Critter Post 7: Atlantic Blue Tang

A big departure from my earlier Critter Posts: this one doesn’t live in Alaska and doesn’t breathe air! The Blue Tang is a reef fish native to the tropical Atlantic, so with this Critter Post, we’re harkening back to Seth’s and my global circumnavigation aboard HERETIC, during which we snorkeled with Blue Tangs in the Caribbean on the way out (2006/7) and the way home (2010).Blue Tangs-3

Basic Facts:

This surgeonfish can grow up to 15 inches long and varies in color from light to dark blue. They are often seen in large schools, although they are occasionally solitary and territorial. Blue tangs are common aquarium fish, but not edible fish, especially given that there’s a high risk of ciguatera poisoning from eating them.

Range and Habitat:

Blue tangs are found all over the Caribbean, Florida, and Gulf of Mexico and live among coral reefs and shallow areas with grass and rocks.

Blue Tangs-2
Blue tangs in the Bahamas, February 2007


These fish eat algae and only algae. They eat it off coral reefs and also off other critters and are thus “cleaner” fish – for example, they’ll clean a turtle’s shell of algae.

Food For:

Bigger, carnivorous fish – e.g. tuna, jacks, grouper.

Breeding Behavior:

Spawning (like most fish). Blue Tangs


6 thoughts on “Critter Post 7: Atlantic Blue Tang

  1. Thanks for your always interesting critter posts. I wish I was snorkeling in the Carribbean now.

  2. Your photos make us feel like we’re on a dive … can even hear the reg. bubbles! Schools of Blue Tang are fascinating!
    Have you discovered Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole,’Iz’? … nothing like a pair of ukuleles for evenings in the cockpit or on the porch.

    1. Thanks so much! And thanks for the music suggestion – we’ll have to download some songs! Ukuleles sound like just the thing as we sail to warmer climes!!

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