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it's bad when your very own thread tells you that it's been so long since an update you might as well give up and start a new one! >.<
Do I have anything of value to add to this particular thread??! I'm not so sure! But I have PICTURES! And STORIES! AND (most importantly) a tankful of fishies, frogs, and snails! Journals should never die while the tank lives on (I think?), and so. . .
*checks box* THREAD, I RESURRECT YOU!!!
Sorry for the delay guys, and thanks for all the messages asking after things with this project - y'all are so encouraging! (and patient! o.O)
Today is a super special day, a good day to breathe life into this old journal of mine. Today is the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!
It was so lovely to walk into a brand new classroom, and see all of my kindy kids - now big ol' FIRST GRADERS, a foot taller and rockin' those gap-toothed grins! Kids are flighty, they forget - but after an entire summer of fun, I found myself right where I left off - surrounded by curious kiddos, asking after 'their' fish, wondering if I'll be bringing the tank back in, OR (better yet?!) if I'll be taking care of Chrystal, the red-eared slider who lives in the new classroom - along with updates and questions about home tanks, and so many
hugs and kisses and stories of summer adventures! I missed those kids!
To answer their questions and yours - no. The tank is NOT
going back into the school. There was always some question as to what would happen at the end of the year, I made it clear from day one that leaving it through the summer months again was not an option, nor was moving the animals back and forth - when the school year was over, they would be going to a forever home where they would be looked after properly. The Kindy teacher was pretty close to deciding to take it with her (she loves them) until a happy series of life events found her newlywed and moving cross-country, so the babies came home with me after all - we always knew they would, neh? Another teacher, and parent of one of the kindies, gave me her almost-new 29g, complete with its pretty stand (much nicer than any of the other hand-me-downs I have! O.O) and so I find myself with a live-bearer tank once again - complete with frog power - and it is all good! I really wanted to get down to one tank (yeah, right!), but I'm happy things worked out this way in the end. . . I love them, too - and now I can be sure
they're getting the care they need. Bonus is that classmates can see the tank during play-dates, as a few of my daughter's friends have found out over the summer! How excited they were to see their class pets again! ^.^
You can see that a lot has changed. But I don't even know where I left off here, except that it was February. . . things finally settled down in the final months of the school year, but there were a few dramatic incidents that came first - we lost the last of those fish who had been sick as the final remnants of the mysterious illness worked its way out of the system, Sunny quietley passed at the end of March, here in a home QT (he seemed okay until the very end - all bent spines aside), an Anubias spontaneously combusted during spring break at about the same time as the teacher beat in the swords with the driftwood whilst attempting to feed the frogs, the light died, and water quality in the school tap got even worse. . . but overall the end of the semester was positive as the tank finally
matured and took on a life of its own, and we had a great time building and learning from it together.
I had a fantastic group of kids and two amazingly supportive teachers to work with, along with an ideal school for a project like this. The teachers worked tank time into the routine every morning, as well as shifting schedules to allow a full hour or two here and there for our super special tank days, and together we found so many ways to incorporate the lessons we could find there into their daily learning, we did so many fun things!
The Kindy tank inspired LOADS
of fantastic art projects. I had a blast drawing coloring pages based on it and its inhabitants, and helped kids draw their own fish when they asked - which was a few kids every morning. The teacher dug out a poster of fish sculptures that can be found around town here (part of a city-wide campaign to raise awareness and money to clean up local waterways). And Fishy Popsicle stick puppets and sculptures made from everything from aluminum foil to masking tape popped up all over the classroom. During the last couple weeks of school, the kids got all whispery and giggly about something. . . they were working on a top-secret project, and very excited about it. Every one of them had drawn a picture for me, and the teacher put the all together into a book, which they gave me on the last day of school (I cried!). It's so adorable - click the image if you want to see the kindergarten cuteness!
We went on rock hunts around campus, and the tank was a fantastic learning tool when the kids started planting seedlings for their spring gardens. We added a lot of plants at that point, and the kids were thrilled to watch mosses attaching to the rocks they had scrubbed so carefully, and the rubber bands coming off rhizomes newly attached to driftwood. A Java having babies was a source of amazement, the Banana plants I took in were a hit (even though they aren't doing so well now), and frogbit root systems went a long way in helping them to see what goes on under the dirt. By the end of the year, most of the kids were able to feed the frogs with a turkey baster, and a couple of Sakura's pink ramshorn snails found their way into the tank during the very last week of classes to thrill the girly girls beyond belief. I also had fun thinking up random silly fishy themed things - the favorite was cups of blue jello with Swedish fish 'swimming' in the gelatin. Kids are easy to please!
I don't have a lot of experience with tanks, and this was easily the most difficult one I've ever dealt with. It was a disaster when I found it to begin with, and I've learned a lot from bringing it back to health. First experience with Old Tank Syndrome, re-homing/rehabilitating the previous residents, truly crappy tap water, Ich (among other pathogens), maintaining a tank outside of my home (and through school vacations and snow-days o.O), failing plants. . . to ME, it was a bit of a nightmare for a while there, and trying to balance the bad with the good and keeping things positive for the kiddos was even more of a challenge. . . if I were asked to do it again, I'm not sure what I'd say! I feel guilty for putting the animals through it. As a fishkeeper, it is my firm opinion that a classroom filled with 5-year old children is a terrible
place for a tank for so
many reasons. . . but . . .
. . .from the perspective of the parents, teachers, and kids - it was the prettiest tank they had ever seen, they were proud of it, and inspired. And as a parent myself, it was such
a joy to work with the kids, to show them the wonders of a world they don't usually get to interact with, and to see the excitement in their eyes every morning. . . some were more into it than others, but not one child lost interest. Those who had tanks of their own brought what they learned home, and tried to apply it there - every parent in that class with a tank came to me at some point over the school year to ask questions about their own setups, and others just to say how much their kids had been talking about their kindy fish at home. Several new tanks were started - properly! With seeded media and proper stocking, and staff from elsewhere in the school sought me out with general questions. Bonus? I had a hand in saving hundreds of goldfish from being given away at the Spring Fling! So all things taken into consideration, I *think* I'd do it again if asked, though I wouldn't seek it out. . . I've learned enough that I think I could do a better job if there were a next time. And if I walked into another 'rescue situation' would insist on being given time to fully rebuild the tank properly - and keep extremely light stocking. . . still hoping it doesn't come up, though - cuz' I'd really rather not!
So that's about it, in a bookish nutshell. . . the tank was broken down and brought home on the 19th of June (I think? My notebook is upstairs!) I took it apart piece by piece, and moved it all to my home (along with 50% old water), and rebuilt it as close to exactly the way it was in-school as possible - then took the pictures posted here when the water cleared. The poor animals looked SO confused when I returned them to what was exactly, but not at all, their original environment, and both they, and the tank, settled in immediately - paramaters stayed stable through the move. The only changes I've made so far is to add Freckles (my ADF who was in my 55g Becoming), pull the frog house out (you couldn't see it from the front anymore, anyway), and add more of the pretty pink snails. It's already time for an update - the plants have grown since then, babies have been born! Hmm, now that it's in my home, I can even get a video to share!