Nov 23, 2022

How to Mix Multiple Tangs in an Aquarium

How to Mix Multiple Tangs in an Aquarium

How to Mix Multiple Tangs in an Aquarium

Many aquarists have successfully added a young captive bred Biota tang to their tanks that have existing older, wild tangs. This Biota blog will help you learn some useful tips and tricks for keeping multiple tangs together.

Why are tangs aggressive toward conspecifics?

Some people tend to think of only carnivores as being aggressive, but tangs and other herbivores can be aggressive to protect their territory. Many tang species are considered to be “peaceful,” while some are “aggressive,” but even peaceful tang species can be aggressive toward other tangs, and sometimes even toward other herbivores like blennies if they feel their territory is too small or if their food supply is perceived to be limited.

How do tangs fight?

Most fish species will use their teeth to fight, so new tang owners might be surprised to see their fighting tangs line up side by side. Instead of biting, tangs typically use a sharp spine (scalpel) at the base of the tail (caudal peduncle) to slap and puncture their opponent. If you see your tang swim next to another fish while flaring all its fins and darting quickly back and forth, this is aggressive posturing.

top and bottom left: various tang species' caudal peduncle weapons 

bottom right: a tang with injuries 

How to introduce new fish to a tank that already has fish

We strongly recommend introducing any new fish to a tank using an acclimation box; this is particularly important for smaller fish. This allows the new fish and your existing fish to get to know each other in safety. More importantly, using an acclimation box also lets you keep a close eye on the fish so you know it is getting food and isn't swept away by pumps or filtration while it's tired from its long journey. Make sure your acclimation box is large enough to accommodate your new fish comfortably for several weeks. Place it in an area that gets plenty of flow so the water inside doesn't become stagnant. Provide lightweight hiding places like PVC or macroalgae in the box. Observe the fish in the box for at least a week, and if the fish aren't acting aggressively toward it, try releasing the fish. If the fish fight, ideally you'd catch the aggressor and isolate it in the acclimation box to allow the new fish to get used to the tank. If you can't catch the aggressor, it's OK to put the new fish back into the acclimation box until signs of aggression are gone. With particularly aggressive fish, you may need to repeat these steps. 

Tang groups should be kept in a very large tank

Your tank should be at least 6 feet long if you want to keep multiple tangs together. Very young tangs can be kept in a smaller tank together temporarily during quarantine or grow-out, but they grow quickly. Adult tang groups should ideally be housed in the largest aquarium possible. A tang that feels crowded may act out aggressively.

Have a lot of rock arranged with a lot of hiding places

The aquascape of your tank is important. Tangs are strong swimmers and need plenty of open space, but they also need lots of live rock with caves and crevices to feel safe.

Feed often

A well-fed tang is a happy, peaceful tang. In the wild tangs graze constantly. If they sense a lack of food, they will be more likely to fight. It can be a fine balance between feeding enough to make tangs happy and controlling organic waste in the tank. Especially when tangs are first introduced together, feed multiple stations of "grazing" type foods like nori seaweed sheets on clips or Easy Reefs Masstick at opposite ends of the tank and replace as often as possible.

Add tangs at the same time

Your best bet is to add an odd number of tangs to the same tank at the same time. Two tangs will only have each other to fight with, but three tangs will disperse their aggression three ways. It’s better if you can find tangs that are already used to being together. Biota captive bred tangs are housed in our facility together with others of their species and tend to acclimate together better than tangs that have been housed alone. Younger tangs also tend to get along better than tangs introduced together as large adults.

Turn out the lights

When you open the shipping box, you don't want to shock your new fish with bright lighting. Turn off your aquarium lights and make your room as dark as possible. Adding new fish into a dark tank will also encourage the fish to rest instead of fight. Keep the lights off for the rest of the day and allow them to come on in the morning. Aquarium professionals use red light in dark dedicated acclimation rooms because fish don't see red light. You can use a red light at home or a red flashlight to view your tank at night.

Add tangs in order of size and each species’ aggression level

If possible, add tangs according to size. The smallest specimens should be added to the tank before larger ones. If you’re adding different species together in one tank, consider their aggression level. For example, a Blue Tang is considered to be peaceful while a purple tang is considered to be semi-aggressive, and a clown tang is aggressive. Add the most peaceful species first. Some individuals of the same species can be more or less aggressive depending on their personality and life experiences. If you can't follow these rules, be sure to use an acclimation box to introduce new fish! Adding multiple tangs in odd numbers helps break up aggression if you already have established, older tangs in the tank.

It is usually easier to add tangs together when they have a different body shape, color, and are a different genus. For example, adding a captive bred Yellow Tang and a captive bred Blue Tang together at the same time is likely to be successful. 


Aquarists use creative ways to distract their "bully" tangs. 3D printed "decoy" tangs, a mirror or a picture of a tang taped to the side of the tank can attract a bully to help keep it away from a new tang. Moving the rockwork around and breaking up a bully's territory can also help when adding a new fish.

