Monday, November 21, 2005

So I accidentally killed upwards of 150 innocent zebrafish last week...

...and boy are my sociopathic tendencies tired!

But seriously, folks...

Last week was a bad week for T.C.I., animal lab assistant technician research fishfeeding...person. Extraordinaire. I was put in charge of changing out the electrical cords on each of our centrifugal water pumps. For those of you not especially familiar with the intricate and mysterious world of science, a centrifugal water pump is used to pump water to the fish tank systems...cen-tri-fu-gal-ly. This ensures that the zebrafish are provided with water on a regular basis, something the particular little buggers are rather keen on. If water is not pumped into the tanks --centrifugally-- something happens. Something bad, I guess. I'm a little foggy on the exact details, myself. It's probably best not to ask.

So anyway, I am proving myself to be quite the professional electrical cord changer-outer (after all, wasn't this the precise skillset I was hired for?) when it came time to disinfect this individual centrifugal water pump with a 10% solution of bleach (the other 90% of the solution is a tasteless, transparent liquid we in the lab refer to as H2O). Now, in order to do this, one needs to attach some PVC tubes and a hose to the pump in question. This part is all very technical, so I won't bore you with the details. Although paying attention to these details may have been instrumental in saving me from a very unpleasant situation (and by "me" I mean "scores of harmless zebrafish").

So I set up the pump to run on its own, sucking in the solution and spitting it out again into a bucket and repeating the process for ten minutes. I even had the lab manager help me set the hose just so after priming it (NOTE: The previous sentence is where I officially pass the buck and renounce all accountability for the actions to be recounted elsewhere in this entry). Keep in mind that I've performed this procedure twice already without incident.

Well, I had an incident.

So I went into the dishwashing room to -- well, really, I'm not going to spell out every little goddamn thing for you people. About three minutes later, my favorite colleague, whom I affectionately refer to (seriously) as "Grubs," came in with the happy news that, "Uh, I think the hose on your pump came loose."

No, that is not a humorous euphemism. Grow the fuck up.

Anyway, I say, "Crap, I thought that might happen." (Like I'm some kind of latter-day Nostra-fucking-damus, right?) The damn hose was being a testy bitch that day. So Grubs and I enter Room H and, lo and behold, the hose had come loose. And there was water all over the floor. And I was annoyed. But hey, easily solved, you know? Throw the hose back in the bucket, prime the pump again, and voila, problem sol--

"Was there bleach in that water?" asked Grubs.
"Uh, yeah," I answered, wittily.
"Oh," she said. "Er, do you think it got into any of the tanks?"
"Um..." I replied, "Shit."

And it had gotten into some of the tanks. Some rather large tanks. Some tanks that, between them, housed about 150, until recently, quite contented and perfectly inoffensive specimens of the Danio variety. For reference, here is a before picture of several completely happy zebrafish going about their peaceful business in their plastic paradise, unaware that disaster was about to strike:

And here is a picture of the same fish immediately following the unfortunate bleaching incident:

(Those dots are eyeballs with X's in them, by the way)

I feel the following excerpt from the official zebrafish manual I was issued upon my hiring date might be crucial to a layman's understanding of the severity of the bleach-on-fish dilemma:

"ICHTHYOLOGICAL TRIVIA BIT #4: Did you know that Bleach + Zebrafish = Zero Living Zebrafish? As a matter of fact, bleach seems to have this effect on an alarming number of earthbound organisms. It is therefore The Council for the Non-Bleaching of Zebrafish's strong recommendation that bleach NOT be added to any tank containing live zebrafish and should, instead, be reserved solely for the whitening of soiled undershirts and faded baseball jerseys."

The rest of the afternoon was a bit of a blur as Grubs, the lab manager, and I quickly rushed about setting things to rights. Well, I didn't so much rush about helping as I did stand there gaping like a-- I suppose you can complete that simile on your own. It was therefore left to me, The Fish Bleacher, to count out and record the many casualties of The Great Bleachening of '05. A grim and sobering task, mind you. And to top it all off? The Fish ID number of the tank that suffered the greatest loss at 110 little blue-and-gold corpses...?

911. I kid you fucking not.

So, there you have it. Last week was a bad week for T.C.I. A bad, bad week...

But it was worse for the zebrafish. Poor, bleached bastards...

****R.I.P. Zebrafish specimens STOCK-1276 through 1387, STOCK-2142 through 2181, HGT-843-848, and MJC-754-756. Bleached, but not forgotten. May they change your tanks daily in Heaven.****

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Blogger The Fourth Earl of Excelor said...

Do you feel like a real man playing God with the lives of poor unsuspecting Zebrafish? Mass genocide, you should be ashamed of yourself. Bravo on starting a blog by the way.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Tommy O said...

That sounds like a great day of fishing.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Chuckles O'Plenty said...

Um, I didn't start a blog so people could judge me.

I don't feel so much like God as I do like some bumbling, entry-level angel named Biff in a new UPN sitcom called "Heaven Help Us!"

6:41 PM  

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