Blue Hippo Tang

Paracanthurus Hepatus

It is known by many other names, as well: Regal Tang, Pacific Blue Tang, Blue Surgeonfish, and Royal Blue Tang, and Palette Surgeonfish. It is most often called the Blue Hippo Tang, stemming from its scientific name, Paracanthurus Hepatus. It also has some less common names: Wedge-tailed Tang, Wedgetail Blue Tang, Hepatus Tang and Flagtail Surgeonfish. Luckily, though, most people stick to Blue Hippo Tang or Regal Tang.

The Blue Hippo Tang is almost as famous and recognizable to the public as the clownfish, thanks to Disney’s “Finding Nemo” movie. “Dory” did a good job of representing what makes these fish very popular: Active, fast, good personality, and beautifully colored.

The Blue Hippo Tang’s brilliant royal blue stands out among many fish in an aquarium. It has black markings that go from its eyes all the way back into its tail and yellow pectoral and caudal fins. The black also circles back into the body to make the a shape that resembles a painter’s palette, giving it one of its common names: Palette Surgeonfish.

Blue Hippo Tangs are fast, active swimmers with some fun personality quirks, like hiding along with corals and rocks, “playing dead” as it lies down, and sometimes playing “peek-a-boo” as it hides, poking its head out and then back into hiding. You could almost say that the fish has a Type A personality!

Blue Hippo Tangs are native to the Indo-Pacific region, ranging from East Africa to Japan and through the Indonesian and Hawaiian Islands.

Blue Hippo Tangs for sale typically range from 1-5 inches in length. They can grow to 12 inches at full maturity. Juveniles have been known to outgrow small tanks within a few months, so plan on housing them in a tank that will handle an adult.

Yellow Belly Regal Tang

The Yellow Belly Regal Blue Tang is a gorgeous color variety of the popular Blue Tang. Though it shares the attractive coloration of the Blue Tang, the Yellow Belly Regal Blue Tang boasts a richer, deep-blue coloration and a brilliant yellow coloration that covers a greater portion of the body. The yellow coloration, most prominent on the caudal fin (tail), continues across the belly region, giving the Yellow Belly Regal Blue Tang an exciting boost in color. Small Yellow Belly Regal Blue Tangs will not exhibit the yellow belly coloration until they mature. Combined with the signature bold black markings resembling a painter’s palette, the Yellow Belly Regal Blue Tang is sure to be an impressive addition to reef or fish-only aquariums.
Native to reefs in the Indian Ocean, the Yellow Belly Regal Blue Tang appreciates good hiding locations amongst live rock. However, this active fish also loves to swim. Therefore, ample room to roam around your aquarium is essential for optimum health. Though peaceful towards most tankmates, the Yellow Belly Regal Blue Tang will demonstrate aggressive behavior towards other fish of its own species. To keep multiple specimens, introduce the entire lot at once into a larger marine system.

Although Tangs will eat meaty foods along with the other fish in the aquarium, it is important that they are offered plenty of marine-based algae or seaweed. This diet will help strengthen the Blue and Yellow Hippo Tang’s immune system, reduce aggression and improve their overall health. Offer dried seaweed tied to a rock or use a veggie clip and feed at least three times per week. Sea Veggies, Seaweed Salad and Ocean Nutrition are all ideal products and are very easy to use.

Careful observance of the Yellow Belly Regal Blue Tang is essential as it is more susceptible to lateral line disease, fin erosion, ich and other skin parasites than many other fish.

Approximate Purchase Size: Tiny: 3/4″ to 1-1/4″ Small: 1-1/4″ to 2″; Medium: 2″ to 3″; Large: 3″ to 5

The Blue Hippo Tang is an uncommon fish. It lives in waters up to 130 feet below the surface. Even more rare is the “Yellow Belly Regal Blue Tang.” It sports yellow on their chests and bellies, although it is very faded on the juvenile fish.

The Blue Hippo Tang needs special care in a well kept and established tank. It is a very popular fish, but unfortunately comes with a reputation for not making it long term in an aquarium. To go along with its quirky personality, it is very sensitive to stress and malnutrition. It is also easily affected and disturbed by bad water quality and an unstable environment that many new aquarium owners tend to create. This fish is recommended for aquarium owners who have been successful at maintaining a clean and steady aquarium for at least six months in a row. Less experienced owners hold consider choosing another tang. Both the fish and the aquarist will be happier with the results, both in the short term and the long term.

Experienced aquarium owners will be very happy with their Blue Hippo Tang for a long time.

