How to Care for Dory
Finding Dory: How to Care for a Blue Tang (“Dory”) in a Saltwater Aquarium
All of us here at Marine Depot are excited for new Disney•Pixar film, Finding Dory. With the original film Finding Nemo we saw a huge increase in demand for keeping Clownfish and Blue Tangs in an aquarium. As responsible aquarists, we thought it would be a great idea to take you guys through a complete overview of how to properly care for these animals in a home aquarium.
In this article and the accompanying video, we will take a look specifically at the Regal Blue Tang which is the real life fish that inspired the quirky character Dory.
The Regal Blue Tang is a species of surgeonfish native to the Indo-Pacific region. Quite a few different common names are used to refer to this species including Regal or Royal Blue Tang, Hippo Tang, Palette Surgeonfish, and Pacific Blue Tang. These fish are some of the most popular and iconic marine aquarium fish. They grow to a maximum size of 12″ long and can live up to 20 years in captivity.
It is important to understand that these fish need a tank that is plenty big enough to house them. We generally recommend a tank that is a minimum of 48″ long with plenty of open space to swim because we know Dory loves to “just keep swimming.” As the years go on and Dory gets closer to her full adult size, an upgrade to a larger aquarium will eventually be needed.
It is likely you will see these fish available in various sizes at your local fish store. I have seen them as small as 1″ long all the way up to a full grown adult. Please don’t let this fool you; the small 1″ long Blue Tang will quickly outgrow a small aquarium and needs the proper tank size for a happy healthy life in captivity. If getting a large tank is not something you can do; consider a similar looking fish that stays small such as a Yellow Tail Blue Chromis.
It is best to get a tang that is no less than three inches long, is not thin and shows no signs of parasites or disease. The truth is that these fish are highly susceptible to parasites as well as head and lateral line disease so a quarantine period can help to ensure your new fish is healthy before being introduced into your display tank.
Proper nutrition is key to the health of Royal Blue Tangs. Naturally they are omnivorous feeding on zooplankton and grazing on algae. It is widely known that providing an herbivorous food source in addition to meaty foods is important to the survival of these fish in an aquarium.
We stock a variety of different seaweed that is great for Blue Tangs including the Julian Sprung SeaVeggies, Ocean Nutrition Seaweed Selects and V20 Aquarium Foods Seaweed. All of these foods come in a flat sheet and it is best to anchor the sheet in your tank and let the tang naturally graze. A seaweed clip comes in handy or you can also consider the Marine Gourmet Grazer and Two Little Fishies Pouch Feeder. These clips and feeders make it much easier for the fish to graze on the seaweed, makes it easier for you to feed and prevents the seaweed from spreading around your tank.
It may take some time for new fish to become accustomed to feeding from a clip or grazer but rest assured, once the fish discover the tasty treat they will quickly learn to target the clip or feeder for food.
You can also consider using a prepared diet that is formulated specifically for herbivorous fish. The Rod’s Food Seaweed Blend, New Life Spectrum AlgaeMaxx, and Ocean Nutrition Formula Two are all excellent options for feeding a Blue Tang.
As with most marine fish, keeping your water clean and properly oxygenated is important. Be sure to employ a protein skimmer and maintain your tank regularly. Regal Blue Tangs are naturally found in reef zones so strong flow is ideal. They naturally take cover in corals and rock crevices so a few good hiding spots will help them feel comfortable in your tank. They are generally compatible with most other marine aquarium fish but be careful when keeping more than one in your tank. Two regal tangs in the same tank can show aggression towards each other.
Following these specific guidelines will really help you to succeed in keeping your very own Dory and if you are looking to get a Royal Blue Tang or have questions, our trained team of aquarium experts are happy to help you out. Contact us today!
How to Care for Nemo
Finding Dory: How to Care for a Clownfish (“Nemo”) in a Saltwater Aquarium
With Finding Dory coming out, we wanted to give you guys some important tips for keeping clownfish happy and healthy in your aquarium.
The cartoon character Nemo was inspired by an Ocellaris Clownfish. Thanks to the Disney•Pixar movies, clownfish have become the most iconic marine aquarium fish. What some of you may not know is that there are actually two different species of clownfish that look very similar: Ocellaris and Percula clownfish. Behavior and care requirements for these fish are very similar. The common name “Clownfish” can actually be used to reference any one of the thirty different species in this family of fishes.
The cool thing about these classic orange, black, and white colored fish is that they are a very sustainable aquarium animal. Many of the clown fish that you see in local fish stores are captive-bred; which significantly reduces the impact on the environment.
Another positive result of captive-breeding is the creation of designer clownfish. Many of these clown fish sport amazing patterns, coloration, and other physical traits that make them even more desirable to hobbyists. Main Blizzard, Picasso, Mocha Ice and DaVinci are just some of the unique names given to these designer clownfish.
Clownfish are also called anemone fish because they form a symbiotic relationship with sea anemones that is mutually beneficial. Clownfish have evolved to become resilient to the harsh stings of sea anemones and spend their lives living amongst the tentacles of the anemone. The stinging tentacles of the anemone wards off clown fish predators; while the clown fish provide nutrients for the anemone and keep other pesky fish from harming the anemone.
