Welcome to my blog about working at the Oklahoma Aquarium in the freshwater department. My first duty of the day is to go around the freshwater section and clean all of the tank windows. While not the most glamorous job out there, I really enjoy cleaning the windows, because it gives me a chance to observe the animals alone, before the crowds get there, and it gives me a chance to see what the animals are like earlier in the day. After I clean off the windows, I clean the Amazon River tank. This tank houses an arapaima, a catfish, two stingrays, and three iguanas. Cleaning this tank was my favorite part of the day, because the wildlife in it is so interesting. Even though I had to scrub iguana droppings off of the concrete tree logs, and wipe down the windows while balancing on the concrete tree logs, I got to do all of that while an old iguana named Rex slept right next to me. It was awesome! After I cleaned the Amazon tank, I changed floss bags on all the freshwater tanks. Unfortunately, floss bags have nothing to do with teeth. Floss bags are actually mesh bags that are used as filters. There are two kinds of floss bags: fluffy, and non-fluffy. Fluffy floss bags are tightly knit, so they filter out the smaller particles. Non-fluffy floss bags have slightly larger gaps between the mesh, which allows smaller particles to get through. Lastly, I followed one of my supervisors as they fed all of the fish. Most of the smaller fish got bloodworms, krill or chopped shrimp. The larger fish, like the alligator gar, the alligator snapping turtle, and the bullfrogs got larger pieces of fish, like mackerel, and herring. However, they change the diets of the fish every feeding day. Feeding days are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. They choose the food in the diet to give the fish lots of protein and nutrients to make their scales brighter.
Even though I want to be a marine biologist, which means I would be dealing more with the ocean than with flowing freshwater, I’m so glad that I have an opportunity to work with these fresh water animals. I think it’s really important to understand how freshwater organisms and habitats work, because freshwater is so important to life on earth. Especially now that freshwater is getting scarcer and scarcer, I think its really important to understand these organisms, so that we can minimize or even eliminate the harm to their habitats in our quest for drinkable water. That wraps up the first day of my internship, and I can’t wait to learn more!
Tuesdays and Thursdays are backwash days at the aquarium. To backwash a tank, you first have to vacuum it out. To vacuum a tank, you take a plastic hose, put one end in the water, and suck on the other end to start the siphon. Once the water is flowing out of the tank, you move the vacuum around the bottom, to get up any dirt or fish droppings that have settled. After vacuuming, you have to backwash the tank. Backwashing is just a way to clean out the filter system. To start backwashing ,you have to turn off the return water valve, so that the dirty water isn’t flowing back into the tank. Then, you set the water pump on “backwash”, and let it run for two minutes. This flushes out all the nasty dirt and residue. After this, the backwash is done, and you can refill the tank with freshwater. The most entertaining part of my day was when I was scrubbing hard water lines off of the bullfrog exhibit. Hard water lines get created when the minerals from the freshwater get left behind from evaporation. These lines are incredibly hard to get off, especially when you add two angry bullfrogs that try to bite you when you’re cleaning their tank. Fortunately, I didn’t get bit, but the bullfrogs did put in a lot of effort. Lastly, I got to prepare the green beans and collard greens that are used for the iguana food. Tuesdays and Thursdays aren’t very busy, so this is all I got to do today. But tomorrow is another feeding day, and hopefully I’ll get to feed some fish!