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Hardware components of my two primary tanks and some of the fish I keep
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Naso Tangs

Posted 08/25/2011 at 05:52 AM by snorvich

The Naso tangs grow to be a spectacular reef fish; they are hardy, eat well in captivity, doesn’t bother sessile invertebrates, and rarely quarrels with other reef fish. Sounds like the perfect addition to your reef aquarium, right? The problem is that it grows to an adult length of almost two feet!

Some aquarists such as ones on this thread say they plan to keep a particular fish until it outgrows their home aquarium and then donate it to a public aquarium, another aquarist or their LFS. While this sounds reasonable, it shouldn’t be assumed that the local public aquarium, LFS, or fellow hobbyist will accept your donation. Most public aquariums are inundated with donations of fish and simply don’t have the room or need for many fish. And of course, the health of your environment, no matter how good, is an unknown to public aquaria. LFS will only take fish they can sell. Large fish require large tanks and few folks really have LARGE tanks; some do most do not.

I’ve often seen the statement, “I’ll get a bigger aquarium when it grows.” While this is honorable, it rarely materializes. My estimate of upgrades that NEVER happen is about 90%. The fish frequently suffers and dies long before a new and appropriate habitat is obtained.

Then there is the attitude that you’re not going to keep the fish alive long enough for it to outgrow your aquarium anyway. While this is rarely said aloud, we all know it’s out there and came up implicitly in this thread. Aquarists with this mentality should find another hobby.

The other side of the argument is illustrated by these statements: “So what if we purchase a fish that will outgrow its cage.” “After all, we’re not obliged to recreate a natural habitat for a fish to live out its natural lifespan.” “It’s already been taken from its “home” and placed in a glass box, so what difference does it make how long it lives?” “Let’s not kid ourselves; we’re not coming close to creating a natural reef in our homes anyway.” “Assuming it’s not an endangered species, there’s no harm done.” “After all, we capture many species of fish to eat and no one complains about that.” There is some validity to these arguments. After all, what is the point of our home aquariums? Guilty pleasures, a home decoration, an educational instrument. In any case, the goal is rarely to see how close we can come to keeping a fish alive for its natural lifespan.

Let’s return to Naso tangs. The Naso tangs are part of the large family of tangs and surgeonfish, Acanthuridae. It belongs to the sub- family, Nasinae, which contains the single genus, Naso. There are 20 species of Naso tang. Naso tangs are distinguished by the two fixed spines on the caudal penduncle. In other tangs and surgeonfish, the spines retract into a sheath. Some Naso tangs develop nasal protrusions as they mature. These can be small humps or single large horns, hence the name “unicornfish.”

All the Naso tangs get very large by aquarium standards. Adult sizes range from 12 inches up to 36 inches ( Naso annulatus)! Most of the Naso tangs are somewhat understated in coloration, with the exceptions of perhaps N. lituratus and N. elegans. Even the Vlamingi tang is a bit of an ugly duckling. The magnificent coloration doesn’t manifest itself until the fish reaches 8-10 inches in length.

Naso tangs are primarily mid-water planktivores. They cruise reef walls in large numbers and feed on passing zooplankton in the tidal currents. They will also graze the substrate for algae, a trait that is more pronounced in some species than others (e.g., N. lituratus and N. elegans ).

Naso tangs are a widespread species and occur throughout the Indo-Pacific Ocean, but are not present in the Atlantic Ocean. Because of their size and swimming habits we recommend a 10 foot tank minimum. Tank length is most important not gallons.
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