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There seem to be a lot of mixed emotions and different opinions when it comes to suitable tankmates for seahorses. One of the potential tankmates we will be discussing is tangs and whether they are compatible as tankmates for sensitive fish like seahorses.
Even though tangs are generally aggressive fish, under the right conditions they can be kept with seahorses. Provided you have a tank that is large enough to house them together with the right type of tang they do have the potential to co-exist peacefully. However, you must proceed with caution, since there is always room for concern when pairing potentially aggressive fish with vulnerable fish like the seahorse.
It’s always daunting when looking for the right tankmates, especially for seahorses who are very apathetic and timid.
Tangs are a very popular saltwater fish that are sought after by many aquarium enthusiasts and hobbyists.
They are beautifully colored with good general personalities making for great additions to just about any reef tank.
The difficulty arises when trying to pair them with seahorses who are different in almost every aspect.
Even though it’s possible to keep these fish together it requires work and a series of right choices to make sure all occupants within the tank are comfortable and fully satisfied.
The only downfall is that even if you do everything right there is still a chance that this partnership won’t work.
After all, it’s to be expected since tangs have the tendency to be aggressive even the least aggressive species.
Given the circumstance, these fish can exhibit unwanted behavior which can cause seahorses to stress.
However, if you decide on getting captive-bred seahorses which you should, there is a good chance that they will cope with more active fish increasing the chances of success.
In the bad old days of seahorse keeping, when delicate wild seahorses were the only option, it was indeed imperative to avoid keeping active fish that were greedy eaters with wild-caught seahorses.
But that is no longer the case with captive-bred seahorses, the feeding habits of potential tankmates need no longer be an overriding concern.
Although competition for food is always an issue with seahorses, it is no longer a sufficient reason to automatically exclude an entire category of fish as potential tankmates, said ocean rider.
With that said there are definitely challenges if you do decide on keeping tangs with seahorses but there are ways to work around it, some of which we’ll discuss later.
Overall you should know that tangs can be considered for a seahorse aquarium under the right conditions if you’re willing to take the risk.
Most Compatible Tangs
There are over 80 different species of tangs that are found in the ocean, among these there are only a few that are more or less suitable as potential tankmates for seahorse tanks.
|Yellow Tang||8″ (100g tank)||Semi-aggressive|
|Blue Tang||1′ (200g tank)||Semi-aggressive|
|Blonde Naso Tang||1’6″ (200g tank)||Less-aggressive|
|Convict Tang||11″ (150g tank)||Less-aggressive|
1. Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)
The yellow tang is one of the most popular fish in a saltwater aquarium. They’re also very easy to find, and relatively inexpensive.
Their bright yellow color is very attractive, together with their outgoing personality which can only be seen once they feel comfortable.
They are sweet fish that are also a bit timid but can be aggressive normally to their own kind when they feel threatened.
They generally get along with other fish and are not aggressive towards other tank mates.
These yellow tangs are more suitable for seahorses compared to other tang species.
2. Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)
The Blue Tang is a small brightly colored blue fish that is also commonly known as the ‘Royal blue tang’ or ‘Dory’.
Blue tangs have a royal blue body, yellow tail, and black palette shape on their body.
These fish are not known to be overly aggressive, which makes them a great choice for community tanks, well in this case seahorse tanks.
They normally get along with a wide variety of fish, except for other members of the surgeonfish family.
They can be very hostile towards other blue tangs, so expect some fighting to take place if you consider having more than one.
3. Blonde Naso Tang (Naso Elegans)
Blonde Naso Tangs are attractive-looking fish, their orange lips and black noses are highlighted in a distinct yellow, and their fins have a unique “sunburst” coloration.
While tangs tend to be a bit on the aggressive side, the Blonde Naso Tang is generally quite peaceful.
These fish are active during the day, swimming throughout the aquarium. At night, they will retreat to small caves and crevices to sleep comfortably.
I think they are the least aggressive tang compared to all other tang species making them compatible tankmates of seahorses.
4. Convict Tang (Acanthurus triostegus)
The Convict Tang, also known as the Convict Surgeonfish, has a stunning white-to-silver body highlighted by six vertical black bars.
Considered reef-safe, Convict Tangs can be a good choice for a large saltwater aquarium, whether a community reef aquarium or a fish-only tank.
These fish are regarded as less aggressive compared to other tangs and they can make for suitable tankmates for seahorses.
They may not be too colorful and eye-catching but they are very peaceable to all other tankmates except to other similar tang species.
Keeping Wild-caught VS Captive-bred.
If you decide to pair seahorses with tangs within the same tank you should be getting captive-bred fish and seahorses which ensures a higher success rate.
There’s a big difference between wild-caught and captive-bred fish.
Wild-caught fish are fish that have been removed directly from the ocean and makes their way into your home aquarium.
