Today at my internship I dealt mainly with feeding the animals and changing out the floss bags. Today, I got to feed the albino turtle, the bullfrogs, the bass, the lungfish, and the blue catfish. To feed the bass, lungfish, and catfish I just had to throw the food in. The albino turtle and bullfrogs were much more entertaining to feed. To feed the bullfrogs I had to spear shrimp on a stick, and hold it in front of them so that they can jump for the food. However, bullfrogs aren’t the most intelligent animals, and they kept missing the shrimp, and would instead chew on the grass in their tank, thinking it was food. By far, my favorite animal to feed was the albino turtle. It had to be fed similarly to the bullfrogs, by putting the shrimp on a skewer and holding it near the turtle’s face. Sadly, since the turtle is albino, it’s basically blind, and kept missing the stick. She managed to get it all after a while though. The diet they give to the animals is varied, and the animals get different types of food every feeding session. Most of the fish get a special type of food, called a gel. The gel looks like a brownie, and has lots of proteins and nutrients to keep the fish and other animals healthy. The gel is alternated with things like shrimp, to keep the fish interested in eating, and to provide different kinds of nutrients for the fish.
After I finished feeding all the animals, I had to change the floss bags again, like I did on Monday. I also got to learn about the filtration systems in the aquarium. There are two types of filtration systems: sand filters and sumps. The sand filters bring water from the top through sand, and then sending the water to the tank. These are the systems that need to be backwashed. Backwashing these systems reverses the flow of water, which decreases the pressure and allows the entire filtration system to be cleaned. Sump filters are different, and use floss bags to filter the water from the tanks, sending it to a sump tank, which is then pumped back into the aquarium tank. Like I said in my last blog post, there are two kinds of floss bags: fluffy, which are thicker, and non-fluffy, which are a thinner mesh with larger spaces in the mesh. Certain kinds of floss bags have to go in different parts of the tank systems, depending on the amount of animals in the tank, the amount of biomass that is being generated and filtered out, etc.
During the course of this internship, I’m trying to determine if I want to be a marine biologist when I graduate. So far, I really enjoy the work I’m doing, and I think this is the career path that I want to follow after graduation. Even though most of the work I’m doing right now is very basic, such as vacuuming, cleaning tank windows, and changing the floss bags, there’s other work I enjoy, such as feeding the larger animals. Also, as I master the more basic jobs, I will get to move on to more difficult and interesting work, such as checking the wet lab, and doing feeding shows. I really enjoy working at the Oklahoma Aquarium, and I can’t wait to learn more!