I took my first real vacation of the summer last week. A dear friend came out and we drove to pretty places, looked at pretty things, and on the whole sat still and went to bed early. It was a very good and proper vacation. Because I am the sole caretaker of some 600 zebrafish (that is the real figure), I had to pawn the week's fish care on to my boss. I cleaned the tanks before I left, I bought spare food, and I walked away.
I came back to school on Monday to find what can only be termed a complete and utter disaster. I am not prone to swearing--I really don't get angry enough most of the time, and I try to be more careful with my word choice when I am, but let me tell you, I swore. If my boss had been there, I might have chewed him out, which, if you know me, is basically like saying I was insane. Fortunately he was out for the day and my temper has since cooled.
One of the tanks was so hot it was off my thermometer, which goes to 94 F/34 C. The fish are kept commercially at 70 F/21 C give or take and I keep them at summer breeding temps of 82 F/28 C. It was so hot that the room felt like a sauna when I walked in in the morning. Fortunately no one died, but they were all at the bottom of the tank in the "colder" water.
Normally, the water down there would be cycled and evenly heated by the bubbling air. Unfortunately there was only 1 functioning air pump out of 4 attached to the tank. One line was unplugged, one pump is broken, and the last line appears to have been PHYSICALLY CUT. This was even more disturbing because hot water doesn't dissolve gasses as well as cold water, so not only were the fish too warm, but they were probably suffering from hypoxia. The door to the office/lab/animal housing room is not closing properly either. It no longer latches shut. I am feeling awfully paranoid.
So I blew my lid and spent the next 3 hours changing the water out 10 gallons at a time--remove, replace, acclimate for 30 minutes, rinse, repeat. Both the heaters are out of the tank and 3 of the bubblers are functioning again.
My work for the day was shot, so I went home and finished the sweater.
Also, today when I went in to lab my research actually worked for the first time. Finally, after 3 months of 40 hour weeks I can finally get this bad boy under way.
So, not a complete loss on the fish front. (and no, it was not the 94 degree tank which produced good results. Those fish are on "bed rest" for a while, because seriously, I'm lucky they are alive. My boss is a bad substitute fish-mom.)