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Blue tang surgeonfish

Blue tang surgeonfish

(Acanthurus coeruleus)

The blue tang surgeonfish occurs in the tropical western Atlantic from New York to the Gulf of Mexico and south to Brazil. This species can be found swimming among coral reefs, grassy and rocky areas to depths of 131 feet.

It is a tall-bodied, laterally compressed fish with a pointed snout. It may grow to a length of about one foot. This tang swims alone, in pairs or in small aggregations. However, it will occasionally form large aggregations that forage in the shallow reefs, grazing on algae.

Look for the blue tang surgeonfish in the Ocean Voyager gallery.

Fun Facts

  • The blue tang surgeonfish feeds entirely on benthic algae as an adult. Juveniles consume zooplankton and may act as cleaner fish in designated stations.
  • This species' appetite for algae prevents the algae overgrowth and destruction of coral reefs.
  • The blue tang surgeonfish goes through three color phases as it matures. Juveniles are mostly bright yellow, young adults are bright blue or purplish-gray with yellow caudal fins and adults are deep blue to purplish blue with a yellow caudal spine.
  • It spawns in the late afternoon and evening hours.
  • This surgeonfish is a popular saltwater aquarium species.
  • Download full fact sheet

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