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FAQs about the Striped Sailfin Tangs,  Zebrasoma desjardinii, Z. veliferum

Related Articles: Striped Zebrasoma Tangs, the Genus Zebrasoma

Related FAQs: Striped Sailfin Tangs 2, & FAQs on:  Striped Sailfin Tangs IdentificationStriped Sailfin Tangs BehaviorStriped Sailfin Tangs CompatibilityStriped Sailfin Tangs SelectionStriped Sailfin Tangs SystemsStriped Sailfin Tangs FeedingStriped Sailfin Tangs DiseaseStriped Sailfin Tangs Reproduction, & Zebrasomas I, Yellow Tangs, Purple TangsSurgeons In General, Selection, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease,

A Zebrasoma desjardinii in captivity

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Tang compatibility Tangling With Tangs! (Tang Compatibility)  7/19/08 Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. in today!> I have a question on Tang compatibility I was hoping you could answer for me. <Will try!> I have searched the forums, but could find a question similar to mine. I have a 150 gallon reef setup which currently houses a 4 inch Desjardin Sailfin Tang, 1 Purple Firefish, and a Mandarin Dragonet. I have approximately 200lbs of live rock with plenty of crevices and hiding spots. In a system this size, would you recommend me adding a Yellow Tang? Or would it quarrel with the Sailfin since they are similar in body shape? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you, Kiet <Well, Kiet, I would tend to agree with your concerns here. Mixing two Zebrasoma species in a modest-sized aquarium could be potentially problematic. Your Desjardini will reach a very large size to boot, and will not be particularly happy to have another Tang introduced to the system, particularly if the Sailfin has been in the aquarium for some time. Much better to add a Tang species from the genus Ctenochaetus, such as the Kole Tang. It inhabits a different ecological niche than your Sailfin, and attains a much smaller size. Both of these attributes will create a greater probability for success, IMO. Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

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>

Re: Tank temp spikes and affect on Sailfin Tang 6/1/08 Thanks for your help. Unfortunately, he didn't make it. I fear that he had some sort of tissue necrosis, as large chunks of tissue were just falling off on the head as well in the body, just beyond the skull. <Bizarre... more than one thing going on here> It got so bad that it seemed like I could see a portion of his skull. I will send some photos of the condition. All other fish are doing great. Out of curiosity, what size tank would you recommend for a fish like my tang? <A Zebrasoma desjardinii needs at least a couple of hundred gallons to "do well"... this species (distinct from Z. veliferum further in the west Indo-Pacific out to Hawaii) gets very large. Both to about a "standard length" (a fisheries measure... sans basically the tail/caudal fin... of 40 cm... Yes, 16 inches... small individuals can "live" for a few years in smaller volumes... but... not well in a longer term sense> I may or may not seek a replacement (of any kind) if it will get too crowded with my current livestock. <Do see fishbase.org re as well: http://fishbase.org/NomenClature/ScientificNameSearchList.php?crit1_fieldname=SYNONYMS. SynGenus&crit1_fieldtype=CHAR&crit1_operator=EQUAL&crit1_ value=zebrasoma&crit2_fieldname=SYNONYMS.SynSpecies&crit2_fieldtype=CHAR&crit2_ operator=contains&crit2_value=&group=summary&backstep=-2 Bob Fenner>

Re: Tank temp spikes and affect on Sailfin Tang - 06/02/08 Thanks, Doc. I appreciate it and will likely go without a replacement to give the other guys room in my tank. <Real good. BobF>

Mystery Spot On Sailfin Tang 3/24/08 Dear Crew, <Andy> This morning I noticed a very strange, perfectly round spot on my Sailfin Tang. See attached. This spot is something very recent. Because of its symmetry, I don't think it's an injury. Because it wasn't there yesterday, I don't think it's some natural color morph. It almost looks like a mole. I searched for about an hour on the net looking for a picture of something similar, but found no needle in the haystack. Any thoughts on what it might be? <Mmm, never saw anything quite like that before. Your tang appears to be a very healthy specimen and I'd just keep a close eye on that spot, see if it develops into anything, or go away as quick as it came.> Thanks! <You're welcome and keep us posted. James (Salty Dog)> Andy

Re: Mystery Spot On Sailfin Tang 3/25/08 Thanks James! <You're welcome.> I will keep an eye on it. It is a very strange mark. I noticed that it seems to change in brightness along with the changes that naturally occur in the scales of the fish periodically (you know how the coloration of tangs can fade and brighten in an instant and at night). <Oh yes.> The tang is very active and seems very bright and healthy--great eater, nice full body, happy and peaceful. He has only 4 other fish mates--all smaller fish (Royal Gramma, Copper Band Butterfly, Gold Stripe Maroon Clown and Brown Sailfin Blenny). I feed him New Life Spectrum pellets, <An excellent choice here. I use exclusively, rarely feed other foods. Have you been to their website? Very informative. www.nlpublish.com> live black worms soaked in Selcon, OSI Spirulina flake, sheets of Nori, and Piscine Energetics frozen Mysis soaked in Selcon, so I'm pretty sure he is getting a healthy, varied diet. I do have some tree corals, a few LPS corals and some Corallimorphs, but I don't see those as posing a stinging or other hazard to this fish that would have caused this spot. Thanks again for your time. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Zebrasoma desjardinii or Zebrasoma veliferum 1-10-08 Hello crew, <Yunachin here> I am not sure if this tang (picture attached) is Zebrasoma desjardinii or Zebrasoma veliferum. When I purchased him it was sold as Zebrasoma desjardinii but I am leaning toward it being Zebrasoma veliferum. <I am going to say that if this is an adult specimen then it is in fact the Zebrasoma veliferum. The differences between the two species are the markings on the tail, where an adult desjardinii will have a spotted tail and an adult veliferum will have the yellow tail. If this is a juvenile you are going to have to wait it out to see if the colors change. Here is a link as well for some more info on the two : http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stripedzebrasomas.htm > Thanks much
<You're welcome, Yunachin>
John Maggio

