Ich and Acanthurus tangs - Years of experience and ich management

Alright folks I wanted to share some pretty shameful realities about my past and dealing with Acanthurus tangs. To anyone that doesn't know,...
  1. 4FordFamily

    4FordFamily Tang, Angel, & Wrasse Addict R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Ich and Acanthurus tangs - Years of experience and ich management

    Alright folks,

    I wanted to share some pretty shameful realities about my past and dealing with Acanthurus tangs.

    To anyone that doesn't know, common Acanthurus tangs include Powder Blue, Powder Brown, Goldrim/white cheek, Achilles, Sohal, Clown, Carribean Blue, Orange Shoulder, Chocolate, and many less common tangs.


    Photo of Orange Shoulder Tang by R2R member @RZ5T

    I managed ich in my systems for years and killed perhaps 20-30% of my NON-Acanthurus tangs because they could not build up resistance to ich. Zebrasoma tangs, SOME naso, and some hippo tangs eventually seemed to thrive in systems with ich present on occasion (this is known as ich management).

    I've unfortunately witnessed dozens of Achilles and PBT entered in to systems with ich (but whose residents had zero symptoms and you would never know ich was present except that it may affect new additions) that within days to a few weeks were very badly affected and eventually succumbed.

    Photo of Powder Blue Tang by R2R member @ChristopherKriens

    I had a couple short term wins though - an Achilles bought from another hobbyist lived for about a year with ich with few symptoms but occasionally would get minor (but noticeable) breakouts. Eventually, it succumbed like the rest.

    I feel like a terrible person for being so hard headed, but I probably lost 10 Achilles tangs to ich (or removed them and treated them then tried again until they died) and probably 20 PBT. I could not for the life of me understand why they would not live managing ich as all of my other genus of tangs had for YEARS.

    I would change something (new skimmer, better skimmer, two skimmers, more flow, lots of macro algae, etc) that I thought would help and try again with no success. It was very frustrating and evil.

    Now, I can keep 90% of PBT and 100% of my Achilles tangs alive long enough to sell or keep SINCE treating them in copper. This makes me feel even worse. The PBTs I did lose since came very emaciated and had little chance upon arrival.

    I also killed probably 3 powder brown tangs the same way, and 6 clown tangs. This is horrible to recall.

    I had Caribbean blue tangs live up to 2 months managing ich but eventually died, and one that when treated properly I sold to a friend in good health.


    Photo of Caribbean blue tang by R2R member @Luisra

    This all was over the course of 12 years but honestly that doesn't make it a lot better.

    The reality is that 99% of my efforts trying to manage ich (and not quarantining properly) failed with acanthurus tangs. 100% if you take in to account that 1 year alive is absolutely NOT a success with a fish.

    I am telling you all this so that you do not continue to kill them as I did. Don't be as bullheaded. I am not proud of my Acanthurus tang massacre history but I am at least hoping that I can prevent future loss by telling the stories.

    Those of you that don't qt - 99% of you have ich in your system. If you've ever seen a fish with ich in your system and have not removed all fish, treated them properly, and ran the tank fallow for 9-10 weeks, with almost certainty you have ich. With some marine species, you can do that successfully long-term. Not Acanthurus tangs. There may be a rare exception, but why kill fish unnecessarily?


    Photo of Achilles Tang in Quarantine by R2R member @A_CoupleClowns

    I had lots of success with Zebrasoma tangs. The larger the hardier they were with regards to building up resistances to ich. That said, I still don't believe that doing that is moral, ethical, or good fish husbandry.

    So what happens when you try to manage ich with an Acanthurus tang?

    Let me speak from experience watching dozens suffer before I could catch them (always too late) to treat:

    The parasite slowly increases its presence on the fish. Starts on the gills out of sight, then on to fins, then all over the head and perhaps other areas. They increase in numbers.

    Simultaneously the gills become more and more damaged and the fish is increasingly less able to breathe and very slowly suffocates over weeks.

    The fish can be fat in the belly but it's lateral line and bones will begin to show. The parasite literally sucks the nourishment and life out of the fish. A morbidly obese tang in the belly region will eventually appear emaciated throughout the rest of its body as it suffers more and more. They will scratch, breathe heavy, lose color, swim sporadically which fades to hiding and becoming less active. They will eventually stop eating, and the parasite will finally suck the remaining hint of life out of them.

