, Muskogee, OK


June 1, 2009

Setting up an aquarium makes for relaxing hobby

DUNCAN, Okla. (AP) — "Gone fishing" has a new meaning these days, as a surprising number of people are discovering that tropical fish make friendly, educational and economical pets.

Karen Larason opened Mondo Aquatics in Duncan just a couple of months ago, and has had such a good response that she's helping to organize a club for aquarium hobbyists.

An organizational meeting has been held, and the group already has a name. The Duncan-Ardmore-Lawton Aquarium Society — DALAS for short — is open to singles, families and children with parental consent.

DALAS' goal is to bring aquarium enthusiasts, both freshwater and saltwater, together to share knowledge, experience and camaraderie related to the fish keeping hobby, she said. People often begin with freshwater aquariums and, as their knowledge grows, they progress to saltwater aquariums with more exotic creatures.

In one of Larason's saltwater tanks, everything is alive, from the fish to the plants to the coral reefs that form the backdrop for the colorful, constantly changing display.

Eventually, the club hopes to bring in monthly speakers, based on the membership's interest, and to hold events such as swaps and auctions.

Larason began working with fish a couple of years ago at her home. When the hobby outgrew her space, she opened her store to accommodate a wider variety of fish, snails, crabs, scallops, firebelly toads, plants, coral and supplies.

She even stocks Japanese koi for water garden enthusiasts. And, yes, "Nemo" look-a-likes are in stock, to the delight of young visitors.

"You can learn a lot from fish. Caring for fish teaches children responsibility, as it's quickly obvious what happens to the fish when it is not cared for. Children can learn a lot about life in general watching fish being born or hatched, watching them grow and play, and even watching them die occasionally," Larason said.

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