They are ocean routined and acclimated to the ocean’s environment.
Their behavior, personality, nutritional habits, and overall disposition are formed to suit the tough challenges that the ocean present.
Placing these wild fish within a closed system will definitely result in a host of issues that may end badly.
Wild-caught is very difficult to maintain and they won’t give you a proper chance to succeed if you arent experienced enough.
1. They would require live food since they are used to obtaining food by their own means. They would avoid frozen or store-bought food.
This lack of nutrition soon leaves them susceptible to other health issues resulting in death.
2. Wild-caught fish are more fragile and hard to maintain in a closed system. These fish are more difficult when kept in captivity and they require experienced hands to maintain them.
Even with the best care chances are that they will never transition properly.
3. These types of fish are often more aggressive since they are from the wild where they have to fight for survival. They will exhibit this behavior in a closed system causing other tankmates to stress.
4. Wild-caught marine life harms the natural population of species out in the wild. Especially with seahorses since they are on the decline with some species being endangered.
5. Wild-caught fish often goes through extreme conditions just to reach your home. This whole process results in fish that are stressed in a compromised state.
1. Captive-bred fish already comes acclimated to frozen food and are comfortable living in captivity.
This makes the transition from the pet store to your home aquarium less stressful.
2. Captives are also known as being less aggressive since they don’t have to fight for survival. This is great when pairing different types of fish together.
3. Captive-bred fish are also hardier and resistant to many diseases and health issues.
4. Domesticated seahorses are more equipped to handle stress and are overall more resilient. These guys can handle other tankmates and do well with change.
5. It is also said that captive-bred specimens are more sociable since they are bred in large tanks with high densities of their own kinds.
This makes them enjoy company as well as get used to human handling so they aren’t stressed every time they encounter you or are phased by any new tankmates.
Successfully Keeping Tangs With Seahorses.
Appropriate Tank Setup.
For you to have a fair chance at success you need to provide the right environment for both seahorses and tangs to thrive in.
Some of the requirements are as follows;
|1. Need more water volume due to heavy bioload||2. Hitching spots (coral, plants, etc)|
|7. Med-high-intensity lighting||2. Plenty of hiding spaces (rock)|
|3. Safe water parameters||3. Good water conditions|
|4. Proper filtration (protein skimmer)||4. Proper filtration systems|
|5. Best in pairs||5. Best to be kept alone|
|6. Mysis shrimp||6. Shrimp, seaweed, algae, pellets|
|7. Moderate lighting||7. Med-high intensity lighting|
|8. Moderate water flow||8. Med-high water flow|
|9. Powerheads||9. May need substrate|
|10. Substrate not essential||10. Supplementary food|
Sourcing Captive-bred Livestock.
It’s now easier than ever to get your hands on some domesticated captive-bred fish that are more adapted to living in captivity.
Captive-bred seahorses have proven to be more hardier, resilient, and resistant than wild-caught ones.
When shopping for seahorses make sure you find a reputable breeder who has experience in breeding the hippocampus species
Always look for healthy specimens ones without infections and parasites. These seahorses shouldn’t present white open wounds, swelling, discoloration, or any other unusual appearance.
Also with tangs, captive-bred ones have become more readily available for you to access. Be sure to inspect them properly making sure they aren’t diseased or sick in any way.
Watch out for diseases like marine ich which they are prone to.
Larger tanks are essential when keeping this combination of tankmates since both seahorses and tangs require larger-than-usual tanks to thrive.
Tangs are great swimmers who are active and they require large spaces to thrive when placed in captivity.
Out in the wild tangs swim in shoals covering great distances, in a closed system the least we can offer is at least a 100-gallon tank preferably bigger as the fish grow.
Some species may need even more space since they grow larger, in such cases a 200-gallon tank may be required.
Seahorses share the same sentiment even though they aren’t big in size their heavy biolad makes them more manageable in bigger tanks with more water capacity.
Apart from bigger tanks, the right tank must be chosen for optimal results. Click here for our best-recommended tanks.
Correctly introducing New Tankmates to an aquarium is important for the well-being of all tank inhabitants.
sometimes the addition of new occupants can trigger unusual behavior and in such situations, the weakest fish will be stressed.
These tips will help you introduce new tankmates more effectively.
- The first step is to quarantine newcomers in another tank. This will prevent unwanted pests and break the spread of infectious diseases. A Uv sterilizer is also needed as it adds another layer of protection. Also, this period will also help the new fish adjust to their diet and type of water conditions.
- It’s preferred to place seahorses first in a tank so they can adjust and find their own territory. Since these fish are weaker and more vulnerable having first preference helps with the process.
- Before any new tankmates are introduced it’s important to feed your aquarium. This will help reduce aggression against new tankmates, especially with tangs.
- Provide a lot of hiding places for new arrivals to seek refuge. Corals, plants, rocks, and other aquascape can help shelter newcomers making them feel a little more comfortable.
