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Paracanthurus hepatus is known by many common names such as common surgeon, blue hippo tang, regal tang and palette surgeonfish. They have recently become popular because of the popular animated movie, "Finding Nemo," in which a main character Dori, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, is a common surgeon.

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Thurston, A. 2011. "Paracanthurus hepatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Paracanthurus_hepatus.html
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Anna Thurston, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Gail McCormick, Special Projects
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Behavior

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Common surgeon can communicate by changing their coloration. This color change depends on the conditions and how they perceive their environment. Under stress, for example, their blue coloration deepens. The black marks along the body may become bleached slightly and the markings less visible. The iridiphores causing the bright blue coloration appear smaller and less iridescent, hence the darker shade of blue. Other fish in the community can detect this color change and infer potential problems. Color change also occurs during stimulation such as male dominance interactions or breeding.

The coloration around the caudal spine serves as a warning to other species. In common surgeon, the yellow triangular coloration extends just beyond the caudal spine. In other species of surgeonfish, the location of the caudal spine may even be emphasized by a color that is not otherwise present on the body of the fish.

Communication Channels: visual

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; chemical

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Thurston, A. 2011. "Paracanthurus hepatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Paracanthurus_hepatus.html
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Anna Thurston, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Gail McCormick, Special Projects
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Conservation Status

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Common surgeon have not been evaluated by the IUCN, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, or CITES. Nevertheless, human activities have negatively impacted the habitat of most coral reef inhabitants.

Common surgeon are popular in the aquarium trade, and have been harvested for this purpose for many years. Although overfishing has affected wild populations, common surgeon are not yet considered threatened.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

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Thurston, A. 2011. "Paracanthurus hepatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Paracanthurus_hepatus.html
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Anna Thurston, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Life Cycle

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Larvae of common surgeon hatch about 26 hours after the small eggs are laid. Larvae are severely underdeveloped and lack a heart beat at hatching. Larvae are nourished by yolk from the egg. Newly hatched larvae are buoyant but remain in a resting state until the heart begins to beat, up to 5 hours after hatching.

Two days after hatching, fins and pigment in the eyes begin to develop, and larvae begin to make short swimming movements. Development continues with jaws and the gut, and by the seventh day scales and intestines begin to form. Speed of development is related to light intensity. Larvae mature after about 37 days.

Juvenile common surgeon resemble adults, however, they differ in coloration. Juveniles also have a more rounded caudal fin than adults. Additionally, the ventral and poster tips the caudal fin in adults extend beyond the middle section of the fin.

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Thurston, A. 2011. "Paracanthurus hepatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Paracanthurus_hepatus.html
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Anna Thurston, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Benefits

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The venomous caudal spine of common surgeon can inflict painful but minor wounds on humans. There are no other known adverse effects of common surgeon on humans.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (poisonous , venomous )

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Thurston, A. 2011. "Paracanthurus hepatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Paracanthurus_hepatus.html
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Anna Thurston, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Benefits

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Common surgeon are common in the pet trade. After the release of the movie, "Finding Nemo", popularity for the species increased. Also known as regal tang, blue tang, blue hippo tang or the blue or palette surgeonfish, this species retails from $30 to well over $100 USD for breeding pairs.

Positive Impacts: pet trade

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Thurston, A. 2011. "Paracanthurus hepatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Paracanthurus_hepatus.html
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Anna Thurston, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Associations

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Common surgeon feed largely on algae. Due to the small shape of their mouth, surgeonfish can easily pick and remove algae from uneven surfaces. Aggregations of common surgeon eat the fast growing algae from sponges in their habitat. This benefits the sponges and indirectly preserves habitat for species dependent on the steady growth of sponges. Midnight parrotfish mimic the coloration of common surgeon and often join their groups for protection.

If kept in an aquarium, common surgeon are vulnerable to many potentially lethal parasites. The most common of these is known as ich, paravortex, or marine spot disease, and is caused by the parasite, Cryptocaryon irritans. Ich causes dark spots along the sides of the fish, which may be difficult to detect against the dark blue coloration of this species. Common surgeon may be more prone to catching these types of diseases than other aquarium fish because they do not produce as much of the protective coating of slime as other species.

