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!