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
Latest Reader Comment - See More
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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Data provided by
  • 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.
Grace - 2009-01-28
Also found this sentence from another poster after tons of digging:
The blue tang is of minor commercial fisheries importance, however it is occasionally utilized as a bait fish. The flesh has a strong odor and is not highly prized. This fish may cause ciguatera poisoning if consumed by humans. However, blue tangs are collected commercially for the aquarium trade. An unwary human who tries to handle the blue tang risks the chances of being badly cut by the caudal spine. These spines, on both sides of the caudal peduncle, are extended from the body when the fish becomes excited. The quick, thrashing sideways motion of the tail can produce deep wounds that result in swelling and discoloration, posing a high risk of infection. The pain can last for hours, until eventually subsiding into a dull ache. It is believed that some species of Acanthurus have venom glands while others do not. The spines are used only as a method of protection against aggressors. Having one in an aquarium and cornering it will most likely result in injury.

Jim USA, Missouri - 2005-07-02
The Blue Regal Tang is a great fish. Keeps the rest of my Tangs busy. I have had many years of experience in Reef keeping and have had little trouble. Many sites warn you about keeping Regals, but with care as with anything its easy. My Blue eats everything and is really cool to watch. Don't worry if you have one just enjoy the beauty of nature you have.

Pipo - 2004-04-30
I have been wanting to keep a blue-tang for months now and at last I found my target specimen, a 1.5 inch healthy which I bought for around US$2.67. The blue-tang is rare here in the Philippines and usually commands a high-price. I wanted a small one since my 150G AGA tank is home to small to medium size fishes. He is about 2 weeks now in my tank and very active swimmer. He eats flakes, spirulina and freeze dried blood worms. He lives in my gorgonian at night and swims all day together with my clowns, brown tang, lipstick and several varieties of damsel fish. I love my blue-tang and I hope he will live for a long time. cheers!

MaDdIeElIzAbEtH - 2011-02-03
I had this huge science project to do and its due tomorrow. I waited until last minute to do it because I have been sick. THANK YOU! I got all the information I needed!

  • Mae - 2011-05-24
    omg! That is exactly what happened to me to and this site helped!
  • Neil Walker - 2012-08-04
    In my opinion Trish and Katie dont have a clue about fish keeping, anyways I'm absolutely certain that dory will start out in a shoal when young but gradually become isloated in the wild, so to assume that these fish are going to stay young forever and stay together long, is a mistake. They don't like their own species company at all and if you have a GIANT aquarium and have a couple or more 'blues' they are still never together, even though they don't fight, they should not be encountering each other so often. It is a mistake, a BIG one if u have a 180 gallon tank to keep two, It is a SHAME if you have two in a smaller reef. Shame on all of you in this forum if u keep two. By the way don't over feed them brine shrimp, my sis and all that because they primarily eat zoo plankton and Red or Purple Algae.
YURIY - 2007-01-28
dude, this web site is the bomb! i have a huge progect to do, and i got an A+


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