Regal tang

Theme area:  Global Meltdown
Scientific name:  Paracanthus hepatus
,  Fish
,  Vertebrates
,  Asia
,  Africa
,  Oceania
Habitat:  Coral reefs
Diet:  Herbivorous
Weight:  400 - 600 g
Size:  25 - 40 cm

Regal tangs are bright blue in colouration with black accents and a yellow tail and are recognised by many as ‘Dory’ in Disney’s © Finding Nemo. Their black accent patterns represent an artist’s palette, hence it also being known as the palette tang. This species of tang has a flat, circular shaped body and a pointed snout-like nose.

Regal tangs are a member of the surgeonfish family – one of 75 members. The surgeon name derives from two sharp spines which are located on either side of their body at the base of the caudal fin. Venom glands located at the base of the spines pump poison through the spine when being used for defence. Regal tangs also use their spines to wedge themselves into coral reefs when alarmed. By having the spines extended it prevents them being pulled out of any hiding spaces.

Regal tangs feed primarily on plankton but adults will also graze on algae. Blue tangs (another common name for regal tangs) are hunted by tuna, tiger groupers and other large carnivorous fish.

This species of surgeon fish reach sexual maturity at 9-12 months and the event of spawning is indicated by a colour change from dark to pale blue. Eggs are small in size at less than 1cm and fertilised eggs hatch within one day.

The Oceanarium’s regal tangs are located in the Global Meltdown display and share a home with another member of the surgeon family, the yellow tang.

Conservation status
Extinct in the wild
Critically endangered
Near threatened
Least concern
Insufficient data
Not evaluated


The regal tang has sharp and poisonous spines which it can use to defend itself.
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