- Always add new fish in pairs since the chances of them being singled out and bullied are slim. But with tangs, they do better when they are alone without any of their own kind.
- Maintain good water conditions to ensure a healthy environment during this stressful time.
- Some aquarists also recommend you introduce new occupants in complete darkness under a red light on a low setting. This allows us to see but not the fish. This helps because they can’t see each other so they won’t notice the new arrival so no rivalry among tankmates. Or even when there is aggression it’s not as much.
- Acclimation boxes are also great, it helps newcomers blend in with existing tankmates while protected within a clear box. This gradual introduction allows the interest of existing tankmates to decrease over time.
Seahorses are slow non-aggressive hunters while tangs are crazy food-hungry omnivores. Of course, there is going to be an issue with feeding.
One thing for certain is that tangs will get their food however you choose to feed them, it’s the seahorses that need to be protected to ensure they get their daily dietary requirements.
One way you can do this is by target feeding. This involves individually feeding each seahorse using a turkey baster.
Target feeding allows hobbyists to ensure that each seahorse gets enough to eat without overfeeding or underfeeding the tank.
It makes it possible to keep seahorses in a community tank with more active fish that would generally out-compete them for food.
Since the aquarist can personally deliver each mouthful to the seahorses while keeping more aggressive specimens at bay.
This is a great way of dealing with food competition if you do decide on keeping tangs with seahorses, although it’s a bit time-consuming.
Creating More Hiding Places.
Creating more hiding places gives fish the chance to seek refuge whenever they are stressed or threatened.
Seahorses love their own space and often find places to rest. These places of rest are known as hitching posts where they find suitable stationary objects and wrap their prehensile tail around them.
This helps them remain anchored at rest while hiding from the rest. You can create these safe spots by using suitable coral, macroalgae, marine plants, or even artificial objects.
Tangs also love hiding spots as these fish often seek refuge in between crannies and crevices between aquascapes.
You can create these safe havens by using a rock to form intricate centerpieces that are stable and firm enough to house these fish.
Creating safe havens is a great idea when trying to ensure peaceful co-existence within an aquarium.
By creating these individually pleasing areas you will have tankmates enjoying their own territory unphased by other inhabitants.
You can also create zones within an aquarium that will work by attracting yet separating tankmates from each other hence reducing the possibility of conflicts within an aquarium.
Potential Risks If Kept Together.
Even though many of the tangs mentioned above are not as aggressive as other fish they still have a tendency to be aggressive under conditions which allow it.
You must expect aggression when including new tankmates since it’s basically a natural response to the changing environment.
The tangs which are regarded as safe won’t necessarily reach out to great lengths to pose an offensive attack but rather you will see it in their behavior when it comes to feeding and their territory.
Normally these fish are only aggressive towards their own kind and don’t bother other tankmates, but you would never know given that each has its own personality and background.
Tangs are good feeders and they will graze throughout the day on anything they can find.
It’s obvious that feeding times will pose an issue since seahorses are very passive eaters who can be outperformed for resources.
Keeping these fish together must be carefully planned so you can accommodate all tankmates ensuring all are well-fed and cared for.
This means that individual target feeding is probably the only way to ensure seahorses get food instead of it being snatched away by these food-crazy fish.
Seahorses are very sensitive, calm, and docile creatures compared to the outgoing rapid nature of tangs.
They can easily be stressed by any change in their environment even the captive-bred specimens though they appear more resilient, chronic stress can be debilitating.
The wrong tankmates and encounters can be enough to lead to their decline.
While you may think stress isn’t something too bad, for seahorses stress negatively affects their immune systems leaving them in a compromised state.
This weakened state can open the doors to all sorts of health issues, diseases, and parasites to totally consume them.
For this reason, it’s important to notice any signs of stress and have them removed before they decline.
Transferring Of Diseases
With all-new tank additions, there is always the concern of introducing parasites or unwanted diseases to the system.
That’s why it’s always best to quarantine your new tankmates before they are placed into the aquarium to decrease the chances of transferring these diseases.
In terms of seahorses, they are very messy eaters and this can form the basis for all sorts of pathogenic bacterial infections.
This can result in tankmates becoming sick leaving all in a susceptible state especially them since they are prone to infection.
With tangs, they are also prone to certain diseases like marine ich (Cryptocaryon irritans). Make sure rigorous quarantine is done with the use of a Uv sterilizer.
Correct quarantine measures should be conducted before tankmates are added to any system.
Tangs can be kept with seahorses and they can live comfortably, however, you must proceed with caution since there are certain risks.
Providing a larger space, individual feeding, and personal territories can help provide a more peaceable co-existence.
Ultimately you can choose to separate seahorses from tangs by creating species-specific aquariums or you can risk it by adding them together.