    If well fed and fat (lots of nori) the process can take 2-6 weeks before killing it off.

    It is horrible to watch, I somehow justified it by claiming the fish was weak and would have died anyway. The above experiences largely negate that. It's awful to watch them suffer this way on a glim hope that I will magically start warding them off. With my success over the past few years with these fish I can't believe I used to have trouble before. This is so much easier and more rewarding (treating all fish and properly quarantining).

    I've seen this process happen to hippo tangs that even disappeared for a few days only to emerge apparently ich free. I guess I expected this to happen with Acanthurus tangs. I assure you, it will not.

    If you cannot afford to qt, or don't have the space, or don't want to deal with the trouble, then do the oceans a favor and either stick to only the hardiest species (some of which you will still kill) or perhaps leave the hobby.

    It's our responsibility to these fish to keep them healthy.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
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  2. 4FordFamily

    4FordFamily Tang, Angel, & Wrasse Addict R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I struggled also with flame and potters angels much the same way. Even from divers den.

    I had flame angels live for years managing ich over the years but I bought them all from other hobbyist.
     
  3. Humblefish

    Humblefish Dr. Fish Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Louisiana Reef Club Expert Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Excellent posts. :) It takes a lot to admit when you are wrong and need to start doing things differently. Egos run high in this hobby sometimes, so it can be difficult to accept advice that is contrary to how we've always done things. I know I am sometimes slow to embrace new & better technologies... I want to keep doing everything "old school" with my tanks. ;) But it sounds like you are learning from your mistakes and that is what's important.

    Despite how strongly I advocate ich eradication these days, I employed ich management for almost 30 years. And like @3FordFamily, I experienced many ups & downs. While it is true the diseases that can afflict our fish all originated in the ocean in the first place; there are also about a gazillion gallons of water diluting those diseases from the fish. A healthy immune system can keep up with that. In our relatively small aquariums, fish are often overwhelmed by a much higher concentration of parasites, worms and harmful bacteria.

    After many years in the hobby, I came to the conclusion that there would be a trade off. I would continue to "imprison" these fish for my own selfish pleasure. However, I would cater to their every whim - see to it they lived in good conditions, always had an ample supply of food, wouldn't be killed by another fish, and I would do my very best to ensure they didn't have to battle disease on a daily basis thru proper QT. I'm not saying this makes everything "right", but I sleep better at night knowing I'm not going to wake up to a fish massacre in the morning or wonder why yet another fish died under "mysterious circumstances." ;)
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
  4. 4FordFamily

    4FordFamily Tang, Angel, & Wrasse Addict R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Well said humble
     
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  5. leecasey82

    leecasey82 Well-Known Member

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    Great post and I can speak from experience as I've just had all my fish die bar my clowns and wrasse and I'm absolutley devostated! I'm new to the hobby and didn't understand the importance of QT or was ignorant to it (bit of both) My tanks been fallow for 8 weeks now but go away next week so another 3weeks can't hurt. I'm now in the process of setting up a new bigger tank ive just built the stand n cut the hole in my wall as it's going to sit in wall and built a stand and bought a tank for a copper tank but anyway my point is that I will not be adding to my new tank until it's been properly QT'd I can't go through that again it was painful to watch the poor little chaps go through that torture for my ignorance/inexperience
     
  6. 4FordFamily

    4FordFamily Tang, Angel, & Wrasse Addict R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Thanks. At least you learned early. I was a real hard head
     
  7. Humblefish

    Humblefish Dr. Fish Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Louisiana Reef Club Expert Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I've been on various forums for several years now, and I've watched people in the know explain, plead, beg, yell, scream, even berate those who do not QT.

    In the end, none of it does any good.

    I've come to the conclusion that people only learn by doing. The only thing you can do is be there to help them once they decide for themselves. ;)

    :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2015
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  8. leecasey82

    leecasey82 Well-Known Member

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    Well said humblefish your a credit to this forum buddy always full of useful info! Keep up the good work I will be picking your brains soon on how to properly set up my copper tank
     
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  9. 4FordFamily

    4FordFamily Tang, Angel, & Wrasse Addict R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Bump this thread. @mdbannister this would be an important article as embarrassing as it is. Thoughts?

