Teaching a fish keeping class
I am going to be teaching a fish keeping class for 10-13 year olds, about the basics of tropical fish keeping. I was wondering if you had any advice on my plan so far:
Week 1 – Equipment (Tanks, filters, heaters, thermometers, notebook, test kit, camera(*), ammonia) ^^
Week 2 – Cycling (Nitrogen cycle, keep cycling journal, share stats every week)
Week 3 – Stocking planning (Compatibility, requirements, size, etc)
Week 4 – Plant planning (What plants, lighting, fertilizers, CO2(maybe), etc), and Decoration planning (cleaning/preparing natural décor, DIY slate caves, etc)
Week 5 – Fish diseases (Common fish diseases and how to treat them (Ick, parasites, Fin rot, Columnaris, dropsy), DGD, NTD, other diseases (pop-eye, cloud-eye, fungus, velvet, etc)
Week 6 – Decorating the tanks (Decorate the tanks (hard-scape(rocks and wood)), and plants, bring pictures in to the next week)
Week 7 – Stocking (Add fish! (Might have to spread out over two weeks, depends on the fish the kids want)) ^^
Week 8 – Follow-up/2nd stocking week
(*) means optional, ^^ means that week we'll be going to a pet store.
It's just the very basics, what they need to know to start. The goal is for them each to have their own tank at home that they're working on at home while the class is going on, and then we're going to have a class tank. Everyone will have a 5-20 gallon tank, class tank is going to be 5 gallons. Each week we're going to talk about the topics above, and then work on the class tank so on week 1 I'll start cycling it, and then share the results so far with the kids on week 2. On the second to last day of class when we start stocking our tanks (if they're done being cycled...) I'm going to buy a male Veil tail Betta to go in the class tank. Then the last week we will all share our journals from the week before and discuss what is going on in our tanks.
Any advice is welcome! I'm not sure how much interest I'm going to get, but we'll see.
Man that sounds awesome and getting kids into the hobby is a great way to keep it going. I like your setup and the way the classes will be presented. Maybe try and touch up on freshwater vs saltwater care but I'm sure you had it in there somewhere. I wish I could teach something like this I love messing with aquariums if that was my job I'd walk into work every day with a smile. I'd love to work at a petstore and help people out with their aquarium needs.
Thanks! I didn't think of Saltwater vs freshwater, since it was mostly a freshwater keeping class, and I've never kept saltwater, but I'll definitely think about that! I'm an older teen myself, and I think I'll probably learn something by teaching this class, too. I'll make a aquarium log for the class tank here on TFK!
My goal is to someday open a fish store/breeding project where I breed all the fish I sell in my store! I was thinking about also having a "fish adoption center" where I take the fish people can't take care of anymore, and I sell them for a lower rate than my other fish to people who will take better care of them. I'd teach classes there, too. For now I'm hoping to get a summer job at my favorite pet store, I was actually there helping someone the other day :p
That's fantastic! You really have to keep us posted on this one. Just think of all of those knowledgable future fish keepers :thumbsup:
I'm assuming that water changes with gravel siphoning are on your list? And are the parents aware of how much money they're going to have to shell out for the equipment?
I updated the list shortly after posting this, and they are on there. I am making sure that they realize that it's going to be expensive, I'm also going to send out an email to them all about where to find the equipment cheaper, like online for the test kits, and craigslist for the actual tank. I'm hoping to do more of these basics classes, and a few follow-up classes later, like fish breeding, and aquascaping, and upgrading tanks. I'll definitely keep you all posted! Maybe I'll post exactly what we talk about each week on this thread. It starts in March, so right now I'm just preparing for it. Wish me luck! :-D
Details on each week:
Week 1 – Equipment: We will be going to the pet store to buy the equipment we need. What we'll be buying: Tanks (5-20 gallons), filters, heaters, thermometers, test kit, substrate. I will supply bottles of ammonia for cycling the tanks, along with a booklet about how to start. Cycles can be started when as soon as you get the tank setup, or the week when we talk about cycling. (You take your tank home with you, there will be a class tank that we all setup together!)
Week 2 – Cycling: Topic for week 2 is cycling, and how to do it properly. Anyone who starts the cycle on week 1 will be asked to share results so far with the class. The class tank will be cycling starting on week 1. We will test the water on week 2 to show the process of testing, and to help explain cycling.
