Blue Tang

Regal Tang ~ Blue Surgeonfish ~ Indo-Pacific Blue Tang

Family: Acanthuridae Picture of a Blue Tang ot Regal Tang, or Indo-Pacific Blue TangParacanthurus hepatusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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What fish go good with a Blue Tang?  aidan boyd

   Readily available and very beautiful, the Blue Tang is probably the second most popular tang next to the Yellow tang!

Dr. Jungle says...."Nemo's best friend 'Dory' in the movie "Finding Nemo" certainly helped with the Blue Tang's popularity!"

   The Blue Tang is also known as the Regal Tang, Blue Surgeonfish, and Indo-Pacific Blue Tang. This gorgeous fish is readily available, easy to keep, and is very interesting to watch. We knew of one that would spend time everyday in play, chasing bubbles from the bottom of the aquarium to the top!

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

Geographic Distribution
Paracanthurus hepatus
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  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Acanthuridae
  • Genus: Paracanthurus
  • Species: hepatus
Black faced blue hippo tang eating, Paracanthurus hepatus
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Video of a cool color variation of a Blue Hippo Tang in captivity.

The Blue or Hippo Tang, Paracanthurus hepatus, is another surgeonfish that needs a lot of room to swim! They need 180 gallons, lots of strong water movement, plenty of veggies and appropriate tank mates. They will become quite belligerent in smaller tanks and will go after other tangs and fish if they feel crowded. They are one of the easier tangs to care for, aside from being the most popular fish sought after by new saltwater aquarists due to the movie Finding Nemo. Sadly, newbies quickly find that their 55 gallon tank is not going to cut it, as the Blue Hippo Tang will grow to 12," besides producing a lot of waste. Their need, like other tangs, to swim very quickly and aggressively means a 6 foot tank is minimum.

Blue Tangs Fiji Style, Paracanthurus hepatus, Hippo Regal Tang
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Video showing how fish start out after being captured.

This video is breathtakingly beautiful, almost making the most sensible saltwater aquarist want a shoal of Blue Hippo Tangs! When logic kicks in, most of us realize our 180 gallon tank, which should be at least 6 feet long, will really only house one adult! Yes, in the wild they shoal, but the ocean is a really BIG aquarium! They are hardy, and if yours is quite aggressive as an adult as mine became, then it is more than likely a male! Females are much more reserved than males. These fish grow to 12," and need strong water flow, lots of greens and places to hide.

Maintenance difficulty:    The Blue Tang, Regal Tang, Blue Surgeonfish, or Indo-Pacific Blue Tang is easy to keep.

Maintenance:    It is important that you feed tangs a good variety of live, frozen, and prepared formula foods. The Blue Tang eats zooplankton so they should be fed brine shrimp, mysis, grindal worms, and flake food. It is best to feed small amounts several times a day.

Habitat: Natural geographic location:    Blue Tang, Regal Tang, Blue Surgeonfish, or Indo-Pacific Blue Tang are found in the Indo-Pacific from East Africa to Japan. Swims at depths of 10 to 40 meters.

Foods:    In the sea they eat mainly zooplankton.

Social Behaviors:    Juveniles are found in groups feeding on zooplankton in the current rich outer reef terraces. Juveniles feed above isolated coral stalks of Pocillopora eydouxi. When threatened, they will take refuge in the coral stalks. Adults are solitary.

Sexual differences:    Unknown.

Light: Recommended light levels:    No special requirements.

Breeding/Reproduction:    Probably will not be accomplished in captivity. See the description in the Breeding Marine Fish page.

Temperature:    No special requirements. Normal temperatures for marine fish is between 75 and 79 degrees.

Length/Diameter of fish:    Blue Tang, Regal Tang, Blue Surgeonfish, or Indo-Pacific Blue Tang adults can grow to 30 cm (12 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:    A minimum 75 gallon aquarium is recommended for an adult.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong    No special requirements.

Picture of a Blue Tang ot Regal Tang, or Indo-Pacific Blue Tang
Photo courtesy: John Rice

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom    Swims all over the aquarium.

Availability:    This fish is readily available and is inexpensive.

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Lastest Animal Stories on Blue Tang

aidan boyd - 2012-10-16
What fish go good with a Blue Tang?

  • aidan boyd - 2012-10-17
    Okay thanks. What size tank would you need for one or two Blue Tangs?
  • Anonymous - 2012-11-09
    Actually, most, if not all surgeonfish are very territorial and will not tolerate other tangs of any kind in the aquarium. Be careful and read about each one! They are generally peaceful with all kinds of OTHER fish since they are herbivores. Clownfish, lionfish, eels, gobies, blennies, angelfish, butterflyfish, etc. etc. Because of the adult size of these fish, a minimum of 75 gallons is recommended for keeping just one, 100 or more gallons would house 2 of them but it is highly unlikely they would get along.
  • James - 2014-03-03
    I've had a Blue Tang (Regal Tang) for several months now living with 2 clown fish, a Kole Tang, and Royal Gramma. There is no aggression amongst any of my fish and they all hang close together. I can see if the hippo has lived in the tank for awhile and you introduce another fish, that could lead to a territorial issue as with all fish. Add the Hippo last and he will be bullied for a couple hours at best and does just fine thereafter. Also introducing fish while the lights off increases the chance for a more peaceful transition.
katie - 2010-05-29
I have had 2 blue tangs in my tank for 3 weeks. And I know 1 of them is really stressed but the other is always hiding behind the rocks and isn't coming out to feed because the other one that is stressed, when the one isn't feeding it wants to come out from behind the rocks but it can't because of the one that is stressed is chasing after it to get back behind the rocks. Why isnt it coming out and feeding?

  • Pete - 2011-06-18
    You are only supposed to keep one on its own. They are solitary fish
  • Pete - 2012-02-06
    Thats why why you should keep one per tank.
  • claire - 2012-03-02
    We have 2 in our tank and they never fight and they swim together, never any problems. So it is possible to have 2 per tank!
  • Mike - 2012-03-09
    Two or more are fine in a tank if introduced at the same time. Its even better if they are introduced together at a younger age. I have have had two in my tank for over two years with no problems. Also make sure your tank is not too small and not overcrowded.
  • kyle corrin - 2012-10-15
    I have a 3ft tank can i keep a yellow tang and a powder tang together if i introduce them small and at the same time.
  • playdoc - 2012-11-01
    No.3ft. is normally about 25-40 gallons, and Blue Tangs need 75 gallons for one or two.
Callan Checkley - 2012-08-25
Is a 3ft tank big enough for a blue tang to live in?

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-08-25
    That size tank would not be large enough for the adult size of a Tang.  As a younger it would be OK but as it starts to grow - it is recommended that the blue Tan have at least a 75 gallon tank.  Smaller could cause stunting.  A 3 foot tank (which is normally 12 inches wide) is only about 22 gallons which isn't big enough for your fella. 
  • Anonymous - 2012-08-26
    no worrys thanks
  • aidan boyd - 2012-10-16
    No problem. What fish can I have in a 25 gallon tank?
  • aidan boyd - 2012-10-15
    I have a 25 gallon tank. Will that be enough for one or two Blue Tangs?
  • Clarice Brough - 2012-10-15
    No, let me reiterate what Charlie pointed out... 25 gallons is not big enough for even one, they really need 75 gallons or more.
  • playdoc - 2012-10-18
    Okay thanks. What fish can I have?
  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-10-18
    For this fish, especially if you want 2 a 125 gallon tank is recommended.
Ryan - 2012-10-04
I've seen some as far south as Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. I haven't been diving much further south so can not verify that they don't live past there.