Pets and Their People: Dum Dum and Judson Faulconer

Judson Faulconer of Orange knows a thing or two about saltwater fish. When the Woodberry Forest sophomore was 10 years old, he asked his parents, John and Jennifer Faulconer, if he could get a saltwater fish tank. They gave him the go-ahead, provided he took the time to read up on the subject and understand what he was getting into. Two years later, when he was in 7th grade, Judson announced he was ready to put his research into action. With his parents’ approval, he got a tank and began creating a carefully balanced ecosystem where a small number of fish live in harmony with other sea life, including a baby starfish, sea urchins, anemones, a “cleaner shrimp” that vacuums up parasites, flower-like xenia coral and snails. “I enjoyed [the research] because it was something new to learn and figure out,” said Judson, whose interest was initially sparked by his father’s tales of a saltwater tank he used to have. Judson currently has a 29-gallon tank outfitted with a sump filtration system and “live” rocks oozing with micro-bacteria that a marine environment needs. His fish include a bright orange and white snowflake clownfish he named Dum Dum. He said clownfish are good starter fish because they’re “not very finicky at all. They eat anything and are pretty hardy.” Several goby, file and basslet fish also occupy the magical world where every fin and blossom are alive and glimmering in the tank’s blue glow. Their fascinated owner said the best part of raising saltwater fish is watching them grow and interact with each other. Pictured here, Judson Faulconer poses behind his tank while an unnamed basslet swims toward him and Dum Dum heads in the opposite direction.    

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