By Jessie Forand/ECHO (Environmental Exhibit Specialist Jenn Dean dives with the fish at ECHO Wednesday morning. Photo Jessie Forand/ECH...

Behind the Scenes: A dive in the Lake Tank

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By Jessie Forand/ECHO

(Environmental Exhibit Specialist Jenn Dean dives with the fish at ECHO Wednesday morning. Photo Jessie Forand/ECHO)

Before door opened to the public on Wednesday, a shock of blond hair zipped around the ECHO Lake Champlain aquatic display tank, or the Lake Tank as it is commonly known. Attached to the swirling ponytail was Jenn Dean, environmental exhibit specialist.

Sporting a wet suit and underwater gear, Dean joined the native fish species for an important reason. Animal care employees noticed an increase of organic matter in the tank, meaning some part of the filtration process was not working properly.

The tank will naturally contain some organic matter, but certain things, like ammonia, nitrite, and anaerobic materials can harm the species.

Dean was tasked with investigating.

A series of pipes located below the tank is used in the filtration process, forcing the water where it needs to go. These pipes are buried below grating, mesh, and window screen. To check on the problem area some of the piping was stopped temporarily, causing all the water to be pushed up from bottom of the tank and allowing Jenn to see what was going on.


Today’s diving adventure was not routine maintenance. It was the first step, investigating and scrubbing, before next time, when employees will bring a vacuum into the water and physically move rocks in the habitat.

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