Can Sailfin and Yellow Tangs Co-exist?

by | Nov 15, 2008 | Advanced Aquarist | 0 comments

The following question,

Posted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:23 am Post subject: Sailfin and Yellow tang co exist?

I am aware that the general rule of thumb is that you do not put more than 1 Tang in a tank. I have a 156, would the bigger tank enable me to put more than a Tang ? I am thinking of a Yellow and Sailfin Tang. Has anyone have them co exit without world war III?

Would it be ok if I introduce them both at the same time ? I believe the Sailfin is less aggressive so would introducing it first be a better idea?

Because I have 7 tangs, including pairs of Red Sea purple tangs (Zebrasoma xanthurum) and Red Sea sailfin tangs (Zebrasoma desjardinii) I thought I might add to the discussion in this editorial.

First, here are some recent pictures showing some of these fish:


The way I have managed to have all of these tangs in one tank was essentially governed by two things. First, and most importantly, was how they were introduced. I introduced all of the tangs as juveniles all at the same time. In other words they grew up together. Secondly, they all grew up in a large tank with lots of hiding places. The tank holds over 400-gallons of water and is connected to a 300-gallon sump. All of them grew quite rapidly and became more aggressive as they matured, first especially toward members of their own species and next to those that had the most similar body shape. The result of this was that yellow (Zebrasoma flavescens) and red sea purple tangs established different ends of the tank, with something of a “no man’s land” (tang’s sea) in the middle of the tank. The same is true of the red sea sailfin tangs. The only time they are all in the same area is at feeding time. Interestingly enough, my achilles tang (Acanthurus achilles) is the least interested in the other tangs. Keep in mind that one can never account for the behavior of individual fish – one never knows when territorial fish as a group will have one member who is a pacifist.

If a reef keeper just has to add a tang to a reef tank that has an established tang make sure that the new comer is at least twice the size. Furthermore, never add a new tang to a tank where the established tang is a powder blue (Acanthurus leucosternon) or sohal (Acanthurus sohal). These are the most aggressive. Regal (Paracanthurus hepatus)and naso (Naso elegans) tangs appear to be the least aggressive, at least in my experience.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Upcoming Events