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Old 05-07-2013, 07:11 PM   #1
moonshinetheslacker
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Class aquarium


My son goes to a montessori school, and the other day a kid brought in some gold fish, wondering why they kept dying. Three 2 inch goldfish in a half gallon vase. Some other kids were saying when they tried to keep goldfish, they were dying as well. They were determined that they got some bum fish.

I decided to take action.

I placed a wanted ad in craigslist for a free tank and filter for educating a class room. The tank is set up with dirt that I spent a month processing to leach out as much tannins as possible. On top of the dirt is some gravel from a creek near my house (gravel was boiled for half an hour)

Last friday I had a 15 minute presentation on how to cycle a tank with no fish.

The kids are doing supervised water tests daily to see what's happening with the bacteria. I drew a grid on the tank with a sharpie, and we're documenting the changes on the tank itself. The pH went from 7.6 to 8.5 in three days, then the following day, it dropped to 7.8 Anyone know why this is happening?

I'll post pics of the tank in the next couple of days. I'm using ammonium sulfate fertilizer with urea for the bacteria.

Anyone have any ideas as to what I should talk about this friday? Keep in mind, due to it being a montessori academy, the class room consists of kids from first grade to fifth.

Also, I was thinking of adding red cherry shrimp and guppies, so we can later describe the breeding and birthing process. The class also has a turtle, which I'm thinking of feeding the guppies to. Does anyone think this is brutal? The class is currently learning about eco systems, so I think it will be pretty neat to see this. Of course, I can simply tell them about it as well.

By the way, I'll be getting two ten watt LED flood lights for the tank soon, and once that happens we will start putting plants in the tank. If anyone wants to donate, send me a PM. I have plants of my own to put in, so we don't actually need any plants. I just thought some folks might like to be a part of this. I'm personally really enjoying it.

I've told the kids about this web site in case they want to research freshwater aquariums, and I think it will be pretty cool when they can pull up this forum and see pictures of their class project. I'm not going to be posting pictures of the kids, as some parents (understandably) don't want pictures of their children online.

That's it for now. Pics will be up later!
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:06 PM   #2
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This article may help. It would also help you to understand the hardness (GH) and alkalinity (KH) of the tank water before during and after the nitrogen cycle. The KH will affect the buffering capacity and the nitrogen cycle is not unlike a titration taking place where microbes are converting NH4+ to NO3-. This is the reasoning for the pH swing but keep in mind also the accuracy of some of the best pH meters/ probes in the world can vary 0.2-0.5 units in any given day.

Sounds like a fun project.
http://absolutelyfish.com/articles/nitrogen.php
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:51 PM   #3
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Dang that must be great! You should totally feed the turtle guppies.

I wish stuff like this would happen when I was in elementary/middle school. Unfortunately... not so much.
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Old 05-07-2013, 11:58 PM   #4
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kudos... no more dead goldfish. : )
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Old 05-08-2013, 04:38 AM   #5
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YES! Please do teach those children that Turtles eat live fish. while your at it explain there is no magic turtle food fairy sprinkling floating Turtle pellets to all the Wild Turtles. The sooner children learn that life in the food chain is not pretty the better.
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Old 05-08-2013, 06:37 PM   #6
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The dirt in the tank is what caused your PH to drop. This is a very neat project. Thank you for doing what you can to teach new young hobbyists the correct way from the start!
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:34 PM   #7
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I think guppies would be a good idea too, maybe the kids could also take some of the guppies home and start a tank of their own (With their parents permission of course!)


Other than that, I think feeding the extra guppies to the turtle is also a good idea.
Food chain and all~
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:42 PM   #8
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I think this is an awesome project. Science, ecology and all that!
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:28 PM   #9
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Good work! I have a Classroom aquarium too! Thanks to the members here, most the stuff was donated for the 6th grade classroom and I was able to get 3 kids interested somewhat in aquariums and they had a guppy tank. Can't wait to see photos!
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Old 05-15-2013, 04:35 PM   #10
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DaPlantMan, I recall when you set up your classroom tank. I think it was about a year and a half ago, right?

Well, enough with niceties, the tank is almost cycled. We did our final check on it yesterday. We dropped two cap fulls of ammonium sulfate into the filter, and by the time we pick our son up from school this afternoon, there should be zero ammo, and zero nitrites.

Our ph is stable, but it's stable at 8.1! I'm considering burrying a little coffee and peat moss in the soil to bring the pH down a bit, as eventually I would like to breed something more difficult in the tank for the kids. The little ones will get a kick out of guppies breeding, but the older children I think would really like watching the spawning rituals of bush nosed plecos, or german blue rams.

Either way, all the children are getting very excited about putting some fish in the tank. I'm going to start with some inverts, and if the light ever gets here from Amazon, I'll put some plants and mosses in the bottom so the critters can hide from the predators. So, since folks like to see plenty of pictures on here, here you go.

Also, they charts we have on the aquarium are difficult to see in the photograph, so I will upload a dated chart which shows how long the cycle took, which days the water was checked, which days it wasn't checked, and why.

Names for plants and fish will also be up soon!

Dirty tank:



Sandy/Rocky tank:



Muddy cycling tank:




Edit: Any other recommendations for fish? I'd like to get away from the standard types you find in big box pet stores.
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Last edited by moonshinetheslacker; 05-16-2013 at 02:24 PM.. Reason: Grammar and such
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