Powder Blue Tang
Powder Blue Tang

Powder Blue Tang

Acanthurus leucosternon

Powder Blue Tang
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Acanthurus leucosternon is known under several different names in English, including Powder blue tang, Powderblue tang, Powder-blue tang, Powderblue surgeonfish, and Powder-blue surgeonfish.

In addition to being a sought after aquarium fish, this species is marketed fresh as a food fish.

Acanthurus leucosternon has not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Geographical range, habitat and habits

The Powder blue tang is found in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. Its range proceeds from eastern Africa to the Andaman Sea, the Christmas Island, and Bali in Indonesia. It is found from 11°N to 30°S, and from 0°e to 101°e.

The Powder blue tang inhabits shallow, clear coastal and island coral reefs at a depth of 0-25 meters / 0-82 feet. It is typically encountered on reef flats and along upper seaward slopes. It lives alone or form big aggregations that feed together.

Size and appearance

The largest scientifically measured Powder blue tang was 54.0 cm / 21.3 in.

This fish is blue white a white chest. The head is black and decorated with a broad white band that runs from the base of the pectoral fin to the throat. Anal and pelvic fins are white. The dorsal fin is yellow with a white margin and a black submarginal line.

Powder blue tang care

The Powder blue tang is a sensitive species and can only be recommended for advanced marine aquarists with huge aquariums. Unlike many reef dwelling species, this fish has a large territory in the wild (from a few dozen up to several hundreds of square meters) and adjusting to a life in an aquarium can be hard for it even if the aquarium is comparatively big.

Avoid purchasing specimens with visible signs of serious shipping stress or injury, because nursing them back to health is very difficult. Examples of such signs are torn fins, laboured breathing, excessive scratching, and emaciation. Even if your specimen seems healthy, it is always advisable to quarantine it before you add it to an aquarium with other fish because newly shipped Powder blue tangs are very susceptible to disease, especially ich. Keeping it an a quarantine tank for at least two weeks will not only protect your other fish, it will also make it easier for you to treat signs of disease and give the tang a chance to recuperate without being bothered by other fish.

The aquarium where you keep your Powder blue tang must be large, because this fish can exceed 50 cm / 20 in and is a vigorous swimmer. A fairly small specimen can be kept in a 100 gallon / 375 gallon aquarium, but bigger is always better. Generally speaking, the aquarium should be six times as long as the fish. This means that a 50 cm / 20 in specimen should be provided with a 300 cm / 120 in long aquarium.  

The aquarium must be well established and stable before you add a Powder blue tang. Wait until you have an aged aquarium with plenty of filamentous algae for the fish to graze. The aquarium should contain a lot of live rock. Reef aquariums are generally best, since they resemble the natural environment of this fish.

The Powder blue tang is a fairly peaceful species but it will be aggressive toward its own species and similarly looking fish. Avoid housing your Powder blue tang with fishes that look similar to it and fishes that have the same feeding niche. It is safest to refrain from all sorts of tangs and algal grazers. The Powder blue tang is normally not combined with others of its own species, because this calls for enormous aquariums. 

The Powder blue tang is very sensitive to organic waste and the levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate must therefore be kept extremely low. Ammonia and nitrite should be kept at non-detectable levels and the amount of nitrate must never exceed 10 ppm. Do not crowd the aquarium. Efficient filtration and aeration are imperative.

The water must be warm, ideally around 80-84 degrees F / 27-29 degrees C.  An increased water temperature can sometimes trigger eating in anorectic specimens. Keep the pH-value in the 8.2-8.4 range. Unlike most other surgeons, the Powder blue tang will not cope well with a pH-value below 8.2. The recommended specific gravity is 1.020-1.025.

Feeding Powder blue tang

In the wild, the Powder blue tang feeds chiefly on benthic algae, sparsely scattered algae, and small growths found in crevices.

The Powder blue tang is a continuous feeder and should have constant access to suitable food in the aquarium. Natural algae growth should be encouraged and it is prudent to feed the fish many small servings of food throughout the day instead of just one or two big meals. It can be a good idea to place a food clip / clothes-pin in the aquarium and keep it filled with dried marine algae at all times. Keep the diet varied; you can for instance feed your fish fresh and dried marine algae, spirulina flakes, and boiled vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and spinach. Preferably add some type of flake or pellet rich in vitamin C to the diet to reduce the risk of health problems. Once in a while, you should give your fish some brine shrimp, mysis shrimp or similar, because this algae grazer will ingest tiny animals while browsing algae in the wild and must be provided with meaty foods in the aquarium to stay healthy in the long run.

Breeding Powder blue tang

The Powder blue tang is a monogamous species.

We do not have any information about breeding Powder blue tangs in aquariums.

Surgeonfish - Tang Articles:

Achilles Surgeonfish – Acanthurus achilles
Atlantic Blue Tang – Acanthurus coeruleus
Blue Hippo Tang – Paracanthurus hepatus
Chevron Tang – Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis
Clown Surgeonfish – Acanthurus lineatus
Convict Surgeonfish – Acanthurus triostegus
Desjardinii Tang – Zebrasoma desjardinii
Kole Tang – Ctenochaetus strigosus
Mimic Surgeonfish – Acanthurus pyroferus
Naso Tang – Naso lituratus
Orangeshoulder Surgeonfish – Acanthurus olivaceus
Powder Brown Tang – Acanthurus japonica
Purple Tang – Zebrasoma xanthurum
Sailfin Tang – Zebrasoma veliferum
Scopas Tang – Zebrasoma scopas
Whitecheek Surgeonfish – Acanthurus nigricans
Yellow Tang – Zebrasoma flavescens


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