PORT ANGELES — Rocky, the one-eyed black rockfish at Feiro Marine Life Center, has a new home with the commissioning of a 780-gallon display tank.
The tank replaces an aging dual-chamber concrete enclosure that was removed in January when it sprang an unfixable leak.
“It had fully cracked all the way through,” said Feiro facilities manager Tamara Galvin. “It was seeping leaking, not just dribble leaking.”
Feiro’s large rockfish have been temporarily kept in the center’s octopus tank, which has been without an octopus since last November.
List price for the tank was about $2,800, not including plumbing and a display stand, which was assembled with donated labor by a local contractor.
“This is funded through the City of Port Angeles lodging tax,” Galvin said. “That allowed us to buy the tank itself and it helped us to get the tools needed to take out the concrete tank. It’s also going to help us with signage.”
In addition, the lodging tax grant will allow Feiro to acquire a spare pump to keep sea water flowing through the aquarium’s tanks, providing a backup lifeline for the sealife displays, she said.
Rocky, who has been at Feiro for as long as any of the center’s current staff can remember and has become a mascot of sorts, will be given time to get acquainted with the new enclosure before the center’s two brown rockfish and other decorations are added to the exhibit.
“Rocky will be in here by himself for a little while at first,” Galvin said. “Mostly so he has time to get familiar with the tank before the other fish come in and startle him.”
The black rockfish lost an eye several years ago when it was surgically removed after suffering an infection.
Because of the animal’s limited vision, he will require extra time to learn the size and dimensions of the tank before chancing interactions with other fish, Galvin said.
Artificial kelp and terracotta squares will eventually be placed in the exhibit, Galvin said. Other adornments will be considered as the summer progresses.
As part of the transfer process, Rocky was given a freshwater bath to kill off surface parasites — a common affliction with rockfish. The bath was part of an ongoing maintenance treatment.
Rachele Brown, Feiro’s education manager, said the improved exhibit with a large side window would be helpful for the center’s mission of exposing the public to the wonders of the ocean.
“It will help with our education,” she said. “Especially the stand that has been built for this new tank.”
The former concrete enclosure offered limited viewing capabilities, especially for some younger aquarium visitors, but the new tank’s side window and viewing platform will create a better user experience.
“Having a little step up on the bench and be eye-to-eye with some of these rockfish will be really cool,” Brown said.
“It’s looking really good and it’s good to see Rocky really swimming around and taking in his space.”