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Project Kindergarten

This is a discussion on Project Kindergarten within the Freshwater Journals forums, part of the Aquarium Photography category; --> Ah, timed out and couldn't edit, so I'll make another post. Sorry. lol I named my pleco Earl...for some reason he reminded me of ...

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Old 10-10-2012, 09:56 PM   #11
 
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Ah, timed out and couldn't edit, so I'll make another post. Sorry. lol I named my pleco Earl...for some reason he reminded me of James Earl Jones. I hope that doesn't upset anyone! Haha. I also loved my Ghost Shrimp, but they didn't like the same water my mollies did! =( However, I did get a Bamboo Shrimp, he was very placid, and lived perfectly with my platy, never tried to grab them...but that's iffy, it's a get lucky kinda thing, so you may not want to try it. Just a suggestion though, there are probably shrimp that are pretty and go well with whatever you choose if you want to go for those!

I wanted to make a suggestion for colors! Be sure you get some darks to go with those brights. I have found that bright colors are lovely, but they kinda blend all in if every fish is bright red, orange or gold. Not too many darker colors though, because then they block out the colors. Less darks than brights usually do the eye-catcher bit for you, and make everyone inspect all the colors you have instead of stare at the mass of blinding brights. But more than one, as that single could steal everyones thunder! As you know, in my Platy tank of bright reds, oranges and mickey's, I had a white MM platy, and a black and gold platy to contrast the colors. =) My niece decided she only loved the white MM platy she named Moonrock, but she would sit and stare at the whole tank for hours if I let her, and she'd talk to the fish too. n.n Moonrock was just her favorite, but she would go all big-eyed when one of my bright-colored fish swam by her face and would say "He's cool...he's cool too, they're all so cool!" =) I miss that!

Also, how are you with choosing plants? You know me and my....viney things. LOL I forgot what they are yet again, I am hopeless. In my defence, they don't exactly have easy to remember names. But yeah, those viney creatures that grow fast and are hard to kill, the fish love swimming around in them, and they grow so FAST, the kids might like watching that happen, and the fish love swimming around in the tangles and loops they make. And I am sure with all your tanks, that you could probably clip them when they get too big and make use of them in your own tanks, of which you have so many! lol =)
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Old 10-10-2012, 09:56 PM   #12
 
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I think your doing a great thing by fixing this tank and creating more fish lovers!
Good Luck with your project!
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Chesh (10-10-2012)
Old 10-11-2012, 10:32 AM   #13
 
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Would keep filter media and perhaps nylon stocking full of old substrate wet in aquarium water you drain from this tank.This will provide much bacteria and help shorten the time needed for tank to mature.
When I first began working for local school district,I was out in the school's, and many times when school let out for the summer,,hamster's,parakeet's,frog's,turtles,fish tank's were left as is, until school resumed .
Many dead animal's. Some animnal's were fortunate enough that someone took them home but many were left for maint crew to care for.
We were often too busy stripping ,waxing,floor's to care for these animal's and fish properly, and they seldom survived.
Am pleased you are putting forth the effort to help the children learn about fishes.
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Old 10-15-2012, 12:47 AM   #14
 
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Wow! Thank you all for such a wonderful show of support and advice! You guys rock!

There are many concerns I had going into this, which I've been discussing with the teacher at length over the last month or so. . . one of them is what happens on breaks and such. The fish will be coming home with me - permanently - when summer break rolls around. There is always random staff around during the shorter break periods, so I'll have to schedule tank maintenance with the office staff for each break as they come up. They'll be left alone every weekend, which I don't LIKE, but. . . it should be okay. In general I don't like caring for fish that aren't under my eye!

Feeding will be in my care exclusively, and the teacher has already added a 'fish' chore to her kiddy chore chart, so that I get a different kiddy helper each day to turn on the lights and feed the fish under my supervision. The teacher has also arranged her schedule so that the kids can get 'fish time' with me every morning, and those that are interested can ask questions and learn about the fish that live there! We plan to make a big hullabaloo over 'new fish days', and introduce new stock during class-time - but I intend to do most of the tank cleaning while the kids are NOT in the classroom. Too hard to keep the fingers of 22 kids out of buckets of water while concentrating on cleaning the tank and keeping the fish safe, and I really don't want them getting the idea that putting their hands in the tank is in any way acceptable behavior! The children will NOT be getting a choice of what goes into the tank. There are too many of them, and inevitably someone would be made unhappy by that. I'll just choose a variety of colors, and they'll all pick their own favorites among them.

