Campus fish a big attraction

Fox Face, a foxface rabbitfish, swims among clownfish, blue tangs, cleaner shrimp and other aquatic creatures in a saltwater fish tank. Fox Face is the newest addition to theaquarium, located on the second floor of the Science, Engineering and Mathematics Center. (Whitney Knight/Pioneer)

Students on the second floor of the Main Building are being stared at all day by a non-student named Fox Face.

But this non-student is not a threat, unless a student encounters his spiky fins.

He’s the new foxface rabbitfish that was added to the saltwater tank by the biology center two weeks ago, said Ross Kiddie, Biology Lab assistant.

Kiddie, who is the caretaker of all the fish tanks and ponds on campus, said Fox Face is a highly poisonous fish.

He said the yellow and black fish shows he is not afraid of others by raising his sharp spikes on his back when other fish come near.

“He does not go after others on purpose,” Kiddie said, “But merely uses his spikes as a defense mechanism.”

Fox Face is just one of the dozens of creatures that live in the campus tanks, which are located on the first and second floors of the Science, Engineering and Mathematics Center.

Kiddie said he has been taking care of the fish tanks for 15 years.

“Another professor brought in some aquariums and I just took them over,” he said.

Another fish students are fond of is a clownfish named George that lives in the same tank as Fox Face, Kiddie said.

He said students also are amused by a shy yellow tang who lives in the same tank.

Kiddie said the fish is often called Golby or Watchmen because every time someone comes near, he retreats into hiding.

He said the nearby couches are filled nearly every day with students who come to watch the fish.

Devin Newsom, OCCC student, said he enjoys the fish tanks.

“I think having fish tanks on campus really makes this place feel more like home,” Newsom said.

“It gives us something to look at and take our mind off stressful coursework between classes,” he said.

Newsom said he has also seen mothers bring their children by the tanks to watch the fish.

Kiddie said another place students might want to go to see fish is in the Zoology Lab, where a saltwater tank holds three fish, a mushroom sponge and coral.

He said he takes care of the saltwater tanks by monitoring salinity and adding chemicals each week.

Although many students walk by and see only fish, Kiddie said, there are many different things living in the tanks.

For instance, he said, the zoology students make use of the tanks for class.

“They study the different phylum of each species, and look at the fish, crabs, snails, starfish, sponges and coral,” Kiddie said.

As well as caring for the fish, he said he also purchases them.

Kiddie said there is a large price difference in the types of fish he buys.

He said freshwater fish, like the red tiger oscar located on the first floor, cost about $3 to $4 apiece. Saltwater fish like Fox Face, however, cost about $50 apiece.

Because there is so much traffic around the tanks, Kiddie said, he gets all kinds of questions about them.

“That’s why I put pictures up of everything in the tanks with the names of the fish and other species,” he said.

Kiddie said he took the Child Development Center and Lab School on a tour of the tanks recently.

“They were really just here for the worms, but were quickly side-tracked when they saw the fish,” he said.

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