RUSKIN (FOX 13) - Taylor, Lily, and Carson are what you'd call 'Finding Dory' experts. The little ones have seen the movie, the highest grossing of 2016, many times. They each have their own reasons for loving Dory.
"Because she has beautiful colors," says Carson. "She’s friendly and funny," adds Lily.
And thanks to some local research, they may soon have a Dory fish of their own.
Dory is a Pacific blue tang. Right now, a lot of attention is focused on them at the University of Florida Aquaculture Lab in Ruskin. The fish is currently available on the consumer market, but the supply relies on capturing it in the wild. This makes the fish expensive and it's bad practice for the environment.
Dory has never been successfully farmed, until now.
Eric Cassiano and his research team have been working on farming the Blue Tang for over three years.
"The popularity from the films Finding Nemo and Finding Dory make them extremely popular in the aquarium trade," he explains.
Researchers at the lab work with farmers of the state's massive ornamental fish industry. They develop new and innovative ways to farm fish. The blue tang could be a blockbuster seller.
Eric explains that breeding Dory took time and patience.
"Those first three years of attempting to grow the pacific blue tang were extremely frustrating," he said.
Only 27 fish survived from the first batch of blue tang they tried to grow. That was from 50,000 eggs. However, the numbers are gradually increasing. The latest batch had about 15 survive from 8,000 original eggs.
The lengthy research always keeps the same goal.
"When you buy the fish and it comes to your home and you put it in your tank, it’s going to survive and it's going to make it," says Eric.
The project is about one to two years away from completion. Depending on the size, a pacific blue tang will now cost anywhere from $50 to around $120. If all goes well with the project, consumers should expect to see those numbers drop significantly.