Alternative name: Acanthurus hepatus
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New to the hobby? Blue Tangs are best cared for in aquariums at least 6 feet in length by experienced marine (saltwater) aquarists. If you’re a beginner, we recommend a similar-looking fish such as the Marine (Saltwater) Yellowtail Damselfish or Freshwater Boesemani Rainbow.
The Blue Tang boasts a vibrant electric blue body dressed with bold black markings. In fact, the black that begins at the eyes, traces the dorsal line down to the tail, and circles back above the pectoral fin to create a unique shape reminiscent of a painter’s palette. This marking is why the Blue Tang is also known as the Palette Surgeonfish. It is also called the Pacific Blue Tang, and Hepatus or Regal Tang. Regardless of common name, Paracanthurus hepatus is equal parts beauty and peacefulness that suits almost any large community marine aquarium.
Native to reefs across the Indo-Pacific, the Blue Tang relishes a good hiding location amongst live rock. However, this active fish also loves to swim. Therefore, ample room to roam around your aquarium is essential for optimum health. Though peaceful towards most tankmates, the Pacific Blue will become aggressive towards other fish of its own species. To keep multiple specimens, introduce the entire lot at once into a larger marine system.
Although Tangs will eat meaty foods along with the other fish in the aquarium, it is important that they are offered plenty of marine based seaweed and algae. This will strengthen the Blue Tang’s immune system, reduce aggression and improve their overall health. Offer dried seaweed tied to a rock or use a veggie clip, and feed at least three times per week. Sea Veggies, Seaweed Salad and Ocean Nutrition are all ideal products and are very easy to use.
Proper care of the Blue Tang requires a slightly higher degree of dedication and attention as it is more susceptible to lateral line disease, fin erosion, Ich and other skin parasites than many other fish. Ensure highest water quality and a varied diet, rich in nutritious marine-base vegetables to keep your Blue Tang in optimal health.
Approximate Purchase Size: Tiny: 1/2″ to 3/4″; Small: 1″ to 2″; Small/Medium: 2″ to 3″; Medium 3″ to 4″; Medium/Large 4″ to 5″; Large: 5″ to 6″; XLarge 6″ to 8″
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The information that we have provided in our Quick Stats for the different species of fish, plants, live rock, corals and invertebrates will provide a guide for the conditions that these organisms are subjected to in nature. Duplicating these conditions as closely as possible in the home aquarium is essential for providing an environment where these species will be able to grow and thrive.Minimum Tank Size
The smallest aquarium that we recommend for housing this species of fish or invertebrate; this takes into account its size at maturity, temperament, swimming habits, as well as food and water requirements. Many species in their juvenile state can be kept in a smaller aquarium, but we only recommend this as temporary holding or housing in a quarantine aquarium.Care Level
We have included a general guideline in our Quick Stats of the level of care that the different corals and invertebrates require. This is provided to give you a basis of the hardiness of the species, which you can then match to your level of experience.
Temperament – Corals and Invertebrates
Temperament – Fishes
Different wattages of lighting systems will produce different light intensities. Because of this, a general watts/gallon recommendation is a poor guideline to use for a reef aquarium. For example; a 48″, 54W T-5 fluorescent bulb emits light approximately 4 times more intense than light from a 48″, 40W T-12 fluorescent bulb with nearly the same wattage. Another example is light intensity emitted from Metal Halide and HQI bulbs. Some organisms that originate in the shallow waters of the reef in nature require light intensity similar to that of the sun. These two bulb types reproduce the very high intensity light that can be neither duplicated by another system nor be financially feasible to be duplicated by another system.
The following recommendations are for aquariums that are 24″ deep or less. For taller aquariums, compensate by providing a higher amount of wattage per gallon using the chosen lighting system, or by using a more intense lighting system.
Provide a lighting intensity of 1-2 watts per gallon. For most aquariums, except the very large systems, standard fluorescent lighting is ideal. Provide a 50/50 mixture of daylight and actinic lighting.
