The popular Disney/Pixar movies
Finding Nemo and
Finding Dory are filled with lovable characters voiced by extremely popular celebrities.
This has inspired a number of fans to wish to re-create the iconic world
of these movies with an aquarium in their home, but many are unaware of
how much work this entails. First, the entire movie takes place in the
ocean so each of these fish is a saltwater breed, meaning you must have
a saltwater aquarium, which are immensely more work to maintain than a
regular tank. Second, many of these breeds are tricky to care for. Let’s
look at them more closely.
Hippo Tang (Dory & Her Parents)
Despite Dory being portrayed as not much bigger than Marlin, the Hippo
Tang can grow to approximately a foot long, which is large for an at-home
aquarium. This means they need a large tank (a recommended minimum of
150 gallons or more). They’re also fairly fragile with weak immune
systems, and can even be extremely territorial, so you should only keep
one per tank.
Difficulty: Moderate for experienced aquarists, hard for new owners.
Clownfish (Nemo & Marlin)
There are multiple breeds of clownfish, and many of them look similar.
These tiny fish usually grow to about four inches long, and are fairly
flexible with their environment, making them a great starter fish for
prospective saltwater aquarists. Those that are bred in captivity are
usually hardier and better suited for tank life than wild-caught specimens,
can be perfectly happy with a tank as small as 20 gallons, and most don’t
even need an anemone home to be happy and healthy.
Octopi come in many different colors and sizes but all have one thing in
common: they’re extremely difficult to care for. For starters, you
need a tank that won’t allow them to escape (as Hank so often does
in the films), and that’s no small task. These creatures are extraordinarily
intelligent and they’re predatory and will eat many of their tank mates.
Difficulty: Hard (experts only)
Moorish Idol (Gill)
The grizzled tank veteran who guides Nemo to courage and bravery in the
first movie is actually not nearly as tough as the movie portrays them
to be. The Moorish Idol is a very delicate breed that often does not adapt
well to aquariums, in many cases refusing to eat. These fish grow to about
7 inches, which also means they require a moderately large aquarium. Novices
are much better off with a look-alike, such as a Longfin Bannerfish.
Bloat (Porcupine Puffer)
These fish are often charming because of their comical ability to inflate
when threatened. However, this is extremely stressful and even dangerous
to the fish; NEVER provoke them to make this happen. These fish also start
small but grow exponentially, as large as 20” in length, which means
you’ll need a large tank to keep them (at least 200 gallons). That
being said, they’re pretty flexible with their environment and good
with tank-mates so long as there aren’t any shellfish in there with them.
Starfish are a great exotic aquarium starter fish. They come in a range
of sizes, they’re friendly with most of their tank mates, and are
generally low-maintenance. The only difficulty is that they are sensitive
to changes in water quality, so you’ll need a fairly good filter
to keep the environment stable.
Gurgle (Royal Gramma Basslet)
These colorful fish are another great starter breed for novices looking
to get a tropical aquarium. They’re small (generally up to about
4” in length), so they don’t take a ton of space, but they’re
a definite eye-pleaser and great addition to any collection. Their only
downside is their territorial tendencies, so you can only keep one unless
you have a larger tank with lots of rockwork.
Bubbles (Yellow Tang)
These fish are similar to the Hippo Tang (Dory), but are much hardier and
adapt better to aquarium life. They aren’t quite as large, but they
share a lot of the same personality traits, including being extremely
territorial. You should only keep one of these fish in a large tank without
any other Tangs or similarly-colored fish, or the Yellow Tang will become
Difficulty: Easy, so long as no other Tangs are in the tank
Deb (4-Stripe Damsel)
This is another excellent first fish for those looking to start a saltwater
aquarium. They’re small (up to about 3 inches long), don’t
require a lot of space, and adapt well to tank life. Like other damsels,
they can become territorial, but overall these fish have a mild temper.
Jacques (Skunk Cleaner Shrimp)
So long as you don’t stick them in a tank with any predators (such
as a pufferfish), these are a great addition to any tank. They eat the
parasites and dead scales off other fish as well as any other food they
are given, and really only require a good filtration system to keep the
Tad (Yellow Longnose Butterfly)
“obnoxious” fish is actually somewhat difficult to manage. Growing as large as nine
inches, they require a large tank (at least 100 gallons). However, their
“beak” makes it difficult for them to eat, requiring small
food particles twice a day.
Interested in starting a saltwater aquarium of your own? Call the Los Angeles
custom aquariums experts at Living Art Aquatic Design, Inc. and let us
help you design the perfect solution for your home!
Contact us at (310) 626-1448.