I've already decided firmly on Platy, for various reasons these will be the best fit for both the classroom AND my tank which will be their future forever home! However I've also been considering possibly adding a few male Endler's into the mix as well. Though I don't prefer Guppies, and Endler's are basically that, I feel that these bright beauties would really capture the imagination of the class. Does anyone have any advice on how well Endlers would do in community with Platy? The shop where I saw them ONLY had males, as far as I could tell, and I've never kept these together in community. . .any input?

For now, I'm moving forward with the all Platy plan. Ive had 6 Platy in my tank for about a week or so now waiting for things to be ready for them in the school tank. As much as I hate moving fish so often and stressing them with new environments, I really thought it would be best to bring them home to QT for a short time with me first. This way I am able to let them adjust to water parameters and keep a close eye on them in my own home before sending them on their way. If medication is needed, I'd rather do it in here where I can observe the reactions of the fish and take proper measures to keep them happy. I wish I could keep them in QT for a longer period of time, but I really have to get the kindy tank stocked quickly - the school year is only so long!

On Friday I broke down the tank - My LORD what a nightmare that was! Despite my efforts over the last few weeks in trying to clean it up, months and months worth of mulm were still buried under the gravel (which is why, after so many water changes, that I decided a full tank breakdown was needed here). Once I got the fish out, and the water drained somewhat, I called the teacher over as I stirred up the gravel bed to let her SEE with her own eyes what her 'clean' water was hiding - and why her fish were suffering for it. She was pretty shocked, lol!

I did do a full tank drain and glass scrub - it was disgusting through and through. I replaced the gravel with more natural looking pea-gravel, but returned her original gravel (rinsed in tap water) to the tank in 4 nylon 'sock bags' to keep as much bacteria as possible in the tank. I left the filter media (which she changed out about a week before I got involved) alone. I've had great success with this method of changing the substrate in the past, so I don't expect to have any problems. I plan to remove one of the 'sock bags' each week after I start stocking. . . I put an extra HOB filter on one of my tanks a month or so ago, when I started preparing for all of this. That filter will go into the class tank when I start adding fish, to further aid in keeping the bacterial cycle going. I also will be adding floating plants and stem plants from my tanks to help keep the parameters stable during transition, as well as a piece of driftwood - the plants and wood have been in my own tanks for ages, and all are covered in BB. I'll be monitoring parameters very closely, but I really don't expect to see any spikes. I've started enough tanks in this way that I'm confident that things will go well here. . . it's still nerve-wracking to start a new tank so far away from my watchful eye. . . but I think it's going to be okay.

I also removed all of the other tank decorations, as well as the backround. This week is a short week at the school. A half-day on Thursday and no class on Friday, so I'm going to let things lie this week and start stocking the tank next week. To keep the kids interested, I plan to slowly 'build' the tank this week, adding driftwood, rocks, a new backround, and live plants each day until a new environment has been created. I already had quite a lot of kiddo's asking tough questions. . . a few of my favourites:

HEY! Why did you take all of our toys out of the tank?
Well... fish don't play with toys!
No, but WE do!
Well, if you got taken from your home, and had to live somewhere else, how would you feel?
Various answers - sad, scared, nervous, lonely. . .
If you got taken from your home, and put somewhere else, but they had a bedroom EXACTLY like yours there, how would THAT make you feel?
Various answers - Safe, happy, at home, comfortable
So... where do fish live, and what would be in there bedroom?
In RIVERS! With rocks and plants and wood. . .
Then. . . do you think your fish would feel happier with a new home that looks like a river? Or a new home filled with cool colorful toys?
A RIVER!!!

I think they understood, and they were really into the process (though I did most of the work while they were at lunch and recess) and amazed by the change! It was really a lot of fun. Another tough series of questions came up, too - centering around why I was 'stealing' their fish. *sigh* I had to explain that one of them wasn't happy in a tank so small, and since he was grumpy, he could hurt the other fish. And one of them wasn't happy without his own family around him, and ONE of them might be sick, so was going to the fishy hospital for a while, but then would be back if he was feeling better. . .



