Friday, November 02, 2007
P3’s name is derived from its location. It is the third aquarium on the quarantine PAD. Therefore, we call it P3 for short. P3 holds approximately 10,000 gallons of seawater and can be inhabited by any number of different species at one time. As of Oct 20, 2007, it holds one bowmouth guitarfish Rhina ancylostoma and 8 southern stingrays Dasyatis americana. Why are these 9 animals in there? The bowmouth guitarfish used to live in the big tropical exhibit but that place was getting too small and too crowded for him because he is a quickly growing boy. The plan right now is to keep him in P3 until the bull shark leaves for her new home. The 9 southern stingrays got too big for their old home in the Shark Lagoon touch pools and therefore, they are moving to an aquarium that can accommodate them very soon. In the meantime, the animals in P3 are thriving while they wait for their permanent homes.
Quarantine aquariums are stripped-down, simple aquariums that are built to accommodate the animals’ basic needs and not built to be pretty. This is why P3 is essentially an enormous blue tub with a viewing window. Because very few aquarium visitors get to see the quarantine aquariums up close, we do not bother decorating them.
So what is a quarantine aquarium and why do we need them? A lot of aquarium hobbyists hate to hear this but… whenever you want to have an aquarium, you must have 2 aquariums. 1 to show and 1 for quarantine. The show aquarium is the one you put in the living room or any high traffic area where people can see it and enjoy it. The show aquarium is supposed to be your fish’s permanent home. The quarantine aquarium can serve many purposes. It can be a hospital for sick or injured animals, as a holding facility, or…you guessed it…a quarantine facility.
There are many reasons why we would need a mini hospital. Many times fish can get into fights with one another and somebody can get hurt. Or a fish can become too excited and accidentally hurt itself. The quarantine aquarium can serve as a place for the fish to heal their wounds. Fish can get sick and we do not want all the other fish catching that same illness. Therefore, we put the sick fish into the quarantine aquarium to prevent spreading of the disease and so that it is easier to take care of them. Quarantine aquariums are typically smaller than the show aquarium. This comes in handy because many fish medications are meant to be dissolved in the fish’s water. The less water the fish is living in, the smaller the medication dose has to be and the easier it is to control the dose. It is also easier to get to the fish if they are in a smaller space. Having a hospital around for any animal is generally a good idea.
Whenever we obtain a new animal, it has to go through quarantine regardless of its history, where it came from and who brought it. You never know what kind of diseases the animal is carrying and you can never be too sure that the animal is healthy. Whenever an animal is sick, its natural instinct is to pretend that is it healthy. To let other animals know that you are sick is a sign of weakness and predators love to exploit their preys’ weaknesses. In other words, it is very hard to tell if an animal is sick or not. This is why I give mad props to veterinarians. Animals cannot talk to tell you if they are sick and on top of that, they will usually hide the signs of their illness. Despite all this, vets must still be able to diagnose the disease and decide on an appropriate treatment. Vets are hardcore! Anyway, back to the subject. The best way to tell if an animal is sick is to observe it for an extended period of time. Sick or distressed animals will usually not eat. They can sometimes slip up and show some kind of weakness. This is why animals must remain in quarantine and be observed. It should also be noted that many diseases have a dormant period where the disease does not produce any symptoms and therefore, no indication that it is there. Therefore you should never take an animal out of quarantine too soon. Some animals may also be carriers of disease. By this I mean that the disease does not produce any symptoms at all but is still present and can still be spread to other animals. Thus, we quarantine to decrease the risk of spreading a disease and to observe for any signs of illness so that appropriate action can be taken to ensure the health of current show aquarium animals.
There are many tasks I get to do for P3. Water changes are conducted at least bi-weekly. With every water change, buffer must be added to the water to prevent the fluctuation of the aquarium’s pH. I get to conduct the water change and add buffer which is tons of fun. We usually change 30% of the water. I also get to prepare food for and feed all the animals. The animals currently in P3 are not picky about about what they eat. The food just has to be the appropriate size for them. The bowmouth guitarfish likes large chunks of mahi-mahi, whole squid, large clams and sardines. The southern stingrays take whole squid, clams and shrimp. Shrimp are too small for the bowmouth.
There are many other quarantine aquariums located throughout the Aquarium with many various animals. You never know which animals may be living where.
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