Name: Pacific Blue Tang, Regal Tang, Blue Surgeonfish, Pallette Tang, Hippo Tang
Scientific name:Paracanthurus hepatus
Pear-a-KANTH-ur-us ( or pear-a-can-THUR-us ) hep-AY-tus
DISTRIBUTION - Indo pacific from East Africa to Japan.
HABITAT - The reefs of the indo pacific usually at a depth between 10 - 40 meters
SIZE - to 13 inches ( 33 cm ).
TANK SIZE - The larger the better, adults should be housed in no tank less than 180 gallons, younger specimens (up to 4") can be kept in slightly smaller sized tanks but nothing under 75 gallons.
DIET - Omnivorous, largely on zoo plankton in the wild also algae and seaweeds. Will eat several foods in captivity including: Brine Shrimp, Mysis Shrimp, Krill, a variety of flake foods, nori or seaweeds, also will take bloodworms, pieces of raw fish/shrimp/squid and other seafood preparations.
TANK ZONE - All areas and levels of the aquarium, a very active swimmer.
TEMPERAMENT - Generally peaceful except to other tangs of similar size or genus. Can be intimidating to shy smaller fish such as dartfish, grammas, clowns, etc.
pH - 8.0-8.4
TEMPERATURE - 24-26C, 75-79F
PHOTOPEROID - Equatorial - sub tropic. 10-12 hours of light per day.
SENSITIVITES - Prone to the parasite ich like most tangs, and hole in the head/lateral line erosion (seems to be partly due to an improper diet and low water quality). Also can be sensitive to quick pH and/or salinity changes. As with all tangs they should have good circulation to encourage high dissolved oxygen in the tank.
HARDINESS & LIFESPAN - Fairly hardy if properly quarantined and fed a proper diet. Lifespan is unknown but many of these fish will live a decade or more in the home aquaria.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION - Oval body shape with its slender dorsal fin running along most of its body except the head, the anal fin running continuously from the anus to caudal fin. The body is mainly blue with black markings running horizontally on the top half of its body, the tail is yellow ending in a V shape (outlined in black) at the caudal peduncle. The belly can be white or sometimes (though rare) yellow. Pectoral fins can also be yellow.
SEXES - Unknown
ACTIVITY PEAK - Diurnal
HABITS - A social fish which lives in groups in the wild. Normally peaceful, but can have conspecific aggression toward other pacific blue tangs and other tangs in the home aquaria especially if not properly housed.
SPAWNING - Like all tangs, the pacific blue tang is not hermaphroditic. They spawn as single pairs or in groups during sunset, producing a lot of pelagic eggs. The very spiny larval form (acronurus) of these tangs feed on plankton. The larvae are pelagic for about two weeks before settling out on acropora coral stands & metamorphosing into juveniles. In those areas where vast reef areas have been destroyed by the Aspergillis fungus, the blue tang's numbers have likewise been decimated by lack of habitat.
This species is one which can be spawned & raised in captivity with great effort, and efforts are underway to develop a good method for maximizing production.
COMPATIBILITY - the Pacific Blue Tang is a laid back mild mannered fish so long there isn't a tang that is similar shape, color, or genus. It may intimidate smaller shy fish, but will have very little aggression toward them. Good tankmates include the clownfish, dwarf angels, large angels, anthias, grammas, tangs of the genus Zebrasoma Acanthurus Naso Ctenochaetus (with the stipulations above), lionfish*, filefish, butterflyfish, cardinalfish, chromis, hawkfish, squirrelfish, blennies, dottybacks, batfish, hogfish, rabbitfish, rays, and dragonets. Also most gobies**, wrasses, and puffers will do fine with pacific blue tangs. In some instances some species of dartfish**, triggers***, groupers*, sharks*, scorpionfish*, frogfish*, anglerfish*, boxfish****, and eels* make acceptable tankmates.
*These fish may eat tangs if they can fit them in their mouths
** These fish maybe too shy and can be intimidated by tangs
*** Some of these fish maybe too aggressive for tangs
**** These fish may emit a toxin when stressed or dead that maybe toxic to tangs
REEF AND INVERT COMPATIBILITY - Although once in a while these fish are documented to eat some corals, I would consider them reef safe. Their biggest affect they have on a reef is the waste they produce, make sure you have proper flow and filtration if you add these guys to your reef. They will not eat any inverts unless the invertebrates are sick injured or dying.
OTHER NOTES AND TRIVIA - I've found that keeping this tang healthy has a lot to do with its diet and its spatial requirements. If given a proper home these fish can be one of the most personable and friendly fish in the tank. This fish is often called "the bluest thing on earth." Called the pallette tang due to the shape of the black marking, which is reminiscent of an artist's paint pallette.