Blue Hippo Tangs are active swimmers, and they like to go fast. Even the smallest ones need a lot of room to swim, and their tank should be at least 100 gallons. Plenty of open swimming room should be provided or the fish will start to feel like it has no room and will start to stress, leading to health issues. They will outgrow smaller tanks quickly, and it would be stressful for them to had to try to get by in a smaller aquarium. The more turbulent and quick you can have the water flowing through the tank, the better. Keep the oxygen levels high and the water clean and clear.
Water Conditions: 72-78° F, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025, dKH 8-12

Note: Another common name for tangs is “surgeonfish.” They get this name from a razor-sharp spine sticking out of the tail (often referred to as its “scalpel”). The Blue Hippo Tang also has venomous fin spines. This fish can hurt its owns rid they are not careful when doing maintenance or water changes.

Blue Hippo Tangs’ aquariums should be outfitted with plenty of live rock, arranged in a way that it allows for many caves and crevices to explore, as well as tunnels for the fish to swim through and play with. Especially in the beginning, the fish is going to be shy, hiding away from the rest of the community until it starts to feel comfortable. It will start to get used to its new surroundings and will begin to explore the whole tank. Blue Hippo Tangs enjoy finding hiding spots in live rock. They will sometimes “play dead,” lying down somewhere in the tank either on the sand or among the rocks. This is normal behavior for this fish. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it has died or that it is getting irritated by and trying to remove parasites on its skin (although if you see a lot of excess scratching, that could be a sign of a problem and should be investigated).

The eating habits of a Blue Hippo Tang change as it grows older. It begins as a planktovore and then grows into an omnivore as an adult, although they eat so much plant material that it is easy to confuse them for herbivores. These fish, like other tangs, are grazers. They eat a lot of algae, picking it off the live rock where it grows. However, some make the mistake of assuming that they will also eat nuisance algae. This particular tang is not as keen on that. As the owner, you will need to supplement what it eats in the aquarium with prepared herbivore food as well as meaty foods. The herbivore foods will help to keep its immune system strong 9as will soaking its food with a vitamin supplement to make up for what it doesn’t get enough of). To satisfy the carnivorous side, frozen mysis, well-chopped raw shrimp are favorite choices, but you will find that the Blue Hippo tang is a curious fish, and it will try almost any introduced food at least once, and can be trained to accept a wide variety of foods so you can fit it into your existing feeding.

Quarantine your Blue Hippo Tang before adding them into your display tank. This fish is particularly susceptible to diseases and parasites – especially if you are choosing to put it into a tank that isn’t big enough for it. Keep your eye on this fish and observe it as closely as possible, even after it goes into your aquarium. The main issue that people report is problems with ich. Most Blue Hippo Tangs will go through having ich one or more times before it becomes acclimated and established in any tank. It is also open to lateral line disease, fin erosion, and skin parasites. It is recommended that you have medications and treatments on hand before your fish arrives, just in case the stresses of shipping brings the onset of any disease. You will want to treat it quickly.

The Blue Hippo Tang is overall a safe fish in reef tanks. They love to take their time and to observe the whole reef, including the corals, looking for hiding spots.

Blue Hippo Tangs only really present one downside: Their susceptibility to diseases, like ich, and to various parasites could create a problem if they are in a reef tank, since copper treatments cannot be used there.

(It may flash its caudal spines once in a while to warn other fish not to mess with it, but it is very rare for them to attack another fish that is not a tang)

The Blue Hippo Tang is considered to be the least aggressive of the tang family, but it can be territorial with other tangs in the aquarium. They get along well with other fish in the tank and are excellent community fish. If it is in an aquarium with other fish that start to bully or harass it, it may not eat as much as it should, or worse, stop eating altogether, making it more prone to diseases and parasites.

Blue Hippo Tangs can live with other Blue Hippo Tangs. They will even school as juveniles in some aquariums (although some fighting may break out between them when they become adults). If you want more than one in your tank, introduce them all at the same time. This will minimize aggression between tangs. If you already have one in your tank, it is best to stay with the one. But if you have planned for and want to add another, be sure to get one that is significantly bigger than the one you already have. If you add one that is just a little bigger, the same size or smaller than the one already there, the established tang will most likely attack and bully the other one until it dies.

Another tip about housing multiple Blue Hippo Tangs: If you are going to add multiples, it is much better to add a group of juveniles than a group of adults. A group of juveniles are more often than not collected as that group. They have been together and are used to each other, and they adjust more easily to aquarium environments, resulting in less stress and a much lower chance of them becoming aggressive with each other (although you should keep an eye on them, particularly as they reach adult sizes at around 4 inches in length. A group of adults is almost always a collection of fish that are from different places and don’t know each other, and usually become a group of fish that fights with each other.

Blue Hippo Tangs are peaceful, but like any other tang, once they have established their territory, they don’t want to see another one… especially one that looks like them.