Tangs are popular marine fish species that are found in almost all saltwater aquariums.
But are they reef-safe?
Tangs are reef-safe as they don’t damage coral or eat invertebrates from the reef aquarium. They come in different colors, shapes, sizes, and temperaments. However, tangs can get stressed easily. So, proper care, pristine water quality, and adequate food are required to maintain their health.
Let’s understand in more detail why tangs are considered reef-safe.
4 Reasons Why Tangs Are Considered Reef-Safe
Tangs are beautiful saltwater fish species primarily found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean.
Since they’re popular in the aquarium hobby, most tangs can be found in local pet stores.
Tangs are mostly considered safe for reef tanks because of their non-territorial behavior.
Besides, there are a few other reasons why they’re a natural pick for reef aquariums.
Given below are some of the reasons why tangs are considered reef-safe.
1. Peaceful Behavior
Tangs are peaceful and non-territorial.
Although tangs prefer to swim in groups in their natural habitat, they can be kept only in pairs in reef tanks due to space constraints.
However, different tang species of the same size can coexist in the same aquarium if they’re introduced simultaneously.
Make sure they have ample swimming space inside the tank.
Tangs also do well with other fish species like clownfish, cardinals, large angels, wrasses, and chromis.
2. Similar Habitat
The natural habitat of tang fish is very similar to a reef tank.
They live in shallow waters of tropical seas where a lot of algae grow on the rocks and coral.
The conditions inside the reef aquarium are similar to their natural environment.
However, tangs are susceptible to parasites and diseases as they have limited slime protection.
So a full quarantine is necessary before adding a new fish to your healthy reef aquarium.
3. Cleans Algae
Marine algae are the main part of tangs’ diet in their natural environment.
However, tangs are omnivores and will happily eat brine shrimp and mysis shrimp when fed in captivity.
The reef tank has algae, and tangs are extremely good at scraping algae from the aquarium walls, rocks, and corals.
You can also feed them meaty food to satiate their protein requirement.
4. No Threat to Corals and Invertebrates
Tangs don’t feed on corals and invertebrates, which means your corals and invertebrates are safe in your reef tank.
Some tangs can grow very large, but they have small mouths that they usually use to feed on algae.
The large tang species can damage the corals out of aggression.
However, if you feed your tangs several times per day, they won’t bother the other inhabitants of the reef tank.
Which Are the Best Tangs for A Reef Tank?
Most tang species are reef-safe and found in community reef aquariums because of their peaceful behavior.
However, some tang species are more prominent in reef tanks than others.
Given below is the list of tangs that are best suited for reef tanks.
1. Bristletooth Tangs
Bristletooth tangs are the most commonly found tangs in reef aquariums.
These fish are good at cleaning up algae. They’re also one of the smallest tangs, making them extremely popular.
Bristletooth tangs have a set of teeth that are extremely useful for scraping algae off the rocks and glass.
These tangs are very effective at controlling algal bloom inside the tank.
Bristletooth tangs are also usually peaceful toward other marine species.
They can cohabitate with invertebrates and won’t damage the live coral inside the reef tank.
The most common bristletooth tangs that you can find in reef aquariums are:
- Kole tang,
- Tomini tang,
- Two-spot Bristletooth, and
- Squaretail Bristletooth.
2. Zebrasoma Tangs
Zebrasoma tangs are a medium-sized group composed of brightly colored marine fish that are relatively easy to keep in reef aquariums.
All zebrasoma tangs have similar round or discoid-shaped bodies, long snouts, large dorsal fins, and one sharp spine on their tails.
Their long snout is excellent in removing algae from the crevices.
The smallest of the zebrasoma tangs is the Yellow tang, which grows up to 8 inches in length, and the largest is the Dejardini Sailfin, which grows up to about 16 inches in length.
The seven types of zebrasoma tangs are:
- Dejardini Sailfin,
- Gem tang,
- Purple tang,
- Sailfin tang,
- Scopas, and
- Yellow tang.
Are All Tangs Reef-Safe?
Many aquarists have successfully bred different tang species in their reef aquariums.
It means most tang species can cohabitate with the corals and invertebrates inside the tank and are thus reef-safe.
Tangs feed on algae, so they help keep the aquarium clean by eating the algae.
Besides, it helps the corals to thrive as harmful algae blooms can damage the corals and the reef ecosystem.
As the fish grow, the likelihood of exhibiting rough behavior increases.
As a result, larger tangs can become aggressive and destroy the corals while grazing.
However, by providing them adequate food, plenty of swimming space, and stress-free life inside the aquarium, you can ensure your tangs remain happy and comfortable.
What Are the Drawbacks of Keeping Tangs in A Reef Tank?
Many tang species succumb to stress and diseases in a captive environment as these fish have limited protective slime coating, making them vulnerable to saltwater ich and marine velvet.
So the most significant drawback of keeping tangs in reef aquariums is that they’re susceptible to parasites and diseases.
As a result, they can transmit infections to other tankmates.
Before introducing a new tang into an established aquarium, ensure that it undergoes a strict two-week quarantine.
Don’t add the fish directly to your healthy reef tank.
Keeping the fish stress-free is also essential.
Therefore, stable water quality, adequate feeding, ample swimming space, and proper care are essential for keeping your tangs healthy.