How do you handle a bully in the tank?

JoshF

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I had an issue today introducing some new fish and need advice on how I can proceed.

I have a 5 ft mixed reef tank that I setup in the fall. I have 4 Tangs of differing species and the biggest fish in the tank is also my favorite one. It's a powder blue tang named Mully after Warriors great Chris Mullen...

A month ago I introduced the tangs together and Mully and Wu (My yellow tang) went at it a bit. They would have occasional fights where they whacked each other with their tails. These were short encounters that ended soon after starting and neither fish seemed in danger.

Today I introduced a Midas Blenny, 2 Wrasses and a One Spot Foxface.

After acclimating the fish with the lights off I turned them back on and even fed the tank hoping that they would all feel fat & happy. Mully relentlessly attacked the Foxface. He was biting him as opposed to whacking him with his tail. The Foxface tried to hide and Mully kept hunting him down. The One Spot started to look weak and began swimming on its side. It was also showing micro bubbles from the stress. I decided that if I didn't intervene the Foxface would not last much longer. I placed the FoxFace back in thee CPR Aquatics First Aid system I acclimated him in but I hooked up the mini pump to provide a flow of water through it. He settled down and looks fine, other than being bored to death in a small cell. He took some food in there.

Mully proceeded to go after the Midas Blenny and the Wrasses. The Midas quickly hid in a rock and the Wrasses buried themselves in the sand under a rock. Neither came out much more.

I have heard that Powder Blue Tangs can be aggressive and mine is certainly a bully. I should probably change his name to Draymond (Warriors fans will understand)...

Do I need to give up the Foxface or can these guys coexist? What guidelines do I need to follow if I want to add more fish in the future?

Thanks all!

 
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Joey waid

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It's hard to get a bully to not be one. There's a lot of voodo out there to get them to play nice. My opinion is to see if the store will trade the bully back or put them in a tank with other bullies.
 

Budman93

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You can try putting the bully tang in a seperate tank for a couple days, changing the rockwork, and putting him back in. Doesnt always work but worth a shot before trading him in
 

Salty1962

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Since your tangs and the Foxface all eat algae, it's going to be hard for the PB, and your other tangs, not to be aggressive. My Flame tang chased my Foxface relentlessly for a week. He only stopped after he got stung a couple of times real good. You can try to catch the PB and put him in time out for a week or 2 and let the Foxface become established, if the other tangs don't become the bullies with the PB gone.
 
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maroun.c

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Powder blues are notorious for being bullies. Your tangs pecking order might have a role to play here as well. Youmention adding those a month ago so although the initial intro went Ok (best ase scenario of introducing all in one go) they still have to go through establishing dominance and a clear pecking order. This means added aggressivity for some time to go. Size and character of your tangs will play a role, size differences make it more or less immediate for that order to be established. A tang much larger than your PBT might take time to "submit". So your PBT might be in "overdrive" mode still...
I have multiple tangs and the dominant Hippo is clearly much larger than the other fish which results in very little aggression due to two facts:
-Hippo tang is a rather docile tang (in comparison to your PBT)
-dominance has already been established and all the Hippo has to do to maintain it is a few limited charges on other tangs throughout the day, nothing significant.

Would suggset using an introduction box for days before inroducing your fish. Not a guarantee but at least serves to show extreme agressive behavior (in this case don't introduce new fish if it lasts moer than 4-5 days) and also allwos the fish to recognize its surrounding. I avoid ingtroducing fish before lights out as this is when fish are fighting fo rtheir hiding holes already.
maybe taking out the PBT till your fish list is complete and housign it in the sump or another tank if possible or also returning it to LFS and reintroducing another one when your fish list is complete.
 

jcdeng

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mirror worked for my tang too, after 3 days of it flashing against its own reflection, I took the mirror down and he/she doesn't seem to notice the new fishes.
 
