A little Rant about the UWSP aquatic lab

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A little Rant about the UWSP aquatic lab

Postby CollegeReefer on Thu May 22, 2008 6:18 pm

Most of you know that I work in the aquatic lab at UWSP where I have set up and maintain several marine tanks. When I first started working in the lab my I only took care of the marine tanks, but as time went on I found myself cleaning many tanks that belonged to other animals such as the turtle tank. As more time went on I found myself also feeding animals that were not being fed by the other lab workers. However, now it seems that I have been banned from the care of any of the animals in the lab except for the marine tanks because of the death of a soft-shell turtle.

When I first started working in the lab I noticed several things that were wrong. A four foot alligator in a 150 gallon tank, a horrible habitat for the painted and musk turtles, an alligator snapper turtle being held in a cooler with just enough room to turn around, and a soft-shell turtle that was in a tank with a hard substrate. I had mentioned to the lab manager at the time that the soft-shell needed a soft substrate such as sand and that the painted and musk turtle tank needed a much better filter, a basking light, and that they need to get rid of all of the bricks in the water. My suggestions however were thrown out because I am a non biology major. I was told to only stick with what I know.

About two months ago the soft-shell turtle had a fungus that started to grow on its shell. A senior (now graduated) biology student took it in her own hands to take care of this animal. The treatment was to take the turtle out of the water and leave it in a dry 10 gallon tank while applying some sort of antibiotic. After noticing that the turtle would be out of the water for many days in a row and then placed into a 10 gallon tank with a couple inches of water and then placed into a another dry tank I started to wonder what she was doing to this turtle, however I left it alone because turtles are not exactly my thing. The soft-shell was not getting better. Anyways during the last weeks of school I saw that the turtle was once again in a dry 10 gallon tank but this time it was laying on top of some towels and that it also had towels on top of it. I thought this was strange but I let it go. When the turtle was left like this for several days I decided to take action and do a quick Google search. I found that the fungus is common on these turtles and form when the shell is scratched. A scratched that could come from a hard substrate. I also found that the best way to treat the animal is to add a very small amount of aquarium salt to the tank water which would stop and kill the fungus. This treatment method was found on 5 out of the 5 sites I looked at. After reading this I talked to the custodian that takes care of the fresh water fish and all of the snakes.

We got some sand and a new filter to set up a new tank for the soft-shell. We didn’t add aquarium salt because we didn’t have any. When the water cleared up we placed the soft-shell turtle into the tank. The first thing we noticed was that it began drinking a lot of water. This didn’t surprise us because of the amount of time the turtle stayed out of the water. We also added some live minnows (it is what the lab feeds the turtles) to the tank. The turtle consumed 5 or 6 which indicated that it hasn’t been being fed either. The turtle seemed to be fine over the weekend and the water parameters where all in check. On Sunday I came into the lab to find that the turtle was back into a small 10 gallon tank with only an inch or two of water. The student who was taking care of the turtle saw me and began yelling at me and told me how the bacteria in the water was causing the fungus (I kind of chuckled to myself because she knows nothing about water chemistry). The soft-shell died two days later in the small tank.

After the death of the soft shell turtle I soon found out that I was being blamed for the death. This has now led to me being banned from feeding and/or cleaning any other tanks which I only did because no one else did. If this ban continues and animals are not properly cared for I think I may resign from my position in the lab and train someone else to take care of the marine tanks. I am sick of seeing so many animals not being properly cared for. Our bearded dragon died because it was on the wrong diet and because no one fed it over a week. Our tortoise started having many issues until I realized that it too was not being fed properly after being in the lab for 3 years. I feel bad for these animals especially the alligator that is in a tank that isn’t even twice the size of him. The other labs are the same way. One lab even has an anemone in a tank that is lit by only an incandescent light. When I mentioned that the Condi anemone shouldn’t be clear they told me that is how they really look like. I later found out that they replace there anemones yearly because they die. I pray that this horrible treatment doesn’t happen at any other school but I feel like that is probably not the case.

Sorry for this long rant but I as I said before I am getting fed up with the horrible treatment of the animals.
“I have to tell you the brutish children of Wisconsin are a cut above the rest in their rebellion and disobedience and filthy behavior,” Phelps-Roper said.
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Re: A little Rant about the UWSP aquatic lab

Postby Slakker on Thu May 22, 2008 6:24 pm

Sorry to hear that...our lab has some shady stuff going on it as well, and the sad thing is Whitewater is the ONLY school in the state that offers marine biology, yet the marine tanks in the labs are depressing. Clowns forced to swim through a sea of hair algae, because the professors, PROFESSORS, of marine biology don't know how to care for a MARINE tank.
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Re: A little Rant about the UWSP aquatic lab

Postby Rueg on Thu May 22, 2008 9:48 pm

Very sad. It is a shame that arrogance is coming before the health of the animals.
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Re: A little Rant about the UWSP aquatic lab

Postby CollegeReefer on Mon May 26, 2008 4:06 pm

I have decided that I will be training two students to take care of the marine tanks and then turn in my keys. As i said before that i have been banned from helping take care of any of the other animals in the lab. Today i came in to work on my tanks and saw that the turtle tanks ahve not been clean, the painted turtle that is qt has very dirty water and yeah. You get the picture.
“I have to tell you the brutish children of Wisconsin are a cut above the rest in their rebellion and disobedience and filthy behavior,” Phelps-Roper said.
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Re: A little Rant about the UWSP aquatic lab

Postby nasanek on Mon May 26, 2008 6:44 pm

man, that's pretty pathetic. I got a pet turtle when I was 8 and my parents ended up adopting him when I moved away to college. After ~ 5 years they adopted him out to another family with small kids. Turtles are about the easiest things to take care of I can imagine and they practically live forever. You should check if your school has an Animal Care and Use Committee, they would probably shut them down if they got inspected.

good luck,
Nick
Life is a comedy for those who think... and a tragedy for those who feel.
~Horace Walpole
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Re: A little Rant about the UWSP aquatic lab

Postby Slakker on Mon May 26, 2008 7:52 pm

What's the phone number for the local ASPCA? ;)
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Re: A little Rant about the UWSP aquatic lab

Postby DDD33 on Tue May 27, 2008 7:26 am

Collegereefer,

My position at UW-Madison is Animal Program Assessment Specialist. I deal with the compliance of all animal facilities and labs on campus with regulatory and protocol items. Without knowing the circumstances as to whether these animals are under research protocols, etc. I cannot say anything is improper, however. This being said you are at ground level and as a care taker, you should have a whistle blower policy that allows you to lodge your concerns to the proper institutional personnel. This may be a supervisor, the professor in charge, the facility manager, director of the department, ACUC (animal care and use) Committee or a number of other people in charge of animal care. I would start with this if you think things are bad enough to warrant these actions.

Derrik
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