very nice

Sail Fin Tang... HLLE and Trematodes... -11/27/2007 I have a Sail fin tang. He has small holes all over his body and fins. <I see these in your photo> I thought it was Ick but have not had any luck treating for Ick. <Are likely flukes... and neuromast destruction...> The best way to describe is the holes with something white in the middle of them. Something seems to be eating away at the skin. I have attached a very large photo so you can zoom in. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks, Brian Safian <... I would treat... successively... with Metronidazole... then Praziquantel... see WWM re the use of these compounds... AND you need to address your water quality and nutrition... Something is amiss here that has allowed the HLLE to advance... see WWM re HLLE causes/cures... Write back with specific issues... Bob Fenner>

Re: Sail Fin Tang... hlth. f'   11/27/2007 Bob, <Brian> I have been putting Metronidazole in food regularly for about a month <This is MUCH too long for exposure to this material> and I treated the tank with PraziPro. <This... should have "done it"> Some folks have suggested I do the formalin dip as that is also effective against Flukes and Ich and maybe feed Metronidazole while the fish are in QT after formalin dip. Basically, setup QT tank, do Formalin dips and then put fish into QT tank for a while. My next question is, "Does the eel need treatment." <...? What eel?> I know most flukes and worms can be fairly species specific and this one might only go after tangs. <Likely so> I just do not know what the resistance to flukes is by different fish or eels. <Many species are almost commensals...> I know that in tank treatment is not recommended by most, but having a fish only tank might be able to get away with dosing Praziquantel in the tank? <Is done... frequently. Often times with success... though the issue of co-interactions is pertinent... may absorb the medicant/s> If it is not recommended, what the life cycle of the fluke is and that way you know how long your QT has to be for. <What?> Thanks, Brian Safian <See WWM, the Net re Trematode diseases of fishes... BobF>

Re: Sail Fin Tang... hlth. 11/29/07 OK....Let me clarify. The Sail Fin Tang is in a FO tank with a Naso tang and a Snowflake Eel. The Naso and Eel have no signs parasites what so ever. Last night I gave the Sail Fin a 45 Minute Formalin bath. <... depending on strength/concentration, this is too long for formalin exposure> It seems today that several, but not all the holes are empty so it may have gotten some of the flukes off. Everyone seems to think I should bring the tank into Hypo, which I may begin stepping down today. Sorry for the confusion Brian <... please, don't write; read instead... on WWM re hyposalinity... RMF>

Re: Sail Fin Tang... hlth., blitzkrieg not working, need ID 12/20/07 Bob, <Brian> I wanted to get your opinion on a Fish Illness I had discussed with you a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to give you update and new photos to rack your brain a little if you don't mind. The Sail Fin Tang is in a tank with a Naso Tang, Snowflake Eel. Neither of them have any signs of parasites. I have included the latest photos to compare with previous photos. Below is the plan of action I currently have taken. 1.Treated with PraziPro (<5% Praziquantel) treated once (No effect) 2. Treaded with ParaGuard 3. Tried a Formalin Dip of 200 ppm for 45 min (no long term effect) 4. Feeding with Metronidazole every other day (No long term effects slight decrease in red color in wounds) 5. At Hypo (SG 1.010) for past 5 day Slowly dropped hypo for 10 days (Worms might be dislodging from wounds to surface but hard to tell) 6. NO3 is a bit high at 25-50ppm but fish only tank (Treatment might be effecting the bacteria cycle a bit) 7. Ammonia is 0 8. NO2 is clear 9. Temp is at 77 10 The HLLE seems to be cleared up for the most part. <I see> Fish is still eating but not swimming too active. Only treatment left to try is maybe try Heart guard but unsure about the effects. Your expertise would be appreciated. Thanks, Brian Safian <On the basis of your lack of results, am given to consider that the "dots" may be something else... Perhaps a micro/Sporidean, other subcutaneous protozoan. Again, is there someway you can get/use a microscope with computer adaptability or take this fish, skin/sample to a lab that can take a look/see? BobF>

Desjardinii Sailfin Tang Question, no useful data   8/20/07 Hi, I have a Desjardinii Sailfin Tang which seems to be losing it color. It is happening in the same place on both sides. See attached photo with arrow. Do you have any idea what this is? The water chemistry, diet, lighting has not changed. The fish is eating well. Thank you for your help! Laura Lee <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm the second tray down... BobF>

