What’s Life Like For HUB Aquarium Fish These Days?

Ever since Penn State students left campus in March, most university buildings, including the HUB, have been closed and have still yet to open.

While it’s hard to imagine the HUB without hordes of students inside, we came to one extremely pressing question: What’s up with the fish in the HUB’s aquariums?

Those fish must be lonely without being able to see thousands of their best friends every day. How often are they fed? How often are their tanks cleaned? Are they living their best lives while no one’s there to see them?

Mary G. Edgington, a senior director at the HUB, said the aquariums are “monitored and cleaned on a regular basis.”

“We have two staff members at the university who have aquarium experience and have been managing the two tanks and accompanying fish for many years now,” Edgington said. “They are here in State College and have continued to do so throughout the shutdown. All is well with the coral and fish. The fish look happy, they are well-fed, and are ready to welcome the students back soon.”

Bill Straka, an aquarium caretaker in the HUB, outlined the specific procedures in place to manage the tanks. He noted that under normal circumstances, student volunteers could help check on tanks and complete any required maintenance.

“During normal times, we always have a few student volunteers assist by checking on the tank,” Straka said. “It provides a good opportunity for those interested in fish, coral or tanks to get involved and learn about how to take care of a tank.”

Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, no students were around to lend a hand. This meant that Straka needed to be more hands-on with the maintenance process, similar to how it runs during breaks throughout the academic year.

“During typical university downtimes, we do not have student help and I physically come by more often than normal  to make up for the absence of student volunteers,” Straka added. “We also have much of the aquarium equipment on a controller so we can monitor the tank using software on our cell phones. That system also includes supplemental automatic feeders so during normal times, holidays and breaks, the fish will not starve. This monitoring system allows us to confirm all is well.”

Everyone can breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing that the fish are okay, are doing well, and are ready for everyone to return to campus. Their positive attitude should be a reminder to us all: Just keep swimming, folks.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey was a Secondary Education major before he graduated from the wonderful institution known as Penn State. When he was not writing for the blog, he enjoyed rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor," and yes mom, actually doing school work. All of this work prepared him to teach his own class of students, which was always his true passion. He still can be found on Twitter @theowenabbey and can be reached for questions and comments at [email protected]

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