A fishy roommate

Katie Ribbens — Staff Writer

All college students want a roommate who’s low maintenance, easy to get along with, and one that matches their sleeping habits. No one said they had to be human.

Freshman Faith Wester decided to bring a third roomie into her dorm at Covenant Hall. Her plan started in the summer months before arriving at Dordt, back in Idaho. Wester purchased a fish tank and decorated it with her preferred décor, even using sanitized rocks she collected at the beach. Wester went for a natural look, adding live plants and driftwood.


Over the next eight weeks leading up to move-in, she allowed the aquarium water to cycle until the levels were safe. First, ammonia builds up in the tank, which converts to nitrite and then to nitrate.  When the ammonia and nitrite levels hit zero, fish may be added. Wester packed the tank, water, and substrate along with her clothes for the twenty-hour drive to Sioux Center. She decided it would be safest to wait until she arrived at Dordt to buy the fish.

“When we got here, we drove down to Sioux City and stopped by PetSmart. They had tons of Betta fish,” Wester said.

When asked how she came to decide on her particular fish, she said, “He was feisty.”

Bettas are also known as the Siamese fighting fish. They commonly spread their colorful fins, so they are often kept in isolation. “We chose a Betta because they are a beginner fish and don’t take a lot of effort,” Wester said.

Wester decided to call her new friend Picasso, after the famous artist. “He looks like an art piece with his pops of color. It seemed like a cute fishy name,” Wester said.

Once she was in Covenant Hall, Wester carried cups upon cups of water from the community bathroom to her dorm a few doors down. As Dordt’s water is not safe for fish, Wester added a product that corrected the water levels.  Many Betta fish are kept in bowls, but Wester believed that the fish are much happier and healthier in larger tanks with heaters and filters.

While students may not take their dog, cat, or farm with them to Dordt, the student handbook allows an aquarium of up to ten-gallons.  Wester supports this policy.

“Dordt shouldn’t allow us to have more pets besides fish, because these are very small rooms—at least in the dorms—and anything more than this is going to take up either too much room or smell bad,” Wester said. A fish seems a good compromise between Dordt and students.

Picasso the fish has a happy ending. “And yeah, he lives with us now,” Wester said.

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