>New fish tanks provide soothing distraction for those who visit the local hospital
A visit to a coral reef awash in luminous blue water can be so soothing, but usually involves travelling great distances for residents of central Oregon. Not so, thanks to the generosity of the friends and family of the late Mildred Hoskinson and the late Ronald Hoskinson.
   Families of the Hoskinsons contacted Pioneer Memorial Hospital in January of this year about donating money to the hospital to buy something useful. They jointly decided to help pay for the two saltwater aquariums which can be seen in the hospital's main lobby and in the waiting room near the PMH Auxiliary Gift Shop. Over $1,800 was donated toward the aquariums.
   Currently "in tank" are brightly striped orange and white clown fish, turquoise blue damsels, tomato clown fish_-large orange fish with a black spot the shape of a tomato on their sides, a lemon yellow tang, an opalescent white lunar wrasse and more.
   The aquariums were constructed by Above Sea Level of Bend. The company also performs bi-monthly maintenance, and occasionally adds fish. Housekeeping Manager Louise Thompson takes care of the fish between their visits.
   Coby Russell, owner of Above Sea Level indicated that particular care must be taken to imitate the climate of the oceans where these fish originate. "For instance, in Fiji or Hawaii, the optimal temperature is 78 degrees, and not over 84 degrees," he explained. "At that temperature, the fish may suffer some brain damage."
   Routine maintenance by the company consists of wiping down the tank sides to remove algae, and removing the coral, bleaching it to kill algae, rinsing it thoroughly to remove the beach and returning the coral to the tank. While they are at it they also test the water for pH balance, just as swimming pool technicians do, and tests for ammonia levels.
   "High ammonia levels are caused by fish waste and occasionally too much food in the water," Russell said. "Adding a buffering material restores the pH balance. The coral in the tank is a natural buffer and is why it is in the aquariums, but is not in itself capable of buffering all the water." He concluded that accurate chemical balance is the key to successful salt-water tanks.
   Hoskinson family and friends' gifts also included donations to PMH Hospice programs.
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