Re: Desjardinii Sailfin Tang Question   8/26/07 Hi Bob, I am sorry... I have gone to the link and the "second tray down", but I can not for the life of me find what it is my tang has. I have gone through the links for the past two hours. Do you think you could be a little bit more specific? I must be missing something. Thank you so much for your time. Laura Lee <Could be a few possible "things"... a simple mechanical injury, some sort of result from treatment... Stress marking... Am/was hoping that by reading, perusing you would be able to provide more/better input, realize yourself... BobF>

Sailfin specks   6/13/07 Dear Crew Members, <Fred> The accompanying photos show a Sailfin tang on whom dark marks suddenly appeared three days ago. The tiny splotches were accompanied by a very light ("faded") color instead of the usual, high-contrast Sailfin markings, and occasional, though not persistent, scratching. Appetite and general behavior did not seem very affected. Three slightly smaller yellow tangs in the same 220 gallon tank have not shown any similar symptoms. <These would very strikingly show such if this flatworm were present> Naturally, I consulted your excellent site, and although the symptoms did not seem a perfect match to Paravortex, that seemed the most likely diagnosis. I caught the fish (we frequently feed from a net, to enable fast fish removal), <Thank goodness!> did a 9-minute fresh water dip, and put the fish into quarantine. Over a day later, his overall coloration has returned to normal, but the specks are still present (though possibly less contrasting). <I see these> Now I am wondering whether I may have misdiagnosed his condition. The Sailfin is just over 3 years old, and had always lived by himself until about 9 days ago when we consolidated fish from our smaller tanks into the larger tank mentioned above. The sailfin was the first fish in, joined after a few days by three Yellow Tangs who have lived together for a few years, a Clarkii Clown, a recently acquired Kole Tang just out of quarantine, and a school of 8 small Chromis cyanea. We have been very pleased with the lack of aggression, especially among the Zebrasomas. To your experienced eyes, do the specks on the Sailfin appear to be Paravortex? <No> If so, should I perform another dip or two at 3-day intervals? If not, what would be your alternative diagnosis, and should I keep the fish in quarantine? <I do think these are "just markings"... There is some evidence of pitting... perhaps linked to neuromast destruction (HLLE) over time... but not likely a problem, issue.> Thanks for your long-term dedication to our hobby, and of course for your help, Fred <I would likely do what is easiest here to improve water quality (add activities, gear, clean up... to increase RedOx...) and augment diets... with addition, soaking of foods with a vitamin, Iodide/ate, and HUFA prep.. Bob Fenner>

Sailfin Tang - dying?  5/30/07 Hello - Appreciate your informative site!! We have a 125 gallon reef tank, 1 Red Sea Sailfin Tang about a year old, 1 Red Flame Hawkfish, 1 Coral Banded Shrimp, 1 long tentacle anemone (New) and some various polyps and mushrooms. Param.s are as follows: PH 8.3 Amm = 0 Nitrites = 0 Nitrates = 0 Temp = 83 (bit high I think, but just put new MH Lights in) In the last couple days my Tang has been acting a little strange, hanging out in one of the corners and not really swimming around like normal. We moved the powerheads around a bit but that didn't help. <May be just simple low dissolved oxygen, elevated temperature at play here...> When I woke up this morning, I thought he was dead. He was hanging' upside behind one of the rocks. I went to net him out and he swam, head down and upside down back over to the anemone. I left him alone and came back to check on him and he was resting on the anemone. I nudged him to see if he was alive and he got caught up in the current' - trying to right himself as he was upside down and/or sideways. Also, one of his eyes are cloudy. He is typically a very social fish! We did a water change last week and rearranged some of the rocks, added the anemone. <This may be a source of morbidity, mortality as well> We had our old VHO ballast blow last weekend, so there was a day and half with out lights and then we moved to a MH light system. This is a well established tank and everything else seems to be doing just fine! Any ideas, suggestions!? Thanks in advance!!! Jessica <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm Scroll down to the tray on Tangs, particularly the articles, FAQs files on the genus Zebrasoma. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sailfin Tang - dying?  5/31/07
Well he has now died. Now, I am very curious about what could of killed him! Is it possible he could of been stung bad enough by the anemone? <Yes> As he was dying, his skin was turning white - is that a sign of something or just the dying process? <Could be either, both> At any rate - any insight would be very much appreciated! BTW - the registration for the forums is not working. <Have sent this over and over to the administrator... Lorenzo Gonzalez... Don't know what the issue is, nor can I/we fix it for him. Thank you> Thank you- Jessica

Desjardini Tang with pockmarks   5/23/07 Dear Sir: <John> I reviewed your FAQs but my situation seems to be different than HLLE, etc. My 3 year old Desjardini Tang has these white "divots" confined to the area around its eyes above and below. The eyes are clear and the fish is active, colors otherwise vibrant, is an eager eater and appears healthy. These divots have existed for approximately 1.5  years and may be getting slightly worse. <Mmm, this is almost certainly a form of "Neuromast destruction"... IS HLLE...> The diet is primarily Formula 2 and Nori and whatever meat it can steal (and it doesn't get much) from the trigger, lionfish, 2 wrasses and a moray eel that live with it in a 125 gallon tank (FOWLR). <This is way too much fish life for such a volume> I have about 40 ppm nitrates <And twice as much nitrate as they should be exposed to> with 0 nitrites and ammonia. I buffer pH to a constant 8.3. <Good> In case you think it related to my problem, because of all of the messy eaters I have in the tank, I religiously change approx. 20 - 30 % of water per week. <You need more space period, and likely more/better filtration> Do you have a theory as to what may be causing this problem with my tang and what do you recommend I do about it ?   <Poor environment and nutrition... Improving them/these...> Thanks for your help. John <Posted... over and over... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm and the linked FAQs files above... Bob Fenner>

