Discover a colorful cast of tropical fish that live among coral reefs—home to almost 25% of all marine life!
Reef Fish at Walt Disney World Resort and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
At The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot, plunge into a world of underwater wonder—no snorkel or goggles required! With over 6 million gallons (23 million liters) of water, including exhibits dedicated to exotic reef fish and their coral coves, you never know what may swim by. You can also get an up-close look at reef fish while taking part in experiences such as Epcot Seas Adventures – Aqua Tour and Epcot Seas Adventures – DiveQuest.
At Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai‘i, explore Rainbow Reef, a 3,800 sq. foot saltwater lagoon that is home to more than a thousand tropical fish, including more than 45 different species of Hawaiian reef fish.
Reef Fish in the Wild
Reef fish live in expansive coral reef structures that tend to be located in shallow coastal tropical and subtropical waters. Some of the world’s most renowned coral reefs, and countless species of reef fish along with them, are found off the shores of Australia, the Philippines and the Florida Keys.
Threats to Reef Fish
It has been determined that habitat loss and destruction is the biggest collective threat to reef fish around the world. All reef fish need healthy, thriving coral and are impacted by the negative forces that harm the reefs they call home. Pollution, destructive fishing practices and climate change are just some of the threats that endanger coral reefs and reef fish.
Disney Conservation Efforts
The Walt Disney Company is passionately committed to the protection of reef fish and their coral homes. Find out what Disney is doing to make a difference and how you can help, too!
“Conservation isn’t just the business of a few people; it’s a matter that concerns all of us. If we will use our riches wisely, if we will protect our wildlife and preserve our lakes and streams, these things will last us for generations to come.” – Walt Disney
Discover the dangers facing reef fish and how Disney plans to help them.
Coral Today, Gone Tomorrow
Coral reefs are severely threatened and damaged by rising water temperatures, water pollution and ocean acidification—a phenomenon linked to skyrocketing carbon dioxide emissions that result from the burning of fossil fuels. People must change their ways for coral reefs to survive. Without a reef, there can be no reef fish!
Not as Hard as a Rock
Some people think that corals are indestructible rocks and not living things. People will stand on, kick or touch coral which can kill it. Anchors from boats can also destroy coral structures.
Food For Thought
When you think of an ocean reef, what usually comes to mind are beautiful neon fish swimming amongst a coral structure. However, there’s a bigger picture—those fish are not just beautiful, they’re vital to the food chain. The fish that people eat depend on reef fish for their food source. Take away reef fish, other fish die. The quest to catch more fish has led to fishing practices that exploit and destroy reefs beyond repair, ultimately making reef fish populations scarcer.
Disney Is Helping Reef Fish
The Disney Conservation Fund supports the efforts of nonprofit organizations to reverse the decline of coral reefs. The Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment team are leading coral conservation research and restoration projects, plus providing educational experiences for Guests at The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Castaway Cay and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa. Disney Cast Members are taking action to create offshore coral nurseries that will grow healthy corals to transplant to damaged reefs in the Bahamas. Additionally, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has collaborated with Monterey Bay Aquarium to select wild and farmed seafood for our menus that are not overfished or produced in ways that may compromise the well-being of our oceans, lakes, rivers and streams. All these combined efforts represent a positive force for change that can safeguard reef fish throughout the world.
Dive into the fishy facts about the spectacular species living at The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends Is Home to Many
Many species of reef fish call The Seas with Nemo & Friends home. On level 1, look out for clownfish, yellow tang, regal blue tang and cleaner shrimp. See hermit crabs, shrimp and butterflyfish too. On level 2, visit the Explorers’ Club to spot more fish, giant clams and sea stars!
Hiding in Plain Sight
The dazzling design of reef fish act as the perfect camouflage to blend in with boldly colored corals and the habitat around them. However, their camouflage does not always come in bright colors. Some reef fish are covered in lumpy protrusions. These bumps, often paired with the ability to change color, allow them to mimic the rounded, rocky appearance and mottled color combination of the reef around them. Other reef fish, like scorpionfish, have an uncanny ability to blend in with the ocean floor. See if you can find the scorpionfish the next time you visit The Seas with Nemo & Friends.
A Mutually Beneficial Relationship
Parrotfish rely on the corals for some of their food supply—they feed on their algae. In turn, corals rely on parrotfish to keep their algae levels in check before it smothers them.
Schooling Is for Followers
When a group of fish are swimming in synchronization, in the same direction, at the same speed and turn at the same time, they’re “schooling.” When fish are swimming together in a group that doesn’t do this, they’re “shoaling.” While schooling and shoaling are slightly different behaviors, they have the common benefit of deterring predators and offering mating opportunities for reef fish.
Discover what makes this species so unique and how they expertly survive and thrive in coral kingdoms.
A Celebration of Diversity
What do eels, seahorses and parrotfish all have in common? Despite their differences in size, color and diet, they’re all classified as reef fish that make their home amongst coral reefs. With such a wide variety of characteristics, habits and adaptations, reef fish are one of the most diverse animal groups on the planet.
Reef fish can capture their prey and expertly defend themselves against predators thanks to their unique physical traits. For instance, predator reef fish stun or snag their slippery prey with long snouts, sharp teeth and extendable mouths. Scorpionfish hunt and defend themselves with their venomous spines. Stingrays have barbs to use as a unique defense mechanism.
Coral reefs are a hub for fish survival. Smaller species of reef fish feed off of the microscopic algae, plankton and invertebrates growing on coral polyps. Larger reef fish actually eat coral polyps. The bigger fish also eat the smaller fish. These species are so intricately interconnected that the disappearance of one species of reef fish or the abundance of the wrong algae can throw the entire reef ecosystem out of balance.
Find out a number of ways you can help protect reef fish every day.
Choose Sustainable Seafood
Reef fish ecosystems are very fragile. Purchasing sustainable seafood can help protect nature. To find sustainable seafood options in your area and to learn about which items to avoid—download this free Seafood Watch app for your mobile device.
Home aquariums are a great way for kids to learn about animals and nature. However, saltwater aquariums with reef fish can be tricky for beginners. Consider a freshwater aquarium instead. Learn more about home aquariums in this fun video.
Look, Don’t Touch
The next time you go swimming in the ocean, remember that living coral is easily damaged. So, don’t stand on, kick or touch coral.
Use Water Responsibly
Protecting reef fish is as easy as turning off the tap. By reducing the amount of water you use in your everyday life, you can limit the amount of runoff water entering oceans and polluting waterways.
Everything that goes up must come down… and that includes balloons. Released balloons can travel thousands of miles before landing in the ocean. Fish can mistake pieces of burst balloons for food, which can be life threatening for them. Instead of releasing balloons, plant a tree, fly a kite or blow bubbles for a memorable and wildlife-friendly occasion.
Visit the Websites Below
The Walt Disney Company is committed to protecting the planet and using resources wisely. We conserve nature and inspire kids and families to join us in caring for the planet. Explore the websites below to see how Disney is helping to make the world a better place—and learn about the many creative ways you can make a difference, too!
“I have learned from the animal world. What everyone will learn who studies it is a renewed sense of kinship with the Earth and all its inhabitants.” – Walt Disney