Fish Identification: Regal Tang

The regal tang goes by several names, palette surgeonfish, royal blue tang, hippo tang, and blue surgeonfish. They are sometimes mistakenly called blue tang, which is a different type of fish, although they may be correctly called Pacific blue tang. I recommend sticking with regal tang.

Physical description

The regal tang has an ovular shaped body characteristic of its tang family. It can grow up to a foot in length (31 cm), making it a decent sized fish.

The regal tang's colors set it apart in the family. It is a royal blue color with yellow fins. The yellow tail fin is bordered by black stripes on the top and bottom.

There is a black swirl on the top of the fish, giving it the appearance of a painter's palette, resulting in one of its many names (palette surgeonfish).

Geography and habitat

The Indo-Pacific region is home to a variety of colorful creatures, and the regal tang is one more species to chalk up for these waters.

Look for these fish in coral reefs at all depths.


Most people know that the title character from the 2003 Pixar film Finding Nemo is a clownfish, but what type of fish is his friend, Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres)? That's right, a regal tang. A bit of fun, spontaneous trivia for you.

Further reading


Photo by Jack Rydquist

Diving Overseas

As you dive more and more, your expeditions will eventually take you overseas. While this might be a simple version of the U.S. across a border, it can often be a trial in planning and executing your vacation plan. This article will guide you through the difficulties in diving overseas.

Finding a shop / resort

The first hurdle to overcome is finding a dive shop. In some cases, this may be a resort where you also stay. With the advent of the internet, this search has become immensely easier. Usually this is accomplished by typing "destination dive shop" into your …

Fish Identification: Clown Triggerfish

I love goofy looking fish, and today's fish identification definitely fits that description!

Physical description

We've seen triggerfish before when we covered the black triggerfish. The clown triggerfish has the same basic body shape. This means an oval shaped body that is very flat. Ventral fins on the body and rear dorsal fins "wave' to allow slow movement through the water, giving triggerfish what is probably their most recognizable characteristic.

What distinguishes clown triggerfish is their coloring. The bottom half of the fish is covered in large white spots over a dark background. The top of the fish is medium …

Bell Diving

Children in a swimming pool experiment with trapping air in a bucket by quickly submerging it upside-down. While seemingly insignificant, this simple observation forms the basis of a diving bell. While we may think of swimming pools as somewhat modern, the idea of a diving bell dates back as far as Aristotle in the 4th century BC.


Not only is the idea of a diving bell simple, but the actual device is quite rudimentary, even in modern implementations. Any watertight container (except for the opening) can function as one. By submerging it underwater and keeping it vertical, a pocket …

Fish Identification: Garibaldi

The state marine fish of California, the Garibaldi damselfish (full name) is a common sighting off eastern Pacific waters.

Physical description

Garibaldis have the usual damselfish look: steep sloped head, heart shaped caudal fin, and the flowing dorsal and anal fins. However, the most identifying characteristic is their distinctive orange color. In fact, this bright red-orange color provides the fish with its name. It is named after Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian revolutionary famous for his red shirt.

Juvenile garibaldis are not as bright in color, and often have shiny blue spots which disappear with age.

Garibaldis grow up to 30 …

The Attraction of the Unknown

The Toronto Sun recently reported that actor Ving Rhames (Mission: Impossible, Pulp Fiction) has done some underwater work for a recent film, Piranha 3D. During one trip the actor spotted a "prehistoric" looking creature that he couldn't identify.^1^ This freaked him out so much that he "hasn't done any scuba diving since."

That's a little bit silly, but he relates some truth:

I really feel that there are things in the ocean that we have no idea about. I think there's so much we don't know and the unknown in the ocean; every 10 years or so we find …

Fish Identification: Spanish Hogfish

Being a hogfish, the Spanish hogfish is part of the wrasse family.

Physical description

Spanish hogfish have the common appearance of most hogfish. Namely, the pointed snout that they use to root through the sea bottom. Spanish hogfish are 10-13 inches (25-33 cm) long, although fish who eat their Wheaties can definitely grow larger.

Spanish hogfish also have streamlined dorsal and anal fins which trail back. Along with the pointed tips of the caudal fin, this gives them an aerodynamic appearance.

Juvenile Spanish hogfish have an almost entirely yellow body, except for the upper front quarter, which is a purplish …

Commerson's Fish

Dive for a while, and you're bound to run into a fish named after Commerson. But just who is Commerson, and why is so much named after him?

Philibert Commerson was a French naturalist from the mid-18th century. He is best known---especially for fish lovers---for circumnavigating the globe with Louise Antoine de Bougainville from 1766-1769. An astute observer, Commerson discovered many species of fish, as well as trees and plants.

  • Commerson's dolphin. We saw this species in our [guide to dolphins][] article. Commerson discovered this dolphin in the Strait of Magellan.
  • Commerson's frogfish. As with many circumnavigators, the Pacific was …

Scuba Diving with Sharks published an article yesterday on sharks and scuba divers. The article is a part of a common attempt to dispel the myth of man-hunting sharks.

One diver interviewed for the article, Hank Parfitt, frequently swims alongside shark, and even acts as a shark wrangler for underwater photo shoots. The most practical bit of the article is Parfitt's tip on giving an angry shark its space.

When is a shark angry? Parfitt gives three signs:

  1. Pectoral fins angled down. A neutral to happy shark will swim with its pectoral (side) fins straight out, like an airplane. If you see …

Fish Identification: Sea Bass

Sea bass is part of the grouper family, which we've already covered. There are many types, including black sea bass, Asian seabass, European seabass, and the giant sea bass.

Physical description

Being from the same family, it is not surprising that sea bass share grouper's strong "fishy" appearance often associated with fish we eat.

The dorsal fins of the sea bass are one long continuous fin, rather than two separate sets of spines. The caudal and pectoral fins are rounded.

They have large, fleshy lips. It is also a tall fish, with a high back, moderately pointed snout, flat topped …