Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Preparing Tank for These Fish Is No Time to Clown Around

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Preparing Tank for These Fish Is No Time to Clown Around

Article excerpt

The cute and colorful fish portrayed in the wildly popular movie "Finding Nemo" seem to be on the verge of suffering the same fate as the Dalmatians and pugs depicted in other movies viewed by millions of children.

Kids who loved the movie now want to get their very own Nemo, Marlin and Dory. Pet stores and aquatic dealers are being swamped with requests for clown fish and tangs, the fish that star in the Disney/Pixar film.

When the same thing happened after other hit animal movies, less- than-reputable breeders produced droves of Dalmatian and pug puppies. Shelters and rescue organizations are still feeling the fallout, as once-loved puppies grow up and get dumped into the rescue network after parents discover that real live dogs are more work than expected.

Fish won't be dumped at shelters, but many will die due to improper care.

This was brought to my attention by Steven Pro, owner and operator of Pro Aquatic Services in Baldwin. He sets up and maintains aquariums for individuals and businesses.

He sent me a four-page tip sheet on how to care for your very own Nemo. I can't get into all of it here, but the bottom line is, you need to do your homework before buying any animal.

Saltwater tanks are complicated, and Nemo is much harder to care for than the goldfish children win at carnivals.

Pro suggests starting with nothing smaller than a 20-gallon tank.

"If your only goal is to keep two clown fishes, you are in luck, as the initial investment will not be too great," Pro writes. "For this setup you are probably looking at just several hundred dollars."

Pro then lists more than 20 things needed for the start-up tank, including 20 pounds of live sand, 30 pounds of live rock, a 100- watt submersible heater, dechlorinator, gravel siphon and algae pad/ scraper.

And here, perhaps, is the most important tip of all: You cannot buy the fish, the tank and the equipment all on the same day. The tank must be set up for one to four weeks before adding fish. …

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