The Lone WhiteSkirt Tetra and the Chinese Algae eater made it safely to the LFS, where they were released under the watchful eye of MY little kindergarten aquarist. The Tetra ended up with a bunch of Black-Skirts, or Black Widow Tetra - same difference, he seemed much happier instantly, and didn't hide when he was added to the tank. I DON'T like that they didn't put him in a QT of any kind, but that's out of my hands. The Chinese Algae Eater was given a tank all to himself, and the owner assured me that if he didn't find a good home for him, that he could stay on there indefinitely. My daughter was paying close attention, which is good - she'll be bringing news of the fish back to her classroom tomorrow.

As for the little Juvie that was living there. . . well, he *might* be a Platy! I assumed he was a Molly, because there were Mollies in the tank when we started there, but the teacher said that there were several Platy in that tank at one time. . . I honestly can't tell! Can anyone offer insight on the difference between these fish are in the Juvie stage?! I'll try to snag a picture of him so y'all can chime in, lol! Whatever he is, he's a he - still under an inch long, and Molly or Platy will be fine on the stocking list for the tank, so he came home with me and put into QT at my house on Friday. He seemed very at home in my tank immediately, and has done great over the weekend! I have high hopes that he's going to come through all of this and go back to the Kindergarten in a few weeks - they'll be SO happy to see one of their original fish back, I think!

*whew* That's MORE than enough of an update for one night! I'll try to get a few snapshots up sometime tomorrow. I was so exhausted at the end of the tank clean, that I didn't even have the energ to take a quick picture!
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Old 10-15-2012, 01:07 PM   #15
 
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You sound like you are on top of this tank! It sounds like you've done a great job handling the questions from the kids! Great analogy between their bedroom and the fish tank (mind if I use it? lol). You're a real treat for those kids. Who knows! Maybe one of them will grow up to be the next great ichthyologist like Heiko Bleher!
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Old 10-15-2012, 01:49 PM   #16
 
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Thanks, Izzy! I hope so. . . I'm really trying to find the balance between fish are fun, and making them understand how important it is that the fish be kept in the right environment and clean water - and why it's important. So far, the kids really like the new tank, and I've overheard them talking about how much more 'natural' it looks *giggle* These guys are FIVE. . . this makes me happy! Of course you can tell your kids all that! I'd love to hear about your school tanks, too. There must be so many school tanks out there - maybe we can help others through this thread somehow!

Sooooo, Wednesday of this week is a field trip, Thursday the kiddo's get a half-day, and Friday everyone is off for some reason or another, so I told the kiddos today that we'll start to add new fish on the week of the 22nd. This is good. . . it gives me an extra week to keep an eye on these Platy, and allow them to destress further, before sending them to their new home, which makes me feel better all around. I plan on adding something to the tank every day this week to keep interest up - today I put up the new background on the tank. Tomorrow, I'll be adding in some rocks. On Wednesday, maybe the driftwood will go in. . .

They're gonna be SO excited when they finally get some new, happy, healthy, beautiful fish in there!
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Old 10-19-2012, 04:57 AM   #17
 
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-whistles- You sure had a lot of work to do! And much more, but probably not as laborey. lol It sounds to me like those kids really do care about those fish and dont' quite understand what's going on, so it's great they have someone like you who can figure out good ways to explain. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow! xD

As for your juvenile, it can be hard to tell them apart at that age! But I can probably help you with that. Most platy tend to have shorter faces than mollies, and look a bit more squarish from side-view, whereas mollies at that age can also be round faced with wider heads from the top view(They kinda remind me of tadpoles...), but they're usually also round in body with longer tails. In other words, at -around- the inch mark, platy are short, stocky and sorta squarish with short noses and thinner heads, from the top view on the heads(although some do get the longer tails, they usually stay a bit more in the squared department), mollies tend to be round faced with much longer tails and bodies, and usually develop a nice barrel belly at this point(They get kinda thicker from the upper body to the head and the tails just get longer and skinnier, but this usually evens out when they're over the inch mark). Some more extreme than others. I hope that makes sense, I can -possibly- tell you for sure once I see him. I'm currently raising both molly and platy fry, and when you see them together, there are some rather distinct differences. However, sometimes they are hard to tell apart anyway because different mollies are different in shape sometimes! lol

That reminds me, my two red platy fry, one of them just got in a rather prominent Mickey Mouse logo. lol I didn't expect that!

