Watered down-Norris Hall aquarium remains a work in progress

Last year during Lil Sibs weekend Alex McKelvy, Midland senior, woke up to the worst e-mailed he’d ever received. The aquarium in Norris Hall that he worked hard renovating had flooded, causing 400 of the more than 500 gallons of water to pour out into the hallway and seep down into the lighting system of the Towsley Hall auditorium.

“It was catastrophic,” McKelvy said. “The whole tank shifted and the lighting system was severely damaged.”

Since that incident McKelvy, along with members from the Science department and facilities operations have been working to get the aquarium functioning again. According to Doug White, visiting assistant professor of biology, the college is working to get the aquarium running again by next semester.

The aquarium was originally donated during the science center campaign back in 2005 by Marie and Richard Ames and has functioned on again-off again ever since the new complex was dedicated in Fall 2006.

“Since I work here and both our daughters attended here, my husband and I really felt like we wanted to give back,” said Marie Ames, assistant director of college events.

According to White, the college decided to replace the tempered glass tank with an acrylic tank. Due to struggles in finding a supplier of the acrylic tank, progress on the renovation has been slow.

“We’re ready to remove the glass tank now but between the expenses involved and finding a supplier it (progress on the aquarium) has been taking some time,” White said.

Ultimately, the biology department and McKelvy would like to see the aquarium hold native fish and plants that require very little maintenance.

“The basic design was with little fish and to create a self sufficient system with lots of plants that are part of a whole ecosystem,” McKelvy said. “It’s (aquarium) designed to be low maintenance and the biggest upkeep would be changing one quarter of the water every week.”

Having worked with the aquarium since his freshman year and graduating at the end of Fall semester, McKelvy would like to see the aquarium become the centerpiece of Norris Hall and students to continue to be involved with the upkeep.

“It wouldn’t take much for a class or an interested individual to take care of,” McKelvy said. “So many people have to agree to get one thing to move forward, so I’m glad it looks like things are happening now.”

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