Maldives Fish: Where to discover Maldives Marine Life

November 20th, 2009

Maldives Fish are amongst the most beautiful marine life in the Maldives!

Paracanthurus hepatus (Regal Tang) is a colorful reef fish in the family Acanthuridae. A fish in marine aquaria, it is the only member of the genus Paracanthurus. A number of common names are attributed to the species, including palette surgeonfish, blue tang, royal blue tang, hippo tang, flag tail surgeonfish and blue surgeonfish.

Paracanthurus hepatus has a royal blue body, yellow tail, and black ‘palette’ design. The lower body is yellow in the west-central Indian Ocean. It grows to 31 cm (12.25 in.). The species’ range is broad, but it is nowhere common. It can be found throughout the Indo-Pacific. It is seen in reefs of East Africa, Japan, Samoa, New Caledonia, and the Great Barrier Reef.

The blue tang is not evaluated by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), but is of low vulnerability.

As a juvenile, its diet consists primarily of plankton. Adults are omnivore and feed on plankton, but will also graze on algae. Spawning occurs during late afternoon and evening hours. This event is indicated by a change in color from a uniform dark blue to a pale blue.

The blue tang is of minor commercial fisheries importance; however, it is a bait fish. The flesh has a strong odor and is not highly prized. This fish may cause ciguatera poisoning if consumed by humans. However, blue tangs are collected commercially for the aquarium trade. Handling the tang risks the chances of being badly cut by the caudal spine. These spines, on both sides of the caudal peduncle, are extended from the body when the fish becomes excited. The quick, thrashing sideways motion of the tail can produce deep wounds that result in swelling and discoloration, posing a risk of infection. It is believed that some species of Acanthurus have venom glands while others do not. The spines are used only as a method of protection against aggressors.

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Acanthuridae

Genus: Paracanthurus

Species: P. hepatus

Binomial name: Paracanthurus hepatus

 Maldives Fish: Where to discover Maldives Marine Life

Regal Tang at Rakeedhoo Corner

Where to find Paracanthurus hepatus (Regal Tang) in Maldives.

Regal Tang is not that common in Maldivian reef and appears to be localized in only few areas. Occurs on current-prone reef crests to about 20 meters depth. Indian Ocean population differs slightly in colour from Pacific fish when adult, in having white instead of blue along the loawer boady. The two forms are probably sub specifics. Juveniles form small groups and quickly dive for cover in small Acropora coral thickets.

Let’s start from north Male’ atoll Banana Reef: On the top reef on the eastern side are small acropora table corals. The ones here are juvenile and they are very timid every time a diver or snorkeler approaches they swim inside the coral and hide. But if you wait at a safe distance they will eventually come out.

Moving to Felidhu Atoll, Rakeedhoo Corner : If you start the dive with an outgoing current most probably the ending would be at the outer reef, where you will find hug coral blocks at the top of reef. The reef top is about 5 to 6 meters and this is a perfect place to spend your last minutes of the dive. The regal tangs here are a bit larger than what I have seen in north male’ atoll but the behavior remains the same. Getting a picture of these tangs is not an easy task.

Southern Ari atoll, Rangali Madivaru: During the past years I have spotted them on the southern side of Rangali madivaru reef under very similar conditions like hiding inside the small table corals. On the southern side the coral growth is not much, its mainly sand. The best way to perform would be after you dive for mantas swim inside the atoll if the current allows it.

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