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