Fun Blue Tang Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Blue Tang Facts For Kids

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Don't we all remember Dory from Disney's superhit animated film 'Finding Nemo'? Yes, the blue and yellow pancake-like flat marine fish that you saw along with Nemo's dad was, in fact, a blue tang. Their scientific name is Paracanthurus hepatus, and they live in the tropical and sub-tropical coastal areas of the Indo-Pacific region. The clownfish and blue tang duo are etched into our minds, and this has also led the 'Dory' blue tang to become a popular aquarium pet. This fish doesn't live in very deep water, but they like to hide in the corals. They prefer a warm habitat, and as the weather gets warmer, they are known for spawning up to 40,000 eggs at once. Though the Pacific blue tang fish is often misrepresented as the Atlantic blue tang (Acanthurus coeruleus) or the Caribbean blue tang, the fish are distinctly different. The blue tang surgeonfish is especially known for its yellow flag tail, which is also seen on Dory in 'Finding Nemo'. Want to know more about the yellowtail blue tang facts? Keep reading to learn more about them.

Also, check out the articles on parrotfish and ghost fish to know more about marine animals.

Fun Blue Tang Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?


What do they eat?


Average litter size?

Up to 40,000 eggs

How much do they weigh?

up to 600 g

How long are they?

4.7-15 in (12-38 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Blue and yellow

Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Fishing, Coral Reef Destruction, Overexploitation For The Aquarium Trade, Barjacks, Tuna

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them?

Tropical And Sub-tropical Coastal Regions And Coral Reef


Indo-pacific Oceans









Blue Tang Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a blue tang?

The blue tang is a type of marine fish that is also known as the regal blue tang or the flagtail surgeonfish.

What class of animal does a blue tang belong to?

Blue tangs belong to the class Actinopterygii and from the genus Paracanthurus. The scientific name for the blue tang is Paracanthurus hepatus. Their scientific order, Acanthuriformes, includes more than 84 species of fishes.

How many blue tangs are there in the world?

The exact number of blue tangs cannot be determined as no exact study has been done. However, they are currently listed as of Least Concern in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Where does a blue tang live?

The royal blue tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) lives in the tropical and sub-tropical coastal areas of the Indo-Pacific area of the world, which is why the species is also known as the Pacific blue tang. They are mainly found meandering in the coral reefs of the ocean. However, they are also found in aquariums all over the world because the blue tang is a popular exotic pet.

What is a blue tang's habitat?

Coral reefs are the popular habitat for the blue tangs, and they are mainly found near the countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, New Caledonia, Sri Lanka, Samoa, and the East African coast. The Pocillopora eydouxi coral is their predominant place of congregation, and it also serves as their hiding place. These beautiful blue tangs can also be found in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. They prefer to live in a warm temperature of 75.2-79°F (24-26 °C) and at a depth of 6.5-131 ft (2-40 m).

Who do blue tangs live with?

Blue tangs live in groups or schools of 8-14 individuals. Blue tangs may also live in monogamous pairs. However, the Pacific blue tang can also be found in aquariums where people usually club them with other fishes and they have to share their living space.

How long does a blue tang live?

The blue tang's lifespan in the wild is up to 30 years. However, the blue tang life expectancy is much reduced in an aquarium due to the presence of more threats and diseases. In a home aquarium, these may survive up to 20 years, though the average is between eight and 12 years. So, if a person wants to have a regal blue tang as a pet, they will need to take proper care of it.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction of the regal blue tang is quite interesting. During the spawning season, the blue tangs can lay up to 40,000 eggs. The blue tangs form breeding groups before the spawning begins. When the final group is created, both the male and the female blue tang fish swim upwards, and they release their gametes. For females, it is the eggs, and the regal tang male releases their sperm. The water immediately becomes clouded because of the concentration of the gametes. The process is known as broadcast spawning. Before the eggs hatch, they get carried away by ocean currents, so the blue tang surgeonfish seldom has to care for its eggs. At times the blue tang may also breed in monogamous pairs where the breeding process might be slightly different. In the Pacific region, the blue tangs usually reproduce during the months of December to June. However, in warmer parts of the ocean, reproduction may take place throughout the year. The fertilized eggs hatch after 25-28 hours after they are released by the adult surgeonfish. The juvenile blue tang takes up to 37 days for the larvae to transform into a full fish.

What is their conservation status?

Currently, the  International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the blue tang as of Least Concern.

Blue Tang Fun Facts

What do blue tangs look like?

