Caring for the Blue Tang

The Blue Tang is one of the more stunning saltwater aquarium fish in the hobby, and is also one of the more iconic. As with all fish, the Blue Tang, also known as the Hippo Tang, Regal Tang, Palette Surgeonfish, or the Paracanthurus, has unique living requirements that must be met for it to thrive. It’s a rather oval fish that is a brilliantly vibrant blue with a beautiful yellow tail. The movie “Finding Dory” starred the Blue Tang and was voiced by Ellen DeGeneres which spurred much interest in the reef keeping hobby and in particular, the Blue Tang.

Before jumping into purchasing your own you should be well aware of the work involved in caring for this beautiful fish. It’s not the most difficult fish to care for but it also isn’t a fish ideal for beginners.

Blue Tang Quick Facts

  • Aquarist Difficulty Care Level – Medium
  • Reef Compatible
  • Omnivorous although primarily Herbivore
  • Grows to be as much as 1 foot in length
  • Requires at least a 4 feet long aquarium
  • Requires minimum 75 gallon aquarium
  • Prone to skin diseases
  • Likes to have rock work large enough for hiding although is typically very active, hence the massive tank requirements
  • It has sharp teeth used for eating algae on rock work
  • Should be kept alone unless introduced to the tank with one other or a large group at the same time
  • As with all Tangs, it has sharp spines on either side of it’s tail fin for defense
  • It’s dorsal fin also has spines
  • Their spines are venomous
  • Keeping multiple tangs or surgeon fish other than the blue tang will require a much larger tank to prevent aggression

Of all the Tang species, this one is the most active which is why it requires a larger aquarium to thrive. It is generally a very hardy fish despite the above average proneness to ich and other skin diseases. However, ich tends to resolve itself naturally when the fish is living in excellent water quality conditions.

For quite some time the Blue Tang was not able to be bred in captivity. Recently there has been progress made which is good news both for the Blue Tang and for natural coral reefs.

Specific Blue Tang Care Instructions

  • Drip-aclimate to ensure the best possible transition to your aquarium
  • Should be kept in waters between 78°F and 82°F
  • Feed a variety of algae
  • Will eat vitamin-enriched flake food
  • May eat frozen mysis and other meaty foods
  • Will eat small live food

In Conclusion

We hope that you’ve learned a lot about this wonderful fish. If you’re still considering owning one, you should now be much better prepared for success.

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