Blue Surgeonfish: Types for Aquarium, Care, Feeding, Guide

The Blue Surgeonfish (Paracanthurus hepatus) is a family of exotic creatures that live in reef aquariums. Due to the bright color and variety of species, tropical fish have become very popular. In addition, they were featured in Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, making them stars of the aquarium hobby.

  • Fish size: 15-31 cm.
  • Temperature: 24-28 ° C
  • pH of water 8.1-8.4
  • gH water 8-12
  • Behavior: Peaceful
  • Habitat layer: Middle and bottom
  • Water type: Salty
  • Complexity of Care: Hard
blue surgeonfish paracanthurus hepatus

Why are blues called surgeonfish?

The fish is called the “blue surgeon” because of the specific fin on its tail. The surface of this part of the body has sharp plates that hide under the skin folds in a calm state, but are instantly exposed in case of danger.

With the help of a fin, representatives of the family defend themselves, avoiding contact with people or other inhabitants of the depths. Often they attack divers who do not know what a fish is dangerous and try to pet it.

Therefore, if you get cuts, you should treat the wound with an antiseptic. You should also take antihistamines, as sharp thorns can cause allergies.

Blue Surgeonfish (Paracanthurus Hepatus) Description and habitat in nature

The Blue Surgeon is one of the most sought-after members of the family. They are distinguished by their exotic appearance, increased activity and gluttony. Most of the time, individuals spend in search of food.

In natural conditions, they prefer a diurnal lifestyle and their habitat is ocean waters. They are distinguished by an elliptical body shape and a wide variety of colors.

The scale color palette ranges from light blue to dark blue with purple patterns.

The fin of the tail is colored lemon yellow with a flesh mesh pattern along the edges. Depending on the conditions, part of the belly and fins acquire a yellowish color.

The mouth is small with a characteristic seal in the front. The size of the eyes is quite large, and the average length of adult specimens in captivity reaches 20-22 cm.

In the daytime, representatives of the species are highly active. Young individuals form flocks, and adults prefer a lonely lifestyle, with the exception of harems.

For blue surgeons, pronounced territoriality is characteristic, however, outside of their possessions, they do not show aggression towards other fish.

Small specimens prefer to eat aquarium plants and arrange parking in the vegetation. When arranging the fish, the blue burrow surgeon prefers natural shelters.

The maximum lifespan in captivity is 12-20 years.

What is a translucent blue tang?

The fry of the surgeon’s popular aquarium fish are completely different from their parents. And this is due to the fact that they are almost transparent and their head is silvery, which is fundamentally different from the blue surgeon.

Blue Surgeonfish Species and types For Aquarium

In the description of the family of surgeons, more than 40 varieties are mentioned. They differ only in the length of the body and the color of the scales. Habitat and body shape are almost identical.

The following types of Blue Surgeonfish are suitable for aquarium Keeping and breeding:

Arab surgeon Fish

in its natural environment, it is found on reef shallows in the Indian Ocean and in the waters of the Persian Gulf. Differs in pronounced territoriality and aggressive behavior. Under natural conditions, the body length can be 40 cm.

The color of the scales is gray with characteristic lines or patterns of purple. In the aquarium, males compete with other fish, with the exception of their own harem. As a food, Arab surgeons use shellfish.

arab surgeon fish

Zebrasoma surgeon Fish

The genus consists of 7 varieties, but yellow varieties are used for aquarium conditions.  Individuals are found on coral reefs in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Due to the prosperity of poaching, the species is considered rare and endangered.

zebrasoma surgeon fish

The maximum length of a fish in the wild is 40 cm, and in a container – 20-25 cm. Breeding a species requires a vessel with a volume of 0.4 m³. Zebrasoma coexist well with other aquarium inhabitants. Plants growing on rocks are the basis of the diet.

White-breasted surgeon Fish

It is found in the Pacific subtropics and in the Indian Ocean. The body is painted in blue or bright blue tones. The fins on the back are yellow, while the ventral and anal fins are white. The color of the head and lips is dark purple. Adults show aggression towards other animals that swim into their territory. In an aquarium, they can grow up to 30-35 cm in length. They prefer to lead a gregarious lifestyle and feel comfortable in containers with a volume of 1 m³ or more. Being an omnivorous fish, they eat algae and plankton.

white breasted surgeon fish

Japanese surgeon Fish

Occurs in the western Pacific waters in shallow areas. The body is gray-brown in color, and there are stripes of lemon yellow in the anal and dorsal fins. The tail fin is white with a distinctive neon edging. The maximum length is 14-15 cm. The fish feeds on vegetation, but can eat mussels and shrimps. When kept with other relatives, it shows aggression. One Japanese surgeon requires a 400L aquarium.

japanese surgeon fish

Striped Surgeon Fish

It is found on coral reefs in tropical and subtropical waters. In the natural environment it grows up to 40 cm, and in artificial conditions the maximum size is 25-30 cm. The body has a light blue coloring, and the lateral and dorsal fins are neon.

striped surgeon fish

Chocolate surgeon Fish

The homeland of the species is considered to be the waters of the Indo-Pacific Basin, with the exception of the Hawaiian Islands. In the wild it grows up to 25 cm in length, and in aquariums – up to 16-18 cm. The body is painted gray with a brown tint. Fish lead a solitary life or are found in a harem. In the first case, an aquarium of 250-300 liters is required for one individual. In the second – 400 liters.

chocolate surgeon fish

Blue Surgeonfish (Paracanthurus Hepatus) Aquarium

Before buying surgeon Fish, you should prepare a spacious aquarium, since these animals have pronounced territoriality. Small individuals feel comfortable in one container, but as they grow up, they become aggressive and come into conflict with relatives.