Provide a lighting intensity of 2-4 watts per gallon using Compact Fluorescent Lighting, VHO or T-5 Fluorescents. Illuminate the aquarium using a 50/50 mix of daylight and actinic lighting. For larger aquariums, consider using Metal Halides to cut down on bulb replacement costs.
Provide a lighting intensity of 4-8 watts per gallon using a combination of Metal Halides or HQI’s, along with Compact Fluorescent Lighting, VHO or T-5 Fluorescents. The spectrum of the Metal Halides will depend greatly on personal preference, but should be between 6,500°K (reddish yellow) and 14,000°K (blue/white). Use actinic bulbs for the supplementary fluorescent light fixture in a ratio of 1/3 to1/2 of the total wattage of the system. These actinic fluorescent bulbs can then be set on a timer to simulate both dusk and dawn on the reef.
Please Note: The lighting systems recommended for light-loving corals and invertebrates that fall under the “High” light category, produce a large amount of heat. Cooling fansand possibly a water chiller is a necessity when using these lighting systems.
These recommendations for lighting systems and intensities are general due to the variances in aquarium set-ups. Situations that will affect the intensity of lighting systems include type of canopy on aquarium, distance of bulbs from the top of aquarium, water clarity and the type/brand of ballasts and bulbs used.
Keep in mind that the selection of species compatible to your aquarium is not always limited by your particular lighting system. For example, if your aquarium system provides high light conditions, a species that requires low lighting can still be incorporated into the aquarium by placing it near the bottom of the aquarium and out of direct light.
Use these guidelines when choosing the species for your aquarium and most importantly monitor the health of the corals and invertebrates. Light intensities change dramatically throughout the same aquarium, so moving the specimens to a different location in the aquarium may become necessary. It is important to allow the organism to adjust to the new location and lighting conditions prior to making judgment on its health.
The lighting system on the aquarium will ultimately determine both the species suitable for the aquarium, as well as their placement within the aquarium. Species with “Moderate” Light requirements may be housed in a system with lighting that falls into the “Low” category, as long as these species are located at the top of the aquarium. The same holds true for incorporating low light loving species into a brightly lit aquarium. These species will simply need to be placed lower in the aquarium.
Monitor the health of all species in their new location and allow time before determining if a different position within the aquarium is necessary. Photosynthetic organisms alter the amount of zooxanthellae cells within their structures to compensate for different intensities of lighting. It is important not to move these organisms too frequently, as it will place undue stress upon them in the short term.
dKH (degree of carbonate hardness also known alkalinity): Carbonate hardness is the measure of carbonate and bicarbonate concentration in your aquarium water. Alkalinity plays a vital role in stabilizing and buffering aquarium pH. This parameter is very important to monitor in coral reef systems since alkalinity and calcium have a unique relationship where the concentration of one affects the other. For example, if aquarium alkalinity is too high, then calcium levels tend to fall as calcium precipitates out of solution. Conversely, if the calcium level is too high (over 500 ppm), then there is a tendency for alkalinity to drop.
pH (potentia hydrogenii or the power of hydrogen): Measurement of relative alkalinity or acidity. A pH reading of 7.0 is considered neutral, with readings higher than 7.0 (up to 14) being alkaline and readings lower than 7.0, acidic.
Specific Gravity: Specific gravity or “sg” measures the relative salinity (amount of dissolved salts) in your aquarium water in comparison to pure water. Measuring specific gravity on a regular basis is crucial to maintain the ideal environment for your marine inhabitants.
Adventitious Plants: Plants that reproduce asexually by developing new plants or plantlets which sprout from an area other than the main growth site of the mother plant.
Adventitious Shoot: A shoot or growth from the base of the mother plant that develops into a new plant.
Bulb: Underground food storage organ that develops new plant growth.
Cuttings: New plants developed through human intervention by means of cutting or severing plant material from the mother plant.
Division: Method of plant propagation by means of separating plant material from the main plant.
Formed Leaves Pressed into Substrate: Under ideal conditions, the underside of the Banana Plant leaves can develop roots. When the roots form, it can be pressed into the substrate to encourage plant development.
