Project Kindergarten - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 143 Old 10-09-2012, 10:55 PM Thread Starter
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Red face Project Kindergarten

I have a new tank!

It's a 29 gallon, and not really my style at all. . . not really my tank, for that matter. . . except that somehow. . .it is.

You see, I have this brilliant daughter who turned 5 over the summer. And she started going to this amazing school. The kindergarten classroom is just a dream come true - they have a bunny, and a live tree that touches the ceiling, tiny little kid sized couches, plants everywhere, and. . . a fish tank.

At first, I thought it was fantastic! It was stocked with Mollies, and I saw 2 types of Tetra in there, and this pretty little sucky-fish thing. . . the water was very clear, but the lights were never on, so it was kind of tough to enjoy it. Not that I spend SO much time in the kindergarten class gazing at their fish. . . I try not to be creepy.

As the weeks passed, I saw the water level getting lower and lower, and the fish mysteriously vanishing. And I TRIED so hard not to notice, not to look - but. . .I. . . COULDN'T! Turns out that this poor tank went since the end of LAST semester (late May/early June) without a water change. It was topped off at the beginning of the school year in September, and that's pretty much it. Nobody was caring for it - and nobody knew HOW to care for it. It's the teacher's tank, but has always been maintained by someone else - someone who is no longer in the school. The teacher was baffled, because the water was so 'clean' but the fish. . . well. . .

When I took water samples, they came up with 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite, but the Phosphates and Nitrates were literally off the charts. The Mollies looked like this:

Only one is still swimming, a tiny guy - only about 3/4 of an inch long (you can see him at the left of the tank in the top shot- barely). All the others have died.

Aside from the juvie Molly, there remains a single white-skirt Tetra, so nervous and stressed that she is never seen, and this BEAUTIFUL and seemingly very healthy creature. Mr.Sucky Face. . . who is, I believe, a Chinese Algae Eater - golden form. He's about 4-5 inches long, and she's had him in the tank for over a year. . . Wonderful. . .
All of this makes me so very happy, as I'm sure you fellow fishophiles can imagine.

But whats a girl to do? I couldn't just LEAVE it alone once I knew what was (or wasn't) going on in there, plus my daughter has her own betta tank - she UNDERSTANDS this stuff, no way can I get out of this one - not that I would be able to walk away from a situation like this, anyway. And the rest of the class. . . they should be ENJOYING their tank, not watching it's inhabitants die off one by one. So now I have a new tank. . .

It's a really weird situation, nerve-wracking. I've been put in charge of a tank that isn't mine, with a terrible stock situation, and fish that are dying from neglect. It isn't in my home, and to make matters worse, I'm being oogled by a class-full of five-year olds the whole time I'm in the classroom! Luckily I'm good with kids!

I've spent the last two weeks or so explaining to the teacher WHY her tank is NOT as 'clean' as she thinks it is, convincing her that her gorgeous (he really is a stunning creature - and very aware) algae eater is not okay in this community, and doing many small water changes to bring the toxins down to an acceptable level without shocking the fish, while treating the tank with Pimafix and Melafix in the hopes of helping the ones that are left make it out alive. . . I've also been trying to figure out exactly where I stand here - what she wants this tank to be, what I am 'allowed' to do with it, and what is going to happen to it over the summer months to come.

The end result of all of this is that I've scheduled a full tank break-down and makeover for Friday afternoon (while the class is at gym). My plan is to redo it to have the more natural look that the teacher wants, while still allowing it to be easily maintained next year by someone else, and without destroying the bacterial filtration that is very much established here. The juvie Molly will be coming home with me, socked into QT, and hopefully eventually returned to the classroom. The CAE and the White-Skirt will be taken to a LFS who has agreed to re-home them for us (which is really sad, they've been through so much. . . but they just don't belong in that tank!)

