The protagonists were trying to bring the clownfish Nemo back to his coral reef after he was captured by a diver and housed in a fish tank.
But outside the theater, quite the opposite occurred.
National Geographic estimated sales of clownfish as pets tripled solely because of the film, and while clownfish can be bred in captivity, the demand grew so that they were still being taken from the wild. The event caused a sharp decline in the species’ population in areas around the Great Barrier Reef and Phillipines.
Now, there’s “Finding Dory.”
Disney’s sequel to the hit will open in theaters June 17, with “Dory” personified in the movie by a regal blue tang, a brightly colored blue tropical fish with yellow accents around its tail.
Corey Houser’s Village Pets wasn’t open when “Finding Nemo” opened in theaters over a decade ago, but Houser doesn’t believe the demand for regal blue tangs — the sequel’s star — will surge quite like clownfish.
One major reason? Cost. A clownfish cost between $10 and $15, Houser said.
Inside his West Market Street store, Houser has one of the few regal blue tangs for sale in Johnson City. He estimates the approximately 8-inch fish is about 8 years old.
And it will cost you $350, plus another $800 to $1,200 for the proper salt-water aquarium, Houser estimated.