Elizabeth Helmkamp–Staff Writer
Recently, a new saltwater tank and freshwater tank have been set up in the basement of the new Science wing. Dr. Fred Sick donated the saltwater tank, and Ron Rynder donated the freshwater tank.
“I’ve been retired three years now, and we [spend a lot of time at a second] house in Minnesota on the lake,” said Sick. “We always had to have a house sitter [for the tank at home], and the guys at Dordt said they wanted to have a saltwater aquarium, so I decided to donate it to Dordt.”
The tank needs some restocking due to a salinity crash that killed all the coral in the tank. Dr. Sick said his property insurance covers the coral, so they will be able to restock it soon.
“The tank has to be running well in order to start putting coral into it, because otherwise… the coral will not take, it won’t grow and thrive,” said Dr. Steven Bogaard, who helps oversee tank care.
“[It would be] very well-advised, if you’re ever going into saltwater [tank owning], to choose a particular area—say, the Pacific Ocean—and then populate your hive with Pacific Ocean fishes,” said Ron Rynder, a retired Dordt professor. Still, “I don’t think we have any intention of saying ‘this is Sioux County’s version of the barrier reef,’” Bogaard said.
Currently, there is a raccoon butterflyfish in the saltwater tank. Sick said the butterflyfish eats parasitic aiptasia anemones. But it also eats coral, so it will be traded back and forth between this tank and a tank at Central Vet Clinic, where Sick works, in order to allow the coral to grow properly once it is installed.
“We have to make sure that we then keep the balance, we have to feed them enough that this butterflyfish will eat the food and not the good coral,” Bogaard said.
Rynder initially got what is now the freshwater tank from his son, building a base and hood for it soon after. The tank was kept as a saltwater tank in Student Services until he retired. In 2016, he decided to give the tank back to Dordt.
Bogaard said the tanks are going to be used only for display, not for storing fish to be used in experiments.
“One difference between the two tanks is, when you walk up to the freshwater tank, everybody’s gonna come out to greet you… sooner or later everything is gonna pass before your eyes. When you stand in front of a saltwater tank, first of all, you shouldn’t stand too close, and then stand very still, and little by little you’re gonna start seeing things move, and you’re gonna start seeing things appear out of the rocks,” said Rynder. Sick agreed with his assessment of the tanks.
“Look at the overall view, and then pick out a particular spot, and like I said, you can come back in ten minutes and it’s all different. It changes constantly. And when the coral gets in there, it’s gonna be even more so,” said Sick.
“Please don’t tap on the glass, but please come look at ‘em!” Bogaard said.