The royal blue body of the tang fish is the most striking thing except their yellow flag-like tail and their yellow dorsal fin. The dark blue color of their body helps them to hide between the coral reefs. People may also confuse them with the Acanthurus Coeruleus, but the latter fish is found in the Atlantic and also lacks the bright yellow color of the blue tang. The surgeonfish also has an oval-shaped body that is quite flat in nature. Their shape has also been described as 'pancake-like' because of the flat appearance. Dark blue or black lines also run in the dorsal side of their body. At the larval stage, the juvenile blue tang looks starkly different from the adult blue tang. Both the pectoral and caudal fins of this fish are bright yellow. The caudal spines of this fish are quite important, and they have nine of the spines under their dorsal fin.

How cute are they?

These dark blue fishes are quite cute. Seldom can we forget Dory and her lovely appearance in the film. The cuteness of the species has also made them susceptible to overhunting.

How do they communicate?

One of the main forms of communication for the blue tang is through changing their colors. Their blue body may turn into brighter dark blue when they are under stress. In such a condition, their black palette design may even fade. The bright yellow color of their caudal spines is a way for the blue tang hippo to warn their predators.

How big is a blue tang?

The average size of a blue tang or a palette surgeonfish is 4.7-15 in (12-38 cm). The blue tang size may be a little more for a male fish. They are about three times bigger than the clownfish that reaches a maximum length of up to 4.3 in or 11 cm.

How fast can a blue tang swim?

No conclusive data is found about the fastness of the hippo tang in their natural habitat.

How much does a blue tang weigh?

The average weight of the regal blue tang is up to 600g. The males might be slightly larger than the females.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no distinct names for the male and female of the species and they share a common name.

What would you call a baby blue tang?

A blue tang baby is called larvae or fry.

What do they eat?

The blue tang is a herbivorous fish, and they mainly survive on algae and planktons. The fish pulls the algae from the coral reef to feed on the algae. They may even feed on micro-algae, some marine plants, and zooplankton. When kept at home, a person should include nutrient-rich, high-quality food in the blue tang diet, or they may try to include algae.

Are they poisonous?

Yes, the blue tang fish is poisonous to eat for human beings. It is because of their venomous caudal spines that also help in fighting against its predators. While handling the fish, one should be careful about handling its dorsal fin.

Would they make a good pet?

Even though the blue tangs are widely available as an aquarium fish, you should stay away from making them your pet. You should understand that they are coral reef fish and the blue tang habitat consists of warm marine water. When you bring them into your home, you are taking the blue surgeonfish away from their natural habitat. The fish species also have the threat of going extinct in the wild if they are traded as exotic pets. A Pacific blue tang's price is anywhere around $60 to $250 depending on its size. However, you will need much more to give the fish an ample amount of space to grow and thrive. The Pacific blue tang is also important for maintaining the level of algae present in the marine environment. So, keeping them as pets will invariably harm the algae population present in the Indo-Pacific area of the ocean.

If you happen to get a fish from the species, make sure to learn about blue tang care.

Did you know...

The movie 'Finding Nemo' portrays the character, Dory, as having bad memory or short-term memory loss. However, in reality, the regal blue tang is quite intelligent, and they have no problem with their memory. In general, all fish are known for having a really good memory, and most of them can even remember events that took place over a month ago.

Some other names for the blue tang include the blue hippo tang, powder blue tang, and the palette surgeonfish.

As we have said before, the Pacific blue tang is often confused with the Acanthurus Coeruleus, which is also known as the blue tang. Recently, there was hype about a translucent blue tang, which was later found out to be larvae of the Atlantic species. These species lack a yellow tail.

Are blue tangs sociable fish?

Yes, the blue Tangs are sociable, and often live in groups. The blue surgeonfish or the regal blue tang has also been known for residing with other members of their family Acanthuridae. However, the male blue tangs often have the tendency to get into a fight mostly because of territory. So, if someone wants blue tangs for their aquarium., they should have enough space to mark their territories.

How does the blue tang protect itself?

The caudal spines found in the blue tang act as a protection against the predators, and they can raise the caudal spines to look more intense, especially to their own species. If the blue tang spots a predator, they will usually go hide in a coral, or they may choose to 'play dead' by lying flat without any movement. The caudal spines of the blue tang are also venomous, so one should be careful about handling them. The males of the species often fight among each other with the help of the sharp spines, mostly to mark their territory.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including the neon tetra and the cory catfish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our blue tang coloring pages.

Written By
Moumita Dutta

Moumita is a multilingual content writer and editor. She has a PostGraduate Diploma in sports management, which enhanced her sports journalism skills, as well as a degree in journalism and mass communication. She's good at writing about sports and sporting heroes. Moumita has worked with many soccer teams and produced match reports, and sports is her primary passion.

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