“Finding Dory” in fish stores discouraged
NORWALK — With the long-awaited sequel to "Finding Nemo" in theaters this weekend, "Finding Dory" has researchers concerned about enthusiasts purchasing blue tang fish when they lack the experience and means to properly care for them.
After the popular animated Nemo film premiered in 2003, sales of clownfish soared.
The surge in sales did not affect the long-term clownfish population as they can be bred in either their natural habitat or a domesticated tank. So even though nearly 1 million clownfish were sold, they were replenished in a relatively short time.
But the Dory species, the blue tang fish, can't be bred in a tank and all those for sale are taken directly taken from the ocean. Researchers are nervous that if blue tang sales increase like clownfish sales did, there is a serious risk of a huge population decline.
Several movements have been put into action since the creation of the movie by organizations such as the Saving Nemo Conservation Fund and even chain stores like Petco.
The Saving Nemo Conservation Fund supports research that protects clownfish and other species like the blue tang, educates the public on this research and sustains a breeding network for global aquarium trade.
Petco has made a special effort to educate first-time fish parents on the needs of the blue tang and suggests other, more manageable breeds for beginners.
A salesperson at the Petco on Westport Avenue in Norwalk said employees are not allowed to sell the fish to someone who doesn’t also purchase the proper equipment. This includes a three-month tank preparation setup with a two-month followup appointment.
John Lenzycki, curator of animals at the Maritime Aquarium, also is concerned about what might happen to the blue tang if millions of people worldwide want to run out and buy one, based on the response to the original movie.
"Every kid in America wanted to have a Nemo in their house," Lenzycki said. "Saltwater fish, and their maintenance and care, is not for the inexperienced."
The aquarium has a blue tang on display now, and will have a few more when another corral reef tank opens in a few weeks.
Lenzycki's advice for parents of insistent children?
"Buy a stuffed animal for sure," he said. "They're a whole lot easier to keep."