Bermuda in a Box

Trip Start Mar 07, 1997
Trip End Dec 25, 1998

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Friday, October 24, 1997

Go with me? This week we're getting lost in the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle. No need to travel the Atlantic in a sailing ship though. All the oceans of the world are ours to see in glass-boxed wonderlands just up the road in Hixson.

Inside the door of this aquarium store on Highway 153 we'll see mean-mouthed pirahana swarming in brackish South American waters and venomous lion fish floating their thirteen innocent-looking spikes. In a more passive reef tank, a nubbin-sized blue hermit crab diligently takes out the trash in a show of janitorial responsibility.

Start with the freshwater fish along the left front wall - tetras and cichlids and mollies. Proceed to the saltwater tanks for hawkfish, angelfish, and dottybacks. A neon sign flashes "Bermuda Triangle" over a nook at the back. Step inside for dazzle and watch with a careful eye. Tanks of coral teem with life. Anemone sway in a ploy for unsuspecting food. A Christmas worm fans and flutters like a peacock.

Mother Nature was generous with our finny friends. It isn't enough that fish are red and blue and purple and yellow. They also are dotted, spotted, striped, banded, and neoned. As the get-dark-early days of Standard Time approach, think of coming home to a tank full of flashy flourescents right there in your den. Built-in cheer!

Everything you need to get started is right there in the store, including good advice. "First you decide on the size tank you can accommodate," says manager Jon Mays, who has been studying and selling fish for over 17 years. "Then you have to be realistic about the amount of time you want to devote to your new hobby."

Standard tank sizes range from 10 gallons to 200. You can set up a complete no-frills system for about $100 or a fancy one for $2,000. It's important to read and understand the differences in freshwater and saltwater aquariums before you buy.

You may want to create a marine reef aquarium - a complete eco-system where each element in the tank supports another. Perhaps you'd like to grow corals - yellow coral from the Virgin Islands; fox coral from the Indian Ocean; the leaflife elkhorn from the Pacific.

Picture a magic box filled with rose coral, pagoda coral, or the dainty elegance coral, flourescing green at the center, its white-tipped tentacles in perpetual effortless float. What a way to travel the world! See you there.

Bermuda Triangle, Highway 153, Chattanooga
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