Off Shoots: New growth from the main plant that develops into a new plant.
Peduncle: A stalk that develops a new plantlet or a fruiting structure (flower).
Rhizome: Also known as rootstocks, rhizomes are thick horizontal stems where new plant growth develops (both roots and leaves).
Runner: A horizontal creeping stem that extends from the main plant which asexually develops new plants.
Seeds: An enclosed embryonic plant resulting from sexual reproduction.
Seeds and Cuttings: Propagation methods involving sexual and asexual reproduction.
Side Shoots: New growth from the main plant that develops into a new plant. Similar to Off Shoots but closer in proximity to the main plant.
Sided Shoots on Rhizome: The development of new plant growth from a rhizome.
Max. Size in Aquarium
Color Form – Corals, Invertebrates, Plants and Live Rock
Color Form – Fishes
Herbivore – Species consumes algae or plant based foods.
Omnivore – Species consumes both algae and meaty foods.
Planktonivore – Species consumes Zooplankton in their natural habitat.
Filter Feeder – Species consumes fine particulates of both tiny Zooplankton and algae based Phytoplankton or marine snow.
Corals and Invertebrates
Magnesium: Magnesium plays an important role in maintaining the correct balance between calcium and alkalinity in seawater. It helps stabilize alkalinity and calcium levels by preventing excess precipitation of calcium and bicarbonate. Maintaining proper magnesium levels between 1,250 and 1,350 ppm.
Strontium: Strontium is an important component of aragonite, the mineral secreted by reef-building marine invertebrates including corals. Maintain strontium at the natural seawater concentration of approximately 8 ppm for proper growth of corals and other reef-building invertebrates.
Iodine: Iodine is required for healthy fishes, corals, crustaceans and macro-algae. Invertebrates with symbiotic zooxanthellae algae such as corals utilize iodine to detoxify excess oxygen produced under intense lighting conditions. Iodine is important for increased soft coral growth and carapace production in shrimp and crabs. For fish, iodine helps prevent health disorders such as goiter. Iodine is depleted by protein skimming and should be kept at 0.06 ppm.
Trace Elements: Trace Elements provide the necessary nutrients required for proper health and growth. In the closed aquarium environment, trace elements are depleted through natural biological activity. In a heavily-stocked reef aquarium, trace elements are often depleted at a much faster rate.
High Quality Aquarium Fertilizer: Also known as a comprehensive plant supplement, high-quality aquarium fertilizers generally are a blend of macro-nutrients with essential trace elements, vitamins, and amino acids to stimulate healthy growth of aquarium plants
Iron: Iron is an important plant micronutrient that helps in the formation of chlorophyll. Iron should be used in planted aquariums where aquatic plants demonstrate signs of iron deficiency (such as short and slender stems or yellowing between veins). Marine aquariums or refugiums with macro-algae will also benefit from the proper addition of iron. Be sure to use the appropriate formulation for marine aquarium use.
Iron-Rich Fertilizer: In addition to the single nutrient liquid, many plant substrates contain iron to promote optimum plant nutrition and luxuriant growth.
Nitrogen: Nitrogen is one of the three essential nutrients required by plants in relatively large amounts (macronutrients). Nitrogen helps increase growth potential and improves leaf health of plants.
Potassium: Potassium is another of the three essential nutrients required by plants in relatively large amounts (macronutrient). Potassium helps develop healthy plant stems and roots.
Substrate Fertilizer: Some plants draw nutrients primarily through their roots while others draw nutrients through their leaves. Substrate fertilizers target heavy root feeder and are generally available as slow-release tablets buried within the substrate bed. Specialty substrates rich in plant nutrients such as laterite clay may also be regarded as a type of substrate fertilizer.
Trace Elements: Also known as micronutrients, trace elements are often depleted rapidly by various chemical processes and natural plant growth. Liquid trace elements contain a blend of important nutrient necessary for continued lush growth of freshwater plants.