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How to Keep a blue tang ( Dory )in a marine tank

How to Keep a blue tang ( Dory )in a marine tank

Keeping a blue tang ( Dory ) in a marine tank

blue tang

The blue tang found in the indo pacific region, has a deep blue body, yellowtail and a special “ Black palate “ design on it’s body. Perhaps there is no other marine fishes in this trade than the Blue tang unique striking blue colouration has. The popular blue tang with the scientific name (Paracanthurus hepatus ) comes from the family of Acanthuridae. Due to the popularity of the movie “ Finding Nemo”, Blue tang together with the clownfish is one of the popular fishes that represent the marine hobby. However, there is a worldwide concern including us that the popularity of the movie might cause an overwhelming demand for this fish like what we saw in the trade when Finding Nemo 1 was in the screen.

Why is that so?

The blue tang available for sales in this aquarium trade although commonly found in wild, are in danger of over-collection and unlike clownfish which has successfully captive breed in the trade, there isn’t much successful story available for tank raised captive Blue tang. Therefore, it is important that we know about the care and requirement of the blue tang before deciding to keep one in our home aquarium tank.

Blue tang striking blue coloration
Blue tang striking blue colouration

Comparing to keeping clownfish (Nemo), keeping the blue tang generally required more attention and care in keeping them as well. Like all tang in the family, the blue tang is prone to diseases like white spot ( ich ), therefore proper care and quarantine process should be taken before introduced into the tank.


A blue tang inflected with Ich commonly known as white spot.
A blue tang inflected with Ich commonly known as white spot.

Like other surgeonfish in the family, the blue tangs will probably not do well with another same species in the tank or together with other tangs in the same tank. Unless the tank is really large for them to swim around. The primary foods of the blue tang involve a lot of marine algae in the wild, and it is recommended to introduce these or foods that contain marine algae to keep them healthy and happy.

The blue tang can grow up to 30 cm in size, which can easily outgrow a small aquarium tank making it torture to keep them in a small tank. . We would not recommend keeping the blue tang in anything that is smaller than 100 gallon ( 400 litres ) 3 feet marine fish tank.

However, if all the above has been taken care of, the blue tang is a relatively hardy fish which offer the owner a lot of fun and enjoyment seeing it dashing through the tank for food or swimming around and glazing the rock work for algae.    



Some of the fact sheet about Blue tang

Scientific Name: Paracanthurus hepatus

Common Names: Blue Tang, Blue Surgeonfish, Palette Surgeonfish, Regal Tang, Hippo Tang, Flag-Tail Surgeonfish

Care Level: Moderate,

Max growth Size: Up to 12 inches (30 cm)

Life span: 5 years or longer

pH: 8.1 – 8.4

Temperature : 75°F – 82°F (25°C – 28°C)

Specific Gravity: 1.020 – 1.025

Carbonate Hardness (dKH) : 8 – 12°

Origin / Habitat: Indo-Pacific, Great Barrier Reef

Blue Tang Temperament / Behaviour: They can be aggressive with other tangs (surgeonfish), especially another same species. They also are constantly on the move and will need a larger tank for swimming space.

Breeding: Very difficult to breed in captivity.

Min Aquarium Size for keeping this fish; 100 Gallon ( 400 litres )

Just like any animal/pets that you are going to keep in your house, you must be willing to have the level of commitment and knowledge on hand to be able to take care of that animal/pets or fish that you are bringing home.  Remember, please do not buy on impulse just because of your son like the fish.

Fortunately, over the years there have been numerous success stories of successful captive breeding of blue tang which reduce the impact of wild-caught fish.


Larry Ng

Larry Ng (aka Harlequinmania )- Blogger, chef editor of SRC, and experience reef keeper, with over twenty years in the marine aquarium hobby. His love and crazy for marine life and fish keeping since a young age has turned his passion into a lifelong hobby. His personal 1000 gallon tank, and setup has been featured on the magazine and video.