There is more than meets the eye at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. The aquarium opens its doors to guests at 9 a.m., but the fish, amphibians, reptiles and crustaceans are getting cared for way before that. It is 7:30 in the morning, time to rise and shine for the residents of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. That is when the aquarists arrive. One important task: cleaning the tanks. Aquarist tech, Michael Romano, is responsible for the lobster tank. “I clean them every single day because they're dirty kids. They make a mess, not clean eaters,” he said. Other aquarists have to get their feet wet, so to speak. “I'm usually in the tank 2 or 3 times a week. Shark Tooth takes a lot of time, literally scrubbing with a toothbrush, making sure it’s clean,” said Melissa Johnson. But cleaning is not the only morning ritual. In order to keep the marine life healthy, they are fed in a variety of ways, some are hand fed with frozen food, but others are fed live food, grown right in the aquarium. “I breed mini-colonies of fruit flies each week. We always grow live food for them. Shake a bunch out, two different species, big ones, small one - about 800-1000 at a feeding usually,” described Romano. Romano said it is easier to keep the frogs healthy when you know where the food is coming from. From cleaning, to growing their own food, there's so much more that goes on behind the scenes of the aquarium. “It is a pretty great job, I really love it. Sometimes it's a little more work than some people expect, but love it and wouldn't want to replace it with anything else, or be doing anything else right now,” Johnson said.
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