In the Middle School’s marine science lab, the fish tank’s more than a showpiece

Middle School students, faculty, and staff aren’t the only ones enjoying their amazing new building. Counting themselves lucky to be home again are also Siganus vulpinus, Crypotcentrus cinctus, and Oxycirrhites typus. 

For those of you scoring at home, that would be the Foxface Rabbitfish, the Yellow Watchman Goby, and the Long Nose Hawk, respectively, all happy inhabitants of the large fish tank which graces one wall of the second-floor classroom of Middle School Science Faculty Jon Butler P ‘25, ‘28. 

“The tank has a fully functioning coral reef in it,” said Butler, who added that it’s also fully automated, meaning that temperature levels and other important information can be monitored via an iPhone app. 

Green Chromis fish

Green Chromis - PC: krokodiver

The tank weighs more than a ton, measures 24 inches by 24 inches by 98 inches, and holds 240 gallons of water. In addition to the aforementioned aquatic vertebrates, there are two Percula Clownfish (think Nemo), one Hippo Tang (think Dory), and three Green Chromis (think a little green fish). Butler and his students love to take a few minutes to watch what’s happening in the tank because, invariably, something interesting takes place. 

“Just the other day we introduced a new anemone to the tank,” said Butler. “We put it next to another anemone in the tank, but, tragically, the new anemone established its territory in the tank and literally ate the other anemone.

“Shocking, I know,” continued Butler, but it’s just the way some of these animals interact and exist in nature.” 

Cleaner Shrimp

Cleaner Shrimp - PC: Chris Moody 

And the science lessons taught aren’t always that grisly. At any given time, observant students can see Goby fish hiding in little caves, Cleaner Shrimp walking over the rocks, Brittle Sea Stars emerging from the sand, or those same creatures regenerating an arm or two. Recently, students thought that the Cleaner Shrimp were attacking fish in the tank; further investigation, said Butler, revealed that the Cleaner Shrimp were cleaning and grooming the fish, a perfect example of a symbiotic relationship in nature. 

“The tank is a showpiece,” said Butler. “The kids always spend time at the beginning of class making observations.” 

For the record, the Middle School tank has the following fish: 

Hawaiian Yellow Tang

Hawaiian Yellow Tang - PC: Amada44

Foxface Rabbitfish
Percula Clownfish (2)
Sailfin Tang
Hippo Tang
Hawaiian Yellow Tang
Yellow Watchman and Orange Diamond Gobies (2)
Green Chromis (3)
Long Nose Hawk
PJ Cardinal 
Brittle Sea Stars (10)
Cleaner Shrimp (2)

In terms of coral, the tank boasts: 

Neon Green Rhodactis
Toadstool Leather Coral 
Green Star Polyp
Blue Mushroom Coral
Green Button Polyps 
Green Long Tentacle Anemone (“The villain of the tank,” says Butler, referring to the incident with the now deceased Purple Tip Sebae Anemone). 

There are also a number of snails and hermit crabs, said Butler, which also help to keep the rocks and the tank clean. 

“The tank generates so much excitement and wonder,” said Butler. “It’s just fun to be around that kind of energy.”

fish tank

The marine science lab's fish tank holds 240 gallons of water, and weighs over a ton

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