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A Cleaning Crew

30 Dec

My husband has always loved fish.  We started with a 10 gallon hex in college, with mollies and angels.  Never had much luck with gouramis, but always tried.  Black stone, “natural” plants.  Once we were married and had kids, we had that same hex and a 20 gallon long with some cool goldfish in N’s room.  His goal was to have a saltwater tank.  He got that tank about 4 years ago. A 72 gallon bow front tank.

And it was beautiful.  He loved it and loved working with it.  Live sand and live rock. The most beautiful fish you have ever seen. Eventually my FF upgraded his lighting to allow for corals and began reading up on reef safe fish and LPS vs. SPS. It was beautiful and therapeutic.   Fish tanks are documented to lower b/p and anxiety. Fish are just plain good for my husband.


And then the fire world found us.


I love my husband, I love the tank.  But I have enough on my plate with the kids, the house and my classroom.  I will walk the dogs and clean up kids’ puke, but the tank was his responsibility.  We lost some fish with his EMT classes in 2009.  He was working all week and in classes on Saturday and Sunday for 12 weeks.  He barely kept his sanity, so care of the tank was at a minimum.  


He got through that and focus returned to his guys.  The tanks took some TLC, but it became beautiful again. He joined a reefers club, started networking.  Life was good.  It was a discussion point for all who entered our home.  He loved it and the tank was beautiful, yet again.

The MFD B.I.T.  – Bureau of Instruction and Training.  This is a FireBell
picture taken at a training in 2000.

Then came the fire academy – 07/26/10.  (I heard it chanted so often the date is ingrained in my brain.)  




This turned our world upside-down.  The first 4 weeks of the academy, I was able to keep things going well. But, I started teaching at a PreK-12 Catholic school an hour away from home.  I went from teaching AP Euro and US History in an inner-city public high school (that I still miss nearly everyday, but at least the guilt has subsided) to Church History in a private Catholic school.  I got to experience class sizes under 40.  It was crazy and good all at the same time.  But I was a single mom at this point.  J’s world was at the B.I.T.  He was there from 6:30 each morning until 7 each night.  He was there on Saturdays to study in peace, practice throwing up a ladder and chopping for 5 minutes on each side, as well as to wash his turn out gear.  There was not a lot of time for us to pay attention to the tanks.  After work, the kids, the dogs…the poor fishies just lost out.


After graduation, he swore he would get it up and running. He promised.  But it was more a case of barely maintaining a tank.  There was no love, there was algae, there were water levels that were lower than is healthy, an overflow blew the ballast for the metal hallide lights and we just did not have an extra $400 laying around for a new set. Some corals, feather dusters and a few fish survived the neglect as well as our move.  But the tank was still not good, we still had to get through the rest of paramedic school.  i was not sure how this was going to go.  About 6 weeks ago, we lost Nemo.  He was an original inhabitant of our tank.  It was a said day.  At that point, I broached the subject of his dedication to this tank.  It is time consuming and costly.  I asked if he wanted me to post it on the forum or on Craigslist.  It took some soul searching.

Chopper, our last cowfish.  They are so cool!!  Kind of hover and have
the most adorable personalities!

But, he cleaned it up.  The live rock is scrubbed and set back up, the sand bed was tended to, the glass was clean, the water levels safe for life.  Two weeks ago he got another pair of clowns, teeny compared to our last set, but beautiful none-the-less, as well as a flame angel.  I think the next that will be added are a pair of Banghaii Cardinals and a Hippo Tang.  I would like a Panther Grouper and a cow fish (my personal favorite fish of all time), as well.  Lastly, the plan is to add a six line wrasse to control the bristle worms and a yellow tang, which can both be territorial, hence their late arrival. 


But, and here is where this all started. We still have some algae issues.  There is a need for a cleaning crew.  So, last night, we headed out to get a couple of Emerald Crabs, some Red and Blue Legged Crabs and some turbo snails.  The Cleaning Crew has arrived.  It is a natural way to help out my hubby with the maintenance work.  The Crew shows that he is really thinking about getting this tank up and living again.  It looks as it did in the very beginning, sparse, barren, but life is starting to splash some color.  Perhaps it is a good thing, to just start fresh.  We have done it with our careers, our move to a new city – why not the fish tank as well.


Now…if I could just get a cleaning crew for my house…


Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

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