The regal tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) is a colorful reef fish in the family Acanthuridae. A fish in marine aquaria, it is the only member of the genus Paracanthurus. A number of common names are attributed to the species, including palette surgeonfish, blue tang (leading to confusion with the Atlantic Acanthurus coeruleus), royal blue tang, hippo tang, flagtail surgeonfish and blue surgeonfish.

Paracanthurus hepatus has a royal blue body, yellow tail, and black 'palette' design. The lower body is yellow in the west-central Indian Ocean.[3] It grows to 31 cm (12.25 in.). The species' range is broad, but it is nowhere common. It can be found throughout the Indo-Pacific. It is seen in reefs of East Africa, Japan, Samoa, New Caledonia, and the Great Barrier Reef.[1]

The blue tang is not evaluated by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), but is of low vulnerability.

As a juvenile, its diet consists primarily of plankton. Adults are omnivorous and feed on plankton, but will also graze on algae. Spawning occurs during late afternoon and evening hours. This event is indicated by a change in color from a uniform dark blue to a pale blue.

Importance to humans Edit

The blue tang is of minor commercial fisheries importance, however, it is a bait fish. The flesh has a strong odor and is not highly prized. This fish may cause ciguatera poisoning if consumed by humans. However, blue tangs are collected commercially for the aquarium trade. Handling the tang risks the chances of being badly cut by the caudal spine. These spines, on both sides of the caudal peduncle, are extended from the body when the fish becomes excited. The quick, thrashing sideways motion of the tail can produce deep wounds that result in swelling and discoloration, posing a risk of infection. It is believed that some species of Acanthurus have venom glands while others do not. The spines are used only as a method of protection against aggressors.

Aquarium life Edit

As juveniles, they require a 40 gallon aquarium, but as adults require a 75 gallon tank. They will eat small crustaceans such as mysids and krill. Adults nibble algae and nori. Having more than one in a small aquarium can cause stress, which can lead to injury from fighting. This fish is reef compatible — will not eat corals or anemones.

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