Blue Tang Care Guide and Requirements
- Scientific name: Paracanthurus Hepatus
- Origin: Indo-Pacific
- Difficulty: Medium
- Minimum tank size: 100 gallons
- Temperature: 72 - 82°F
- Reef safe: Yes
- Maximum size: 12 Inches
- Diet: Mainly herbivorous in the wild
The blue tang is the poster child for the surgeonfish family, along with the yellow tang of course. These two are one of five very popular fish in the saltwater aquarium hobby. The other three are the flame angel, the royal gramma, and the most popular one, the ocellaris clownfish.
It is the sole member of the genus Paracanthurus. Brilliantly colored, its entire body is a rich royal blue while black markings stretch from its eyes to its tail. Its pectoral and caudal fins are both yellow.
- Along with the percula clownfish, it gained recognition as one of the stars of the hit animated film, Finding Nemo (as Dory).
- They have a number of common names, including the blue hippo tang, regal tang, royal blue tang, and the palette surgeonfish.
- There is also a rarely collected variant of the blue tang. These fish have yellow chests and bellies. These colors are only apparent in larger adults, as it is very faint on juveniles.
- Since these fish are heavily collected from all throughout the Indo-Pacific, they are very affordable. Expect to pay about $25 for smaller specimens, while the adults usually priced from $70 to $80 per fish.
- All tangs tend to be susceptible to marine parasites (ich) and lateral line erosion. Choose your specimens with care.
Video: Pair of Large Blue Tangs
- These fish are is not known to be overly aggressive—this makes them a great choice for community tanks. They normally get along with a wide variety of fish, except for other members of the surgeonfish family.
- They can be very hostile towards other blue tangs, so expect some fighting to take place. As shoaling fish in the wild, such behavior can be seen in large aquariums. Should you decide to have multiple, then you need a large enough tank for them all. Always introduce multiple blue tangs at the same time. This limits aggression, as none of them have established territories yet, and most fights stem from territory.
Video: Interacting with a Blue Spotted Puffer
- They reach up to 12 inches in the wild, and are among the larger fishes available for sale on the market. Because of this, nothing smaller than a 100 gallon should be used to keep the blue tang. Bigger aquariums are always better, so a 200 gallon would be ideal.
- Ensure that they are given enough swimming space, as they're "open" swimmers. The tank scape should reflect this.
- Due to the blue tang being heavily collected from the wild, you are bound to come across very small 1 inch (yes, an inch) specimens. But keep in mind that these juveniles quickly outgrow smaller tanks within months.
Video: 120 Gallon Reef Tank
The blue tang is a schooling fish. They form large schools in the wild as they scan the reef for algae to graze, so these fishes are completely reef-safe. Once acclimated, they eat a variety of foods other than algae. Krill, mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, they're not picky. Since they are grazers, blue tangs eat a lot.
Ensure that a large part of their diet is algae-based, since they eat so much of it in the wild.
- Nori is a good form of algae to feed. The price will vary, depending on the brand you choose. Some people may find Julian Sprungs Sea Veggies to cost too much. They produce good algae sheets, though. They're also available as flakes, which is very convenient since there's very little work involved during feeding. Thankfully there are many other brands that produce nori primarily for human consumption. Prices vary here as well.
- You will need a clip of some sort to secure the nori sheet. You can buy a commercial type of fashion one up yourself. The sheets are sometimes rolled up and cut beforehand, most however, feed it as is. Once the nori is secured, stick the clip to the side of the tank, sit back, and enjoy the show.
- Formula Two is a good quality algae based mix for herbivores. It has an extra amount of algae in it, along with a good mix of seafood, trace minerals, vitamins, and more. It is available as a flake food, pellet or frozen cube.
- The best flake food for yellow tang would be Sea Veggie mixed flakes, followed by Formula Two flakes.
- It you're looking a great all rounder with balanced ingredients then you can't go wrong with New Life Spectrum pellets.
- Never feed your tangs lettuce! I see this happening mainly in pet stores, probably because they're trying to save a buck or two. Nutritionally, lettuce offers very little and should not have a place in this fish's diet.
Any questions or comments? Feel free to drop me a line below!