Leave The 'Dory Fish' To The Pros - 27 East

Residence

Residence / 1378604

Leave The ‘Dory Fish’ To The Pros

icon 2 Photos
Blue tangs like this one are beautiful, but not appropriate for novice aquarium-keepers. Yellowtail damsels and blue damsels are said to make good substitues. COURTESY LIVING ART AQUARIUMS

Blue tangs like this one are beautiful, but not appropriate for novice aquarium-keepers. Yellowtail damsels and blue damsels are said to make good substitues. COURTESY LIVING ART AQUARIUMS

A recently purchased three-dimensional printer at Westhampton Beach High School assembles a plastic protein model layer by layer on Monday afternoon. KYLE CAMPBELL

A recently purchased three-dimensional printer at Westhampton Beach High School assembles a plastic protein model layer by layer on Monday afternoon. KYLE CAMPBELL

author on Jul 31, 2016

With the success of Disney’s “Finding Dory,” which has grossed more than $400 million at the box office since its release in mid-June, there’s been a surge of interest in those pretty blue hippo tangs, also known as the palette surgeonfish, for use in private aquariums. That’s not surprising, given that in the 12 months after “Finding Nemo” was released in 2003, sales of clownfish jumped 40 percent.

There has since been a petition to place the little striped clownfish on the endangered species list, but there is a different problem with the lovely blue tangs, according to Vanessa and Matthew Parsons of Living Art Aquariums in East Quogue. Clownfish can be bred in captivity, but blue tangs can’t. And collecting tangs from the wild—as amateur divers are likely to do to fill a surging demand following the release of “Finding Dory”—causes lasting damage to the coral reefs in which they live.

“We really want to inform people that the Dory fish, hippo tang, regal blue, Pacific blue—they’re all the same fish—are really not an appropriate fish for anyone below expert level,” said Mr. Parsons, who noted that tangs also need a very large tank when they are kept in an aquarium.

“You can breed clownfish, but many of them are still taken from the wild,” he explained. “And they have had some success breeding yellow tangs and bringing the fry to adulthood, but only in the past year—and it was a huge big deal.

“With blue tangs, that hasn’t happened yet,” he said.

So did Disney—which shows baby Dory born at a marine biology institute—tell its audience a fish story?

“Leaving the theater with Matt was so funny,” Ms. Parsons said of seeing the film with her husband. “He was really riled up about all the inconsistencies and falsehoods in the movie. But that was the biggest one.”

Mr. Parsons was born in East Moriches, Ms. Parsons hails from East Quogue, and their mutual love of the sea and fish brought them together. Mr. Parsons is the fish and aquarium expert, and his wife handles the marketing aspect of their company, which was incorporated six years ago and installs both saltwater and freshwater aquariums. Living Art Aquariums also maintains more than two dozen large aquariums on the East End, many of them in homes and local businesses, as well as a few in schools.

Aquariums have always been popular, but they are becoming even more so since a study last year in the journal Environment and Behavior showed a real correlation between watching fish and a reduction in stress.

“A lot of our clients have high-stress jobs, and they really love having a home aquarium,” said Mr. Parsons, whose aquariums start at about $20,000.

One of those clients is Chris Schultheis of Hampton Bays, vice president and chief financial officer of Southampton Hospital, who approached the Parsonses about four years ago. The result was a half-wall, 200-gallon custom reef tank that serves as a divider between the Schultheises’ kitchen and living room.

“After a long day of work we enjoy winding down in front of our aquarium,” Mr. Schultheis said. “Our family has gotten to know the fishes’ personalities and we all have our favorites. And, because of Matt’s good work, we’ve been able to watch everything in the aquarium thrive.”

“Chris has been great because he’s trusted me all the way from start to finish,” Mr. Parsons said. “I didn’t have to fix anyone else’s problems. Any coral flourishes there. The fish are healthy and beautiful.”

The Schultheis family aquarium does have a tang—”The tank is more than big enough,” Mr. Parsons said. “The horses of the sea” is what he calls them. “They graze and travel in herds, and need to be able to ‘just keep swimming,’” he said with a laugh.

So which fish are a good choice for aquariums instead of blue tangs?

“Yellowtail damsel and blue damsels would be good substitutes,” said Mr. Parsons. “They’re hardier fish and far more forgiving for beginners.”

You May Also Like:

Dan Jaffe Wilder Presents ‘Kill Your Lawn’ in Bridgehampton on March 10

Ecologist, horticulturist and botanist Dan Jaffe Wilder, the director of applied ecology at Norcross Wildlife Foundation in Massachusetts and the author of “Native Plants for New England Gardens,” will present “Kill Your Lawn,” a talk on alternatives to turfgrass, on Sunday, March 10, in Bridgehampton, presented by the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons. Jaffe questions why every American house must be fronted with “a nonnative monoculture with the maintenance requirements of a golf course and the ecological value of a strip mine.” He will share ideas and methods for whole lawn replacement and strategies for reducing inputs and increasing ecological ... 1 Mar 2024 by Staff Writer

Prepare for Tomato Growing Season

This week I need to finish up on the Tomato series. Some hints of garden ... 29 Feb 2024 by Andrew Messinger

Madoo Plans Winter Lecture Series in Sagaponack and ‘Madoo in Manhattan’

Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack will host three winter lectures on site in the coming weeks and also has planned Madoo in Manhattan on Tuesday, March 19, with a talk from Cassian Schmidt on “Nature as an Ecological Palette” at The Cosmopolitan Club. The theme of this year’s winter lecture series is “Capturing the Garden,” with each event featuring a conversation between a landscape designer and the photographer who documents the designer’s work. “Guests will be treated to real behind-the-scenes look at garden photo shoots with tips on garden design and photography,” Madoo states. Each event will take place on a ... 27 Feb 2024 by Staff Writer

March 11: Cornell Cooperative Extension Presents ‘Lawn Alternatives’ on Zoom

The East Hampton Library will host Cornell Cooperative Extension for an online lecture on lawn alternatives on Monday, March 11, at 6 p.m. Presented via Zoom, the lecture will include information on how to reduce the size of a turf lawn or replace it with weed-suppressing groundcovers, ornamental grasses, perennials and shrubs. These changes to front yards, backyards or both increase biodiversity and attract a range of pollinators and other beneficial insects while enhancing landscape composition and appearance, according to Cornell Cooperative Extension. To register, call 631-324-0222 or visit easthamptonlibrary.org/calendar or eventbrite.com/e/lawn-alternatives-presented-by-the-cornell-cooperative-extension-tickets-779437226727. A Zoom meeting ID and password will be ... 25 Feb 2024 by Staff Writer

What Are Wetlands and Why Are They So Important?

Wetlands are places where the land is covered by or saturated with water — salt, ... 23 Feb 2024 by Anne Algieri

Know the Different Types of Tomatoes and Their Growth Habits and Uses

Tomatoes are classified by their intended use and by their growth habit. And while your ... 22 Feb 2024 by Andrew Messinger

Tech in Real Estate: Not a Replacement for Agents, but Another Tool in the Toolbox

Associate broker Deborah Srb has been in the real estate business for 30 years and ... 15 Feb 2024 by Brendan J. O'Reilly

In the Face of Low Inventory, Homeowners Are Focusing on Home Maintenance and Updates

Pandemic dynamics, rising mortgage rates, a burgeoning work-from-home movement and low unemployment rates may have ... by Joseph Finora

Tasty Tomatoes Are Elusive

You may have noticed that for years I’ve been on a rant about tomatoes. All ... by Andrew Messinger

The Beauty of Net Zero

“What is the use of a house if you don’t have a decent planet to ... by Jenny Noble