Ecosystem Impact: creates habitat

Mutualist Species:

  • Scarus coelestinus

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • Cryptocaryon irritans
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Thurston, A. 2011. "Paracanthurus hepatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Paracanthurus_hepatus.html
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Anna Thurston, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Gail McCormick, Special Projects
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Trophic Strategy

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Common surgeon are herbivorous. Unlike many marine fish, common surgeon rely only slightly on plankton. Instead, they graze on algae, using their small teeth to pull algae from rocks and coral. Fish of this species also feed on microalgae, other marine plants, and zooplankton.

Animal Foods: zooplankton

Plant Foods: algae; phytoplankton

Other Foods: detritus

Primary Diet: herbivore (Algivore)

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Thurston, A. 2011. "Paracanthurus hepatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Paracanthurus_hepatus.html
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Anna Thurston, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Gail McCormick, Special Projects
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Distribution

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Common surgeon, Paracanthurus hepatus, are strictly marine fish that typically inhabit tropical coral reefs in waters with a strong current. They may move seasonally, occurring at higher latitudes when water temperatures allow. Generally, common surgeon range between 30° north and south latitude and 32° east to 170° west longitude in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Individuals found in other areas are presumed to have been released from aquaria.

Biogeographic Regions: indian ocean (Native ); pacific ocean (Native )

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Thurston, A. 2011. "Paracanthurus hepatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Paracanthurus_hepatus.html
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Anna Thurston, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Gail McCormick, Special Projects
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Habitat

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Common surgeon are strictly marine and can be found in tropical and sub-tropical coastal regions where temperatures are between 24 and 26 °C. They congregate near Pocillopora eydouxi, a type of coral with branching extensions, which serve as a protective hiding place when threatened. Reefs provide plant material, such as algae, necessary as food for common surgeon. Common surgeon remain at epipelagic depths between 2 and 40 m.

Range depth: 2 to 40 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; saltwater or marine

Aquatic Biomes: reef

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Thurston, A. 2011. "Paracanthurus hepatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Paracanthurus_hepatus.html
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Anna Thurston, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Gail McCormick, Special Projects
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Life Expectancy

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Common surgeon can live more than 30 years in the wild. In aquariums, where they more readily acquire diseases, common surgeon generally do not live more than 20 years and more commonly survive only 8 to 12 years.

Range lifespan
Status: wild:
30+ (high) years.

Range lifespan
Status: captivity:
20 (high) years.

Typical lifespan
Status: captivity:
8 to 20 years.

Average lifespan
Status: captivity:
12 to 14 years.

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Thurston, A. 2011. "Paracanthurus hepatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Paracanthurus_hepatus.html
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Anna Thurston, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Gail McCormick, Special Projects
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Morphology

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Common surgeon are characterized by the vibrant sky blue coloration of their oval-shaped bodies. Structures called iridophores on the exterior of the fish contribute to this coloration. Adults have dark narrow lines of dark blue on the dorsal half of their body. This color extends from the eye on the anterior end and continues to the posterior end. This coloration is darker near the posterior end and is black near the tail. A circular patch of sky blue coloration is located directly behind the pectoral fin. The pectoral and caudal fins are are bright yellow. The yellow extends in a "V" shape from the caudal fin to a point just beyond the caudal spine.

Coloration of common surgeon changes as they mature; juveniles are bright yellow with blue spots near their eyes, and their dorsal and anal fins are tipped in light blue. Their body becomes blue as they mature.

Adults range from 12 to 38 cm in length, averaging 25 to 31 cm. Common surgeon weigh on average 600 g. Males are typically larger than females.

Because many surgeonfish are similiar in size and color, species of surgeonfish are distinguished by the number of spines they possess. Common surgeon have 9 hard, sharp spines in their dorsal fin followed by 19 to 20 soft rays. Their anal fins have 3 spines and 18 to 19 rays. Their pectoral fins consist of 16 rays, and their pelvic fins have 1 spine and 3 rays.

Common surgeon have a razor-sharp caudal spine located at the base of their caudal fin. This spine contains toxins that can cause a debilitating pain to small predators and uncomfortable irritation and pain in humans. The caudal spine rests in a groove below the surface of the skin and can be extended from the body. Its base is attached to the vertebrae of the fish by a ligament directly connecting the two. The outer point of the spine is free to move with contraction of specific muscles. When threatened, a common surgeon extends its caudal spine and attempts to puncture the exterior of a predator.

