One fish, two fish, new fish!

Jessica Mackey
Staff Writer

We now have our very own Oscars on campus–of the fish variety.
They are our new aquatic creatures in the Batten Center aquarium. We even have an Albino Oscar, which the RecX staff members have named “Creamsicle,” because it looks like an orange creamsicle.
While the Batten staff members may be excited for the new friends, they are not the only people who appreciate the new fish in the tank.
“I think the new fish are really cool looking,” said sophomore Kevin Wolfe. “I enjoy taking time to stop and look at them.”
These fish join the two Brazilian Pacus that survived the water pipe mishap that occurred during summer break. This incident occurred when a pipe that regulates the circulation of water throughout the tank burst during a filter repair. As a result, the school is trying to enhance the fish tank so it represents the aquatic life native to our region.
The ultimate goal as Jason Seward, director of the Batten Center and Recreational Sports, described is to have our campus community go out and catch local fish, such as largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, freshwater catfish and aquatic vegetation from local streams and lakes, and to place these finds in the aquarium.
However, in order for that to happen, permits must be obtained through the Virginia Wildlife and Fish Services Department. Administrators are submitting the application to obtain the permits, which can be a timely process. Seward plans to have the permit by summertime.
In the meantime, the school wanted to have more than two fish swimming among us. Thus, Seward and his team did research to see what fish would get along with the Pacus. The result: our four new Oscars.
“The new fish in the aquarium are beautiful and I’m glad they get along with the Pacus fish that were previously there,” said sophomore Keren Dixon. “Otherwise we’d all be in for a treat.”
The school wants to purchase more fish before the tank is converted to the Virginia-based aquatic tank.
Seward says that the maintenance of the current 5,000 gallon tank is extremely difficult and requires multiple weekly tests, such as water checks. In fact, the school works with an outside company that comes once a week to regulate the tank. Therefore, the tank will continue containing freshwater, even after the conversion, because it is easier to maintain than saltwater.
“If the school were to have a saltwater tank, the school would have to a hire a full-time staff person just to monitor and regulate the tank,” said Seward. “We would have to make sure that the saltwater fish would not try to eat each other, as well.” Seward also thinks that freshwater fish are more hearty and more attractive than saltwater fish.
When the school finally makes the full conversion to the Virginian-based aquatic life aquarium, they will find new, big, well-maintained aquarium homes for the Pacus and Oscars to thrive.