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Nemo's Chamber Boy
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» More From The Oregonian

Raising 'Nemo' 'Nemo': You may shell out a few clams

06/24/03

"Finding Nemo" is making waves at the box office -- and the pet store.

From Our Advertiser

The latest release from Disney Pixar, which tells the story of a little clownfish's journey from a dentist's aquarium back to the sea, is one of the hottest movies in the country. It has grossed almost $228 million since its opening May 30.

In the wake of the film's success, a flood of folks want to find Nemo -- in their own aquariums. As a result, sales of all kinds of fish, especially clownfish, are up.

"All the kids are pointing at the tanks, saying, 'Nemo! Nemo! Nemo!' " says Travis Heidt, co-owner of Upscales Fish & Reptiles in Tualatin.

This sudden interest has many fish lovers worried. The reality is that aquariums, especially saltwater tanks, are a sizable investment and take considerable work to successfully maintain.

Just as many families have learned that a real Dalmatian isn't a lot like Disney's sweet, roly-poly cartoon version, aquarists fear that people will quickly tire of their clownfish, with the result being more fish going down the drain.

"If you're going to get a fish, plan ahead," says Tim Miller-Morgan, Oregon State University Sea Grant veterinarian. Before you invest your money -- and the lives of fish -- learn everything you can.

Seek out a retailer who is knowledgeable, ethical and interested in your goals.

"They should say, 'Start with a book,' " says Alice Hart, chairwoman of the Pacific Northwest Marine Aquarium Society. She advises going to stores on weekdays, when the retailers have more time to talk with you.

Good-quality retailers care about the fishes' natural environment. About 98 percent of saltwa- ter ornamental fish are caught in the wild, Miller-Morgan says. There are global efforts to ensure that the fish are being harvested at a sustainable rate, with methods that don't harm their fragile reef environments. Ask the retailer how he or she ensures the fish in the store are harvested responsibly.

The investment "A goldfish bowl and some table salt won't do," Hart says. You'll need a tank, special lighting, a filter, a heater, pumps, salt and sand. Although some small setups might cost as little as $300, most good-quality start-up systems cost between $1,000 and $3,000 -- before you get a single fish. Elaborate tanks can cost $10,000 or more.

And then you need some patience. "The cycling process takes about four to six weeks and is a crucial step to having a successful aquarium in your living room," says Roland Holtz, president of the Greater Portland Aquarium Society. During this time, the tank stabilizes its temperature, salinity levels and overall environment. While you can introduce a few hardy fish during this time, you need to wait until the tank has stabilized to add most of the fish.

Maintenance and magic The tank needs to be monitored regularly and cleaned every few days. Expect to spend a minimum of a half-hour to an hour a week caring for the tank. "You're really a janitor for the fish," Miller-Morgan says. If the beauty of a fish tank compels you but the custodial work isn't your strength, consider hiring a fish-maintenance service.

An aquarium is hypnotic: the intense colors, the fishes' lyrical movements, the swaying of the coral. And many studies confirm that looking at an aquarium lowers your heartbeat and improves your mood. A study by the University of Pennsylvania, for example, monitored the blood pressure of 20 people alternately reading aloud, looking at a wall and watching an aquarium. Blood-pressure levels rose during the readings but fell when people stared at the wall -- and fell even further as they watched the fish tank.

It's the mystery and magic of real fish that even the most fabulous movie will never be able to replicate. And maybe that's the long-term lesson that a new generation of fish lovers might learn from "Finding Nemo." Deborah Wood: [email protected]
 

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TRT Staff The Mominator
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Boo hiss on the GPAS suggesting that you cycle the tank with fish :(

She did a pretty good job on the article! She confessed that she was not a fish person so it was very interesting for her to learn about our hobby.

She did include a link to the PNWMAS web site and TRT on a side bar, too.
 

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Nemo's Chamber Boy
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4,539 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
yeah soon as i read the article i checked out a search for gpas, and on their site i couldnt find even one mention of salt. maybe she should have done a bit more research before asking a guppy person about saltwater :p

at any rate, it was a great article and thank you for representing us so well as a conscientious group. lots of folks think we are reef rapers or something, and that is just not the case with everyone i have met here at least.

*clap clap clap*
 
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