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JoshF

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Powder blues are notorious for being bullies. Your tangs pecking order might have a role to play here as well. Youmention adding those a month ago so although the initial intro went Ok (best ase scenario of introducing all in one go) they still have to go through establishing dominance and a clear pecking order. This means added aggressivity for some time to go. Size and character of your tangs will play a role, size differences make it more or less immediate for that order to be established. A tang much larger than your PBT might take time to "submit". So your PBT might be in "overdrive" mode still...
I have multiple tangs and the dominant Hippo is clearly much larger than the other fish which results in very little aggression due to two facts:
-Hippo tang is a rather docile tang (in comparison to your PBT)
-dominance has already been established and all the Hippo has to do to maintain it is a few limited charges on other tangs throughout the day, nothing significant.

Would suggset using an introduction box for days before inroducing your fish. Not a guarantee but at least serves to show extreme agressive behavior (in this case don't introduce new fish if it lasts moer than 4-5 days) and also allwos the fish to recognize its surrounding. I avoid ingtroducing fish before lights out as this is when fish are fighting fo rtheir hiding holes already.
maybe taking out the PBT till your fish list is complete and housign it in the sump or another tank if possible or also returning it to LFS and reintroducing another one when your fish list is complete.
Thanks for this info. I don't think I want to mess with removing my Powder Blue. He's big and healthy so far and very fun to watch. I need to see how this goes over the next few days. I'd sooner remove the Foxface than try to make it work with the PB. If he continues to go after the Wrasses and Midas Blenny that would be a different story. I have a lot of fish activity in there now either way and would be happy if it all balances out.

Also, maybe this means I need a new tank...
 
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Reef Ryder

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All these methods I've tried... best bet would be to get the PB out for a couple of weeks, perhaps the LFS could hold on to him for a few weeks. Let the fox face get used to the tank, change a few pieces of rock work.. add PB. Just a side note.. you're adding too many fish at once.. that adds to aggression as well as ammonia spikes. I'm surprised your fish are alive TBH.
 

laga77

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I had an issue today introducing some new fish and need advice on how I can proceed.

I have 4 Tangs of differing species
There is the biggest part of your problem. More than one tang in a tank that size will cause stress on the fish. Aggression is a side effect.
 
Budmans

Reef Ryder

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There is the biggest part of your problem. More than one tang in a tank that size will cause stress on the fish. Aggression is a side effect.
I disagree, I had a blue hippo, a yellow and a powder brown at the same time... just made sure they were all well fed Andre everything was cool.
 

becca10

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I am having the opposite problem. Have a magnificent foxface, yellow tang, yellow belly blue hep tang, vlamini, desjarnis all together coexisting fine. Even share the seaweed. I introduced a same size PB today and the foxface will not let up on the PB. Crazy
 

Reef Ryder

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The best thing to do (I'll admit, easier said than done..) remove the fox face and put him in an empty sump compartment or a different tank if you have one like a QT tank for a few days, change up some rock work and add another sea weed clip. Another option that may work (the first option is best) is you can add another sea weed clip but put a mirror in front of the tank for a couple of days. It gives the illusion that the tank is bigger and there's more fish. PB tangs are beautiful fish and my favorite but they are sensitive. The stress is a guarantee killer.
 

Reef Ryder

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The best thing to do (I'll admit, easier said than done..) remove the fox face and put him in an empty sump compartment or a different tank if you have one like a QT tank for a few days, change up some rock work and add another sea weed clip. Another option that may work (the first option is best) is you can add another sea weed clip but put a mirror in front of the tank for a couple of days. It gives the illusion that the tank is bigger and there's more fish. PB tangs are beautiful fish and my favorite but they are sensitive. The stress is a guarantee killer.
C
 

4FordFamily

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Unfortunately powder blue tangs are unlikely to forget the personal vendetta id it lasts more than a week. A lot of damage can be done in a week, however. I consider the PBT the most aggressive tang by a large margin. Not because they do the most damage but because of how relentless they are and how frequently they behave that way. I have personally removed PBT for badgering fish many times over the years, for up to one month, to add the fish back for it to immediately resume bullying. They really don't forget, and unfortunately smaller quarters exacerbate this. PBT in the wild defend their algae to the death and are accustomed to doing so because otherwise they can and will starve.

You are free to try anything, but my bet is that things work out in a week or two or that they never will. Here's an article on tang aggression I wrote if you're interested:

https://www.reef2reef.com/ams/tang-aggression-understanding-and-combating.76/
 
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