefing was my "thing" and it turned out to be, to the extent that i want to study marine biology at university level. <Wow!> Then the upgrade fever finally set in, so I got a used freshwater 70 (40'x20'x20') tank I really want to get a tang in there, but before I set the thing up, I was wondering what fish would fit in a tank of this size? <Physically? Oh, behaviorally, physiologically... many!> I have read online and the most sites say that a tang can go in a 70 minimum, for the Zebrasoma genus other than a tang (space allowing) my Dwarf Bicolor Angelfish , False Perc pair and my Yellowtail Damsels would be going in there, and I would be looking to purchase a small school of Anthias, a Blenny and perhaps a school of Chromis, is there anything that is not suitable for a tank of that size in my list? <? All sorts... > Other than the tang of course, which I would not want to keep if the tank was too small. <Some Sailfin Tangs (genus Zebrasoma) actually do get too large for such a volume, shape system... the "Striped" species in particular (Z. veliferum, Z. desjardinii)... see WWM re others: http://wetwebmedia.com/zebrasom.htm and the linked files above> Another side question, the previous owner(who didn't speak very good English, I live in Dubai and his first language is Arabic) said that he medicated the tank, which was only set up for a month, he wasn't sure if he used copper based treatments or not. Would this tank be safe to keep inverts in? <Very likely so... exceedingly little copper "sticks" to the sealant, Plexiglas...> its a Plexiglas and the only thing I would be using from the setup is the actual tank, not any of the wet dry filtration? From what I have read on WWM it appears that the copper in the tank would be insoluble, and i plan to rinse it out with tap water, and dechlorinate, so if there is any extra copper it would bind with the Cl- ions hopefully and be removed before i add my RO water? <For the most part, yes. Not a worry> I wouldn't want to rinse with HCL and followed by Acetone as my parents would probably disown me for being irresponsible and i have a feeling either the HCl or Acetone would damage the Plexiglas? <Yes it would> Thanks Again Crew (Apologies for any editing mistakes) <Nice to meet you. Bob Fenner>

Re: Corals, Stocking, Bought the Tang - 6/11/08 Hi again! <Hello Allison> I bought a desjardinii tang today and thought it looked decent to me. <mm..fish needs a bigger tank.> However, I posted a few pictures up at http://www.saltwaterfish.com/vb/showthread.php?t=323673 and a few users disagree with me. Apparently, my tang has HLLE!...Do you agree? <The beginning. This is an emaciated fish.> What should I do to help him recover? <Return him to the store, and research before making your next purchase. I don't intend to be a damper on your excitement for the hobby, but your fish will be healthier and enjoy greater longevity- and you will enjoy the hobby more- if you read up on disease, stocking, etc and choose fish that are of an appropriate size for your tank and which you know how to take care of.> Thanks! <Welcome. Best of luck.> Allison <Benjamin>

Sailfin Tang/Health 4/22/08 Good evening, <Hi Dave> I looked for the answer in the search area of FAQ but to no avail. I just purchased a young Sailfin Tang with my wife today ..she liked it so I bought it. The problem is I didn't look it over at the store, <Yikes> I just said wrap it up...my mistake. Which leads me to my question it seems to have white freckles all over it's body and fins as if they're supposed to be there. It is young only 3 maybe 4 inches. Are the spots ich or do they have a freckle appearance until they get a little older. The fish seems healthy its is picking at the rock and eating, no scratching itself on the rocks either. Am I just paranoid? <You may be paranoid. You did not mention the size of the freckles or provide a photo, so it would be difficult for me to state. Look at the pictures on this link, are the freckles similar in appearance to your tang?> Thank you, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Dave

Gem tangs and Conspiculatus angels for sale -- 03/20/08 Bob, <Sean> Hope all is well, it's been a while since our last conversation. Currently we have both Gem tangs and Conspiculatus angels in stock. <Wish we were diving in the Mascarenes and N. Australia right now!> I was wondering if you knew of anyone looking for these rare fish. Feel free to post my information on your boards. Thanks for any help you might be able to offer. <Hotay, will do so. Cheers, Bob Fenner> Sean Stalter Saltwater Connections _alligatorkid@aol.com_