The fascinating behavior of forming a relationship with an anemone can be achieved in an aquarium but it seems that clownfish are not all that picky in terms of what they host. We have witnessed clownfish host in various types of corals including Frogspawn, flowerpot corals, large mushroom corals, leather corals, Xenia and even hair algae! On the flip side, some clownfish refuse to host inside anything no matter what you have in the tank.
Clownfish grow to be a maximum size of about 4″ long and can easily kept in an aquarium that is 20 gallons or larger. They can be kept alone or in pairs. Keeping them in groups or harems is possible but can be very challenging because aggression will grow amongst the fish as they mature.
Clownfish are one of the best and most popular fish for first time saltwater aquarists. They are very hardy and easily adapt to an aquarium environment. They are quite territorial especially if they are breeding so if you plan to keep other fish in the tank, be sure the tank is plenty big enough to give the clown fish some breathing room.
Many hobbyists keep clownfish in mated pairs and it is not uncommon for clown fish to breed inside your tank. However, the babies that hatch will quickly be eaten by both their parents and other fish in the tank if the eggs are not removed to a separate breeding tank. Raising clownfish fry can be a little tricky because the proper food for baby clownfish is difficult to provide in the appropriate amounts while keeping optimal water conditions.
Clownfish are naturally omnivorous and feed mostly on zooplankton and the occasional anemone tentacle. Feeding a variety of frozen fish food and prepared flake or pellet foods works great for clownfish. Once established into an aquarium, they are vigorous eaters and are not picky.
The work of Disney•Pixar has inspired a whole new generation of aquarium hobbyists. All of us here at Marine Depot do our very best to ensure long happy lives for the animals in our aquariums and strive to provide you with the best information to help make your aquarium experience a success. If you have any questions, please contact us. We would love to hear from you!
The 'Dory Effect'
Finding Dory: The “Dory Effect”
With the release of Finding Dory, many companies and people involved in the aquarium hobby have been putting out information on the care requirements of Dory, a Regal Tang.
When Finding Nemo was released over a decade ago, the “Nemo Effect” had moviegoers make a beeline for fish stores to buy a starter kit and a little clownfish like Nemo. Conservationists worried about the devastating impact that over collecting of these fish may cause. Luckily, those fears were unfounded because clownfish have been raised in captivity for a long time now.
This is not the case with the Blue Hippo Tang which is wild caught. While there is not enough data on hand now to support a “Dory Effect,” conservationists are critical of mainstream media for publishing incorrect data, touting the articles as anti-aquarium trade oriented.
Some retailers, like Marine Depot, have taken an active approach to educating the impulsive shopper about the serious commitment needed for the saltwater hobby and that taking care of a Regal Tang is not easy.
Some retailers published alternatives to the Tang that would work better for the novice like a Blue Damselfish or a freshwater alternative in the same colors. Others displayed signage in their aquatics section.
However, others have taken advantage of the movie to try to sell starter kits in the 30 gallon range for the Tang. Hobbyists quickly took to social media to stop opportunistic sellers in those instances.
The question remains—have we done enough to stop a “Dory Effect?” We asked aquarium industry experts to weigh in:
“I think there are some good efforts on the part of some vendors, but I have also seen some offers that are more opportunistic. There is much more that should be done but for it to be effective I think the trade and hobby need a centralized organization that can disseminate information and help everyone involved to be on the same page. Right now, everyone is drawing their own different lines in the sand, so it is difficult for people to know which lines are trustable. We also need better data about the numbers of animals collected and imported if we are going to track what effect the movie has on purchasing. We need better than anecdote in this area.”
Richard Ross won the award for Aquarist of the Year in 2014 from the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (MACNA) and is best known for his “Skeptical Reefkeeping” series. He is a Senior Biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences.
“Trade doesn’t need to think the movie won’t affect wild stocks. Trade doesn’t need to expect sales of P. hepatus won’t increase. Trade can know. Embrace the data. It’s really that simple, and it’s good for the species, the reefs and the hobby/trade/industry. All these individual efforts by private businesses are great, but we need a top-down trade response based on data so that ten years from now, trade can say: “No. We actually self-regulated so that trade did not negatively affect wild populations of P. hepatus following Finding Dory.”
Ret Talbot is an award-winning freelance science writer and photojournalist with nearly 20 years of experience covering stories from some of the more remote corners of the globe.
“I doubt more than a percent or two of folks who might consider ‘buying into’ a Dory inclusive kit are being reached by the efforts of folks in the hobby, trade (to inform them, ward them off). The more important influence/salvation here is the real (economic) cost of getting into having this fish. Even the advertised cheapy kits are some 700 US dollars. Then again, I remember Disney’s remake of 101 Dalmatians in the early 90s when I was a buyer at Petco… and the too many animals that were mis-entered as pets by folks who had no real idea of what their care entailed. I have a Tang book out; and the coverage of Paracanthurus publicly available on WetWebMedia.”
