This is a test of the marketing department’s new aquarium. This is only a test.

A test which we—or, I guess the tank, as it were—failed (cue “wah-wah” soundbyte).

I’ve never been terribly good when it comes to taking tests. And—although it may be mere coincidence—I have a sneaky suspicion it is because I never studied.

Well, I failed. Again. Doh!

I have this monster fish tank on my desk and the thing is frickin’ beautiful. Everyone who walks by has to 1) stop 2) do a double-take 3) walk in a slow, trance-like state towards the tank and 4) utter a Neo-like, “Whoa.”

The next question, of course, is “Hey, brah … when ya gonna stick some fish in that bad boy?”

Well, actually bro-ham, I was hoping today was the day.

We setup our tank last week. We did everything by the book*, so to speak: performed a leak test, assembled the tank, double-checked all the electrical, rinsed the sand, put in a few pieces of live rock and let our little ecosystem run on auto-pilot since Thursday of last week.

*I feel I should explain my “by the book” remark since I haven’t actually read any books about marine aquaria. I did read a book about sharks once when I was in 2nd grade. My more advanced knowledge of the ocean comes from reading The Black Pearl in 7th grade, visiting the Aquarium Of The Pacific, Sea World and watching Planet Earth on the Discovery Channel.

Trang, a purchaser whom I work with at, came by to ogle our tank and asked the question everyone is dying to know. She is a really upbeat person, always taking the time to say hello and smile. The suspense is evidently killing her, too, because she asked if this guy could live comfortably in our tank; even offering to buy the fish herself.

Man oh man, I am so ready to see some fishies swimming around in this thing!

Long story short—or medium length, depending on your opinion—Ben (heretofore referred to as “The Fish Guru”), my boss, said I needed to use Red Sea’s Marine Lab Five-in-One Master Test Kit to measure the Nitrite, Nitrate, Ammonia and Calcium levels of the aquarium before even considering the idea of adding any fishy friends.

Blast! I’ve been thwarted by The Fish Guru.

“Well, no matter,” I thought. The water in the tank is crystal clear, the Feather Dusters on the Live Rock Live Rock & Sand Sand are ugly but alive and our Marshall Island Electric Blue Hermit molted yet survived the weekend. “We are good to go,” I said to myself.

Just then someone walked by and asked me why I keep talking to myself. I muttered some expletives under my breath about my right to privacy while getting out the testing supplies.

Of all the responsibilities that come with owning a saltwater aquarium, I admit I was most apprehensive about performing the water tests. Why? Well, for starters, the test kit looks like a chemistry set. I’ve never taken a chemistry course and probably shouldn’t be trusted with my own kit of mysterious chemicals anyway. Nevertheless, I swallowed my nerve and read through each test’s instruction manual.

I’ll fast-forward you to the results so you can get on with your day.

Our first report card is as follows:

  • Nitrite - F
  • Nitrate - F
  • Ammonia - B
  • Calcium - B

The test kit doesn’t actually assign you a letter grade, but I took it upon myself to surmise the situation for all you aquarists out there.

I called The Fish Guru over and he shook his head, “Not today.”

Sigh. Oh well. The day wasn’t a total loss. I got over my fear of the chemistry set and am better acquainted with my duties as a reef keeper.

For now, that’ll have to do.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my eye on Marshall (the crab) in the hopes that he’ll actually, you know, move … or something.