powder blue tang

Are Powder Blue Tangs Aggressive?

powder blue tang

Despite their exquisite coloring and distinctive features, Powder Blue Tangs have earned themselves a reputation for being difficult and aggressive tank mates. But are powder blue tangs aggressive all the time and with every fish?

It’s a shame these fish have earned themselves a bad reputation because they are in fact, reef safe, and there are many experienced aquarists who report that their Powder Blue has an exemplary temperament. 

However, like most Tangs, these fish can become territorial and attack peaceful neighbors with their sharp spine. Other fish can sustain injuries and in some cases, a moody Powder Blue will seek to bully and dominate the tank, just as it would its algae-rich territory on a tropical ocean reef. 

This doesn’t make for a happy family in any tank, but there are some things that you can do to mitigate the risks of aggression and keep the peace with your Powder Blue. 

Are Powder Blue Tangs Aggressive? This species is aggressive by nature and especially when feeding. It can be extremely aggressive towards other Tangs or Surgeonfish, especially those with a similar shape and color. However, with suitable tank mates, these fish can be peaceful and a great addition to any saltwater aquarium, even reef tanks.

Read our complete guide on this amazing species of

Saltwater fish here!

are powder blue tang aggressive?

Key Hacks for Curbing Aggression in the Powder Blue Tang

As with many behavioral problems in fish, adjusting the environment and level of care of an irritable Powder Blue Tang can work wonders. Consider addressing these 4 points:

  1. Space. Tangs like the Powder Blue, are keen swimmers and need adequate room and water movement to swim properly. Ensure that you can provide a tank with enough length for your Tang to swim. For a single PBT, you should be looking for a tank of at least 100-125 gallon volume. 
  2. Consistency.  These fish need a consistent environment. Keep all water parameters, including temperature, water chemistry, and nitrogen levels within the appropriate limits. Ensure all equipment for your tank operates without fluctuation which can stress your Tang. 
  3. Nutrition. A good supply of the algae that these fish love to graze on will help dampen down their territorial instincts. Maintaining good growth, eating habits and attaining their optimum size quickly is beneficial in helping them become properly established in the tank and less likely to become problematic. 
  4. Choose tank mates wisely,  There are some obvious things you can do to keep aggression down. Powder Blue Tangs are better off avoiding being placed with other Tangs or fish of a similar size or shape. If you are insistent on including similar fish or another Tang, it is best to introduce them at the same time. Other reef-safe fish like damselfish or cardinalfish are excellent companions for Powder Blue Tangs, but even then a Tang with a bullying disposition may still harass them. 

Despite your best efforts, you may still find yourself with an irascible fellow that simply wants to be disagreeable. This is why some aquarists advise caution with adding a Powder Blue Tang to an established community of fish. An alternative approach may be to create a new community with your PBT taking center stage.

Conclusion: Are Powder Blue Tangs Aggressive?

I would class the Powder blue tang as a semi-aggressive saltwater fish. Why? Because they do make great aquarium fish in the correct size aquarium with the perfect tank mates.

Provide plenty of room and places to hide such as rocks and caves in case your Powder Blue Tang does show signs of aggression to others. They will need room and places to hide and escape.

It is unfortunate that some blue tangs simply don’t like sharing their space with others especially at feeding times.

Ensure you provide them with a good diet and feed them correctly ensuring all fish receive adequate food at feeding times. A fish that is fed a healthy balanced diet and fed often, is less likely to show aggression towards others.

So, to answer the question: Are Powder Blue Tangs aggressive the answer will have to be yes. But that does not mean you should rule them out of your aquarium. If you are considering keeping these fish, it is wise to plan the inhabitants of your aquarium beforehand and plan when and if you’re going to add a Powder Blue Tang.

Carl Broadbent