Tahlequah Daily Press

December 16, 2013

Aquariums often provide soothing comfort

By RENEE FITE
Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — An aquarium is ever-changing, always moving art that soothes and entertains.

When it’s salt-water fish and anemone, it’s in brilliant colors of purples, pinks, lime greens, oranges and yellows.

Whether it’s a small or large tank, the sea life within often fascinates young and old with the unusually bright fish colors and anemone shapes and colors. Several businesses in town have them to keep the children occupied while parents shop or speak with the staff.

One of the largest aquariums in the area is on display at Green Country Funeral Home.

“David [Dick] has had one here for more than 10 years; he recently upgraded to this 500 gallon one,” said secretary Sandy Rader. “It’s soothing, calming, relaxing and a great baby-sitter.”

The staff enjoy watching show as much as the visitors, Rader said.

“Many people have never seen a saltwater aquarium before and kids always recognize ‘Nemo,’ a clown fish and ‘Dorian,’ the fish in the Disney movie,” she said.

Owner David Dick got his first tank with kids in mind.

“I got one to make kids more comfortable. It turns out adults like them, too,” said Dick.

The Mandarin Goby is his favorite fish in the tank, he said.

“Look at its nose, it has an unusual face and bright markings,” Dick said, after searching around the tank for a few minutes before locating the orange, black and blue fish.

Nooks and crannies provided by the rocks and anemone give the fish places to hang out. In the back of the tank behind all the anemone -covered rocks, a sea urchin rests in the sand.

Every Tuesday, Nick [Davis] comes in to check on the aquarium, Rader said.

“David donated his old tank to the high school,” she said.

“They had one that needed repair,” Dick said, “so we gave our old one to them.”

For almost 12 years Davis, with Under the Sea, has been involved in the family business. They travel all over Oklahoma but mainly stay in the Tulsa, Muskogee, Bartlesville areas.

“We service our maintenance accounts once a week and try to predict what the tank will do and look like over that week,” Davis said.

On his weekly visits Davis sifts sand, checks the water level and pH balance to be sure everything is okay, Rader said.

“Everything in here is considered alive,” Rader said. “We have anemone, frog spawn coral, green sea mat, hairy mushrooms, purple mushrooms, Tang [fish], Blue Hippo Tang, Rock Angel, Flame Angel, Sail Fin Tang, and sea urchins. We’re careful to put in only coral-friendly fish.”

The tank is self-contained with a filter system underneath in the cabinet. Every day, they feed about seven cubes (sugar-cube size) of frozen shrimp.

In Cookson on Wednesday, Davis was enjoying his job of keeping aquarium fish and anemone healthy and happy.

“Most of your popular fish are going to be your clown fish, yellow and purple Tangs and Blue Hippo Tangs. Vital cleaning creatures would be turbo snails, blue and red leg hermits and a variety of urchins,” Davis said.

We have tanks that have been on our route since the beginning, he said. There is no real time frame on the life of a tank, it just depends on how good you are.

“The best tank sizes, in my opinion, range from 100 gallon and up. The bigger the better,” said Davis.

Another tank Davis tends belongs to Chris Bond, at Trigger Happy Tactics on Allen Road.

“I also have one at home; they’re pretty to look at, like an underwater garden,” Bond said. “They have vibrant colors, with bright yellows, fluorescent greens and dark purples.”

Being kid friendly is also a reason Bond got his first tank.

“It gives the kids something to look at when they come in with their dad, there’s something always moving,” he said.

The tank at his business is 150 gallons and at home, 75 gallons.

“I baby this one more,” said Bond, “it has a ‘Nemo’ fish, and the unicorn Tangs are really pretty,” he said.

He chooses plants that the fish can eat, so he doesn’t feed them.

“It took about a month to set it up, for the tank to stabilize when you set it up. I have cope pods, now it’s its own eco-system.”