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Atlantic blue tang or Acanthurus
belongs to the family Acanthuridae
This family encompasses other tang varieties and
surgeonfishes. Atlantic blue tang inhabit both the Caribbean and the
Gulf of Mexico. Significant populations can also be found along the
eastern coastal regions of the Americas from as far north as New York
to as far south as Brazil.
There is a species of fish commonly called the Pacific blue tang or
royal tang (Paracanthurus hepatus). This species of fish will be
addressed in another article.
The Atlantic blue tang is a flat bodied oval shaped fish. Adult and
juvenile color palettes are completely different from one another.
Juveniles undergo a color morph as a part of adolescence. Juveniles
have a bright yellow coloration with blue trimming on the edges of
their dorsal and anal fins. Juveniles, in fact, are often referred to
as yellow tangs. In the transitional phase between juvenile and adult
the fish will develop a blue coloration very typically with yellow
trimmed dorsal and anal fins. The caudal fin is generally the last part
of the juvenile’s body to undergo the color change. Adults
are blue in
color. The color gradually grows darker as the fish continues to age.
Adults also have horizontal lines on their bodies whereas young tang
have no body markings.
The Atlantic blue tang
is also commonly sold under the names Blue
Caribbean Tang, Blue Tang Surgeonfish,
or simply the Blue Tang. Adults
vary in shades from powder blue to a vibrant royal blue. These color
variations are often incorporated into their names, for instance the
powder blue tang.
blues are non-aggressive toward other species. They can be
successfully integrated into a community environment without any
problems. They will require a couple of hiding places and plenty of
swimming room because of their size. These fish do demonstrate
territorial behavior and have been known to become combative with other
members of their species. It is therefore recommended that you only
keep a single adult in a tank. Adults do not tend to exercise
aggressive tendencies toward the juveniles of their species. An adult
and a juvenile may usually be housed together without incident.
Non-confrontational behavior may continue as the young tang matures
Blue tangs are shallow water reef dwellers. They inhabit the
coastal coral reefs found along the western Atlantic shorelines. They
would be right at home in a reef tank large enough to provide them with
adequate swimming room as adults.
These fish are primarily herbivores. In the wild their diet
consists of plant matter and algae. But they also demonstrate an
occasional taste for small crustaceans. Juveniles will often dine on
the parasites commonly found on marine turtles.