A Fish Story

By Lana Straub

I recently attended a naturalist class on ichthyology or the scientific study of fish. The short course focused on the differentiating aspects of various species and how they interact with each other in their environments.

Near the end of the class, the instructor dissected two minnows of almost exact size and shape. There was a plains minnow (Hybognathus placitus) and a blacktail shiner (Cyprinella venusta).

Honestly, it was difficult to tell them apart from their outward appearance, but when he opened them up, they were very different on the inside.

The black tail shiner had small organs inside and small intestines. By contrast, the plains minnow seemed larger inside with intestines measuring more than five feet in length.

So how could one fish be so different than the other? One eats algae and the other eats insects. Eating different types of foods allows them to live in the same aquatic environment without encroaching on each other.

And what do these fish have to do with business. Quite a lot actually. Take a look at two groundwater business owners: one is a water well driller drilling domestic wells for homeowners and the other drills monitoring wells for consulting firms to help customers check for contamination.

Their drills may look the same and they both have water well licensing. Are they the same driller? On the outside, yes, but on the inside, absolutely not.

While contractors with a water well license may have similar equipment, they don’t always have the same license. Depending on the requirements of a particular state, different skills and license requirements generally go with the job.

One set of skills and license type are usually required for drilling domestic or commercial water wells. By contrast, a different set of skills is required if you specialize in environmental drilling.

The licensing requirements in your state might be a little different than mine. For example, there could be more insurance requirements. And if you work for oil companies in their cleanup work, you probably have more safety requirements.

And just as every driller is not the same, every type of drilling is different. If you’re a driller working in the field you know from experience that no two wells are the same—even at the same site. It can be a little like the two fish I saw at my course.

And it may be hard to specialize in two different types of drilling, but you can coexist with other contractors in the same community without—excuse the pun—eating each other’s dinner.