Pacific Reef Community: Meet the cast

There's a certain, beloved Disney movie that almost always comes up during a visit to the Aquarium. In particular, there's a lot of finding in the Tropical Gallery on the first floor. You know what we're talking about. Yup, Finding Nemo! And you can see three species from the movie in the vibrant Pacific Reef Community.

The familiar fins of Nemo | via Wikimedia Commons

First up, the distinctive stripes and bright orange color of the clownfish! There are a couple species of clownfish in this exhibit, but it's the Ocellaris clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) that folks will recognize as Nemo. These are smaller fish that will grow to be only a couple inches long, at the most. And it's obvious that these little guys are on the smaller end of the spectrum in this exhibit.

Look closely! The clownfish usually hide out along the back of the exhibit toward the right.
But some folks have been able to get up-close and personal with these fish during a
 Behind-the-Scenes Tours

While clownfish in the wild (and the living coral exhibit) usually make a home in an anemone, this pair has carved out a small territory where they feel safe. Look for them at the far right side of the exhibit, along the back wall (see picture).

Next, Nemo's dad's good buddy Dory—the palette surgeonfish (Paracanthurus hepatus).

Palette surgeonfish
There are around eight of these royal blue beauties in the exhibit. They can grow to be about a foot long with a thin, pancake-like body shape. The name surgeonfish comes from the sharp scalpel-like spine at the base of their bright yellow tail. It's a defense mechanism. They can turn-tail and slice at threats, inflicting a deep wound with their sharp caudal spine.

There are around eight palette surgeonfish in the exhibit

Look for the palette surgeonfish cruising quickly back and forth across the exhibit, nibbling algae from the fiberglass corals or snacking on plankton in the water. 

Moorish idol

Last from the cast of Finding Nemo in the Pacific Reef Community, look for the one Moorish idol (Zanclus cornutus) cruising the reef. (Not to be confused with the pennant bannerfish, more on that black and white striped fish later.) This handsome fish of black, white and yellow has a distinct long, flowing dorsal fin and a puckered mouth. 

In Finding Nemo, Gill heads up the Tank Gang

There's a full spectrum of colors, patterns and behaviors streaming through the Pacific Reef Community on the first level of the New England Aquarium. Transport yourself to far-away reefs, where you can appreciate how life inspires art. 

The cast of Finding Nemo are just some of the Pacific Reef Community residents

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