    I do feel like I personally need to save more of these fish.
     
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  10. melypr1985

    melypr1985 totally addicted Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Expert Contributor Article Contributor

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    I know you didn't ask me but YES!!!!!
     
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  11. Triggreef

    Triggreef Zoa Addict R2R Supporter CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I vote for a sticky. Admissions like this carry more weight to many people than actual science does.

    One add on about ich I've read is that the damage it causes to gill tissue will never repair which is why ich "management" will not work. Also why they may live for a while but begin to breath faster and faster until they begin swimming in the power heads, and stop eating.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
  12. 4FordFamily

    4FordFamily Tang, Angel, & Wrasse Addict R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Your opinion is ALWAYS welcomed and holds a lot of weight.

    I am OK with that. I agree with you with regards to the gill issue.
     
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  13. Paul B

    Paul B Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Reef Spotlight Award Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    This is interesting. Where did you find this?
     
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  14. Triggreef

    Triggreef Zoa Addict R2R Supporter CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Somewhere in the ich sticky threads or links from the threads in either this site or the other one.

    While your on here, what is your fish list looking like? Just curious. I know you have a butterfly and some clowns but not too familiar otherwise.
     
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  15. Paul B

    Paul B Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Reef Spotlight Award Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    If I could remember
    1 copperband
    2 mandarins
    2 yellow wrasses
    2 or 3 unidentified wrasses
    1 watchman gobi
    2 unidentified gobies
    1 yellow clown gobi
    1 citron gobi
    1 clingfish
    1 bangai cardinal
    2 fireclowns
    2 bluestripe pipes
    1 unidentified pipe
    1 flasher wrasse
    1 queen anthius
    1 leopard wrasse
    1 orange spotted filefish

    That's all I can remember off the top of my head except for this guy which I forget what it is
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Triggreef

    Triggreef Zoa Addict R2R Supporter CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Hawkfish for the last one.

    So impressive list, lots of fish but no tangs.
     
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  17. Paul B

    Paul B Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Reef Spotlight Award Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    That is not a hawkfish. But it looks like one. I forget what it is. I got it because it is odd.
    There are no tangs for a reason, there are also no angels. I find them boring. My tank has had numerous tangs over the years and it almost always had a hippo tang as I find them the nicest looking.
    My tank is to overcrowded now as the fish got to big. The copperband alone is about 5". That fireclown is 25 years old. The fish live for their lifespan so I rarely replace them.
    The fish that I find the most enjoyable are the bluestripes and (oddly enough) the clingfish. It is brown and never comes out. But for me that is cool. Tangs are the most popular fish in this hobby but after keeping them for decades I go now for the odder fish that are more difficult to care for.
    I also am more interested that all my paired fish are spawning and even if I liked, and kept tangs, they would never spawn in my tank as it is to small.

    I have been keeping Hippo tangs and naso's from at least 1976 as you can see from my log book
    [​IMG]

    This clingfish is one of my favorites. Yes, it is ugly, but how many have you seen compared to tangs?
    [​IMG]

    I find these fascinating and they constantly spawn. That is what I am interested in.
    [​IMG]

    Many people for some reason have problems with copperbands. That is as close to a tang as I like.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. Maritimer

    Maritimer Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Sometimes, through sadness, there comes a realization of greatness and beauty . . . and that's what I see here.

    Paul, I think this little fellow is called a "geometric perchlet".

    Cute li'l guy!

    ~Bruce, who's got his eye on eventually adding an Acanthurus ... and who has already learned (the hard way...) the importance of quarantine.
     
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  19. Paul B

    Paul B Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Reef Spotlight Award Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    I think you are correct. It's a fish you rarely see which is what I like about it
     
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  20. 4FordFamily

    4FordFamily Tang, Angel, & Wrasse Addict R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Hippo tangs can be VERY resilient to Ich and even velvet as I've witnessed for 6 months inadvertently after they build their resistance. During my Ich management days I would see them get so bad I wrote them off as dead, barely moving and would disappear for a week or more only to emerge again suddenly completely "disease free" in appearance to never get sick again. I also killed just as many as I witnessed do this.

    I still don't find this to be an ethical practice but to each his own. I can't sit on a moral high horse I did it.
     
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