As for Endlers, I used to have them. They're really nice fish and come in a variety of colors with stripes and spots, and are usually the less skiddish of the guppy clan. I cannot remember if they're included or the ONE exclusion from guppies that can interbreed with platy. You may want to look into that one to see for sure! Our store just got in a nice stock of them, I haven't seen them in forever. I had to drool on the floor while I stared at the tanks for about an hour. xD Remembering the tank I had as a child, nice fish, and they usually go well in community tank! You will need to watch for fin nippers as with any guppy, but for the most part, if they're in comfortable numbers in a good sized tank, the chances are you wont have any. Especially with platy, they don't have very flowey fins. Platy tend to get along with other community fish, guppies included as well. But do watch out for fin nippers on both ends, occasionally you get a brat. =p That's the only issue I can think of that guppies would cause. Hm, you may actually want just a few males instead of having some girls anyways. But they may try to breed with your platy. Maybe. I think they may be the one excluded from the interbreeding pool. And males can get a bit aggressive when guarding females to anyone near her. But again, not quite as common, but it's something I've read about quite a lot with them.

Oh good luck to you! I can't wait to hear more stories about it. :3 I'm sorry I've been lacking in updates and comments, I haven't exactly been...social lately, and had a lot of questions of my own I had to put up and look into. lol Once the stocking of the tank is settled down and the kids get used to how it's gonna be, I'm sure you'll have it a lot easier! At least I hope you will. It's great to teach kids things!
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Last edited by Sylverclaws; 10-19-2012 at 05:05 AM..
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Old 10-19-2012, 05:58 AM   #18
 
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Hey all. Just read the first post (guys, we're supposed to write posts not novels on here! ) so YAY Jes! Gonna be awesome! Hopefully all the kids will learn to take care of ALL animals from this!
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Old 10-19-2012, 07:22 AM   #19
 
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LOL! Lympie... I TRY not to write books, I REALLY do! I just fail

Sylver - Thanks for the input! I'll try to get you a picture tonight. He looks like my Juvie Mollies to me - but I've never had Platy fry, so now seeing him side-by-side with the Platy. . . I'm not so sure! Whatever he is, Molly or Platy, he's a pretty little thing, and he's come a LONG way since I brought him home. He settled right into his temporary tank here, and is happy active, and bright as can be - no more sulking around in dirty tank water for this little man! Everything I've read agrees with you - Endler's should be okay in the group. I'm still considering this one. They're so BRIGHT, I know the kids will love them. Whatever I decide, it will be based on how the tank is doing once the Platy are all in and settled - from here out, all new stock will have to go through a proper QT period before I add them, anyway. . .

The Platy in my QT are doing well, too. A few of them were clamping their tails and there was a bit of flashing, but I haven't seen any of that for a while now, and I think they're good to go. The only ones that are still causing me concern are two 'rainbow' females - gorgeous little things. Both of them came in very pregnant, and each have a severely nipped fin. They're both starting to heal, and I haven't seen any aggression in MY tank, but these will be the last to go to school, after they're 100% healed up and have dropped their broods. It wouldn't be fair to move them again in this condition.

I'm going to start putting them in in batches of three or four, giving time between each new addition for the bacteria and the fish to settle. . . for a total of 10 Platy, if all goes well. I ended up with more males than I wanted, but am seeing no trouble thus far, so *crosses fingers* I debated taking them back to the shop and switching them out for females, but since they weren't quite healthy when I got them, I can't do that, and don't want to start over with new stock at this point!

I'm going to start sending fish over on Monday, with the proper fanfare and hoopla - the kids are SO excited to get their fish back, and I think little Molly/Platy is going to be one of the very first additions. They'll be so happy to have him back! I think I'm going to ask the teacher if any of the kids have any food dye allergies, and if not, bring in some Swedish fish candy and the rainbow goldfish crackers to make it a little fish 'party'!
<--- 22 excited Kindergarteners!

Last edited by Chesh; 10-19-2012 at 07:32 AM..
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Old 10-19-2012, 08:25 AM   #20
 
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Sorry, I'm used to writing novels. lol I try not to do it in posts and stuff, but it still gets me. ^^;

Ah, Rainbow Platy. Those are pretty indeed. Why not wait until the babies are about two or three weeks old and transfer them instead of the parents? Otherwise they'll have quite a few moves in this year to go with their issues. And the kids may like watching the babies grow. Just an idea! I'm sure you've already thought of everything though. lol But once they're about three quarters an inch long(Half an inch if you get really peaceful adults), most adult fish wont mess with them unless they're already aggressive or very, very hungry. ^^;
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