WASHINGTON - You can't micromanage fish. Early in his ownership of a 75-gallon saltwater aquarium, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chief of staff Mark Jacobsen would clean the tank and change the contents each day in a losing battle to keep its inhabitants alive. He has since learned to adjust his approach, taking a lighter touch.

"All I have to do is feed it and add distilled water every day or two," Mr. Jacobsen said. "I can go for weeks with nothing more because everything is in balance. The live rock and the bacteria sort of take care of all the ammonia and nitrates that the fish create," and other pollutants are eaten by the crabs.

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