Bob Fenner has been an avid aquatic hobbyist and is very active in hobbyist and scientific organizations. He has served on numerous Boards, judged shows and given many programs. He is the founder of Wet Web Media, an educational site for hobbyists.
“Some retailers and the Humane Society have instituted campaigns to curb the impending desire for this fish, the main effector has not. Neither Disney nor Pixar have begun a campaign strong enough to reach the millions of consumers they will reach at the box office. While it is not unique to our hobby/industry, it’s a recurring theme however, to purchase, and attempt to house, animals we simply have not educated ourselves enough about. Therein lies the true problem.”
—Matthew Gregory Stansbery
After 15 years as a hobbyist, Matthew found himself a contributor for two of the largest online publications, Advanced Aquarist and Reefs.com. With over 15,000 members he also owns, and manages, two Facebook groups on the net: The Shroom Room and Frags Auction Place. Matthew Stansbery is also the owner of The Candy Shop, an online coral retailer.
“First I am worried that there will be the same demand if not a greater one for these fish as well as all the fish shown in the movie as there was after the first movie. But unlike clownfish, which we now pretty much breed in such large numbers that very few are taken from the reef. But with Blue Tangs this is not the case and they are also more difficult to keep, require larger tanks and are ich magnets. So unfortunately many if not most of the people who will want to start a tank after seeing this movie will be ill-prepared to keep them. I hope the education of theatre goers will prepare them at least some but I am not hopeful, especially since most people are impulse buyers and setting up a saltwater tank on impulse is not a good idea.”
Mike Paletta has been keeping marine aquariums since the 1980s. He is a well-known aquarist who has traveled worldwide giving presentations about various aspects of the aquarium hobby including MACNA, Reef-A-Palooza, Mike is also the author of The New Marine Aquarium and Ultimate Marine Aquariums.
“The moviegoer is probably not going to research before being impulsive. Nor would they be able to resist long enough to learn the essentials. An impulse buyer is someone standing in the store, sees something and wants it. Or leaves the theater and googles “closest fish store” to buy one. At that point, it’s up to the LFS to educate them hopefully before they run their credit card.”
Marc Levenson has over 18 years of research and personal experience in the saltwater hobby. He fabricates custom acrylic products for the aquarist, speaks at reef shows and provides helpful YouTube videos for hobbyists.
The care and tank size requirements to care for a Blue Tang differ depending on the source, with minimum tank size recommendations ranging from 75 to 180 gallons. So what do the experts think?
“With regard to recommended tank size, I personally think that fish belongs in the wild. And no tank smaller than 250 gallons for long term homeostasis”
—Matthew Gregory Stansbery
“I’d say nothing less than a 120-gallon tank for long term care of hippo tangs with great water quality and great diet as well.”
Joe Yaiullo is the Curator and Co-Founder of the Long Island Aquarium in New York. Joe is extremely active in the reefing community making appearances at national, regional and local events sharing his wisdom and experiences with hobbyists of all levels.
“I generally don’t like aquarium recipes like X fish needs X size tank because keeping these kinds of animals is more involved than this kind of simple guideline. These fish often grow to over a foot long and need lots of swimming space—anyone considering keeping one of these fish needs to keep this in mind in the same way someone considering getting a greyhound dog needs to keep that animal’s needs in mind before getting one.”
“Unlike clownfish, these require bigger tanks at a minimum 90 gallons for their long-term well-being and again I do not think many of the new keepers of these fish will be prepared for that.”
Although the experts differ on what the minimum tank size for a tang is, the underlying suggestion from all is that bigger is better.
The Heartfelt Message of Finding Dory
The Heartfelt Message of Finding Dory
After a 13-year hiatus, familiar fishy characters return in the Disney•Pixar film, Finding Dory.
Nemo, Marlin, Mr. Ray, Crust, Squirt and, of course, the star of the show—Dory—have all come back for another adventure away from home.
The title of the movie suggests that this time it is Dory who gets lost and the search for the forgetful Tang will be the storyline. But the film is really about Dory finding herself.
Dory suffers from short-term memory loss. This means she forgets where she is going, what she is looking for, and unfortunately, she even forgets her parents. Her search for her family begins ultimately becomes the search for herself.
Several new characters play important roles in Finding Dory.
Hank, the Septopus, is the richest and most fleshed out character among these new additions. Hank lost a tentacle and now has only seven. Apparently, Hank has been secretly appearing in all Disney•Pixar films for decades. This guy needs his own movie—he was hilarious!
Along for the ride are Bailey, a Beluga whale with a broken sonar and Destiny, a whale shark with poor eyesight. As you may recall, Nemo, the main character from the first film, was born with a small right fin. So it appears that the main takeaway from Finding Dory is no matter what obstacles, handicaps, or setbacks you may experience during your journey in life, you can still achieve anything you set your mind to. A powerful and positive message for kids of all ages.
Make it a movie night with Dory and her friends—the aquarium hobbyist in you will certainly enjoy the digital reef.
SPOILER ALERT: Baby Dory is simply adorable!