When planning a holiday party, we tend to worry about things like an undercooked main entree, running out of “spirits” before the evening is over, lacking adequate seating for all the guests, little Billy’s tree nut allergy, etc., etc. What we may not fret over—but probably should—is what bizarre eventualities might befall our marine aquariums while the party is underway.
Here are just some of the hazards holiday parties can pose to aquariums. Some of these may sound familiar, and you can probably add a few more based on your personal hosting experiences.
#1: “Uncle Ed”
Whether it’s Uncle Ed, Sister Susie, Brother John, or Auntie Gin, we all have that family member or friend who, after drinking too much eggnog, may decide to do a little freelance “vodka dosing” of the aquarium (and not in that good nitrate-reduction way, either) because, the fish and/or corals “look thirsty.”
#2: Airborne toys
For some reason, young kids don’t feel as though a toy has been truly played with until they’ve tested its aerodynamics. Once while hosting a Thanksgiving dinner party, I looked on in helpless horror from across the room as my then four-year-old nephew launched a hard plastic toy into the air, the arc of its trajectory ending right where my 125-gallon tank began.
Watching this unfold in slow motion, all I could do was yell, hoping the shockwave of my voice would somehow alter the toy’s flight path. What came out was an incomprehensible “Myyyaaaaaa!” (My wife said she thought I was doing an Edward G. Robinson impression, loudly.) Fortunately, the toy hit the bottom plastic trim of the tank, not the glass, and fell harmlessly to the floor.
#3: The little helper
Sometimes kids at the party can cause problems for an aquarium in a misguided attempt to be helpful. My nieces are famous for this. If they spot the smallest speck of algae on the glass, they see it as their duty to go into cleaning mode and attack it with any aquarium tool they can lay their hands on. If I’m not watching them closely, I’ll later find half of my algae magnet floating in the tank or stuck against the overflow, brushes lying on top of corals, scrapers and tongs in the sump, and so forth.
Of course, in the mind of a child, nothing is more “helpful” to an adult aquarium keeper than feeding the fish—and if a little food is good, dumping in the whole container is much, much better!
To this point, it might be wise to explore some childproofing measures prior to opening your home to tiny human guests.
#4: Penny for your sump?
Speaking of sumps, these seem to be especially attractive to kids who are looking for a unique depository for their toys or other random objects. The likelihood of one of those random objects being an old copper penny is directly proportional to the number of sensitive invertebrates kept in the tank.
#5: Accidental impact
This often results from simply packing too many people into a living space during a party. As elbow room decreases, the probability of a body or object—chair back, beer bottle, cane/walker etc.—accidentally impacting an aquarium occupying the same space increases.
What’s your experience?
So, fellow salties, what’s the biggest aquarium-related party foul you’ve witnessed? Let us know in the comment section below.