Coloring Book

The Surgeonfish Family

A tropical fish coloring book just wouldn’t be complete without this ubiquitous fish; the Caribbean Blue Tang. Most people are pretty familiar with its Australian cousin made famous by beloved Dori. These somewhat less flashy, but still very beautiful Caribbean Tang are really important to coral reef health.

Blue Tang and other members of the surgeonfish family help keep coral healthy by eating the algae that grows on it. Without this algae cleaning service, coral would have a hard time getting enough light to live and grow. You’ll see them swimming about the reef and stopping frequently head down to nibble on algae.

You can read about this project in the post “A Fish Journal for a six-year-old” and you can see all the posts for this project using the tag “Fish Coloring Book“.

Blue Tang can grow up to ten or fifteen inches. They often swim around the reef in larger groups that include lots of different fish species. It’s fun to see really big groups of Blue Tang swim by and try to see what other species of fish have joined the party! They don’t mind it when people swim by slowly, but they will probably swim away if you try to get too close.

Caribbean Blue Tang; Fire Coral Caves at Molasses Reef, Dec. 2021; Photo by Chuck Lauer Vose

Juvenile Blue Tang are a very interesting fish – they sometimes grow up by changing color, not by getting bigger. This means that a juvenile Blue Tang can sometimes actually be bigger than an adult Blue Tang!

Juvenile Caribbean Blue Tang; Bonaire 2018; Photo by Erica or Chuck Lauer Vose
Ocean Surgeonfish; San Salvador Island, Bahamas; Photo by Mark Peter.
Doctorfish; Photo by Brian Gratwicke