Here is my first try at a tank journal! It's actually more of an experiment -- maybe it will help someone else, and/or more experienced fish keepers will chime in and give me advice!
I work for a school district that does a fish observation unit. After last spring's debacle of tons of dying livestock, I decided to learn more about the process and maybe how to improve it. In the meantime, I fell in love with the whole aquarium "thing."
Eventually I'll post journals about my tank/tanks, but for now, I am looking to chronicle the experiment to improve the living conditions of the animals when they are in the classroom.
All tanks are 6 liter plastic/acrylic (?) observation tanks with a hard plastic lid that has a gridwork of square holes in it. There is about an inch of gravel, and two 8-12 inch strands of elodea in the tank. The livestock is 2 guppies (1 male, 1 female), one juvenile mystery snail (less than an inch in shell diameter), and 1 ghost shrimp. For the purposes of the experiment, we are doing without the shrimp, as we don't have any at the moment. Water is supposed to be kept filled to within an inch of the top. There are no heaters or temperature controls, though theoretically, the school is supposed to alter their temperature controls and NOT drop the temp in the classrooms when there are live animals in the building overnight. Last, I am planning to run this experiment for 1 month, which is about how long teachers usually keep the fish tanks.
I am running 3 tanks for the experiment:
Tank 1: (1st picture: shows the droplet bottle to left of tank) Getting a 3 cup water removal and then water (aged tap water with API Stresscoat + added) replaced to proper level every day, except on weekends (and snow-days, when I'm not supposed to work).
Tank 2: (2nd picture: shows filter in the tank) Getting the same 3 cup water removal and then water (aged tap water with API Stresscoat + added) replaced to proper level every day, except on weekends (and snow-days, when I'm not supposed to work). Also has a $3 sponge filter and a $7 Tetra "whisper" air pump.
Tank 3: (3rd picture: shows blue tray to right of tank) Being run according to original teacher instructions, which are "top off the water when it evaporates too much, and if the water gets noticeably dirty, empty most of it out and put fresh in."
I've made very few changes from the regular instructions, other than these two:
1. I'm using aged & treated tap water, instead of the jugs of spring water the district usually purchases (probably from Walmart -- or wherever is cheapest) for water changes. I read somewhere that the ph is likely to be lower with spring water? I'd love some insight on this, if anyone knows!
2. I've defined "a small amount" of fish food like this (see picture #4): literally 4 flakes (I also show how it looks all crumbled up...which may be confusing & cause them to double feed, so I'll probably change how I'm explaining it to the teachers). They are to feed this amount 3 days per week. The snails are not supposed to be fed (originally I think pond snails were used for this science unit, so we'll see if I decide to feed the snails part of an algae wafer or something, eventually). I am wondering if they should feed this amount every day... Right now they're given a full 1-2 ounce container full of food, and I'm guessing they're letting kids feed and they are probably getting a teaspoon or more of food per day, though it does say to remove any uneaten food after a few minutes (who knows if they actually do that -- this is a kindergarten classroom, after all!).
I'm sure I'll add details to this as I think of them. So far the tanks have been up for a week, and here are the ammonia readings:
Tank 1: .25ppm
Tank 2: hit .25ppm yesterday, and today is much lower -- almost no discernible green (using an API ammonia test kit - drops/test tube, NOT strips)
Tank 3: >.25ppm but <.5ppm
...confession: I put tank #3 furthest from my desk...I already feel guilty...