Blue Tang

Blue Tang

Animal Profile

Scientific name Paracanthurus hepatus
Class Fish
Length 8-12 inches (20-30 cm)
Incubation 24 hours
Age of maturity 9-12 months
Conservation status Low concern

A reef dweller
Blue tang spend their time swimming around coral reefs in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. You can find the blue tang in the zoo’s Great Barrier Reef aquarium in the Australian Adventure.

Eating light
These fish eat tiny foods like marine algae, brine shrimp, bits of seaweed and other small microorganisms. Here at the zoo, they dine on brine shrimp along with capelin (a small fish), chopped squid, broccoli and peas.

Not just another blue fish
The blue tang has a royal blue body, yellow tail, and black “palette” design. It’s an oval-shaped fish with a hard beak-like mouth that scrapes algae from rocks. Its tail has sharp spines on each side, and when disturbed, these spines unfold from a groove and can inflict serious wounds. This is why the fish is often referred to as a surgeonfish. This fish is rather flat, like a pancake, with a circular body shape, a pointed snout-like nose, and small scales.

No rest for this fish
Blue tang are always on the move, only resting at night. When faced with danger or dark spaces, blue tangs can make themselves semi-transparent in order to hide from predators.

Starting small
Blue tang eggs are small, approximately 0.8 mm in diameter. The eggs each contain a single droplet of oil to help them float. The fertilized eggs hatch in twenty-four hours, revealing small, translucent larvae with silvery abdomens and rudimentary spines. Young blue tang begin life a bright yellow color with blue spots near the eyes.

Hey, this fish is famous!
A Pacific blue tang named Dory is featured in the 2003 Disney/Pixar film “Finding Nemo.” We hear that blue tang does a pretty good whale impression.