Sailfin Tang markings  4/6/07 Hello gang, I've been visiting the site for a while now, but this if the first time I've written in. Let me jump right to it. I've had my sailfin tang for about a year now. He is approximately 4". He eats anything and is very active, but over the last few weeks he has started to get some unusual spots on him, and I cant's figure out exactly what it is. I'm hoping that one of you will be able to identify the problem for me. I've asked him nicely to stay still for a picture, but to he just doesn't seem to want to cooperate. I was able to get one decent shot, I circled the new marks, as you can see, there are quite a few. I feed him a variety of frozen foods, Nori, flakes, Spirulina, and once a week or so, I soak the Nori or frozen food with Selcon. <Good> His current home is a 125G tank with about 150lbs of live rock. I'm running two Aquaclear 500 filters, an Odyssea CFS4 canister filter, an AquaC Remora pro skimmer, a Seio 1500 powerhead, and another smaller powerhead (don't know what it is). Water parameters are: Ammonia - 0; Nitrite - 0; Nitrate - 10; PH " 8.4; Alk 4.0 mEq/L (200ppm); SG 1.022; Temp at 78 degrees. The other tank mates are: 3" regal tang, a tomato clown, a fire fish, and some assorted hermit crabs and snails. Everyone else seems normal. Any help or suggestions you can offer would be greatly appreciated.   - Khris <... these are very likely "just" stress markings... Likely the Tomato Clown and Regal tang are taking turns challenging this specimen... How deleterious is their territoriality? This Sailfin might be moved to another setting... does eventually get much larger... And I'd like to mention the benefits of using Spectrum pelleted foods with these fishes... good nutritionally, and seems to reduce inter-species competition. Bob Fenner>

Mixing Tangs, lights for an LTA 8/29/05 I have a very small sailfin tang in my 55 gallon tank along with 2 perculas clowns, a bullet goby, and a cleaner shrimp. I want to know if I add a blue hippo tang would it fight with the sailfin because I would also like to add a yellow tang but I would much rather have the blue hippo. also is a 260watt light enough power for an LTA <... The Sailfin will grow too large for this tank... your compatibility and lighting questions are answered, archived on WWM... learn to/use the indices and/or Google search tool there. 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>

Taken By A Tang! My email address has changed. Sorry about the incorrect email address and thank you. <No problem> I have done some more reading on your site today at work and think I have found an interesting fish. The Sailfin Tang seems to have caught my attention. <A beautiful fish- one of my all-time favorites-but they get HUGE!> I also know that in 1 year or so I would need to upgrade the tank <Yep- substantially!> but when that comes, I would do it as before. Thanks for the wonderful web site and your valuable time need to start charging lol. <Yep-I'm glad that you will plan on upgrading to a larger tank with this guy- they are awesome fish- but they demand a very large tank to live out their full life span in comfort. You just have to be prepared for this if you want to keep this fish! They make terrific aquarium species if you can meet their needs. Plan, prepare- and make it so! Good luck! Scott F.>
Taken By A Tang (Pt. 2)
The Sailfin Tang seems to have caught my attention. Well, another question: What size tank would this fish be comfortable in full grown? I have the time to do it right the first time and some what the money to do it right. <Good for you! That's really the correct way to approach keeping any fish, especially one that can reach 15 inches! I'd say that to house this fish comfortably for its full life span, you'd want an aquarium that is 8-10 feet long, and holds around 300 to 500 gallons or more, IMO. I have spent plenty of time swimming with these fishes around Kona, and I can tell you that they maintain very large territories, and require a large amount of swimming room to be happy and comfortable. If you take the time to create a system suitable for their requirements, your fish will reward you with many years of enjoyment. Take Care! Scott F.>  

My curious friend Thought you might like to see my new buddy. He greets me at the top of the water in the two corners of the vat where he gets fed..... Took him a few days to figure it out, now I can't get rid of him. Good thing he's not a dog. He literally sticks his head out of the water to see me....funny to see him turn sideways, extend his "sails" to full stop, and examine the terrestrial. Okay, so he's begging, I get to anthropomorphize if I want. Craig <Very nice. Bob F>

My curious friend A better view.... I bought two, one has better face markings, this guy is not as pretty, but is more outgoing, adaptable and intelligent. You know, like Miss America. LOL! <Exactly, Bob F>

What kind of fish can add to my tank???? I have a Desjardin tang, what other kind of tang can I add with him in a 90 gallon with a goatfish, and clowns. Is a Kole tang ok to add or a surgeon fish? <<Another Sailfin tang of the same genus (Zebrasoma) should go... maybe a Yellow... from Hawai'i... or an easygoing member of the Acanthurus genus or a Combtooth tang like the Kole (aka Yellow-eye, Ctenochaetus strigosus) that you mention... or even a Pacific Blue/Hippo/Palette Tang... I'd make sure the new one(s) were a couple of inches smaller than the Desjardin's... to lessen the chance of interspecies aggression (they are going to tussle, but don't fret unless you see signs of real damage or cowering). Bob Fenner, who will be adding more graphics to the Surgeonfish family survey article on www.wetwebmedia.com and, better still, making a 32 pg. booklet on the group... they deserve it.>>

