A Think Tank of One: An Interview with Alex Weissman about his job as Aquarium Technician

Alex Weissman, a sophomore at Bates College, has been working as an Aquarium Technician since the first few weeks of his Freshman year. The job calls for the maintenance of a 125 gallon salt water reef tank by a student who is genuinely interested in the marine ecosystem and has extreme attention to detail.

Alex found this job by just noticing that there was an aquarium in Dana. “I asked around and found out who was in charge of the tank. Alyson Farrington showed me the daily maintenance and let me feed the fish a few days a week.” Although someone already had the aquarium technician job he currently had, Alex continued to helped out because he enjoyed the work. Since the aquarium technician from last year has graduated, this year Alex has taken over, as he was already familiar with the tank.

The daily tasks of an Aquarium technician are general maintenance and the feeding of the fish. The fish, sea stars and shrimp all get different meals which are placed in the tank by turkey basters, tweezers and clips attached to the inside of the tank. When it comes to tank maintenance, “I check the temperature, water level and salinity of the tank and make any necessary adjustments. All of the filter sponges get washed and I check to make sure all of the fish, invertebrates, and coral are healthy.” Alex works about 2.5 hours a week.

The best part of the Aquarium job in Alex’s eyes is, in his eyes, the entire job. “I really like aquariums and the fact that I am so involved with a 125 gallon salt water reef tank is amazing.” Alex has a freshwater tank at home which he enjoys taking care of, which is why he took interest in working with the one in Dana Hall.“I love to research the different types of fish and corals in the tank. Looking up specifics about each animal let me make sure they are happy, healthy and work well together in the tank. I would love to have a tank like this for myself, so it’s the next best thing.” 

When it comes to how his job has helped him cultivate work skills, Alex thinks that “any job is valuable for developing workplace skills. Taking responsibility for something and having specific jobs to do translate to any occupation.” Although taking care of an aquarium might not specifically help with his future career path, Alex believes “it helps develop work ethic.I learned that jobs done for their intrinsic value are the most rewarding.”Taking care of this tank gives Alex a firsthand view of what it is like to care for a large salt water aquarium. Now that he knows a lot more about this tiny, intricate ecosystem,Alex knows what he should and should not do when he gets his own tank.