What Kind of Fish Is Flounder from “The Little Mermaid”?

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Written by Angie Menjivar

Updated: October 14, 2023

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If you’ve seen “The Little Mermaid,” you’ve probably memorized the lyrics to all the songs that made it such a hit in 1989. However, the original story is a bit different, even missing some supporting characters that won many hearts. Flounder is one such character whose loyalty and playful innocence add a unique touch to the story. Discover what kind of fish Flounder is and learn more about the characters from the movie!

What Is the “The Little Mermaid” About?

“The Little Mermaid” is a fairy tale that follows the life of a young mermaid who discovers humans and wishes to become one of them.

The author of “The Little Mermaid” is Hans Christian Andersen.

©Alan Poulson Photography/Shutterstock.com

Hans Christian Andersen’s Version

The author is Hans Christian Andersen, and the story was published for the first time in 1837. It was written originally for children. However, over the years, it has become a topic of study for many scholars. Their goal was to understand the themes throughout the story and identify the reasoning behind such a happy ending to a rather tragic story. For many, the Disney version of the story comes to mind as it grew in popularity. Nonetheless, it’s also been adapted and interpreted in plays, ballet, and theatre.

When the story starts, you’re introduced to the young mermaid and her father (the sea king), who is a widow. You also meet her sisters and her grandmother. As the story unfolds, you learn that when a mermaid turns 15, she is permitted to swim all the way up to the surface to take a firsthand look at the human world. She’s only heard secondhand tales of what lives above the surface, so when it’s finally her turn, she’s ecstatic.

The day she swims up to the surface for the first time, her heart is stolen by a handsome prince. She only watches him from a distance, as he celebrates his birthday. It’s a raucous affair, and she’s enthralled not just by the fun being had but primarily by the handsome man. Unfortunately for those on the ship, a storm causes it to capsize. The young mermaid interferes to save the man she’s fallen in love with. She delivers him to shore and waits nearby to ensure he is doesn’t hands before departing. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get a chance to thank his rescuer.

Walt Disney’s Version

As the 1989 Disney version of the story progresses, you meet Flounder, her loyal companion. You watch as her desire to become a human and gain a soul takes her to the sea witch. Once she becomes a human and gains her soul, she has to abandon the underwater kingdom that her father rules. Not only that, but she needs the prince’s love to survive, or she will die from a broken heart. The original story incorporates more tragedy than the cartoon movie. In the end, though, her sincerity and selflessness earn her an opportunity for a new life.

Flounder from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”

Flounder is a character that came about in Disney’s adaptation of the fairy tale. The book focused more on family dynamics and didn’t even name the characters. Although you might think he’s a flounder based on his name alone, Flounder is much more colorful than a true flounder. He is bright yellow with blue stripes and blue fins. Though there is no confirmation of the exact type of fish he is, one thing is certain: he’s not a dark-colored flounder. The more accurate guesses for Flounder include an angelfish or other tropical reef fish exhibiting these vibrating colorations.

Regal Angelfish, Pygoplites diacanthus, a saltwater angelfish from the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea.

The Royal Angelfish (

Pygoplites diacanthus

) is a saltwater angelfish from the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea.

©PAUL ATKINSON/Shutterstock.com

What Does a Real Flounder Look Like?

Fresh catch of the starry flounder ( Platichthys stellatus ) on the beach. Sea of Okhotsk. Khabarovsk Krai, far East, Russia.

Flounder are flatfish which enables them to blend in with the sea floor.

©Konstantin Baidin/Shutterstock.com

Flounder belongs to a group that is broken into four distinct families, Achiropsettidae, Pleuronectidae, Paralichthyidae, and Bothidae, which are classified within the order Pleuronectiformes. They are commonly divided into two families – right-eyed and left-eyed. Their name, flounder, isn’t an accurate name as they are actually flatfish that blend in with the sea floor.

Flounder are not colorful fish and have a range of colors that go from white on their undersides to different shades of brown and gray on their topsides. They may also have various tints, or shades, that range from pink and orange, to blue, green, and black. However, they aren’t brightly colored and their eye placement is unique. Both of their eyes are on the same side of their body, although the placement can be entirely different, depending on the family, with some on the left or some on the right side.

Other Wild Animals in “The Little Mermaid”

Aside from Flounder, the little mermaid is also frequently accompanied by Sebastian, a rather neurotic crab. Although there has been some confusion with some thinking he is a lobster, according to the Ocean Conservancy, he is not. Sebastian has a shorter tail than a lobster and doesn’t have the antennae that distinguish lobsters. Additionally, his color gives him away.

Flotsam and Jetsam are two other characters in Disney’s adaptation. They are moray eels that slither about when the sea witch is present. These aquatic creatures are ruthless predators. They have two pairs of jaws, which allows them to wretch onto their prey and ensure a kill and a meal. They’re not the friendliest looking either!

The other character worth mentioning is Scuttle. He is a rather peculiar seagull that helps the little mermaid make sense of the “human stuff” she encounters.

crab

Sebastian is a crab, not a lobster. He has a shorter tail than a lobster and doesn’t have the antennae that distinguish lobsters.

©iStock.com/ANDREYGUDKOV


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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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