Sailfin Tang I have a 55 gallon tank with a Sailfin Tang, Naso, Yellow Tang, Foxface, and a Percula Clown. I keep my SG around 1.022. My PH runs around 8.2, Ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates around 5ppm,temp at 77, and calcium at 400. I add Lugol's iodine once a week, Strontium 2x week, There is about 35 pounds of live rock with various mushrooms growing, and a couple of feather dusters that have came out over the last few days.  I vary there diet with frozen brine shrimp plus, flake foods, organic grown romaine lettuce, and SERA Tablets ( the stick on the glass ones.) Now that's the specifics on the tank and its inhabitants now on to the questions. My Sailfin has appeared to change colors. From black and yellowish stripes to an almost beige or tan color where they used to be black. Is this normal? Also this morning I saw him rubbing his head on the substrate (which by the way is aragonite) and I am wondering the best course of action. i.e. fresh water dip, medicated flakes etc. I know you gonna ream me out for this, but I don't have a quarantine tank setup to isolate the Sailfin. But all be it I'll have one soon...Also any other suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks, Brian... <<Hmmm, not so fast... the color changes you mention and the "scratching" behavior may well not be indicative of a parasitic or other diseased condition... They may be "natural"... I'd hold off on dipping, any other chemical manipulation till you actually see some physical manifestation on the fish itself. One thing I would do that will help, and has little potential downside is add a cleaner shrimp... one of the species of the genus Lysmata. Bob Fenner>>

Pacific Sailfin Tang-- is this a problem? Hi Bob, I hate to be a pest, but I think I might have made a mistake? (or should I have said another mistake?) <To err...> Yesterday, I went out to get a Kole Tang, however when I got there the Kole in question was a little thin. They didn't recommend me buying it. (Very good LFS if you remember.) So I thought I'd look at some other Tangs that were in the Zebrasoma Family <genus>, as recommended. They had Yellow Tangs, Purple Tangs and a couple Sailfin Tangs. <A nice assortment> I want something a little different. And the purple Tangs were really expensive. So I've got a Sailfin Tang. I remember reading about them in your book, and I couldn't remember anything negative about them. <They get big...> When I got home are read some more. I was surprised to find out that they get to be 15 in. in the wild - probably means around half that in an aquarium, but still... you also didn't especially recommend them in your new book, giving them a two (not sure if that was because of how big they get or something else?) <That reason.> The strange thing about this is that it was one of the smaller Tangs there, <So was I... once.> Not counting the purple tangs, which were quite small. I think the Sailfin is about 3 1/2-4 inches or so, of course not counting all the fin. <And just a juvenile> So my question to you is this: Just how long his this fish quite to fit in my 40 gallon tank? (I don't think it's a juvenile as I've seen some pictures of them.) <Months...> Should I take it back or something radical like that? <Likely no... better to be thinking of, gearing up for a larger system in future> BTW, it appears to be healthy fish, getting used to the tank and ate some brine shrimp mixed with Spirulina. I also put some Nori in there for it. <They are very tough, adaptable> Thanks again for being there! --Jane <A pleasure my friend. Bob Fenner>

Sailfin Tang, Help A.S.A.P **911** Hi Bob, Love your Website! <Thank you... what would you do different, add to the WWM site?> I need your expert advice in order to prevent my Sailfin Tang from perishing. This is the second time that I am asking for your help with this same fish. The first time you were great and right on the money with your advice and I hope you can do the same this time around. I have been watching him very carefully each day, and he still exhibits signs of parasitic infestation. His appetite is still very good and he has a slight case of HLLE, but the main concern is that he is still breathing very rapidly, which makes me believe that he has gill parasites. With the mis-fortune of not having my hospital tank up and running I have come the conclusion that I have only two options. The first option now is treat my main tank with CopperSafe and pray that it will take control of this parasite, or my second option is to take this Sailfin Tang out of the main tank and try a" freshwater dip". <The latter would be/is my choice for now... with a dilute formalin/malachite dip solution... look for the Kordon Corp. product here. And also Zoecon to add to the tank, food to help you with the HLLE... and live macro-algae as detailed on the WWM site> My only concern is the procedure in which this method is done. Please Bob, give me some advice. I would greatly appreciate it if you could give me the correct step by step instructions on this process. For instance: correct water conditions such as temp, ph, length of time the fish should be dipped, and also what to do after the fish is dipped. Please reply A.S.A.P if you would be so kind!!!!! <These are spelled out well enough on the dip/bath section in the marine index. Please read them, download there. Bob Fenner>