If you have any questions about adding a captive bred Biota tang to your aquarium, please feel free to reach out to our support team

Feb 1, 2022


#CORALmagazine #Insidelook: Author Felicia McCaulley and photographer Michael Vargas have done it again with an all-out tour de force, replete with glorious MVargas Photography, showcasing what seems to be the “coral of the year”, the Torch Coral, Euphyllia glabrescens. It’s this issue’s Species Spotlight.

Nov 1, 2021

Acanthophyllia - Donut, Meat, or Deshay's Coral

 November/December 2021 issue of CORAL magazine 

Acanthophyllia - Donut, Meat, or Deshay's Coral - by Felicia McCaulley, images by Michael Vargas

Sep 26, 2021

ReefTools visits Drs. Foster and Smith and LiveAquaria part 2 - For Posterity

A post from the 2009 Reef Tools visit to LiveAquaria and Drs. Foster & Smith

"ReefTools visits Drs. Foster and Smith and LiveAquaria part 2

 Posted on Friday, July 2nd, 2010 at 1:02 pm by 

A lot of you have asked for the second part in this series, so here it comes. If you have not had a chance yet, check out ReefTools visits Drs. Foster and Smith and LiveAquaria part 1. We have visited LiveAquaria now for a second time this year, so we will incorporate photos from both visits into this article. If you haven’t had chance to read about LiveAquaria, you don’t know what you’re missing. Many of you have probably ordered both Dry Goods and Livestock from LiveAquaria and Diver’s Den, without knowing much about the company and their setup. Well, we’re here to give you a behind-the-scenes look.

We entered the facility and were immediately greeted by LiveAquaria’s director Kevin Kohen. The first thing we noticed when entering the “coral farm,” is just how clean and organized everything was. The coral farm is comprised of several raceways, where every inch is covered with healthy and colorful corals and clams. East bin in the raceway has a dedicated metal halide fixture on an automated track. The light is constantly moving back and forth to cover the entire tank. This allows the facility to provide the corals the light they need, while saving energy. There are 3 separate coral systems, each with their own controller, skimmer, calcium reactor, kalk reactor, etc. Immediately in front of you, is the quarantine and medication station for fish, where new arrivals are treated. The knowledgeable staff at LiveAquaria places a high priority to provide the livestock with excellent care.

To the right of the fish quarantine station, you will see LiveAquaria’s coral quarantine station, containing several large containers where each coral is placed after being dipped. This setup allows the staff to inspect each and every piece that comes in, and identify any pests that it might carry. The corals are left in the Quarantine station until they are ready to be introduced to one of the main systems. This prevents any pests from entering one of the large coral system. Pay attention here, EVERY CORAL IS DIPPED AND QUARANTINED!! If LiveAquaria puts forth the time, money and effort with 100,000’s of pieces of livestock each year, maybe you should do the same to any new piece you add to your system.

As you walk out of the coral Quarantine station, you come face to face with an incredible show tank. This 265 (84 x 24 x 30) gallon tank is stacked with the most incredible SPS you’ll ever see. Large Acropora colonies “plague” this beautiful tank, along with a wonderful selection of fish and invertebrates (love the Harlequins). From Australian Echinatas, to Acroporas from Fiji and Bali, this tank is enough to make any coral enthusiast drool. If you can pull yourself away from the show tank, you begin your tour of the coral raceways.

I can’t say enough about how nice and healthy the corals, clams, and other inverts were. These are the items you see in the Diver’s Den section of Each raceway provides a beautiful top-down view of the livestock, and you can see 360 degrees of pretty much every piece. The raceways seem to just go on and on, with every shade of color you could possibly add to your tank. Once you make your way through the raceways, you enter the Diver’s Den fish section. Most fish are kept in their own container, were they are continuously inspected throughout every day, until they are sold and shipped. Even with the massive quantity of fish, the staff knew exactly what was available, and where it was. We enjoyed seeing some rare species occupying many of these tanks. A huge advantage of this setup, is that it allows the staff to ensure that each fish is eating. LiveAquaria prides itself on selling healthy, almost all of which are used to eating frozen food. This greatly increases the likelihood that your new acquisition from LiveAquaria will do so in your system. This is very important, especially for finicky eaters, or difficult to keep fish.

We can’t say enough about the amount of care given to the livestock, as well as the extreme attention to details provided by the LiveAquaria staff. LiveAquaria offers a 100%, arrive alive, stay alive, risk-free 14 day guarantee on fish, coral, plant, or invertebrates. A 30 day guarantee is offered for each Drs. Fosters & Smith Certified Captive Grown coral.

Stay tuned to part 3 of this series. Please check out their site at"

ReefTools visits Drs. Foster and Smith and LiveAquaria part 1 - For Posterity


ReefTools visits Drs. Foster and Smith and LiveAquaria part 1

Posted on Sunday, March 21st, 2010 at 11:35 pm by 

I'm feeling nostalgic about Drs. Foster & Smith. Please enjoy this post from 2009 when my  friend from Reef Tools came to visit our warehouse. 

"We recently had a chance to visit Drs. Foster and Smith (DFS) and LiveAquaria in Rhinelander, WI, and decided to share what we saw and learned. We are confident that most of our readers are familiar with the Drs. Foster and SmithLiveAquaria, and the new Foster and Smith Aquatics websites, but though you would enjoy a behind the scenes look.