After the weekend, I'll start slowly stocking the tank again. I'm thinking that I'll stick to something easy and tough - the livebearer bunch. Some bright and active platy and/or swordtails that the kiddo's will really enjoy. . . the teacher has actually re-arranged her class schedule to allow for 'tank time,' so that all of the interested kiddos can watch and toss a myriad of questions at me while I do my thing. They're very curious, and I hope that I can do this without any more loss of life. Y'all know, I really love my fish! It's HARD to deal with fish that I can't sit and watch for longer than 15 minutes or so a few days a week. I just hope I'll be able to catch any issues before they're a problem in the future. I've taken over feeding (with the kids) so at least I'm able to get a good look at them every week-day morning.

Advice and ideas are totally welcome. It REALLY makes me nervous to do this in front of all the kids, I hope everything goes well. They've already started flocking over in droves when they see me come in "Can we see the fish? Are you turning the lights on? Why do they keep dying?" It's really wonderful to explain things to them and see their enthusiasm - oh but my goodness! I can't mess this up or they'll be so upset!!! Looking forward to how excited they'll be when they have healthy fish again!

Wish me luck!
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post #2 of 143 Old 10-10-2012, 01:15 PM
This is going to be such a good opportunity for the kids! Hope all goes well :)

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post #3 of 143 Old 10-10-2012, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
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I SO hope it does!!! *crosses fingers* I'm really nervous about this for some reason!!!
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post #4 of 143 Old 10-10-2012, 01:24 PM
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Wow! I remember you telling me about this tank but to see the full story it's such a shame... I'm glad you chose to take the initiative and step in! Your teaching could prepare an entire generation (well, all the kids in the class ) about proper fish keeping. Who knows what the positive knock-on effects of this could be, I wish you all the luck in the world!!

"There will come a time when three words uttered with charity and meekness shall receive a far more blessed reward than three thousand volumes written with disdainful sharpness of wit."
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post #5 of 143 Old 10-10-2012, 01:49 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you, Spooks! I hope you're right. . . the class is VERY interested in what I'm doing in there. . . just hope it all comes out okay! I'll keep you posted, and thanks for the encouragement - I need all I can get!
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post #6 of 143 Old 10-10-2012, 04:29 PM
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What a great thing to do!

Best of luck with your new part time maintenance job. Just think of how many future fish addicts you're going to create LOL.

Hey - at least they'll know how to take care of a tank.
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Animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers.
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post #7 of 143 Old 10-10-2012, 06:49 PM
That's great - best wishes!

You have a great opportunity to teach the youngsters the correct way to setup a tank and properly care for fish.

Good luck and keep us posted.
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post #8 of 143 Old 10-10-2012, 08:22 PM
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Congrats! Sad the state the tank was in, happy you found it!
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18 species/varieties of fish, 15 species/varieties of plants - The fish are finally ahead of the plants!
*560 gallons (2120 liters) in 5 tanks -> you do the math.
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post #9 of 143 Old 10-10-2012, 08:31 PM
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That sounds like an awesome (and scarey!) undertaking! I hope you create a whole class of fish fanatics! I'm going to be taking care of three classroom tanks this year as part of my job. I'm lucky in that the teachers let me come in after school to do maintenance, but I'll be presenting them with the fish during class time. I won't lie; I'm very nervous about it!
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post #10 of 143 Old 10-10-2012, 09:24 PM
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Oh, this is perfect! It's fun for the kids and they get to learn some responsibility and have fun. Unfortunately, the problem will be the teacher. Or are you going to be around, even on breaks, to care for the fish?

Livebearers are a perfect choice for a classroom tank, they breed a lot and the kids can see the cute babies if they have nice hiding spots so they survive! So long as someone will take in the surviving babies once they're big enough. The problem is, if they don't get proper cleaning, you know as well as I that the toxins will stack up and hurt even those tough little fishies. =(

I do have a suggestion...a to-do list for the kids and the teacher to follow as an example of responsibility for the children on tank care and what to do every, say, friday, like a water change, when to feed and how much. Things like that. =) Kids learn easier by doing and finding out what it is to care for your pets life.