Saltwater (Sailfin Tang) Disease Hi, Mr. Fenner I just had a few questions about why the tangs are so hard to keep healthy looking. My Sailfin Tang always seems to be breathing heavy and his lateral line also seems to be a little faded. What is the cause of all this? I give my fish a variety of foods like: brine shrimp, algae cubes, bloodworms, clam cubes, flake food, algae strips from seaweed select and I also add Vita-Chem to their food daily. I tested all the levels in the fish only aquarium and they all fall within the parameters. My tank size is 42gal.Hex. and I also have a Niger Trigger and a Snowflake EEL. If you will please E-mail me back ASAP with some advice. Thanks, Tom <Thank you for caring enough to investigate... These are not good signs as you know, but you may well have provided all the information here that is necessary to solve your systems problem. Yes, this is likely what can be termed an "environmental disease". That is the cause of the poor health manifestations listed (heavy breathing, HLLE) are due directly to unsatisfactory conditions in the living quarters. Please do read over the FAQ section associated with the term "environmental disease" posted on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com and consider the following: Increasing aeration/circulation (airstones, powerheads...) as of the fishes you list, the Tang is the one with the highest dissolved oxygen need. And to discount the likelihood that this may as well be a nutritional deficiency syndrome, do add liquid vitamins, and iodide (often called iodine in the trade) supplement to the fish's favored foods ahead of placing them in this system... Additionally, I would add some live rock to this system, some macro-algae to improve water quality and offer as food on a constant basis... and start saving for a larger system, as these fishes will need such within a year. Bob Fenner>

Desjardini Tang Hi Bob. I recently purchased a Desjardini tang from Flying fish and I am very happy.  He is healthy and eating several different frozen foods. However, the  sheet of algae that came with my order is in the tank with him and a few other fish (coral beauty, six-line, Longnose hawk) and it remains untouched  after twenty-four hours. I was just wondering if I should try another brand  of seaweed or maybe some terrestrial greens instead. Do fish tend to ignore  standing food in favor of food in the water column? Any suggestions? Thank, Brian Baker  <<Their indifference is likely due to the twin influences of new livestock introduction and unfamiliarity with the food... Just give them time. Bob Fenner>>

Sailfin Tang bites Cleaner Shrimp Hello Bob - After a few weeks of quarantine, I placed a 4" Sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma veliferum) in my main tank. I have noticed that when he swims by the cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis), he bites the antennae of the shrimp! Now the shrimp's antennae are all considerably shorter then they were a week ago. Any thoughts / ideas on why this is happening and how to prevent? Much appreciated. Andre <Hmm, well, sometimes Zebrasoma will chew on, chew up/consume shrimps of different sorts... and your shrimp will regenerate new antennae (if it's not eaten altogether) with the next molt... I would offer this tang something else to munch on... like some strips of Nori, other human-intended algae that you can get from the oriental food section... and live rock with macro-algae. Bob Fenner>

Yummy tangs... Hey Lorenzo,
Just have a quick question for you. My current 54 gallon corner has a pair of true Percula clowns, a flame angel, an algae blenny, a Kole tang, and a couple dozen misc. hermits and snails. I have 45 lbs of live rock, a DSB, and a Prizm protein skimmer as filtration.
<Under-skimmed, big time.>
I just added the Kole tang and the cleaner shrimp about two weeks ago but I just lost my 4 eyed butter fly last weekend due to starvation. (I never could get it to eat consistently)
<OOOH. Darn.>
Anyways, I was at a restaurant and I saw a Desjardin Sailfin Tang.
<On your plate?>
I was wondering if I could add this fish in without causing any major disturbances.
<You should ask your doctor about this and other gastro-intestinal problems. Many ornamental fish are quite poisonous...>
I also plan to upgrade my skimmer to a Remora Pro and add another 45 lbs of live rock.
<Ah Ahh! GREAT skimmer, definitely will do the trick on your 54g. You really have room in there for 45 more pounds of rock? 90 pounds in a 54 gallon tank is pretty serious! Sounds nice though.>
De you think this fish will fit in ok or should I look towards something else?
<Mix with other fish should be fine... but don't do it until you have the bigger skimmer - your tank is already heavily loaded, especially with just the Prizm. And don't eat any more valuable Tangs... :-P > Thank You,
Jonathan Pac
<You're welcome! -Lorenzo> <<Zo... this fish gets way too big for this size, shape tank. RMF>>

Is this (Zebrasoma veliferum) the same species as Z. desjardinii of the I.O., RS Bob: Looks like veliferum to me? Photo from the Pacific?  <Yes, also off the dry side of the Big Island> Z. desjardinii of the Indian Ocean is a valid species close to veliferum.  <Ah, had read some accounts the latter was considered a junior synonym now...> Different fin-ray counts as well as some color differences. Aloha, Jack <Thank you for this Jack. Will add to the Zebrasoma FAQs on our www.WetWebMedia.com site. Bob Fenner><<Jack is Dr. John Randall, Bernice P. Bishop Museum. RMF>>
Re: Is this (Zebrasoma veliferum) the same species as Z. desjardinii of the I.O., RS
<Response to daily pic email out by Werner Schmettkamp, BSV in Germany, owners/publishers of the mag. das Aquarium and Sven and Alf's fab Modern Coral Reef Aquarium books....> Dear Bob, it is indeed Zebrasoma veliferum, cause of the unspotted yellow tail fin. <Danke mein Herr. Be seeing you... this May at Interzoo. Bob Fenner> Take care, Werner