Average mass: 600 g.

Range length: 12 to 38 cm.

Average length: 25 to 31 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry ; poisonous ; venomous

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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Thurston, A. 2011. "Paracanthurus hepatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Paracanthurus_hepatus.html
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Anna Thurston, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Gail McCormick, Special Projects
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Associations

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Common predators of common surgeon include tuna, bar jacks, and tiger groupers.

Common surgeon possess multiple anti-predator adaptations. Their razor-sharp caudal spine is venomous and can cause debilitating pain to small predators. The effectiveness of this defense mechanism is enhanced by the tendency of this species to congregate. If a predator were to attack a group of common surgeon, it would become surrounded by surgeonfish that were thrashing their tails and slashing with their protrusible caudal spines. Common surgeon also display bright aposematic coloration, warning predators of their poisonous skin and venomous spine.

Other species take advantage of these defense mechanisms. Midnight parrotfish, for example, display a similar blue coloration and join groups of common surgeon for protection.

Known Predators:

  • Tuna Thunnus albacares
  • Bar Jacks Carangoides ruber
  • Tiger Groupers Mycteroperca tigris

Anti-predator Adaptations: aposematic

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Thurston, A. 2011. "Paracanthurus hepatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Paracanthurus_hepatus.html
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Anna Thurston, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Gail McCormick, Special Projects
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Reproduction

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Common surgeon congregate in breeding groups, composed of both males and females. These groups spontaneously form. Groups dissolve and reform several times prior to spawning. A group begins to swim upward and, at the crest of this upward movement, they release their gametes. Common surgeon are broadcast spawners; eggs and sperm are released directly into the water, and fertilization takes place externally. The quickened pace of their swimming during breeding is believed to allow for dispersal and mixing of the sperm and eggs. Eggs are then carried away by currents.

On occasion, common surgeon have been observed breeding with individual mates rather than in groups. In this case, a male's coloration may change. The male and female then circle around one another, showing off their coloration before breeding.

Mating System: monogamous ; polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Common surgeon breed during cooler months, though time of year varies with location and water temperature. In the Pacific, breeding activity is most intense from December to June. In locations where water temperature does not vary considerably with season, breeding can take place throughout the year. Breeding is assumed to peak during the summer in these locations, but common surgeon in these areas have spawning episodes throughout the year.

During months of prime temperature, females release their eggs about once a month. With each spawning event, females can release up to 40,000 eggs into the water column. High quantities of eggs and sperm make water cloudy in appearance.

Eggs of common surgeon hatch in 25 to 28 hours (average 26 hours). Larvae develop quickly and feed in great numbers off shore. Sexual maturity is not measured by age but rather by size. Males generally reach sexual maturity around 11 cm in length. Females, however, do not reach sexual maturity until about 13 cm in length.

Breeding interval: Common surgeon are believed to breed once monthly

Breeding season: Common surgeon generally breed during cooler months, from winter to early spring.

Average number of offspring: 40,000 eggs per spawning session.

Range gestation period: 25 to 28 hours.

Average gestation period: 26 hours.

Range time to independence: 4 to 7 days.

Average time to independence: 5 days.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (External ); broadcast (group) spawning; oviparous

There is no parental investment among common surgeon. As broadcast spawners, males and females disperse after releasing their gametes into the water column.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Provisioning)

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Thurston, A. 2011. "Paracanthurus hepatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Paracanthurus_hepatus.html
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Anna Thurston, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Diagnostic Description

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Description: Characterized further by having contrasting pattern of bright blue and black; black-edged yellow caudal fin; single retractable caudal spine on each side of caudal peduncle; greatest depth of body 2.1-2.4 in SL (Ref. 90102).
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Recorder
Cristina V. Garilao
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Diseases and Parasites

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Hole-in-the-Head Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Allan Palacio
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Morphology

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Dorsal spines (total): 9; Dorsal soft rays (total): 19 - 20; Analspines: 3; Analsoft rays: 18 - 19
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Cristina V. Garilao
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Trophic Strategy

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It is generally found in clear water of outer reefs or channels where there are strong currents. Juveniles tend to hide among the branches of live coral (Ref. 54301). Occurs in clear, current-swept terraces of seaward reefs. Observed in loose aggregations 1 or 2 meters above the bottom; juveniles and subadults typical in groups near isolated Pocillopora eydouxi coral heads and when alarmed hide themselves tightly among the branches. Feeds on zooplankton (Ref. 9710, 48637).
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Recorder
Pascualita Sa-a
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Biology