Week 3 – Stocking plans: While we are cycling the tanks it's just testing, and waiting, so we will start to plan what fish we want. If the kids have a pretty good idea of what fish they want at the beginning of the class we will discuss compatibility, and requirements of those fish. If not I will have a list of hardy fish that are good for beginners. Some of the fish the kids may want may not be compatible with each other! In that case I will suggest similar fish that are compatible. We will talk about geographical locations of the fish if they lived in the wild, and about “Biotopes” where you try to recreate a fish's natural habitat in your tank.
Week 4 – Plant plans – Plants are used as hiding spots for many tropical fish, and, if they're live plants, can help get rid of excess NitrAtes that we learn about when learning about cycling. Some things we will talk about: Silk vs. Live vs Plastic, pros and cons of each. Geographical location of plants, more about “Biotopes”. Decoration plans – Other decorations, plastic ones from the pet store, or real rocks, and sticks. We will discuss how to know if the rocks you've chosen are okay for your tank, and how to make the sticks safe.
Week 5 – Fish Diseases – Fish get sick too, and aquarists need to know how to treat them. Diseases such as Ick, fin rot, pop-eye, cloud-eye, velvet, and more will be brought up. Parasites are also dangerous such as Ick, velvet, internal parasites, and more. There are also some untreatable diseases that came from too much inbreeding of certain species, such as Dwarf Gourami Disease (DGD), and Neon Tetra Disease (NTD).
Week 6 – Decorate the tanks – We will talk a little about aquascaping before we start to decorate the class tank. I'll give a few tips on how to get the most out of your decorations. We be designing a hard-scape, as well as planting the class tank.
Week 7 – Stocking the tanks – We will put our stocking plans into action! Another trip to the pet store so the kids can choose their fish. I will give checklists on choosing healthy fish, and we will choose a class Betta together for the class tank (which I will be keeping at the end of class). The kids will also get to pick fish for their home tanks. I will hand out booklets on how to acclimate the fish to your tank water. The pet store's Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, pH and temperature may be different from yours, and if the fish are not properly acclimated they could die of pH, and temperature shock! We will buy gravel vacuums now if the kids haven't gotten theirs yet.
Week 8 – Follow-up/Stocking week 2 – We will go over the basics of maintaining the tanks, and depending on how many people have heavier stocking we may need to spread the stocking over two, or more, weeks so the bacteria in the filter can catch up. That way we don't end up with a “mini-cycle”, where the fish in your tank are creating more ammonia than you cycled with, therefore there aren't enough bacteria to change the ammonia into nitrites, and nitrites into nitrates!
Definitely hammer in the idea from the beginning that fish keeping requires patience, but that its necessary for the great reward of giving the best life to your little pal. Id assume most of these kids will enter into the class thinking theyll be playing with colorful fishies from the start and easily learning about them, only to find out that they dont get to see a fish until week 7, and the process along the way involves complex/somewhat tedious steps like the nitrogen cycle. As a teacher, I wouldn't get discouraged if some of the kids are a little overwhelmed at first at the responsibility, its always surprising when you find out fish keeping is much more than having a tank of water and food.
Definitely. I recently had to explain the nitrogen cycle (in the most simple terms possible) to one of my sibling's friends. The friend just looked at me as if I was insane, but she didn't question it.
They'll get to see lots of fish... pictures :-D
I was one of those kids when I got my first Betta, the only reason I researched anything about them was because I wanted to breed them! I actually wasn't surprised that my 1/2 gallon tank wasn't big enough though, it never seemed nice to have him in such a small tank, but he had been a birthday present from someone who works at a pet store, so I assumed they knew... I haven't trusted a pet store employee since!
That's awesome. What is the target audience age? Another thought, have you approached the local pet store for sponsorship. Maybe ask them if they would like to make donations or discounts for a little in store window advertising advertising their support for the school project. Throw in some class pictures. You never know unless you ask.
Another idea I had was getting the students to bring water samples in for testing. That way it can be in a controlled environment and save the parents a little money.
Fund raising school function could also help lower the costs.
Just my thoughts to help you get this off the ground
Another idea. Maybe establish a plant tank now and start growing and cutting plants for the kids to use
Thanks for the suggestions! :-D
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