Researchers at the University of Florida have found a way to breed the animated fish Dory, from the “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory” movies, in captivity.
This, they say, will make the fish more accessible for people who want them for home aquariums, without having to take any from the wild, The Christian Science Monitor reports.
Pacific blue tangs, the breed to which the popular talking fish Dory belongs to, have not been bred in captivity before. But researchers at the Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory of UF have pulled it off. Craig Watson, director of the lab, said that before this,
No one had ever produced [a Pacific blue tang] in captivity.
The UF Aquaculture Laboratory and Rising Tide Conservation, with help from the the Oceanic Institution of Hawaii Pacific University and the SeaWorld-Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, began the project six years ago, before the movie featuring the blue tang fish with short-term memory loss even hit theatres.
Blue tang fish are different from other species in that they don’t swim in schools, but are normally found in pairs along coral reefs. They have a unique defense mechanism consisting of spines along their back and a venomous tail meant to ward off predators.
Breeding the blue tang is a challenge, as its initial growth requires careful monitoring of water temperature and parents’ nutrition so the eggs can reach full term. “If anything goes wrong they can be gone in hours,” Watson said in a statement.
Chad Callan and a team at the Oceanic Institution of Hawaii Pacific University led the breakthrough in 2015 by successfully breeding the yellow tang, a species in the same family as the blue tang. Eric Cassiano and Kevin Barden, biologists at UF, replicated the Callan method and after 51 days, were able to hatch their first baby Dory.
“The work with Pacific Blue Tangs is still not done; success is dependent on a number of steps still to go,” Watson said. He said that commercial producers have to learn how to breed their own blue tang fish, in order to meet public demand.
Captive-bred fish, aside from being sold to aquarium owners, are also expected to help in boosting fish populations in the wild should they decrease in the future.