Pacific Sailfin Tang Dear Mr. Fenner: I currently have a 55 gallon tank with DSB and 50 pounds of LR. Has been up and running for 2 years with 0 problems. The only occupants are snails, emerald crabs, 2 cleaner shrimp and 2 false perculas and a few mushrooms. My parents neighbor is moving cross country and is getting rid of everything. I have no room for their big tank and the person taking the tank does not want this fish nor does the LFS. It's about 4 inches long right now but can you tell me how to take care of it and if it will be ok in my tank or find a better home? <This fish should be okay for now and into the foreseeable future... Might "have a problem" with new fishes once it becomes established in your 55, grows a bit. My coverage: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zebrasom.htm and the FAQs beyond on general husbandry issues. Bob Fenner>

Our new fish (Zebrasoma over-concerns) Mr. Fenner, I took your advice and bought a Zebrasoma tang. It is a red sea Sailfin (Desjardinii, or something like that). He seems very mellow. He swims around all over and really doesn't appear to sleep, at least not like the hippo. When it's lights out the hippo lays literally) down in his favorite spot and sleeps!!! He picks on the rocks eating algae and we have tried to feed him Spirulina and other flake food as well as Mysis shrimp, but he didn't appear to eat. <Patience my friend... a few days time to rest, settle in...> We have seaweed selects on a lettuce clip in there and I saw him munching on a little. Is there something else we should try to feed him, or is what we are offering him fine, he is just new and still checking things out. My clowns are afraid of him, but my hippo is very curious about him. Hippo keeps trying to come and swim with the Sailfin, but then the hippo gets scared and runs away. Is this normal for both species. <Yes> Also, who will be the dominant one hippo is 5-6 inches) Sailfin 2 or so. Should we keep an eye on both or should they be just fine? Also, we gave him a PH adjusted FW bath last night for a few minutes, since the pet store dipped him in quick cure for over 5 minutes earlier in the day.  We went a little easy on him. Is this tang a hardy fish? Thanks in advance for your answers to my questions. And if you have any other info you think would help me, I would appreciate it. <Time... Bob Fenner>

Swimming Erratically First time writer to your column, been reading it for a while. I have a 60 gallon tank with a number of corals (elegance, bubble, colt, Shrooms, frogspawn, brains, leathers) with four types of tangs (Naso, Yellow, Regal Blue, and Desjardini), a Coral Beauty angel, and two black clownfish. Well, everyone is doing great with the exception of the Desjardini tang. Lately, he has been swimming erratically like his swim bladder is not functioning. He flaps his fins like crazy to keep his body from floating sideways to the top. Or, he swims at a straight down angle or in a looping fashion. His appearance and appetite are normal. Is this a documented condition and is there any thing that can be done to lessen the stress?? <<How long you had that Zebrasoma? Ever been treated by/with copper? Sometimes Sailfins just go this route... and no, not much/anything you can do (that I'm aware of). Bob Fenner>>

Holes in Dorsal Fin I've got a 6" Sailfin tang in my display tank (125gal.) and he's been doing fine for the past 1 1/2 yrs. But recently (2-3 months) I've noticed that his large dorsal fin has holes in it. From the looks of it, it seems to be thinning. Any explanation or prevention of this? Also, I've got a 3" Kole tang in the hospital tank. The tank has about 2 ppm Cu2+ to control the nasties. The tang has been in the tank for almost two weeks and last week I noticed what appears to be a blister or abscess under his left pectoral fin. And in the last two days, it looks as if a second is forming on his right side near the base of the dorsal fin. Both have a somewhat circular shape so I don't think its lateral line erosion. I'm not sure if he's just scratched himself against a rock and the copper is affecting it or whether it's something else. Any ideas or suggestions? I was planning on introducing him into the display tank this weekend but now I might hold off. <<Hey Bri. Re: the first surgeon... very likely the "holiness" of the dorsal is a combination of mere growth/age and a less than satisfactory diet. Do you offer 'human-food' algae like Nori occasionally? Do so and dip it first in a vitamin and iodine solution. The Ctenochaetus tang (Kole) is definitely in trouble from the copper. Do remove the Cu++ or better still, move the fish. I'd take the big risk and plunk it into my best reef tank. I've stated such before, but this family and their close relatives (e.g. the Rabbitfishes, Siganidae, scats: Scatophagidae, Idols: Zanclidae) can't take much in the way of sustained, let's make that chronic (more than a few days) copper treatments... kills off needed alimentary microbes. Bob Fenner>>

