Regal Tang/Regal Blue Tang/Hippo Tang/Palette Surgeonfish

Regal Tang/Regal Blue Tang/Hippo Tang/Palette Surgeonfish Paracanthurus hepatus

Type of Animal:

Reefs ranging from 6.56 to 131.234 ft in depth


Royal blue to purplish-blue body, yellow tail, black palette design, rather flat fish w/ circular body shape & pointed snout-like nose, males larger than females, juveniles bright yellow w/ blue spots near eyes

Algae, phytoplankton, zooplankton, seaweed, detritus, mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, krill, bloodworms

Status in Wild:

Breeding in aquariums, aquaculture, & zoos

Schools of 2-12 fish, territories often defended by a school

Additional Info:

Young: Acronurus
Group: School
Male: 1-1.3 lbs
Female: 0.8-1 lb
1 day 

Life Span:
10-30 years

Body Length:
Male: 5-14 in
Female: 4-10 in

Tail Length:
2-2.5 in, same for both sexes

Main predators are groupers, tuna, barracudas, jacks, & snapper.
They’re important in keeping coral reefs healthy due to algae-eating diet. Without these fish, algal overgrowths can occur.
Eggs are pelagic & hatch a day after being released.
Single female can release around 40,000 eggs & males then swim through egg cloud releasing sperm/fertilizing eggs.
Reach maturity at 9 months old.
Besides using scalpels at base of tail fin, another defense mechanism is to play dead.
Fights involve use of caudal/tail spines.
Fry planktonic until transitioning to juvenile stage at around 5 weeks old.
Sometimes seen schooling w/ other fish species.

Fun Fact(s):
Get color from cells known as iridiophores.
Can change coloration from normal color to violet when under stress.
Get surgeonfish name from 2 razor-sharp venomous scalpels at base of tail fin used in defense. These spines can cause nasty wounds.
Flesh of this species poisonous.
These fish rather difficult to breed in captivity w/ most specimens available being wild-caught.
These fish became highly popular after 2003 movie Finding Nemo due to character Dory who’s one of these fish. 2016 sequel/spinoff Finding Dory based on this character. In fact, many aquarium goers call these fish “Dory Fish.”
Besides main 4 names & dory fish, also known as Blue Tang, Blue Hippo Tang, Royal Blue Tang, Blue Surgeonfish, Pacific Regal Blue Tang, Flagtail Surgeonfish, Doctorfish, Yellow-Tail Blue Tang, Hepatus Tang, Indo-Pacific Blue Tang, Pacific Blue Tang, Blue-and-Yellow Hippo Tang, Blue Surgeon, Wedgetail Blue Tang, Palette Tang, & Wedge-Tailed Tang.

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