What Fish is Dory from Finding Nemo?

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Dory is probably the most recognizable fish aside from Nemo itself, and it’s a blue tang. Blue tangs have always been popular in the aquarium trade thanks to their lifespan, personality, temperament, and overall presence.

The Dory character only revitalized the fish’s notoriety which brings us to today’s article.

Today, we’ll discuss Dory and its environmental requirements, among other critical aspects like diet, tankmates, etc.

About Dory the Blue Regal Tang

Blue tangs are surgeon fish, a name coming from their sharp caudal appendix that the fish uses for self-defense purposes.

If you’ve seen Dory, you already know how the fish looks, but let’s summarize for good measure:

  • The fish has an oval-shaped body with short fins stretching across the entire length of the body
  • The tail fins are small and agile and are generally white
  • The fish’s background color is light blue with a dark-blue head
  • Blue tangs have a slightly protruded snout that they use for grazing algae from rocks and reef structures

All in all, the fish is definitely cute, which is a good selling point to have. But let’s go for a more in-depth look into the fish’s profile.

What do Blue Tangs Eat?

Blue tangs rank as herbivorous fish, but they’re actually not. Blue tangs also consume animal protein for a well-rounded diet, especially in captivity.

The fish’s main diet consists of algae which explains why tangs need to eat industrial quantities of food.

Blue tangs are extremely voracious with large appetites, causing them to graze for food 24/7.

They require at least 3 meals per day, preferably as diverse as possible. Brine shrimp, krill meat, spirulina, and Mysis shrimp are good additions to the tang’s daily meals.

You should also provide the fish with optimal vitamin and mineral cocktails based on their age, eating habits, and nutritional requirements.

It’s important to note that well-fed tangs live longer, are healthier, and showcase less food-related aggression when housed with other fish.

How Long do Blue Tangs Live?

Blue tangs can easily live up to 20 years in captivity or more. The fish is known even to surpass 30 years of age in the wild which is impressive given the many dangers that tangs have to face in their natural habitat.

There are plenty of misconceptions on the subject, given that many people believe that blue tangs only live between 5 and 10 years.

The misconception is, unfortunately, fueled by aquarists who keep blue tangs in subpar water conditions and on unfulfilling diets.

It’s worth mentioning that blue tangs are rather sensitive to water parameters as they are more prone to skin conditions.

They can also experience nutritional-related health problems due to the fact that they need constant feeding and a well-rounded diet to thrive.

How Big do Blue Tangs Grow?

The typical adult blue tang can grow up to 12 inches in captivity. They tend to get bigger in the wild.

The fish’s overall size depends on several factors like tank size, water conditions, diet, stress, disease prevention, etc.

The tank size is among the most important here, given that blue tangs require a lot of space.

Keeping them in an inappropriately small setup will prevent them from reaching their full size.

What are the Tank Requirements for Blue Tangs?

We have 3 primary components to mention here:

1. Tank Size

The tank size alone deserves a subchapter of its own. Few, if any, fish species require so much space compared to the fish’s size.

One adult blue tang should be housed in at least 100 gallons, although many people recommend 200 gallons.

The reason is the fish’s need for a specific aquarium setup involving a variety of reef structures and rocks. These will serve as grazing grounds for the fish constantly on the lookout for algae-feeding opportunities.

Blue tangs are also highly energetic and demand a lot of swimming space to remain active and healthy.

2. Water Conditions

Blue tangs require impeccable water conditions, given their extra sensitivity to skin conditions. The environmental temperature should be between 72 and 80 F with a pH of 8.0 to 8.5.

Regular cleaning is necessary to remove food residues, fish waste, and any organic matter that could alter the water chemistry.

Keeping algae is fine, given that they form the tang’s primary food source.

3. Stronger Water Currents

Blue tangs come from environments with rapid water movement. A good filtration system is necessary to oxygenate their environment and provide the water currents that tangs enjoy so much.

You may need 2 separate filters for excessively large tanks, 150 gallons and above.

What are the Ideal Tankmates for Blue Tangs?

Blue tangs are difficult fish, despite being advertised as community-friendly. They do qualify as community-friendly on paper, but the situation is different in practice.

While blue tangs aren’t necessarily violent, they are prone to aggression and territorial behavior, especially when lacking sufficient food or space.

You can’t house them with other surgeonfish because that will instigate their aggression, and you can’t really keep more than one tang per tank. In theory, blue tangs are shoaling fish that like to feed and live in larger groups.

But you can’t have a group of 5-7 tangs without investing in a 500-1,000-gallon tank, and that’s usually not worth it.

Small and active fish species are great tankmates for blue tangs. This includes firefish, gobies, damselfish, and others that fit the profile.

Avoid triggerfish, angelfish, and other territorial and aggressive species that could stress the tangs or trigger their fiery temperament.

Do Blue Tangs Have Short Memory?

No, blue tangs don’t have any memory problems. The issue is mostly a myth stemming from Dory the tang’s story exclusively.

The memory loss issue is more of a Dory problem than a tang problem.

Blue tangs are actually quite intelligent creatures that keep track of their environment and territory and learn to identify their keepers with time.

Are Blue Tangs Poisonous?

Yes, blue tangs are poisonous, which should’ve been somewhat obvious simply by looking at the fish’s coloring.

Few animals wear flashy colors in the wild without having some hidden potent self-defense mechanism ready to go.

In the blue tang’s case, the fish’s bright coloring is a flashy reminder that the fish carries poison, but in its flesh and on its surgeon spine-scalpel.

Don’t manhandle the fish to avoid getting stung, and definitely don’t try to eat it.

Blue tangs have poisonous meat, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, and even hallucinations and heart problems. 1/10, would not consume.

Do Blue Tangs Get Along with Clownfish?

Yes, they do. Clownfish are actually great tankmates for blue tangs, given their peaceful demeanor and easy-going character.

Clownfish are easy to keep, only require around 20 gallons of space per fish, and will eat pretty much anything.

They are generally peaceful but only become aggressive in the presence of other clownfish.

So, if you want to recreate the animation movie in your own tank, feel free to do so. Your blue tangs will enjoy the company of a peaceful clownfish, provided there’s enough room for all of them.

Interestingly, the movie Finding Nemo, featuring the famous Nemo-Dory duo, sparked a massive interest in clownfish.

So much so that the fish was driven to near-extinction in Vanuatu and other reef-rich areas. So, give your clownfish the love and respect it deserves.


Dory is portrayed as a forgetful and clumsy tang, but blue tangs aren’t like that. They’re actually intelligent, curious, and vivid creatures that will bring any marine setup to life.

Pair them with clownfish or other compatible tankmates, and they will thrive.

Just keep in mind that the fish is quite pretentious in terms of food and environmental conditions.

You should always introduce the blue tang first and then add its tankmates along the way.

This allows the tang to establish its territory and become more accustomed to its environment before meeting other fish.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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