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Occur in clear, current-swept terraces of seaward reefs. Observed in loose aggregations 1 or 2 meters above the bottom; juveniles and subadults typical in groups near isolated Pocillopora eydouxi coral heads and when alarmed hide themselves tightly among the branches (Ref. 9710). Benthopelagic (Ref. 58302). Feed on zooplankton and occasionally on algae (Ref. 9710, 48637, 27115, 83665). Relatively uncommon and highly localized (Ref. 1602, 9710). Very popular and hardy aquarium fish. Anterolateral glandular groove with venom gland (Ref. 57406).
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Recorder
Estelita Emily Capuli
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Importance

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aquarium: commercial
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Estelita Emily Capuli
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分布

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分布於印度-太平洋區,西自非洲東岸,東至萊恩群島,北起日本南部,南迄澳洲大堡礁及新加勒多尼亞;包含密克羅尼西亞。台灣分布於南部、綠島及蘭嶼等海域。
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臺灣魚類資料庫
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利用

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體色豔麗,是水族館裡受歡迎的魚種。
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描述

provided by The Fish Database of Taiwan
體呈橢圓形而側扁。口小,端位,上下頜齒較大,齒固定不可動。背鰭及臀鰭硬棘尖銳;腹鰭僅3軟條;尾鰭近截形。尾棘在尾柄前部,其後端固定於皮下。體藍色,體上半部從胸鰭中央至尾柄全為黑色,但胸鰭後方具有一長橢圓形藍斑;眼後另具一黑帶沿背鰭基部縱走而與體之黑斑相連;背、臀及腹鰭藍色而具黑緣;胸鰭前部藍色,後部黃色;尾鰭黃色,上下葉緣黑色。
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棲地

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棲息於面海且有潮流經過的礁區平台,棲息深度在2-40公尺左右。成魚通常會聚集於離海底1-2公尺高的水層,稚魚或幼魚則聚集在珊瑚的枝芽附近。主要以浮游動物為食。
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Paracanthurus

provided by wikipedia EN

Paracanthurus hepatus is a species of Indo-Pacific surgeonfish. A popular fish in marine aquaria, it is the only member of the genus Paracanthurus.[2][3] A number of common names are attributed to the species, including regal tang, palette surgeonfish, blue tang (leading to confusion with the Atlantic species Acanthurus coeruleus), royal blue tang, hippo tang, blue hippo tang, flagtail surgeonfish, Pacific regal blue tang, and blue surgeonfish.

Description

Paracanthurus hepatus has a royal blue body, yellow tail, and black "palette" design. The lower body is yellow in the west-central Indian Ocean.[4] It grows to 30 cm (12 in).[2] Adults typically weigh around 600 g (21 oz) and males are generally larger than females.[5] This fish is rather flat, like a pancake, with a circular body shape, a pointed snout-like nose, and small scales. The blue tang has nine dorsal spines, 26–28 dorsal soft rays, three anal spines, and 24–26 anal soft yellow rays.

A royal blue tang swimming in an aquarium.

Ecology

Location

The regal Blue Tang can be found throughout the Indo-Pacific. It is seen in the reefs of the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, New Caledonia, Samoa, East Africa, and Sri Lanka.[6][2] The regal blue tang is one of the most common and most popular marine aquarium fish all over the world. They live in pairs or small groups of 8 to 14 individuals. They can also be found near cauliflower corals on the seaweed side of coral reefs.

The regal blue tang is ranked LC (least concern) by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), but is of low vulnerability.[2]

Diet

As a juvenile, its diet consists primarily of plankton. Adults are omnivorous and feed on plankton, but will also graze on algae.[7] Spawning occurs during late afternoon and evening hours. This event is indicated by a change in color from a uniform dark blue to a pale blue. The fish is important for coral health as it eats algae that may otherwise choke it by overgrowth.[8]

Life cycle

Males aggressively court female members of the school, leading to a quick upward spawning rush toward the surface of the water during which eggs and sperm are released. The eggs are small, approximately 0.8 millimetres (132 in) in diameter. The eggs are pelagic, each containing a single droplet of oil for flotation. The fertilized eggs hatch in twenty-four hours, revealing small, translucent larvae with silvery abdomens and rudimentary caudal spines. These fish reach sexual maturity at 9–12 months of age. They have not been bred in captivity.

