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what kind of fish is dory

What Kind Of Fish Is Dory From ‘Finding Nemo’?

If you have watched Finding Nemo, you might remember Dory, the cute blue fish with memory issues. Most of us know that Nemo is a clownfish, but what about Dory? What kind of fish is Dory?

Dory is a type of surgeonfish with the species name Paracanthurus hepatus. Many also may know it as the Blue Hippo Tang. Despite the fish looking similar to Dory, its actual behavior and demeanor in the wild are very different. It may not make a great aquarium fish at home. 

This article will explore the Blue Hippo Tang fish, such as its habitat, demeanor, and if it makes a great home aquarium fish. 

Why Kind Of Fish Is Dory?

Dory’s actual fish species is the Paracanthurus hepatus, a type of surgeonfish originating from the Indo-pacific region. Like Dory, this fish is almost flat as a pancake and has a blue, yellow, and black color. You may have heard the fish under common names such as Blue Hippo Tang. 

The Paracanthurus hepatus is a type of surgeonfish that lives in the Indo-Pacific. Several common names have been given to this species, such as: 

  • Hippo Tang
  • Regal Tang
  • Blue tang 
  • Pacific regal blue tang
  • Blue surgeonfish.
  • Blue hippo tang 
  • Flagtail surgeonfish
  • Royal blue tang 
  • Palette surgeonfish

The most commonly used name is the Blue Hippo Tang, so we will use this name throughout the article. 

The Blue Hippo Tang has a colorful body. The primary color is royal blue. It has a yellow tail and a black “palette” pattern. The fish may grow up to a foot long (30CM), reaching weights of around 21 Oz (600GM). Females are usually smaller than male Blue Hippo Tang.

This fish is full of spines, perhaps for its protection. The blue tang has nine dorsal spines, 26–28 dorsal soft rays, three anal spines, and 24–26 anal soft yellow rays. In the wild, you may find Blue Hippo Tangs swimming around the coral reefs of Indonesia, Japan, Australia, Samoa, and the Philippines. 

The fish feed primarily on plankton, although they may also feed on algae when they turn into adults. The habit of eating algae helps to avoid uncontrolled algae growth on coral reefs, keeping the coral reefs healthy.

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How Much Is A Blue Hippo Tang Fish?

In general, a Blue Hippo Tang may cost around $60 to $250, depending on location, season, and availability. Most are caught in the wild and brought into the US instead of raised. Many Blue Hippo Tangs may also be illegal due to how they were caught. 

Blue Hippo Tang Fish exploded in popularity after the movie Finding Nemo, resulting in massive demands and a high price.

The Blue Hippo Tang is not native to the United States and is known to be hard to breed and raise in commercial settings. An industry developed where they are caught wild and brought into the country to be sold as pets. 

This raised the cost of the fish, as after they are caught, they must be kept alive and transported long distances for sale. Some of these fishes may also be illegal, as irresponsible catchers may use cyanide to help catch the fish in the wild.

The explosion of popularity also drove its price up significantly. The trend for Blue Hippo Tang is similar to the explosion in demand for Dalmatian dogs after the movie 101 Dalmatians. 

Expect to pay between $60 to $250 for a Blue Hippo Tang fish. Prices may be cheaper during the fall when they are more abundant in the wild. 

Is A Blue Hippo Tang Suitable As Pets?

Blue Hippo Tangs generally do not make great pets in home aquariums for multiple reasons. They grow to a large size, have an insatiable appetite, may sting you, are aggressive towards other fishes, and are very sensitive to water quality.

The character Dory may be a fun, harmless fish with memory issues. Still, the actual Blue Hippo Tang shares little of the character. In fact, they may just be the opposite, aggressive and full of spines that may sting you. 

Aside from that, Blue Hippo Tangs also have some other characteristics that do not make them good pets in a home aquarium. 

They Grow Large

A Blue Hippo Tang may grow to a foot long (30CM) in under two years. It would probably no longer fit a standard home aquarium at that size. 

