What Kind of Fish Is Dory From Finding Nemo

If you’re a millennial, then you must remember Dory. This adorable little fish has won millions of hearts ever since Finding Nemo, one of Pixar’s most popular animated films, hit the big screen in 2003.

What Kind of Fish Is Dory From Finding Nemo

The viewership of this movie is quite diverse – ranging from kids to elders. However, there’s something common amongst them all. The most common question is what kind of fish is Dory from Finding Nemo?

They all wonder if Dory belongs to a real species or is she entirely a fictitious character, the mere brainchild of filmmakers?

If similar questions popped in your mind as well after watching the film, then you’ve come to the right place. Together, let’s delve deeper into Dory’s background and find out whether she’s a real fish or not.

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Background of the Character

Voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, Dory is loved by children and adults alike due to her forgetful yet funny disposition.

In the first movie, she accompanies Marlin, the clownfish dad, on the search of his son Nemo across the deep sea. Despite her memory loss, she eventually saves the day.

The huge success of the film led to the launch of its sequel, Finding Dory, almost 13 years later. As reflected by the title, this movie was purely dedicated to Dory and how she tries to find her long-lost parents.

Following the footsteps of its predecessor, this movie was welcomed with open arms; especially by millennials who saw it as a way to relive their childhood memories.

In the movies, the blue-and-yellow bodied fish suffers from a mental condition which makes her instantly forget recent events.

She jumps from one topic to another unknowingly, making her a talkative character. She’s kind and friendly, but most importantly she plays a huge role in the series’ comic relief.

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Is Dory a Real Fish?

The answer to this question is yes, much to the pleasure and surprise of fans. Dory is a Blue Tang Fish which is mostly native to the Pacific.

It is scientifically termed as the Paracanthurus hepatus. Among local fishermen, it is also known as a hippo tang or regal tang. This fish can weigh up to 600 grams, with males being bigger than the females.

Dory a real fish

These fish fall in the category of tropical fish, so their vast habitats are mostly in areas near the equator.

That’s why they live and breed in the reefs of countries like Japan, Australia, Philipines, Indonesia, and East Africa.

Despite its colloquial name, this fish doesn’t always display its vibrant blue color. During the night, it may look white along with light shades of violet all over the body.

This is due to the lack of sunlight which is essential to reflect the original, vivid blue pigment of the fish.

In terms of socialization, these fish have a family-like system. They inhabit coral reefs by forming little groups with about 7 to 15 members in them.

Their usual meals consist of algae, which helps maintain the balance of their habitat. By consuming these algae, they protect the coral reefs from being flooded with these organisms.

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How Does Dory Differ from the Original Fish?

Despite being the most prominent representation of the Blue Tang Fish on big screens, Dory’s character is still somewhat different from its source of inspiration.

From minor changes in physical appearance to notable differences in behavior – following are some of the points which make the character not precisely like a Blue tang fish.

But before we begin, do remember it’s a movie. As such, certain changes and tweaks have been made to the character for several reasons.

The reason why we have analyzed this subject so deeply is that true fans of Dory may want to find out all about their favorite character. We just want to play our part in their journey.

1. Altering Color

In both the movies, Dory has a royal blue and black body with a bright yellow tail and fins. Although this portrayal is perfect, researches reveal that the color of the original Blue Tang doesn’t stay the same around the clock.

During day time, these fish can be easily spotted, kudos to the royal blue and black colored body. However, when night falls, a unique phenomenon takes place.

Their body looks as if an artist has coated it with pale white paint and splashed shades of violet here and there.

It does not look blue at all in the absence of light. This is because when the sun is up, its light is responsible for reflecting the vivid blue pigment.

Sadly, this incredible phenomenon was not portrayed in the movies.

2. Memory Loss

In Finding Nemo, audiences can quickly notice that Dory doesn’t have a sharp memory. She keeps forgetting events that happened moments ago and even people she just met and talked with.

This behavior is associated with her mental condition which we know as Short Term Memory Loss.

We find out in the sequel that this was a result of getting separated from her parents when she was a baby. As years passed, she roamed the sea alone which wiped most of her memories with them.

Dory claims that this forgetful nature is common in her family. However, we do not find any justifiable studies that show that real Blue Tang Fish suffer from such a condition.

In reality, researches disclose that the general class of fish can retain their memories for long periods.

Some experimental studies also reveal that fish can be taught to identify various shapes, patterns, and environments.

After being trained frequently, they retain this information. The Blue Tang breed hasn’t been explored in this regard specifically. However, we can suppose they possess decent memory traits similar to other fish species.

3. The Difference in Size and Other Features

The depiction of Dory as a Blue Tang is slightly different in terms of size. The films do show Dory as bigger than both Marlin and Nemo (the clownfish father and son duo) which is scientifically true.

However, you may be surprised to know that the real Blue Tang is way bigger than that. Adult Blue Tangs can measure up to 12 inches, which is far from the wee little portrayal of Dory.

We do get why this fact was tweaked a bit. Since both Finding Nemo and its sequel are animated films, characters are purposely displayed to be cute and adorable. People like and demand such characteristics in animated characters.

Another fact that was overlooked in the films is that the young Blue Tang Fish isn’t blue at all.

From their birth till a few years into the childhood, these fish are typically yellow – the blue color develops somewhat later.

One may argue that this isn’t relevant to the plots. However, it could still have been a pleasure to see the scientifically accurate depiction of the Blue Tang.

This little fact could have been depicted in Finding Dory which shows Dory having flashbacks of her childhood.

4. Responsibility Towards the Oceans

Since the Blue Tang is a member of the Surgeonfish clan, they are hugely responsible for sustaining the natural balance of their homes.

These fish devour the algae that spread all over the coral reefs. By doing so, they protect these magnificent reefs from being choked to death by the otherwise unrestrained growth of these algae.

In this manner, they keep their habitat in good condition, which not only benefits their breed but is great for other organisms that reside in these corals too.

This surgeon-like duty of the Blue Tang isn’t displayed in the movies, but no complaints there.

Although fans of the series may have adored the inclusion of this tiny fact, its exclusion is understandable.

It would have lengthened the story and may even have looked a bit needless to Dory’s plotline.

Should You Bring Dory Home?

We know most millennials would want to have a Dory in their fish tanks or aquariums. However, it is recommended that you don’t bring these fish home.

Should you bring Dory home

First, their size isn’t as small as it’s portrayed in the movies so taking care of them may give you a tough time. Also, they are a bit hostile towards other fish, especially peers of the same breed.

Moreover, you may not be able to breed them fruitfully in homes or even on a commercial scale. They are tropical fish.

Their natural homes are near the equator, so you bringing them home won’t do them a favor.

Most importantly, we shouldn’t promote their sales. This is because people who capture them choose ways that aren’t marine-friendly.

These fish are mostly caught by spraying cyanide which is a kind of poison. This is seriously harmful not only for this breed but also for other organisms. It also causes pollution and destroys natural reefs.


We hope you enjoyed finding out more about your favorite fish character. The love of most people towards Dory is commendable.

That is why it’s our collective responsibility to make sure we let the real Dory roam free in its natural habitats, instead of capturing or killing it.

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