Saturday, June 2, 2012

How to set up your tropical aquarium

A few years ago I took an online course through UBC.  Each week we had to do a small writing assignment.  One of the assignments I was tasked with was to analyse the process involved in a seemingly normal task from start to finish.  I chose to write about my experience with setting up a new aquarium...

How to set up your tropical aquarium.

Take your recently purchased twenty gallon aquarium kit and place the box on the floor next to the slightly wobbly wooden dresser where it will reside. Get a piece of non-slip material, slightly larger than the base of your tank, and place it on the dresser. Carefully unpack the kit, placing the now empty aquarium on the non-slip material that you just laid on the dresser. Take the bag of gravel which the pet store associate assured you would fill the bottom of the tank, and rinse it off in cold tap water. Pour the gravel along the bottom of the tank, then use your hand to try to get it somewhat level.  Place the unrealistic florescent green plastic plant inside the tank, firmly covering the base with gravel. Stealthily go to the garage and "borrow" one of the emergency jugs of filtered water, stagger under it's weight and manage to balance it over the corner of the tank. Shriek like a banshee when the tank begins to tip, and reposition the jug to keep the tank from crashing to the tiled floor below. Release the cap and splash water all over yourself and the floor, managing to get about half of the contents of the jug inside the tank. Watch the gravel develop huge craters where the water hit, and see the plant float up to the surface of the water. Realize that this only filled the tank to the one third mark and repeat this process twice more, getting even more water on the floor, and yourself. Once the tank is nearly full, reach your already wet arm into the tank to smooth out the gravel and reposition the plastic plant. Insert the filter cartridge into the filter, then hook the filter and heater on the back of the tank. Pour a bit of water into the filter or it will never start sucking up and spitting out the tank water. Place the lid on the top of the tank. Curse loudly as the lid slips and displaces a quarter of the water from the tank to the floor and the remaining two inches of dry clothing you are wearing. Realize that there are no more bottles of filtered water left in the garage to borrow... and settle on a bucket full of cold tap water. Pour the contents of the package labeled "water conditioner" into the tank. Carefully try again to place the lid on the tank, making sure you do not repeat previous results. Find the light bar hidden in the kit and place it on top of the lid towards the back. Frantically search the house for a power bar that is not in use. Once one is unearthed, crawl behind your desk to find an outlet to plug it into, and plug the heater, the light and the filter into it. Try to turn on the light, then realize that the power bar is turned off. Rectify this, and use the light to guide your hand in placing into the tank the mini castle and bridge you splurged on at the pet store. You will also have to reposition the florescent plastic plant, as the lid knocked it loose from the gravel. Turn off the light. Get four or five large beach towels and mop up the mess. Change into dry clothing. Now your aquarium is all set up! Congratulations! You get to spend the next two weeks secretly refilling the emergency water jugs and trying to decide what type of fish to buy while the tank cycles.

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