Sick RedSea Sailfin Quit Eating Hello again Mr. Fenner, I wrote you recently about copepods & 2-fish in my quarantine tank- (flame angel & red sea Sailfin tang). My red sea tang has suddenly taken a turn for the worse & has quit eating, breathing rapidly & "hovering" in the same lower left corner of the tank all of the time. My nitrates were at 20 & ammonia was very low but my ph lowered to 7.9, from 8.3. So I added a small amount of Kent 8.3 to the tank.  <Over what period of time? A change of no more than 0.1 of a pH point in twenty four hours is about maximum> This behavior started later that evening (Sunday). Yesterday I did a 3 gal water change and nothing has changed. Any suggestions??? <Hope... increase aeration... I would likely take the chance and move this specimen to your main tank> Today is the 29th day in quarantine. <This is too long... in almost all cases two weeks will get you about all you can hope to get... unless the specimens that are being quarantined show definite "catching" characteristics I would limit this protocol to fourteen days> I would also like your advice in another one of your favorite arenas. We are trying to plan a vacation to a spot where we can observe salt fish collection, diving (snorkeling) and seeing tropical fish and reefs first hand. Wives would be along also, so a nice hotel is a must. I live in Las Vegas, NV & my brother lives in Newport beach, ca. Naturally, the closer, the better. We will be traveling in late Sept. or Oct.. Mexico, Belize, Florida ???  <All good choices... and would toss in Hawai'i... generally there are calm-enough places, warm-enough water that time of year for HI... Take a long look on the Net at all possibilities, and chat these up with all parties... When you narrow the locale down we'll chat. Bob Fenner> Thanx for your advice in advance. Craig
Re: Sick RedSea Sailfin
Mr. Fenner, Thanx again for you light speed response! The reason the 2 fish are in the 10 quarantine tank is I've let the main tank go 30 days without occupants to hopefully get rid of the crypto eggs.  <Ah, now that makes sense...> I hope I was doing the right thing. My LFS suggested to go the full 30 days. I do put your expertise above theirs, although the girl has 15yrs. experience.  <Best to consider alls opinions to make up your own mind, course of action> Do you think I should wait the one more day, or get both of the fish back in the 50 gal. <If the one fish looks as bad as you describe, I would move it. It may perish otherwise. Bob Fenner> Thanx so much. Craig
Re: Sick RedSea Sailfin
Mr. Fenner, It looks like I owe you a Sushi dinner when you visit Las Vegas. I did find a great "all you can eat in an hour" spot nearby. <I'm on my way!> I added a Rio powered to my 10g to aerate the qt tank & within an hour or two, the RedSea Sailfin was moving about the tank. Although he still looks to be breathing rapidly, I think I will wait the extra day & introduce him into my main tank tomorrow. He still is not eating (I put Nori in the tank) but he does look a little better. <The added aeration likely did the trick... the Surgeonfishes need high, consistent dissolved oxygen> Since I'm not a gambling' man, you can't if you live in this town, I will wait till the morning. I would hate to go thru the crypto nightmare again. I'll keep you informed. <Ah, good> Thanx so much for your help. Craig p.s. I checked out a couple of spots in Belize & will search more when I have more time. We'll chat when I narrow it down. Thanx <Real good... if it's your first time, maybe just Ambergris, San Pedro, about the Hol Chan... if you and wives are more adventurous, Caye/Key Caulker, Tenerife, many other off shore island possibilities... Lots of time, wanderlust? Drive the length down to Placentia, out to Laughing Bird.... We'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Help with tangs. Hello Sir! <Howdy> I just came across your great web page today and I was hoping that you could provide some insight for me. I'm very new to the saltwater game so I need some help with something. Here is the breakdown so far. Currently I'm running a 72 gallon bow front, with about 100 to 105 pounds of live rock, a skimmer and Fluval 304 with 2 bio-wheels. In the tank I have 2 damsel (sp?)<yes> fish and one pretty big, and very beautiful Sailfin tang from the red sea. This fish is wonderful!! So smart and friendly, he even lets you kind of pet him. <Neat> Anyways, here is my problem. This past weekend, I added a juv. emperor and a flame angel. So far my Sailfin is really going after the emperor.  <Yes... these two occupy about the same niche in the Indian Ocean, Red Sea... best to remove the Emperor... otherwise I can almost assure you "signs" of stress and duress will soon occur...> We have re-arranged the live rock and it did slow him down a bit but it hasn't totally stopped it. The emperor is eating fine, but he's not fighting back or anything. <If it is not much larger (which I doubt) it will end up losing... If you asked me ahead of time I would tell you that your chances of these two cohabitating in such a small volume is tiny... need hundreds plus gallons...> Any ideas? I was thinking about removing my Sailfin from the tank for a little while and totally re-arrange everything in the tank. Maybe that will work? <Perhaps, but I doubt it... would stick with the smaller sub-dominant species, the Flame Angel... Please read over the partial posting of the section of my latest book on the WWM site, "A Fishwatcher's Guide... to the Fishes of the Red Sea... and consider some other, more suitable species originating from there instead.> If you could provide any insight that would be great. Thanks!! Jason Karby <Talk with you soon. Bob Fenner>
Re: Help with tangs.
Mr. Fenner, Thank you for getting back to me. Well I need to ask your opinion on this again. It seems that our red sea Sailfin tang is still attacking the emperor like you said would happen. Things were much better today after we removed the Sailfin and re-arranged everything. But tonight once the lights went out, the tang won't even let the emperor out of a corner. <yes, not good> So I was hoping you could give your opinion on this. I don't know which one to keep. I've had the Sailfin since I started this tank in Sept.. And he has been wonderful and people friendly, but if he is going to attack everything that I put in the tank I don't know if I should keep him. Will he? <No, likely only other "tangs that look like it", animals that appear to utilize the same resources (food, space...), and possibly organisms it naturally tussles with for whatever reasons (competition, predation...) in the wild> I've always wanted to have an emperor, but I don't know if he's too stressed already. He doesn't seem to be, he's eating well. But he does have a few marks from the tang. <Very resilient fish... will likely "bounce back" if/when less stressed> So what do you recommend? Should I keep the tang? or get rid of him and go with the emperor and some other fish? <This choice is entirely yours... you make their world. But I would choose one or the other, and soon> Thanks again for your help! I'm recommending your website to some friends. <Ah, good. Hajime/Become yourself. Bob Fenner> -Jason Karby

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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