First off, we would like to thank Kevin Kohen, Director of LiveAquaria, for taking the time to show us around the DFS facilities, including the coral farm.

This part of the Drs. Foster and Smith visit series, will focus on the Dry Goods warehouse facility. The 300,000 square feet state-of-the-art warehouse, houses any imaginable pet supply items available (and some unimaginable ones too). The sheer number of products DFS stocks is truly staggering. We When an order comes through, a corresponding plastic bin is scanned and the process begins. The bin travels on the “green monster”, a computerized convoy system which travels throughout the massive warehouse.

Controlled by scanners and a set of automated arms, the bin gets redirected to the correct isles. Once the bin arrives at it’s first destination, it pauses, while a series of lights indicate which items should be added to this order. Once the items are added to the bin, it is placed back on the belt, and continues on it’s way to it’s next destination. Once the order is completed, the bin is redirected to the packaging center, where the items are matched against the order before everything is boxed.

With this kind of redundancy and automation, it’s not surprising that DFS is able to fulfill an almost absurd number of orders quickly and accurately. Each box is put together by a special machine, then an employee adds a catalog (of course 🙂 ) and fills the extra space with bio-degradable packing peanuts (which they house is huge holding rooms). This Green approach to packing, is just DFS doing their part in conserving the environment. Once the orders are ready to be shipped, DFS employees load up a slew of FedEx trailers which have their own parking lot at the facility. DFS ships so many orders, that they actually sort the packages for FedEx, based on their destination. Overall, the operation is top-notch, with every detail carefully planned and accounted for.

We hope you enjoyed this article and photos, please heck back soon for part 2 of this series, which will cover the LiveAquaria Aquaculture Coral and Marine Life Facility”.

Aug 5, 2021

Reefing in Heels

Since posting the Reefing in Heels blog on CORAL magazine, we've had a lot of people ask questions about #reefinginheels like, “why the focus on footwear?” Well, it’s not about the heels, exactly. Our friend @MetroKat noticed the guys ( @scoobytu ) posting pictures of their sneakers in front of their reefs, and she decided to join in and post pictures of her famous heels in front of her reef. The focus is less on the heels, and more on the fact that women in reefing exist! Let’s face it, women are still far less common in the saltwater aquarium hobby when you look at any statistic. But we are here, and we are passionate about what we do. Many of us have faced some stereotypes and negative experiences just for being women in a male dominated space. I would argue that the women hobbyists and women aquarium professionals I know have experience and talent equal to (or in some cases greater than) their male counterparts. 

Kat and I and many other ladies chose heels as our footwear in our #reefinginheels posts because that's what we like. To me, equality is not "being exactly like men." It's "being myself and still being treated equally." If I want to wear dresses and heels every day, that doesn't make me a less capable aquarist. I can do a water change, properly set up a quarantine tank, run a bandsaw, identify marine creatures by scientific name, raise seahorses, help you troubleshoot your protein skimmer, use scientific instruments to test water, write articles about complex reef chemistry and biology for CORAL magazine, and I can do it ALL IN HEELS.

Click here to see more women reefing in heels and read what these women have to say here:

Jun 30, 2021

How to Keep Your Aquarium Cool in the Heat of Summer

British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest are reporting record high temperatures this week. It's been in the 90s on the East coast of the US. Most reefers and aquarists aren't prepared for this relentless heat. Aside from buying an aquarium chiller, what can we do to help keep our aquariums cool?

1. Freeze as many water bottles as you can and float some in the tank or sump. Rotate thawed bottles with frozen bottles. Repeat.

2. Use a clip on or standing fan to blow across the top of the water in the tank or sump. You can get up to a 4 degree drop down with a fan. You'll need to top off frequently as water evaporates. 

3. Wrap the tank in insulation - layers are best. You can use blankets, cardboard, and/or Styrofoam. Secure the materials with packing tape.

4. Reverse your light cycle. Turn on the lights during the cooler night and turn them off during the heat of the day. You can throw a blanket or two over the top of the tank during the day to help insulate the tank. Monitor your pH and oxygen levels. Having a refugium with macroalgae and a small light can help increase oxygen when using a reverse light cycle. 

5. If you're in full emergency mode and just can't seem get your tank's temperature down, start unplugging the tank equipment that gives off the most heat - usually the highest wattage gadgets. Make sure to leave wavemakers or air pumps turned on in the tank and sump for proper circulation. Leave your protein skimmer on.

6. Remember your fish need MORE water circulation and oxygenation right now as the temps rise. You may want to turn off high wattage pumps, like pumps that need to battle head pressure in the sump. But should add some additional low wattage powerheads, WaveMakers, air pumps. Break the water surface with the flow. 

7. Dosing hydrogen peroxide in an aquarium can help raise oxygen levels, but can be risky if you aren't familiar with this method. Familiarize yourself with the proper dosage and warnings before using hydrogen peroxide in your aquarium. 

Can you think of any more ways to help keep your tank safe during a heat wave?

Nov 20, 2020

Publications - updated Nov 2021