Aquatic residents serve as companions for students


“They wouldn’t have been my first choice,” junior Spanish education major Melissa Molyneux said about the pet fish she has on campus. “Now that I have them, though, they are a lot more interesting than I thought they would be.”

Jacquelyn Canonico and Avery Linn are the proud owners of these two fish and make their best fish face. (Photo by Kaitie Fox)

Molyneux is one of the many students who have taken the opportunity to have fish as company in the dorm room. While some students think they’re boring or find them to be too much of a hassle, others believe the presence of fish can make the dorm feel more like a home.

Molyneux’s fish were originally placed in a Blossom Hall dorm room sink as a prank last year. Two of the fish were taken into custody by Molyneux after she decided to take on the duties of an adoptive pet owner.

The rescued fishes’ names are Jerome and Dante Jamal Jory Addison Lonomay.

While Jerome was one of the first random names that popped into Molyneux’s head when she was naming her fish, Dante’s full name came from collaboration with numerous members of her floor last year.

Although Molyneux was first reluctant to adopt her fish, she has grown to enjoy them and has even successfully trained her fish to be able to alert her when they are hungry.

“They all swim to the front of the fish tank and swim in circles with their mouths on the surface because I always drop the food in the same place,” Molyneux said. “It’s not the same as having a dog or a cat, but fish are kind of rewarding in their own way.”

Stacy Utecht, the resident director of Blossom Hall, said there are a lot of fish in the building.  She said the reason some students enjoy having fish in the dorms is simply because they like seeing them.

Fish are friendly floating creatures that add a new and interesting dimension to the humdrum dorm life. (Photo by Kaitie Fox)

“They like to have a friendly critter in the room to greet them when they come home,” Utecht said as she looked to her own Betta fish, Harvey, and asked if he agreed with this statement. He concurred.

Utecht has also helped residents of Blossom take care of their fish.

Jacquelyn Canonico, junior early childhood education major, felt her fish Holly was depressed after friends had whispered unkind thoughts to Holly as a part of an ongoing running joke.

Utecht was on hand during the exchange of unkind thoughts to Holly and considering she had completed graduate counseling classes, Utecht offered to help counsel the fish. After the session, Holly’s activity surprisingly increased.

If you are interested in fish counseling, Stacy Utecht will be glad to offer her services for five dollars per minute. You can email her at sutecht@malone.edu.

Avery Linn, a junior bible and theology major, said the biggest obstacle in owning fish is finding the time to take care of them.

“Sometimes I go too long without cleaning their bowls. They’re going to be filthy during finals,” Linn said.

While dirty tanks may be a problem for fish like Linn’s, others have a more interesting habitat to live in.

[pullquote] “When we got our fish we wanted them to party,” said Stead.[/pullquote]Sophomore music major Chaz Stead and  freshman early childhood education major Ryan Mossor have given their fish fancier homes.

The 10-gallon fish tank in their Devol suite is lit with a UV black light that causes the fish to appear in neon colors. It is also connected to a strobe light and red laser lights.

Stead said, “When we got our fish we wanted them to party.”

However, Mossor said students shouldn’t worry about the safety and health of the fish.

“None of our fish are epileptic,” Mossor said.

Stead and Mossor said there is a risk in naming your pet fish after your human friends. One of their fish was named after their good friend and sophomore social work major Heechun Kang.

Stead said, “I was sitting in my class and I got a text on my phone that said ‘Dude. Heechun died.’ I completely forgot that our fish was named Heechun and sprinted out of the classroom borderline in tears.”

Stead said that when he found out from Mossor that it was the fish that had died and not his human friend, it was the most relieved moment he had ever felt in his life.

While several fish tanks can be found in Devol, Haviland Hall doesn’t house as many.

In the four and a half years he has worked as the residence director for Haviland Hall, Mike Hansen said he could probably “count the number of fish that have been in rooms on one hand.”

Even though few of the men in Haviland seem to own fish at the current time, Hansen said taking care of something such as a fish on campus is a good practice.

“I wouldn’t argue for anything more than fish because that just isn’t realistic, but to take care of fish or even water a plant is good. It’s a good way for residents to feel rested and accomplished and take care of something outside of themselves and the normal academic routine.”

Jasmine With is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.

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