It was suggested that you may need at least a 100-gallon tank to host a fully grown Blue Hippo Tang. This is to accommodate the size, have the volume to manage its waste, and also allow it the space to swim around, as they are active, aggressive fish. 

In fact, some even argue not to go lower than a 180-gallon tank. 

When you measure up a 180-gallon tank, it will be six feet long, two feet tall, and two feet wide. Once filled with water, the tank would weigh almost a ton. Not many people have such a fish tank at home, making Blue Hippo Tang unsuitable as a home pet.

Aggressive Behavior

Blue Hippo Tangs need a lot of space to swim around, as they do so actively in the wild. If kept in a smaller tank, lack of space may make them aggressive and move around restlessly, without stopping. 

It doesn’t help that Blue Hippo Tangs are full of spines. As they swim around, they may hurt your other fishes in the tank, even damaging your corals. 

Suppose more than one Blue Hippo Tangs are sharing a tank. In that case, they also become much more territorial and may display aggression towards each other. Instead of having two fishes swimming together, you may see them fighting and hurting each other. 

Very Sensitive To Water Quality

Blue Hippo Tangs are very sensitive to their environment, meaning you must keep them in a tank as close as possible to their original habitat. That means you will need to set up a coral reef tank to host it. 

Coral reef tanks are one of the most challenging fish tanks to set up and maintain, as you need to have clean water, remove the chlorine, and achieve the perfect salt level. You also need to ensure that the cleaning and filtration systems are operating in perfect balance. 

Once that happens, you introduce some coral reefs and may struggle to achieve the right tank conditions to keep them alive. You also need to monitor plankton and algae levels in the tank. 

Commonly, it may take up to six months before you achieve the right conditions to host a Blue Hippo Tang. You may be willing to put in the work, but you also need to remember that all it takes is some minor issue to disrupt the water balance in the tank, and the fish might get sick and die on you. 

Sensitive To Diseases

Blue Hippo Tangs are surprisingly less hardy than fish despite their aggressive behavior. They are prone to contract diseases from protozoans such as velvet or marine ich. Marine ich is a nightmare for fish tank keepers, as the diseases can quickly spread and kill everything in the fish tank.

On top of that, they are also likely to contract conditions such as Head And Lateral Erosion (HLLE). When the Blue Hippo Tangs catch HLLE, they lose their color vibrancy around the head and laterals. Infections are usually the culprit, but using activated charcoal in the fish tank can also cause HLLE. 

The best prevention method you can take is to keep the fish tank in its best conditions and the fish be given a good diet and plenty of space to swim around happily. Which means you really need to take care of it.

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Have An Insatiable Appetite

Regarding feeding, it might be an understatement to say that the Blue Hippo Tang has a large appetite. Insatiable or voracious may be more suitable.

If you have one swimming around, be prepared to feed it at least three times a day. Feeding a Blue Hippo Tang is also not similar to common pet fish, where you simply sprinkle some fish feed. You may need to spend time preparing some meaty meals for the fish. 

On top of that, their habit as plankton and algae eaters may also quickly consume whatever you manage to grow in your coral reef tank. You need to find a way to satisfy this as well. 

This means keeping a Blue Hippo Tang requires a massive amount of commitment and effort. Even if you are willing to do this, a Blue Hippo Tang may live from 8 to 20 years, meaning you must be prepared to do this long-term. 

May Sting You

As mentioned before, Blue Hippo Tangs are a type of surgeonfish, meaning they are basically packed with spines. 

When stressed, the fish may extend its caudal spines. These spines stick out from the caudal peduncle or the area where the tail joins the fish’s body. These spines may result in deep cuts that cause infection. 

This means you need to be very careful when handling the fish. Gloves are out of the question, and yes, sticking your hands to try to touch the fish is a no-no.

On top of that, you also might want to be extra careful when cleaning the fish tank. The spines may be caught in the netting or sucked into the filtration system. You do not want to cut yourself by a Blue Hippo Tang spine, as they may be poisonous.

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