What about tangs?

Discussion in 'Tropical Fish' started by Craig Manoukian, Dec 5, 2003.

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  1. Craig Manoukian

    Craig Manoukian Giant Squid

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    OK,

    The subject of tangs, what kind and how many, comes up alot.  The problem is there are several answers depending on the type of set-up you have and what you are looking for.  I am going to discuss having multiple tangs that are reef safe.  There are lots of tangs and surgeon fish that are superb candidates for large fish only set-ups, but those won't be discussed here.

    How big of a tank do I need?

    In general, tangs require a minimum of 48" of lateral swim room as they are very active swimmers and grazers.  Hex and corner bow tanks are not as good of a tank choice because the water volume tends to be more vertical, and other than jelly fish, fish do not swim vertically in there normal activities.

    The adult size of the fish is important in choosing the right tank for the tang, or vice versa.  Of the tangs that are readily available in the aquaria trade, they grow to a minimum of 7" and the vast majority to 10" - 15".  The maximum adult size of the fish should determine the size of your tank.

    What do I want a tang for?

    Tangs offer a wide variety of body styles and colors.  They are excellent and active swimmers that add personality and action to your tank.  The most important benefit of having these fish is that, in addition to being active swimmers, they are tremendous grazers and agaevores, aka, good cleaner crew members.

    What do I feed my tangs?

    Tangs eat a wide variety of algae and may supplement their diet with meaty foods you introduce to your tank.  Flake food and seaweed are also to their liking.  People also feed their tangs broccolli or other green vegatable matter that approximates their plant diet in the sea.  These fish are known for their appetites and have been called a lot of things, but never late for dinner.

    How many tangs can I have in my tank?

    The real challenge here is that it depends on how big the tangs are.  You can certainly keep two or three juvenile tangs in a 75 - 100 gallon tank, for a while.  They will grow and you will need to accomodate that adult growth at some time in the future. This can be achieved by moving to a new and bigger tank, what a strategy, eh ;), or trading them in to an LFS or some other more suitable home.

    In most reef tanks in the 75 - 100 gallon range you can keep two tangs in the 7' - 10" adult size range without too much problem if you mix the genus properly.  Anything under 75 gallons and 48" or longer can accomodate one tang. in that size range.

    Michael Paletta suggest a much bigger tank than 75 - 100 gallons for three tangs. I believe he has three in his 240 gallon reef tank.

    That being said, there are three genuses that generally get along well because they don't compete for the same food source. The three genuses are:

    1. Zebrasoma
    2. Acanthurus
    3. Ctenochaetus

    I have experience with three species, one from each genus that get along well together as they are some of the more peaceful tangs. They are the Sailfin (Zebrasoma veliferum), Convict (Acanthurus triostegus), and Yellow Eyed Kole (Ctenochaetus strigosus) tangs and all are very efficient macro algae eaters. The Sailfin and Convict are very good macroalgaevores and the Yellow Eyed Kole is expert at cleaning green and brown PITA algae from the glass and rocks.


    There are several species from each of these genuses that can be mixed and matched.  Remember that these are generalities and that each fish is different and may become aggressive if it feels it's territory is being encroached.  Some individual fish just have bad dispositions and are not good tank mates.

    It is my experience that it is best to add mutiple tangs, odd numbers are better, as young juveniles of the same size. In this way they are not predisposed to aggressive or territorial behavior, and they get to grow up together and gain a familiarity that leads to less potential conflicts.

    It is critical that you are responsible and provide tangs with the appropriate swim room.  You have to realize that a 240 gallon tank does not duplicate the swim territory of a sinlge tang in the wild so we are really providing the minimum.

    How big do most tangs in the three genuses mentioned above get?

