The Tang Police: Friends of Fish or Underbelly of the Hobby?
I received an email from a Newsletter subscriber, the other day, asking for advice on how to care for the yellow tang they had purchased for their tank…that was NOT large enough to house a yellow, purple, powder brown, Kole, or any other type of tang.
I struggled with how to deliver the message. According to Scott M. Michael, in Marine Fishes, the Yellow Tang, Zebrasoma flavenscens, needs a habitat of at least 75 gallons.
I did my best to communicate the standard information. I provided a few links to resources that would support the recommendation, like the Live Aquaria website, but I found this whole experience to be a bit polarizing for me, as a hobbyist and self-proclaimed know-it-all. On one side, I felt compelled to provide information that would (hopefully) lead to the best care of the yellow tang, but I also felt compelled to be compassionate to this person who has all the best intentions in the world to care for their pet. Their mistake, if it was a mistake, was in asking the question after the fact, instead of before their purchase. But I have been guilty of making that mistake (buying a fish I didn’t know how to care for). I’ve made a bunch of mistakes.
As I crafted the note, I actually started to warn the person to be careful about posting their question publicly—because I was afraid they would encounter The Tang Police.
If you have never heard of The Tang Police before, they are the people who troll the online forums and provide harsh and often judgmental advice to newbies who have made a mistake with keeping tangs and made a second mistake by posting about it online.
The punishment? Verbal abuse and public humiliation. They may hide behind the guise of being friends of fish, but The Tang Police are generally up to no good.
I had no urge to be like the Tang Police, but it did make me take a moment to pause and make sure I was trying to be supportive as much as helpful.
I was grateful for the opportunity to help, in a safe and nurturing environment, and to be able to take stock that I have a platform here, however humble it might be, to lend a helping hand and try to turn a teaching moment into something that will help someone appreciate the hobby a little bit deeper, rather than drive them away. If you’re out there on the world wide web, watch out for The Tang Police. Stay on their good side and remember to be a friend of hobbyists, not just a friend to the fish. The fish are important, but not more important than the people that make up our hobby.
For more information on caring for the Yellow Tang…or 500 of the most popular species, check out:
Marine Fishes, by Scott M. Michael (affiliate link)
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