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Atlantic Blue Tang


Atlantic or Caribbean Blue Tang, Acanthurus coeruleus

The Atlantic Blue Tang is often referred to as the blue tang however this confuses its name with the blue tang of the Pacific. The name blue tang is most often used to refer to the Pacific Blue or Regal Tang, however when you are in the Caribbean the term always refers to its local inhabitant.  The Atlantic Blue Tang is also referred to as the Caribbean Tang, the Blue Barber, the Blue Doctor, the Blue Doctorfish, the Blue Tang Surgeonfish, the Blur tang, the Yellow Barber and Yellow Doctorfish.   The references to yellow result from the fact that juveniles are yellow in color.

The Atlantic Blue Tang is most common in the eastern Caribbean from Florida, through the Bahamas to as far south as Bermuda.   It prefers coral reefs and grassy areas and can be found in shallow waters or in depths up to 100 feet.  In corals, it will find shelter among the rocks and rest in crevices at night.  Atlantic Blue Tangs form pairs or small schools, sometimes running with other tangs.  Its shape is typical of tangs, with a laterally compressed body, a lengthy continuous dorsal fin and a sharp retractable spine at the base of the tail.  The bright yellow juveniles are hard to find among the rocks.  As they mature, they transition to blue body with a yellow tail before turning completely blue, except for a small yellow spot on the caudal peduncle.   There can be hints of orange in the tips of the fins.   Intermediate ages may also have horizontal grey streaking across the body.   They become sexually mature at about one year in age.

Atlantic or Caribbean Blue Tang, Acanthurus coeruleus

Atlantic Blue Tangs are exclusively algae eaters in the wild, though they will eat meat in an aquarium setting.  It is preferable to stick with an algae diet to maintain good health.  Good choices are flakes foods based on veggies, seaweed and spirulina. Dried seaweed can also be suspended in the tank with a veggie clip. 

Atlantic Blue Tangs will also each zucchini, broccoli and lettuce. The tank should be at least 100 gallons.  It should not contain other tangs.  Blue tangs are less likely to be aggressive with non tangs, however they can still be very dominating in a tank.

Atlantic Blue Tangs breed in the evening and their eggs are pelagic they float with the tides after being fertilized.  The eggs hatch within a day as silver / brown slivers.  They change to their tang appearance after about a week.  In the wild, tuna, jacks and groupers will feed on Atlantic Blue Tangs.

Atlantic or Caribbean Blue Tang, Acanthurus coeruleus

Juvenile Atlantic or Caribbean Blue Tang, Acanthurus coeruleus
Juveniles are yellow

Scientific Name: Acanthurus coeruleus
Family: Acanthuridae
Care: Normal
Temperature: 22 - 26 C; 72 - 78 F
pH: 8.1 - 8.4
dH: 8 - 12
Specific Gravity: 1.020 - 1.025
Size: 31 cm; 12 inches
Breeding: Egg Layer
Life Span: 20 years
Crustacean Safe: Attacks small ones
Coral Safe: Yes


Other Atlantic Blue Tangs, yellow tangs, clownfish, damsels, small angels (Centropyge), cardinalfish, hawkfish