    I will list the adult size of tangs from each of the genuses, not all have the same dispostion:

    Acanthurus

    Convict (Acanthurus triostegus), 10"
    Orangeshoulder Tang (Acanthurus olivaceous), 14"
    Powder Blue Tang (Acanthurus leucosternon), 9"
    Whitecheek Tang (Acanthurus nigricans), 8"
    Blue Caribbean Tang (Acanthurus coeruleus), 9"
    Clown Tang (Acanthurus lineatus), 15"
    Lieutenant Tang (Acanthurus tennenti), 10"
    Lemon Tang (Acanthurus sp.), 10"
    Lavender Tang (Acanthurus nigrofuscus), 8"
    Powder Brown Tang (Acanthurus japonicus), 9"

    Paracanthurus (A sub species of Acanthurus)

    Blue or Hippo Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus), 12"

    Ctenochaetus

    Yellow Eyed Kole (Ctenochaetus strigosus), 7"
    Bristletooth Tomini Tang (Ctenochaetus tominiensis), 7"
    Chevron Tang (Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis), 11"

    Zebrasoma

    Sailfin (Zebrasoma veliferum), 15"
    Black Longnose Tang (Zebrasoma rostratum), 10"
    Yellow Hawaiian Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens), 8"
    Purple Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum), 10"

    Happy Reefing!
     
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  3. omard

    omard Gnarly Old Codfish

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    Great post Craig...lots of great info here.

    I know it probably varies greatly on conditions & species, but how long does it take for Tangs to grow to maturity...

    In my case, I have both a ellow Hawaiian Tang - Zebrasoma flavenscens & a Pacific Blue Tang - Paracanthurus hepatus, both juveniles that are doing well in my 55 gal. (48") tank. --

    How long would you expect I can enjoy them before they start to get too big for tank? ???

    Once again, we "beginners" have much to learn.

    Rgds,

    OmarD
     
  4. Craig Manoukian

    Craig Manoukian Giant Squid

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    Depends on their feeding but they may outgrow your tank in 12 - 24 months. Keep an eye on them and start shopping for a new tank. ;) You can never shop to little or too early for this hobby!
     
  5. omard

    omard Gnarly Old Codfish

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    Hey...I have been "shopping" continuously since I got into this...is part of the great fun...looking ahead to next system.

    12-24 mos will about do it...family all very "attached" now to "Bubbles" & "Dory" - should get no "argument" from anyone when time comes for larger tank - (biggest problem is living room not big enough for one I would like --- but will make do somehow...)

    Thanks again,

    OmarD
     
  6. karlas

    karlas Fire Goby

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    awesome article on tangs people that covers almost every common question regarging them. that will definitly be a referral for me if i need to look someting up
     
  7. Craig Manoukian

    Craig Manoukian Giant Squid

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    Thanks Karla!
     
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  9. JOER0178

    JOER0178 Peppermint Shrimp

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    DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THE WHITECHEEK TANG IS TO KEEP. I HEARD THEY WERE HARD
     
  10. chrischick

    chrischick Astrea Snail

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    So, I have a 55 gallon..that im going reef with..I was reading some of those posts on recommending fish on the home page...I was sort of thinking
    Either a Coral beauty + yellow tang
    Or blue tang+yellow tang
    3 chromis
    2 percula tangs
    hows this sound?
    Any better recommendations...
    Id like to have a royal gramma in there somewhere..I was thinking the coral beauty because they dont grow as big...or a pygmy
     
  11. Jason McKenzie

    Jason McKenzie Super Moderator Staff Member

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    [quote author=chrischick link=board=Fish;num=1070655612;start=0#7 date=02/29/04 at 09:34:24]So, I have a 55 gallon..that im going reef with..I was reading some of those posts on recommending fish on the home page...I was sort of thinking
    Either a Coral beauty + yellow tang
    Or blue tang+yellow tang
    3 chromis
    2 percula tangs
    hows this sound?
    Any better recommendations...
    Id like to have a royal gramma in there somewhere..I was thinking the coral beauty because they dont grow as big...or a pygmy[/quote]
    That seems like a lot of fish for a 55G.
    Most will say the minimum tank for 1 Tang is 75G.
    That is what I have and I've had my White cheek for 1.5 years. I got him as a juv. Today I feel 75G with LR and my other fish isn't enough for him. I am in the process of setting up a 40 to move some of my fish out as well as a BTA so that my tang has more room.
    I would highly advise against a tang in a 55G.
    I would stick with the Royal gramma instead
    Jason
     
  12. chrischick

    chrischick Astrea Snail

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    Sorry
    How about
    1 Coral Beauty(small)
    2 Percula Clowns
    3 or 4 Chromis

    All these fish stay rather small....so I figured theyd be alright..I plan on uprgrading in a year or two to a 150 or 300 gallon either way..so.