Powder Blue Tang

Updated July 30, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
Social Media: FishLore on Social Media

The Powder Blue Tang is sought after by most saltwater aquarium keepers due to it's remarkable colors. The Powder Blue Tang (PBT) is a true beauty. From the yellow dorsal fin to its dark colored face and powder blue body, this fish is something to behold.

Be prepared to spend some serious jack on this fish though. Powder Blue's usually run anywhere from $60 to over $100 depending on the size of the fish. As well as being beautiful, they are also quite finicky and can be very difficult to keep for even the advanced saltwater aquarium keepers.

Powder Blue Tang

They are notorious for getting ich (cryptocaryon) and velvet usually due to the fact that they don't transport well. Let them sit in the dealers tank for several weeks and ask to watch them eat before laying down your hard earned cash for one of these tangs. Inspect them closely for any signs of ich or velvet and make sure they are actively swimming.

Two Powder Blue Tangs

If all goes well at the fish store, once you bring them home you'll want to slowly drip acclimate them to your quarantine tank's water. It should go without saying that a quarantine tank is not optional with this fish. Tangs in general and the Powder Blue Tang especially are susceptible to marine ich, which means that it's a good idea to house your new fish in a quarantine tank for several weeks before introducing them into your display tank. It can be a really good idea to get some cleaner shrimps too. The skunk cleaner shrimp does a good job.

The may be finicky when it comes to food and you'll want to provide plenty of algae grazing opportunities and also supplement their diet with dried marine algae using a veggie clip. Leave the dried seaweed in the tank for prolonged periods when they are first introduced. They might accept standard aquarium fish foods like flakes and pellets but should go after frozen and live foods.

I feel that live rock is absolutely needed when keeping this fish because they like to pick at algae on a nearly continuous basis during the daytime hours. It may also be a good idea to let some algae grow on one of the side panels of the tank, just in case.

Powder Blue Surgeonfish

Like all Tangs, this one needs highly oxygenated water. You can achieve this using multiple power heads or a wave maker. Watch the tank temperature though and remove a power head if the aquarium water temperature gets too high. Higher water temperatures carry less oxygen. They will also appreciate high water flow throughout the aquarium and they need a large tank to allow for large swimming lanes. They are quite fast swimmers.

The Powder Blue Tang can be a very difficult fish to keep and we strongly urge you to research this fish fully before acquiring one. We would recommend this fish only to advanced saltwater hobbyists with a large tank that is well established and stocked with plenty of live rock, high aeration, high water flows and those that can afford to feed them the proper foods.

Powder Blue Tang Care

Scientific Name : Acanthurus leucosternon

Common Names : Powder Blue Surgeonfish

Care Level : Can be very difficult due to the ich and feeding (nutritional) issues. Drip acclimate them to the qt tank.

Life span : 10 years, possibly longer

Size : 7 - 9 inches (18 - 23 cm)

pH : 8 - 8.4

Temperature : 73°F - 82°F (23°C - 28°C)

Specific Gravity : 1.023 - 1.025

Origin / Habitat : Reef flats and seaward reef slopes in the Indian Ocean, Bali, Indonesia. Seems to be confined to the Indian Ocean and West Indies.

Temperament / Behavior : Does not usually do well with other tangs. Watch for aggressive bully type behavior from this fish on other smaller species.

Breeding : Egg scatterer that is very difficult to breed in captivity (don't know if it has even happened yet).

Aquarium Size : 90 gallon minimum

Tank Mates : Avoid keeping them in an aquarium with other Tangs. Many hobbyists have reported that this tang can become a bully as it grows larger.

Reef Tank Compatible? : Should do ok in a marine reef tank setup, provided there is ample swimming room. They can help perform a small role in grazing some of the algae that may grow in a reef tank.

Disease : Saltwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment. Ich (white spot - cryptocaryon) and marine velvet is very common with this tang. A quarantine tank is highly recommended for this fish! Use cleaner shrimps as well.

Diet / Foods : Herbivore, having lots of live rock goes a long way and be prepared to give the Powder Blue Tang dried seaweed or dried algae using the lettuce clip. You may have to leave out the dried sea veggies for prolonged periods when first getting your Powder Blue. Let them fatten up a bit and hopefully a good steady diet of high quality foods along with pristine water conditions should help your tang through the transition into your aquarium. They might accept flake and pellet foods and should definitely go after frozen foods and live foods.

Tank Region : All over - very active swimmer

Gender : Males may be much smaller than the females.

Forum : Tang Forum

Photo Credit : Photos copyright JJPhoto.dk

References :

"Acanthurus leucosternon". FishBase. Ed. Ranier Froese and Daniel Pauly. November 2005 version. N.p.: FishBase, 2005.
Michael, S. W. (2001). Marine Fishes, 500+ Essential to Know Aquarium Species. T.F.H. Publications.

Forum Avatar :
Powder Blue Tang

Powder Blue Tang Comments

From: Anthony
I just want to reiterate the warnings about the Powder Blue Tang and it's sensitivty to common saltwater diseases. It can be very difficult to acclimate and I'd recommend running a UV sterilizer on your quarantine tank and at least for a few weeks during the introduction to your display tank. Don't keep them with other tangs, keep them in a tank at least 100 gallons in size, feed them a diet with alot of dried algae and you might be able to successfully keep this fish long term. Thanks in advance for posting this for me.

Still have questions?
Jump on the forum and ask your question!
Go here: Tangs - Surgeonfish Forum

More Tang & Surgeonfish Profiles
Gem Tang
Zebrasoma Gemmatum
Gem Tang
The Gem Tang is considered hardy just like the other Zebrasoma tangs but good luck finding one to buy. If you do find this tang for sale be ready to pay several thousands of dollars.
Kole Tang
Ctenochaetus strigosus
Kole Tang
The Kole Tang will race around the tank all day long, so a large tank that can provide plenty of swimming room will be needed.
Lavender Tang
Acanthurus nigrofuscus
Lavender Tang
Often overlooked because of it's less striking appearance, it is a good looking tang once acclimated and fed a proper diet. The Lavender Tang looks amazing under the right lighting that can bring out it's pastel colors. Our pictures definitely don't do this fish justice.