What comes to mind when you see Blue Hippo Tang? Such a beautiful and unique fish, right? With such an electric and bold blue hue, the fish will definitely the center of attention. Imagine placing the fish in your tank with other fish, and you are sure that the fish would always be visible by everyone. The electric blue certainly pops out and dominates the entire tank. So, having the fish can be a good idea – or is it? Make sure that you the basic and facts before you jump into conclusions and march to the closest fish store to buy one.
What’s Interesting about Blue Hippo Tang
As it was mentioned before, Blue Hippo Tang is one of the most beautiful and visually appealing saltwater fish ever existed. With the combination of electric and bold blue hue on the body, the black markings, the yellow tailfin, and the freckles (on their face), they are definitely super adorable. Think of Dory, from Pixar movie ‘Finding Nemo’, and you have your fish.
The scientific name is Paracanthurus Hepatus. The popular name is Blue Hippo Tang, but it is also known as Pallette Surgeonfish, Flagtail Surgeonfish, Hepatus Tang, Pacific Blue Tang, or Regal Tang. This is a pretty big fish, sizing around 12 inches for the adults. You need to have at least 100 gallons of fish tank to keep this fish, some people say that 180 gallons would be more ideal. It is a fish with moderate care level. Although it isn’t for beginner aquarists, some beginners say that they can care for the fish quite well, making sure that they meet all of the basic requirements.
The fish is semi-aggressive, so you want to learn more about what they like and what they don’t like. They are herbivorous animals. They need algae to maintain their health and good mood. They are also reef safe, which makes it ideal if you want to keep them with reef variants.
Caring Guidance and Maintenance
The fish is often sold as juvenile and also tiny fish. Many who have bought it stated that they first thought of the fish as this nugget-size and tiny fish, so imagine their surprise when they find out that the fish is able to grow and ‘expand’ to 12 inches in overall length. Yes, the adult is considerably huge when compared to similar Tang species with smaller sizes.
In general, this Regal Tang is an active and shoaling swimmer. In their natural environment (the real reef setting), they would zip along corals and rocks, nipping the algae from those rocks. The problem with home aquarium is that it is difficult and challenging to recreate such a vast amount of space inside such fish tank. This is another reason why you should have a big tank able to accommodate at least 100 gallons. Some enthusiasts are even be willing to ‘upgrade’ the size to 180 gallons.
Many aquarists claim that this fish has its own unique behavior. When it is placed with another Tang, it would be quite aggressive. But when they are alone, they are pretty ‘tame’. They show mild mannered habit. In some cases, the Tang can be quite skittish. They can be afraid of their own shadow and look. This is such an interesting display of characteristic of the Blue Hippo Tang.
What happens when they are afraid? They will wedge themselves among rockwork or hide behind that work. If you want to care for a Tang, make sure that all of the coral frags have been glued on firmly. When you acclimate the new fish to your aquarium, dampen the lights. Make sure to avoid imposing or rapid motions (right in front of the aquarium) so they won’t hide forever in their home setting fish tank. In some cases, they may play dead too so they can avoid predators. Make sure that you watch it!
Tank Mate and Compatibility
Like other Tangs, this fish can be quite territorial. Yes, they may be peaceful toward other types of saltwater fish, but when they are faced with other Tangs, they would be aggressive. That’s why it would be a good idea to keep one Tang in one aquarium. The worst case that may happen when you put two Tangs together is that they will fight until one of them is dead. You don’t want to have such a bloody battle inside your aquarium.
Blue Hippo Tang is reef safe, which means that they won’t disturb the shrimp, crabs, clams, or corals. This fish isn’t interested in those reef and corals thing-y. What about the reef fish community? They will likely go along well with those fish.
Feeding and Care
The Blue Tang needs quite a big tank (around 180 gallons and more) so they can dash around happily. Keep it in a nano tank, and you will successfully stress your fish out. Many aquarists and hobbyists claim that having tons of live rock is helpful to keep the fish happy. The fish like to play hide and seek, and they definitely need places to hide.
Want to feed them? Meaty food would be accepted happily, but many have suggested seaweed or nori as regular feeding. Such food is said to maintain the fish best health, while keeping them full and content at the same time. Some have fed their Tang with Spirulina flakes. The fish doesn’t seem to mind, and you as the owner won’t have to spend hefty budgets for it.
Possible Infection and Diseases
It’s quite unfortunate that this fish is also sensitive to disease and infections, especially in a reef tank. Yes, this Regal Tang is a popular and amazing aquarium fish, but then again, you need to consider the big risk of disease and infections. Can you put up with it? Are you ready to handle it? Will you be willing to spend extra work and efforts for it?
You see, Blue Hippo Tang is quite sensitive to protozoan diseases. Well, not most of them, but certain of them. They are mostly sensitive to marine ich and velvet ich. It depends whether the fish’s immune system is strong enough to deal with the parasites. It also depends on their exposure to the parasites. If they are strong enough, they may not ‘succumb’ to the infections and disease. Keep in mind that diet contributes a great factor in their immune system. That’s why making sure that enough feeding (of the seaweed diet) is crucial. It’s also important that you pay a detailed attention to the proper feeding and caring.
There are some reported cases of HLLE (Head and Lateral Line Erosion) happening to the fish. At first, the disease was thought to be an environmental case. Everyone thought that it was an environmental disease. But then it was found out that the condition of the fish tank and the water themselves contribute to the spread of the disease. Plus, the fish may seem to suffer from compromised immune system, which causes the issue to be bigger and spreading. You also need to note down that HLLE is often associated with (activated) carbon use. The fines or the small charcoal dust seem to upset the fish’s skins as well as their lateral lines.
It would be best to move the sick fish to a quarantine tank. It gives you the chance to observe the issue closely and work out the best solutions that will work for the fish. But for preventive measurement, it would be best to quarantine everything before adding them up to your fish tank. It will prevent later issues, such as disease and infections. But it is advisable that you do have your own quarantine tank so that you can separate any affected creature (fish, corals, etc) so your fish tank environment won’t end up being sick and dead.
In an overall end, this Blue Tang (also known as the Regal Tang) is simply a marvelous fish. It is basically not difficult to care for. They need clean water as well as algae-based diets, and they will be happy and healthy. The biggest problem with this fish is the size of the tank. They are quite big, and they do need a lot of room to swim around, dash here and there, and even hide. They need much space for their own exploration. When they are alone or mixed with other saltwater fish types, they are pretty okay and tame. But they would be aggressive when you put them together with other Tangs. Fight till death is often the way out.
Other Alternative Fish
If you want to choose Tang variants for your aquarium, there are other types besides the Blue Hippo. You can consider Kole Tang, Powder Brown Tang, or Yellow Tang. If you want fish with brilliant yellow and blue combo, there is Yellowtail Damselfish. There are so many different options for you! Be sure that you completely understand the details and care of Blue Hippo Tang before you decide to have your own Dory at home.