Importance to humans

The regal blue tang is of minor commercial fisheries importance; however, it is a bait fish. The flesh has a strong odor and is not highly prized. This fish may cause ciguatera poisoning if consumed by humans. However, regal blue tangs are collected commercially for the aquarium trade. Handling the tang risks the chances of being badly cut by the caudal spine. These spines, on both sides of the caudal peduncle, are extended from the body when the fish is stressed. The quick, thrashing sideways motion of the tail can produce deep wounds that result in swelling and discoloration, posing a risk of infection. It is believed that some species of Acanthurus have venom glands while others do not. The spines are used only as a method of protection against aggressors.[9] Two sharp spines stick out at the caudal peduncle—the area where the tail joins the rest of the body.

Conservation

The species is classified as Least concern by the IUCN, however, it is threatened by overexploitation (mostly for the aquarium trade) and destructive fishing practices. Since it is dependent on fragile coral reef habitats, habitat destruction also constitutes pressure in parts of its range.[1]

In popular culture

In the 2003 Disney/Pixar film, Finding Nemo, one of the main characters, Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) is a regal blue tang suffering from short term memory loss. She and her parents, Jenny and Charlie (voiced by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy), appear in the 2016 Disney/Pixar film sequel, Finding Dory.[10]

References

  1. ^ a b McIlwain, J.; Choat, J.H.; Abesamis, R.; Clements, K.D.; Myers, R.; Nanola, C.; Rocha, L.A.; Russell, B.; Stockwell, B. (2012). "Paracanthurus hepatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012: e.T177972A1507676. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012.RLTS.T177972A1507676.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Froese, Rainer; Pauly, Daniel (eds.) (2007). "Paracanthurus hepatus" in FishBase. March 2007 version.
  3. ^ "Paracanthurus hepatus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 21 March 2007.
  4. ^ Debelius, Helmut (1993). Indian Ocean Tropical Fish Guide: Maledives [i.e. Maldives], Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Madagascar, East Africa, Seychelles, Arabian Sea, Red Sea. Aquaprint. ISBN 978-3-927991-01-9.
  5. ^ "Facts About Regal Blue Tangs".
  6. ^ "How Will 'Finding Dory' Affect Wildlife?". National Geographic Official Facebook Featured Video. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Blue Tang". Oceana. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
  8. ^ Jane L Lee (July 18, 2014). "Do You Know Where Your Aquarium Fish Come From?". National Geographic. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  9. ^ July 2016, Alina Bradford 09 (2016-07-09). "Facts About Regal Blue Tangs". livescience.com. Retrieved 2021-09-04.
  10. ^ Weisberger, Mindy (17 June 2016). "Finding Dory's Underwater Clan in the Real World". LiveScience. Retrieved 17 June 2016.

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Paracanthurus: Brief Summary

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Paracanthurus hepatus is a species of Indo-Pacific surgeonfish. A popular fish in marine aquaria, it is the only member of the genus Paracanthurus. A number of common names are attributed to the species, including regal tang, palette surgeonfish, blue tang (leading to confusion with the Atlantic species Acanthurus coeruleus), royal blue tang, hippo tang, blue hippo tang, flagtail surgeonfish, Pacific regal blue tang, and blue surgeonfish.

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Description

provided by World Register of Marine Species
Occurs in clear, current-swept terraces of seaward reefs. Observed in loose aggregations 1 or 2 meters above the bottom; juveniles and subadults typical in groups near isolated @Pocillopora eydouxi@ coral heads and when alarmed hide themselves tightly among the branches. Relatively uncommon and highly localized in occurrence throughout most of Micronesia. A very popular and hardy aquarium fish.
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bibliographic citation
Froese, R. & D. Pauly (Editors). (2021). FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. version (08/2021). Xiong, W.; Shen, C.; Wu, Z.; Lu, H.; Yan, Y. (2017). A brief overview of known introductions of non-native marine and coastal species into China. <em>Aquatic Invasions.</em> 12(1): 109-115.
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Edward Vanden Berghe [email]
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Edward Vanden Berghe [email]