I think Platies would be a good choice, in my opinion. Maybe swordtails? I don't know as much about them though, so maybe someone else will have info on them if it's a good choice or not. Mollies have too high of a bio-load, as gorgeous and fun as they are, I don't think they're a good choice for a class tank. Platy are a little better in that department, they are hardy and can handle the "Beginners follies" most of the time, so long as the follies aren't huge ones. lol They come in all sorts of colors, and most of them don't get as big as some mollies do, so you can probably have one or two more than you would of mollies.

Guppies can also be a good choice(Yes, I know, you think they are pretty, but you don't like them quite as much, right? I agree with that, but they make good fish for kids, I had a guppy tank when I was about eight or so!), they come in a lot of pretty colors, shapes and sizes, and have lots of babies. They aren't quite as curious as mollies and platies though, and can be skiddesh to glass poking...but that also makes for a good lesson. They're smaller with a smaller bioload (Depending what kind you get), they can handle some of that beginners folly, and can thrive in class tanks. My second grade teacher had a guppy tank and a small betta tank, they were all fairly well cared for. We also had an iguana nammed Iggy, and the neighboring class had a rat named Templeton! lol

Honestly, the teacher has no excuse for that kind of cruelty! It's just plain laziness. I shake my head at people that do that, watch all their fish die and then say "But the water is clean!" x.x It's common sense to change the water. LOL But I guess I can give a little bit, she doesn't know about the tanks, but she still shoulda done something about it over letting the kids watch their classroom pets get sick and die. They may be young, but they know a suffering animal when they see it. When I was four, I told off a teacher for smacking a puppy that bit a kid teasing it and told her exactly what needs to be done about the puppy and the teasing child to fix the problem properly! >>; lol I have to say though, she IS a teacher, she should have picked up a book or looked online for at least basic care. It kinda bothers me that she seems to have made excuses and didn't try, that's a terrible example to the kids!

I think you should monitor this very closely, and if it goes back to being neglected, you should report it before the animals suffer. =) However, I have high-hopes that those kids will learn something good regardless of what ends up happening, and I KNOW you will be good at teaching about it. You seem to have a knack for teaching and being gentle about it, you do it the right way, and I think once you get into talking about the fish with the kids, your nerves will probably melt away. You will probably find them very eager to learn about them, and they may ask a lot of odd, but good questions and you will forget you were ever nervous. ^_^ I also hope this teacher is nicer than she sounds like she is...with pets I mean, she is obviously good with the kids from how you talk about the lovely school. A lot of times teachers get class pets for the kids to oogle, but don't do any kind of research beforehand. This should be a rule in schools. In my elementary school, the teachers that had class pets, brought in their own and knew exactly what to do for them! I ended up helping out with "Iggy" because I knew lizards, even at that age, and we also got help from our fourth/fifth grade teacher who specialized in reptiles of all kinds, she even had her snake as a classroom pet, temporary of course, once a month or so.

I just know you will do well! So -try- not to worry, though I am sure it's difficult, and think of all the good things those youngins will learn. The fun things are the most remembered, afterall.

Also, another suggestion, I think you should take pictures of fish in that fit what you are looking for and ask the kids what they think...however, this could also backfire and end up with upset kids that don't have others agreeing with them. lol But you could I suppose. In the end they will probably be happy when they see the live fish they got, but you may not want to make them unhappy to begin with should someone disagree. lol

Oh yes, I am hoping someone will give you info or suggestions on bottom feeders for your Kindertank too, I'm kinda at a loss on a 29gal tank for what would be good and the right size for it. But something will surely fit with the tank and the fish chosen! I just don't know what. I had an albino bristle-nose pleco in my tank a long time ago, I was told they didn't get more than four inches long and would be fine...but after owning them, I am not so sure they'd go well in a classroom tank, nor do I know how big they actually get. LOL Someone with more experience will surely give you ideas though!
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Last edited by Sylverclaws; 10-10-2012 at 09:43 PM.
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