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I am not ready to buy any fish yet, but I have been looking at the fish at quite a few pet stores (6 or 7 pet stores I visitied). What I am noticing is 75% or more of the blue tangs that are for sale in these tanks are partially white/pale. Typically in their belly area. If it was only 1 pet store I would just assume that pet store isn't taking care of their fish properly, but it is pretty consistent across all 6 or 7 of the pet stores I have visited. Is this normal for this fish? Does the white/pale area go away eventually on these fish? Thank you

Here is a rough example of the pale coloring on the belly I am talking about.

http://www.liveaquaria.com/images/categories/product/p-89505-blue-tang.jpg
 

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Here is the short of it, most people think that tangs are herbivores and don't require any meaty foods,this is false. Like many salt water fish they are omnivores an require a variety of different foods to stay healthy and colorful in captivity. Feeding a tang, weather a blue, yellow, purple or any of the other tangs just one type of food will result in the loss of color. Tangs need color enhancing foods that have some protein as well as foods that vegetable. The larger the variety the more likely you will be at keeping the true colors of the fish.

Once a fish has lost its color you will not be able to give it enough variety to get the color back, you will only be able to maintain the color you had at the point of purchase.

As for wondering why a blue tang has lost so much color, the blue tang is notorious for being difficult to feed when it is stressed. Catching, shipping and adjusting to new surroundings until the fish gets into your tank and settles into its new home all add stress and therefore loss of color due to not eating. Their is a high mortality rate in the purchase of blue tangs, the younger blue' tend to adjust better than the older more established fish.
 

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I can't acutally tell you the number of feedings that you need to give to a tang, as the requirements change depending on the age of your tank. I have a large tang about seven inches and it is now eight years old and I feed only once a day and have since I have put it into the tank. I have a large tank and it forages for food all day.
 

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Another reason may be that the store uses copper in their fish only tanks to prevent ich. This also makes their color suffer.
 

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Most tangs in your LFS will be under weight, and malnourished. Quite a bit of time can pas from collection to arrival at your LFS. During this time, they are rarely cared for properly. This causes a loss of color and general decline in health.

This can be turned around though. Tangs are herbivores. Their digestive systems are designed to process plant material. They will often take other foods, but they need their greens to stay healthy. Most of these new arrivals will recover, if they are properly quarantined, fed plenty of nori/vegies, and medicated if need be.

I have changed many tangs from skinny, pale, sickly looking fish, into thick, colorful, and healthy animals. My LFS has several tangs on display. They came in pale and sickly like most, but now with proper care, they're thick, colorful, and active. Customers have offered hundreds of dollars for the fish on display while refusing to buy the same species that just came in for sixty bucks. Even after it's explained to them that the new fish can look just like the display fish with a little TLC.

Peace
EC
 

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I totally agree with everything EC just said. Most of the tangs you see in the LFS are way underweight. My hippo is a Diva and will pale slightly when she is hungry if I pass by the tank, but the minute I feed her she glows. She survived my new fish tank skills, and is one fat happy fish with full hard to capture color. When I first put my Kole in the tank, she had a mishap with some rock and her scalpel, it appeared to protrude from her side like it was broken, she paled and paled to the point I really thought she was a gonner. I kept up with greens, vitamins, water quality. Several months down the road, you couldn't tell anything had happened. Again full wonderful color. Good diet is a must for these beauties.
 

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Out of curiosity, don't the younger tangs require more feedings? My LFS said they feed theirs 4-5 times a day.
Tangs in the wild graze all day long on the reef. Younger tangs, like any other young critter, eat a lot b/c it is growing. It is b/c of these two things that lfs say to feed multiple times a day. What you have to be careful not to do is to overfeed during each of those feedings, extra nutrients in the tank causes problems. It is easier to leave a clip of algae (nori that comes in brown, green, red algae types) for the tangs, always replace old uneaten algae w/new and feed meaty foods to the tang when you feed the rest of your fish.

18 yrs ago I bought a blue hippo that colored up and got healthy on a varied diet of several types of nori algae and meaty foods.
 
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