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Aquarium of the Pacific - Online Learning Center - Species Print Sheet

Conservation Status:  Least concern

Aquatic SpeciesPowder Blue Tang

Acanthurus leucosternon Bony Fishes, marine

Powder Blue Tang - Acanthurus leucosternon | Ken Kurtis/Aquarium of the Pacific

Species In-Depth | Print full entry

At the Aquarium

The Aquarium has powder blue tangs in the Tropical Reef Habitat, Soft Coral Garden, Live Coral, and Tropical Pacific Preview exhibits in the Tropical Pacific Gallery and in Shark Lagoon’s large touch pool.

Geographic Distribution

Powder blue tangs are found throughout the Indian Ocean, from eastern Africa to the Andaman Sea, southwest Indonesia, and Christmas Island, into the western Pacific Ocean to Bali, Indonesia.


Powder blue tangs live in clear shallow waters surrounding inshore coral reefs, specifically preferring reef flats and upper seaward slopes.

Physical Characteristics

The powder blue tang has an oval-shaped laterally compressed body. Its body color is vivid blue with a black head and a broad white band from pectoral fin to throat. It has a vivid yellow coloration on its dorsal fin and at the base of the caudal fin. It has white pelvic and anal fins and a crescent-shaped caudal fin. It has a small, pointed, beak-like mouth with tiny sharp teeth. It has an erected spine on each side of the caudal peduncle base.


These fish have an average length of 7.5 to 9 inches (19 to 23 centimeters) and a maximum length of 21 inches (54 centimeters).


This species grazes on benthic algae, either singly or in large feeding groups.


Powder blue tangs practice monogamous (pair) spawning.


This fish grazes singly or in large feeding groups. When food isn’t plentiful, it may become aggressive to other fish invading its territory. It will feed in groups if food is plentiful.


The shape of its beak-like mouth is useful for accessing algae in small crevices.


In the wild powder blue tangs typically live for about five years. They can live up to ten years in an aquarium setting.


The powder blue tang is listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.