10 Facts About The Blue Tang

1. The Blue Tang, is also called the Regal Tang or Blue Hippo Tang. It is a schooling fish that likes to hide in the crevices of the coral reef. They have also been known to school with other species of surgeonfish.

Holger Krisp, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

2. They can live up to 20 years in captivity.

3. They get up to 12 to 15 inches in length when they are full grown.

4. Like all surgeonfish, the Blue Tang has spines that they use in order to defend themselves from predators. These spines inflict pain and injury on their predators making them not so easy to consume.

5. Their predators are Tuna, Jack, Tiger Grouper among other large carnivorous fish.

6. Their role in the food chain and their significance in the environment is keeping the population of plankton and algae in check. Algae and plankton have a symbiotic relationship with coral – which consumes them. Too much algae and plankton tend to “fog up” the water which prevents light from reaching the coral. While some coral do consume algae and plankton, they still need light in order to thrive. Fish like the Blue Tang are essential to keeping this balance in check and ensuring the survival of the coral reefs.

Ciar, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

7. They are found in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean from East Africa to Micronesia.

8. The males are often aggressive towards one another and have been seen “sword fighting” one another with their caudal spines. Once dominance is achieved by one of the males, the more dominant male gets a larger breeding ground.

Karelj, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

9. When it is time to reproduce they form breeding groups where the females expel their eggs into the water above the coral. The males then expel sperm and fertilization occurs externally. About 40,000 eggs are expelled per spawning session. Both parents then leave the eggs to fend for themselves.

10. This species is currently under surveillance due to what is called “The Finding Nemo Effect”. According to the Aquarium Welfare Association (AWA) after the Finding Nemo movie came out in 2003 the wild clownfish populations were declining. Even the captive breeding hatcheries could not keep up. So they had to resort to buying wild caught clownfish in order to fill the demand. This, in turn, led to population declines in several natural habitat areas. The same is being monitored for the Blue Tang since the release of Finding Dory. In 2016 the Blue Tang was successfully bred for the first time in captivity. While Disney’s conservation fund donates millions of dollars every year to conservation, none of the actors who were the voices of the characters and profited from the movie were reported to have donated back to the preservation of either species. Instead we have the University of Florida Tropical Aquaculture Lab and Rising Tide Conservation Project to thank for the preservation of this species.

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