An open letter to my tropical fish

Dear Eleanor,

Hey sweetheart! Dad misses you and your tank mates so much and he can’t wait to see you again. Did you know you’re coming to St. Olaf soon? More on that later. First I wanted to explain to all my friends here at St. Olaf just why fish (yourself included) are so awesome!

As you may know, I first fell in love with fish in December of 2016. Sure, I had had the occasional goldfish before then but I hadn’t become a fish fin-atic. What really got me into marine life was learning about different species of fish. I’ve always been especially drawn to ridiculous looking catfish or other bottom-dwellers. Most of them look comical with long whiskers, large mouths and really nutty personalities.

I know some people don’t think fish can have personalities but I know that you always perk up when I come say hi, even though you don’t get excited for anyone else. Some fish actually let their owners pet them! Plus, cichlids will chase after a laser pointer like cats. Don’t worry, I love you regardless of your interest in laser pointers or being pet.
Turns out being obsessed with fish is actually really bene-fish-al, according to a study conducted by Deborah Cracknell, Mathew P. White, Sabine Pahl, Wallace J. Nichols and Michael H. Depledge. The study, “​Marine Biota and Psychological Well-Being,” found that it could be extremely important to connect with marine environments through proxies such as aquariums. The effect aquariums can have on people that were emphasized in the study include, “delivering psychological well-being, enhancing perceptions of the value of natural ecosystems and ultimately encouraging support for conservation efforts in the wild.”

This boils down to the fact that when you have access to fish, you’re happier. When you see Dad, you’re happier too, so basically if you could live at St. Olaf everyone would be happier. The great news is that you can live at St. Olaf! There’s a big tank for you in Regents and you’ll get to see Dad and lots of other students every day. I’ll be able to take care of you again, and you’ll be able to help enhance everyone’s psychological well-being.
There’s also a marine tank in Regents that students can go and watch to calm down and enjoy nature. I would also encourage everyone to get a small tank for their rooms. But they should make sure that the tank has a filter and that they only keep aquatic life that’s appropriate for a small tank like betta fish or freshwater shrimp. For any more information on getting into the hobby or fishkeeping in general, they should go to YouTube and check out Rachel O’Leary, The king of DIY or CoralFish12g. Did you know that CoralFish12g actually had seven aquariums in his dorm room at one point? Sadly, I don’t think my roommate would let me have that many.

Dad loves you very much, Eleanor. I hope you are being a good girl and are listening to Grandma while I’m at school. I know she doesn’t take the best care of you, but soon I’ll be treating you like royalty again. It’s very important to do regular water changes and to clean the tank regularly, especially when there are a lot of fish in the tank. I’m always happy to talk about fish and to help people out with new tanks.

If anyone has any questions or just wants to talk about fish, they should come talk to me. And everyone should come visit you in your new tank in Regents, or follow @stolafjvswimteam on Instagram.

Teague Peterson-McGuire ’23 is from Oconomowoc, Wis. His major is Norwegian.