Representatives of the Blue species are distinguished by the calmest behavior, and zebrasoma need free space.

Puberty in fish begins at 2 years of age. In front of the spawn, they form large flocks and begin to splash at the very bottom. The female lays up to 37 thousand eggs at a time. The fry have an almost transparent body and do not have sharp thorns.

Blue Surgeonfish Care in aquarium

Keeping the fish requires a reef saltwater aquarium with hard or soft corals. The surgeonfish adapts to new conditions much better than other species.

Diet and feeding frequancy

Under natural conditions, adults eat zooplankton and algae. But in an aquarium, plant foods are a key part of the diet.

The fish extract greens on their own. To avoid killing algae, you need to feed them blanched vegetables, oatmeal, or special spirulina tablets.

Several times a week, the fish are fed with fresh or frozen shrimp meat, sea fish fillets, mussels.

Feeding is carried out 1-2 times a day. In this case, you need to carry out a fasting day once a week.

water requirments

To provide the surgeonfish with comfortable conditions of detention, it is necessary to recreate the natural habitat.

If they get into alkaline salt water, there is a risk of ammonia poisoning.

Therefore, for any changes in the behavior of the fish, you should analyze the water using special testers from pet stores.

The optimal parameters of the aquarium liquid are as follows:

  • Acidity – pH 8.1-8.4.
  • Salinity is 35-36%.
  • Carbonate hardness dkH 8-11. If the indicator falls below 7, individuals begin to eat corals.

To obtain clear water, you will need to install a mechanical filter. Harmful impurities are removed using biofilters or treatment with bacteria that oxidize nitrite and ammonia.

In addition, chemical filters are placed in aquariums. Waste and food residues must be removed using a siphon, since they contribute to the accumulation of nitrogen-containing substances.

Aquarium plants and substract for Blue Surgeonfish

When choosing an aquarium content, you should take care of special algae that absorb calcium and phosphate, creating oxygen. Aquatic vegetation is a natural hiding place for blue surgeons.

For these fish, you can use the following plants:

  • Caulerpu
  • Hetomorph
  • Halimedes

As a soil, it is customary to take coral chips with a fraction of up to 5 mm. Such a layer will maintain normal acidity, increasing the concentration of calcium and beneficial trace elements.

To provide additional hiding places for the fish, you can immerse various decorations in the aquarium: driftwood and grottoes. Elements are secured with pins or sealants.

Aquarium lighting and equipments

In order to prevent evaporation of water and preserve salinity, it is necessary to install an automatic irrigation device in the aquarium. You can buy it at a pet store or build it yourself.

The next important element is the samp. This is a container with compartments for deep preparation of the medium. In this department, mechanical water purification is carried out. Organic particles are removed with a skimmer.

Activated carbon is used for chemical cleaning. The bio-compartment is intended for the treatment of nitrites and ammonia. Disinfection of the aquarium space is carried out by exposure to ultraviolet rays from the lamp.

The sump can be equipped with a heating element with a temperature sensor and a thermometer that estimates the current water temperature.

Optimum performance is 1 W per 1 liter of volume. The required flow is created by a pump with a capacity of 8-10 liters per hour.

All devices are placed in a closed cabinet so as not to spoil the aesthetics of the container and to prevent excessive noise during operation. To prevent overheating of the water, an air fan should be installed.

Proper lighting is required for corals and vegetation that does photosynthesis. Luminescent tubes or LED devices are used as lighting devices. The second option is preferable due to its durability and increased glow intensity.

Blue Surgeonfish mates

The blue surgeon has a calm disposition, but other members of the family show aggression towards neighbors.

It is not allowed to keep them in the same container with seahorses.

However, the fish respond well to the neighborhood with:

  • antiases
  • perches
  • wrasses

Blue Surgeonfish Breeding

It is impossible to breed fish in aquarium conditions. They reproduce exclusively in their natural environment.

Fish surgeon interesting facts

The lifespan of a surgeonfish is about 20 years. Fish fry are transparent and do not look like their parents.

Why is the surgeonfish called that?

The fish is called “blue surgeon”, because of the specific fin on the tail it is called (thorn and scalpel).

Is Dory a blue tang or a surgeonfish?

Dory is a cartoon character name given to the type of surgeonfish called Paracanthurus hepatus.

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