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'Nemo' a popular find at pet stores

By STEVE HUETTEL
Published September 8, 2003

Disney-Pixar's hit Finding Nemo has finally dropped off the weekly Top 10 movie money list. But the animated flick about a lost clown fish continues to ring cash registers for tropical fish retailers.

While sales have ebbed a bit since the movie's opening in May, kids keep coming in to buy their own orange-black-and-white-striped Nemo. "I can't keep them in the store," says Jairus Treat, owner of Creative Oceans in Tampa. "The movie created quite a stir."

But budding tropical fish hobbyists are finding that keeping a clown fish isn't easy or cheap. The fish cost about $20 apiece. And like other marine species, they require a saltwater aquarium system, which starts at $250.

You also need to wait at least a week to put Nemo into the aquarium. It takes that long for rock and sand in the tank to fully cure and for the system to develop bacteria that help support the fish.

That's enough to discourage first-timers who planned to plop a clown fish into a bowl of tap water like a goldfish, says Chuck Yingst of Marine Warehouse in Tampa. He and Treat say they won't sell fish to buyers who can't care for them.

But the movie apparently created a different threat to pet fish: death by liberation. Nemo's companions in a dentist office aquarium hatch a plan to escape to the ocean though a sink drain.

According to news reports, the animated caper has inspired some youngsters to empty family aquariums down the toilet to free their fish friends.

[Last modified September 8, 2003, 01:46:45]

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