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Atlantic Blue Tang

(Acanthurus coeruleus)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Easy   • Temperament: Peaceful   • Maximum Size: 10"
• Minimum Tank Size: 150 gallons   • Water Conditions: 72-80° F; sg 1.020-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4 dKH 8-12
• Diet: Herbivore   • Origin: Caribbean Sea, Western Atlantic Ocean
• Family: Acanthuridae   • Species: Tangs / Surgeonfish   • Aquarium Type: Reef Compatible

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Native Habitat and Species Information

Atlantic Blue Tang native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

Atlantic Blue Tangs are found in coastal waters and shallow reefs throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea from Florida down to Bonaire and Aruba. They live amongst the coral reefs and inshore reef slopes found near the coasts of southern Florida, Mexico, Central American and the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire & Curacoa).

Juveniles have a bright yellow colored body with a brilliant blue coloration on the tips of the caudal and anal fins. During their transition phase from their juvenile coloration to their adult coloration, they very from a mixed yellow and light blue to a more uniform light blue coloration with darker blue striping. As an adult, the Atlantic Blue Tang takes on a deep blue color with light blue striping on their body and finnage.

They are prolific algae grazers who graze on algae almost continuously throughout the day. They will feed on algae growing on the reefs in which they inhabit and algae growing on large fish and sea turtles. In eating the algae off the bodies and shells of larger fish and turtles, the Atlantic Blue Tangs serves as a cleaner species for larger predators.

The Atlantic Blue Tang is a very active swimmer, as they spend most of their time cruising long stretches of the reef in search of algae on which to graze. They will form sizable groups of individuals who school together as they search for algae and macro-algae marine plants on which to feed.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Atlantic Blue Tang in the home aquarium.

In the wild Atlantic Blue Tangs live in large groups or schools of fish who move about the reef and reef slopes foraging on algae, macro-algae plants and cleaning algae from larger open water fish and sea turtles. Despite being a schooling fish, their eventual size combined with the average marine aquarium size, means that the average hobbyist will not be able to keep a school of these fish.

Atlantic Blue Tangs will settle in nicely with other Tang species commonly found within the aquarium hobby if given plenty of open swimming room and plenty of algae to graze on. Unlike many of the Tang species reef hobbyists often keep, the Atlantic Blue Tang will not be happy in smaller reef aquariums or cube aquariums. They need significant room to swim with a 6 foot long aquarium being a good starting point. Ideally this species should be kept in something closer to a 180 gallon aquarium or larger.

However, if given adequate swimming space and plenty of marine based algae and plant matter, they will happily share their aquarium both with other Tang species and other reef fish ranging from Chromis to Large Angelfish. As with most Tangs it is better to either keep a single Tang of each body shape or to keep 6 more Tangs so that no single fish tries to claim the entire aquarium as their territory.

The Atlantic Blue Tang will also appreciate plenty of variable or laminar water flow, which will help simulate the shallow reefs and reefs slopes that they commonly inhabit in the wild. Wavemakers or modern powerheads with flow controllers are excellent methods to provide laminar water flow within the aquarium.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to feed and provide proper nutrition for Atlantic Blue Tang.

As a herbivore, the Atlantic Blue Tangs diet should consist mostly of marine based algae and plant matter. While they will also consume some meaty foods, the majority of their diet should consist of algae, seaweed and commercial foods designed for marine herbivores. A diet consisting of too little marine algae and plant matter will weaken their immune system due to a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in their diet. Improper diets will also lead to increased aggression, poor coloration and increased risk of disease.

Atlantic Blue Tangs should be provided plenty of grazing opportunities, which can be achieved by having plenty of live rock being present in the aquarium or via the addition of algae or plant matter introduced into the aquarium via a veggie clip or similar fashion. In addition to grazing on marine algae, they should be offered prepared herbivore foods 2 to 3 times per day.

Atlantic Blue Tangs are more prolific grazers than the average Tang; therefore, they are only recommended for larger well established aquariums where there are plenty of algae grazing opportunities.

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