Tang and Rabbitfish Compatability

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DrHank

Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2007
Messages
21
Location
Crestview, FL
This past weekend I decided it was time to add another fish to the 110. I purchased a Blue Spotted Rabbitfish as I still have some HA in the tank and they have a reputation for being very good at cleaning this up. The fish looked fine at the LFS (they've had him about 3 weeks and he's eating well). Anyway the transport home was uneventful. I did a 1 hour drip acclimation and decided to move him into the display tank. He immediately went into defensive coloration and went to hide. In about 10 minutes he was out and swimming with the rest of the bunch.

I became concerned as I didn't like the way he was swimming (somewhat erratically with a general head up attitude. I left all alone for the remainder of the day. On Sunday I examined him more thoroughly and felt that he looked a bit on the thin side. Clipped some Nori and he went to town. By yesterday, his condition had improved greatly.

My only concern is that he and my Purple Tang appear to be competing for the title of who owns the tank. The tank will show him his tail and the rabbit will show the tang his spines. So far, no fight. I don't think that there will be but I may have goofed in adding the rabbit. I forgot that they were both close relatives, had similar feeding patterns, and were approximately the same size.

I was wondering if any of you have or have had rabbitfish/tang combinations and what your experiences have been. My wife is concerned that they may get into a fight and hurt one another. I think it's just typical behavior for that type of a pairing.
 

leebca

Well-known member
Joined
May 22, 2006
Messages
2,243
Location
So CA
If you will look at my combination of fishes, you'll see multiple Rabbitfishes in with multiple Tangs. http://www.reeffrontiers.com/forums/html.php?file=../motm/may_2007/may_2007_leebca.htm

Speaking in generalities, the Rabbitfishes usually don't attack. They are quick to take a defensive mode. When my Foxface went through quarantine and entered the community, its dorsal fins remained erect almost constantly! Sort of continuously shouting, "Watch out!" I think some of the 'old timers' were laughing at its over-the-top reaction. It soon settled in.

Tangs tend to act territorial-defensive when it comes to some herbivore competitors (e.g., other Tangs, Rabbitfishes) in their area. Their actions should be more of showing dominance, rather than attacking. The aquarist will allow dominance displays, but not constant aggressive behavior. Just be on the lookout. Things should settle once the Rabbitfish knows and accepts its position in the pecking order.

Ideally, Rabbitfishes are introduced into the aquarium before Tangs.
 

DrHank

Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2007
Messages
21
Location
Crestview, FL
It definitely makes sense to add the rabbitfish first. Unfortunately I hadn't originally planned on having both. A longstanding HA problem prompted me to try a rabbitfish. The purple tang just wasn't interested in it, hopefully the rabbitfish will.
 

NaH2O

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 25, 2004
Messages
8,568
I kept a Magnificant Rabbitfish with a Purple Tang. The Tang was the last introduction, and the Rabbitfish did a lot of "posturing" with its spines at feeding time (and the tang did the same), but for the most part they never had any kind of aggressive interactions. As time passed, they were able to share the same algae clip without any aggressive displays.
 
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