Stocking Zebrasoma, RMF's Cichlid tanks at home  9/15/06 Hey Mr. Fenner, I have a the intentions of setting up a 400-500 gallon marine system later on and was wondering what species of tangs you could suggest for me. <Yes... posted on WWM> I really would like you to include a sailfin tang and yellow tang (favorite fish!!) <Could have both here> Could you also include how many of each??? <A handful of Zebrasoma would go> I was also interested in knowing what systems and livestock you have. <Just a couple of African Cichlid tanks currently. Eheim units for the gear/tanks> seen as me and my fellow aquarists are always telling you about our tanks, would love to hear about yours! Thank you so much for your most valuable and respected opinion! Jarryd <Thank you my friend. These are about 100 gallons a piece... I change about a quarter of the water every week... and just replace with the hard, alkaline water we have as tap here in S. Cal. Feed them just Spectrum pellets... from Eheim timers... Bob Fenner>

Zebrasoma rostratum  11/9/05 Could you please tell me where could I find and purchase a Black Longnose Tang?  <Themarinecenter.com, liveaquaria.. other online etailers....this rare zebrasoma tang is sometimes difficult to obtain since they originate from the x-mas islands and collection is limited in that region. Also these fish demand a pretty penny. I have kept plate size individuals in the past...very hardy if quarantined! Make sure you use Selcon and feed him lots of Nori! Good luck! IanB> 

Gem Tang Source Where can I get a Gem Tang Zebrasoma gemmatum? <I would check with Randy at the Marine Center (.com) or Dr.s Foster & Smith > and if you're in the trade with Chris Buerner at Quality Marine (wholesale) in > Los Angeles. Bob Fenner>

Zebrasoma Tangs Hello crew! How are you guys today?  <Great> Well my questions are on the tangs of the Zebrasoma genus. 1. Most of the time what is the sex of tangs coming into the trade? (particularly yellows and gem tangs) <Unknown> 2.I would like to know some information about the gem tang. I am researching prior to purchase so I can meet this specimen's needs. How big does this tang get? Is it true it will lose about have the size than in the wild then it will in captivity? What is the minimum tank size for this fish? <At least 70 gallons>  What does this fish eat? Can it be fed Formula 2 and Nori? Btw, how much does this cost? I've been purchasing Seaweed Selects, I hear they are much more expensive. Can it be kept with other Zebrasoma tangs since it has strange coloring? <Shouldn't be kept with other Zebrasomas>  How long does it live in captivity?  <All depends on the owner.>  What is the Maximum length it will get in captivity? Why is this fish so rare? I am going to be purchasing this fish sometime around July from the marine center so I want everything to be in tip top condition. Hmm.. I think I asked everything important but if I missed anything could you please fill me in?  <First of all, Chase, here is some reading you need to do. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zebrasom.htm. This my friend will educate you on this family of fish. James (Salty Dog)> 

Black Tang Question I visited a saltwater livestock distributor near Washington DC this weekend, and was amazed to see five specimens of Zebrasoma rostratum. How do these guys compare to the yellow tang in terms of aggression, hardiness, and general ease in maintaining? <Mmm, a bit more aggressive, a little less hardy and less easy to maintain... but only a small fraction different as in "between species" variance. "Within species variance" is higher for sure. My take on the genus members is posted here: http://wetwebmedia.com/zebrasom.htm> I'd love to have one, but I already have a yellow tang and a hippo tang who get along very well, and I'd hate to "rock the boat", so I better start researching for saltwater tank #2. (Coming to my living room next summer!) <How exciting!> Thanks many times over for your help, Gina <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Scopas Tang Hi Bob, I just wanted to make a comment to Joyce, the lady who rescued the Scopas Tang. I think it's great when people care enough to see an animal who is obviously not doing well, and taking upon themselves to do something about it. Joyce, I think your action should be an example for every one of us. I also think that tang will remember you as the one who saved it from certain destruction in some 10 x 10" holding tank -- and that the Yellow Tang will be grateful for a new friend. Well done! Dale M. <Totally agreed. Thank you for your positive comments. Joyce is a "regular" poster/part of our chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ I will be copying your encouraging note to there and WWM. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

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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