It seems like every time an animal gets popular in a film, kids want to own it as a pet… and parents often don’t know how to say no. After the release of Finding Nemo, there was a giant spike in clown fish sales. Unfortunately, most consumers didn’t know that 90% of clown fish are captured in the wild. Many experts believe that this is now one of the main causes of the depletion of clownfish populations in the Philippines and the Great Barrier Reef.
The industry has now had time to catch up, and there’s now a strong captive breeding program for the little “Nemos”, but there isn’t anything like that for blue tangs, the fish family to which Dory belongs. In fact, current attempts to breed blue tangs in the captive at Florida’s Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory, have not been able to keep a captive bred Blue Tang alive for more than 22 days.
There’s a big fear in the conservation world that Finding Dory could be a major blow to Blue Tang populations around the world. What makes it worse is that these aren’t cheap ornamental fish like clownfish are. Each fish can cost $40-$60 at retail. That’s too good an opportunity for most fish store owners to pass up.
TMZ is even reporting that man store owners have already stocked up in preparation of the film. If you are considering getting a little Dory for your kid after the movie, here are some things to consider:
– Unlike goldfish or other common starter fish, Blue Tangs are quite fragile.
– Tangs require a very specific, exotic tank set up.
– It is a widely held belief in the fish selling industry that Tangs are not starter fish. In fact, one dealer said: “fish novices will kill these creatures.”
Finally, and most importantly, it is pretty much guaranteed that any Blue Tang you buy was captured out of the wild. With the increased demand, that means that there will be more interest in capitalizing on the popularity than preserving the species.