While making my rounds on the aquarium forums I frequent (which is way too many to list), I came across several interesting questions regarding tangs. Most of the questions were, “is this too many tangs”, or “will these fish get along together”. And the more I continued reading, the more I felt like people were just trying to cram the most and largest fish they could find into the smallest aquariums they could find. Perhaps this is just a cynical view I have, but it seems to me that aquarists are overstocking their tanks with these fish. Tangs are colorful, large fish. They can be very beautiful and attractive to aquarium keepers, and they can also be very useful. When nuisance algae begins to overgrow frags and become an unsightly resident in an aquarium, many hobbyists purchase tang to eat this algae. Some small aquarium owners purchase small tangs to eat nuisance algae or simply because they are attracted to the fish since juvenile tangs are often far more colorful than their adult counterparts.
I personally feel guilty if I have more than one tang in even a 6-foot long aquarium. These animals swim hundreds, if not thousands, of yards in the open ocean on a daily basis. Not to mention, when aquariums become overstocked, the livestock becomes more susceptible to parasites, disease, and aggression issues.
Sailfin Tang image courtesy of the AquariumPix Blog.