My sister's biom project has gotten me so mad! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 11-05-2005, 06:02 AM Thread Starter
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My sister's biom project has gotten me so mad!

Did you guys, in high school, ever have that a biom project where you have plants and animals in a small aquarium (like a large bottle) and see if you can choose them well enough to have the animals and plants survive for a certain period?

Well, my sister's doing one now-- the goal is to have them live for 4 months.

Well, the bottles get sealed at the start of the experiment so no water changes-- and they get 20 hours a day of med-low lighting.

So, my sister calls me (I'm at college) and asks me for advice. Well, any planted tank member would realize it's not optimal conditions. But I just told her that she should use java moss, and not fast-growers because there is very limited CO2, and that she should use small algae eating inverts like snails and/or feeder caridina shrimp, and that she should grab some of the substrate from my shrimp tank at home to help her bacteria colonies along.

Apparently, all my sister got was to use java moss. SHE DOESN'T LISTEN!!!

She said she was "too grossed out" to take substrate from my tank, and she let someone else pick the animals!!

Oh, and it's bad, you know it'd be bad . . .

her friend got them 4 clown plecos . . . and one of 'em died before they even started . . .

3 CLOWN PLECOS!?? IN A COCA COLA BOTTLE!!?? WITHOUT WOOD TOO!!?

When I told my sister how ridiculous that was, she said that they'd already bought the fish and that was that . . . OMG . . . she didn't want to argue with her friend . . .

If I'm mad at my sister and her friend, I'm infinitely more mad at the pet store owner, who apparently said that "this is a good fish to use, because it eats algae!"
I swear when I go back home I'm going to find out which store that was and knock some sense into them . . .


So, any takers on guessing how long it'd be before a trio of clown plecos croak in a 1g container with no water changes, no established bacteria colonies, and no wood?
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 11-05-2005, 06:16 AM
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3 days max! and it isn't even a whole 1 gallon, more like 2 liters.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 11-05-2005, 06:20 AM
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why don't you try some snails?
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 11-05-2005, 11:58 AM
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I fell that this is an unacceptably CRUEL experiment. Why not set up a real planted tank and create a real self- sustaining ecosystem? They would learn SO much more if they set up a tank like we have.
If this were near me, I would volunteer to come give the lecture and help set the tank up....
Otherwise, I think this type of cruel planning of death to fish should be addressed! I think we should send a barrage of letters to the school and teacher.

30g planted with cories, white clouds, Harlequin Rasboras ,ottos.
10g planted with glowlight tetras and an otto.
Outdoor pond with one common goldfish and comets.
5.5g with endlers.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 11-05-2005, 05:22 PM
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I fell that this is an unacceptably CRUEL experiment. Why not set up a real planted tank and create a real self- sustaining ecosystem? They would learn SO much more if they set up a tank like we have.
If this were near me, I would volunteer to come give the lecture and help set the tank up....
Otherwise, I think this type of cruel planning of death to fish should be addressed! I think we should send a barrage of letters to the school and teacher.
I agree that the teacher should have done some things differently, such as give better guidelines than "Pick some plants, and some animals, and let's see how long they live." Who is to say the teacher didn't give plenty of examples of what to get and what to avoid? We have established that GMF's sister doesn't listen to him all that much.

I didn't take the class, but one of the biology teachers did something quite similar in my highschool, and it accomplished quite a lot. Not only did it educate the class, but because it was displayed to the school for the next years, a lot of others were curious and learned as well. Yes I did say years. There were some, which in the one gallon bottle, which was never opened, the third generation of guppies were doing quite well.

I guess my point is, while on principal, I am loath to defend a teacher, I think the two people at fault are the worker at the LFS and GMF's sister's friend, but even so, they will both help the class in their education. Nothing teaches us quite like our own failures, IMO.


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First true attempt at a planted tank.
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 11-05-2005, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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*sigh* I mean, I went to the same high school, and it is actually an amazing high school, ranked high in the nation. It is also well supplied-- the students are even using 6500k overhead florescents instead of just putting it by the window.

In fact, last year when I was still a senior I borrowed some of the lab space and one of the light set-ups to install some planted aquariums myself for my art project (though I was using a timer). The AP enviro teacher gave me permission to use the school facilities, and was really quite thrilled with my project's presence because it was a good example of the things she was teaching-- but at the same time I could see she'd never seen anything like a full-planted set up and didn't really understand the more important aspects of a planted tank's balance.


Bio classes put a lot of effort into teaching about photosynthesis/respiration relationship, and my sister's project is actually a part of that particular unit . . .

What I think the teacher and students alike don't understand is that in an aquarium, plants photosynthesize way more than fish respirate.

They actually used a tool to measure the amount of oxygen the fish uses-- but the point is that the amount of oxygen a fish needs is nothing compared to the amount of CO2 the plants need . . .


Even worse I think, is that the students have so far learned NOTHING about the ammonia cycle!
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-10-2006, 07:15 AM
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lol, I just finished that experiment a little while ago, for mine I used some feeder shrimp, freshwater clams and java moss, you'd be surprised what some people did, I saw someone with 3 tiger barbs in a 1.5g, I also saw someone with a 5" talapia in like a 1g... it surprisingly lived about 1.5 months, my experiment lived (of course ) almost everyone else wasn't so lucky though, btw, your sister doesn't happen to go to punahou does she?


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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-10-2006, 07:37 AM
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How cruel!!

When I went to HS we did the same experement. But we had to submit in writing our plan for approval prior to its starting. I used java moss, a snail, and ghost strimp. We also had decent lighting and substrate. If it was doubtful that our experment would be sucessful... then we coudlnt do it that way. My teacher at least thought about the poor creatures!
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-10-2006, 11:43 AM
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Gack 3 clown plecos... those fish might have endured so much hardship from getting caught from their habitat and all the stressfull ordeal then fly a long way to USA (likely).

They should have opt for bigger jar, some substrate from a mature tank, java moss and some algae shrimps at most (and I have seen this kind of setup last for months... even years)

Speaking of cruelty... all bio class usually will do that. It is just a matter of selection of which species to use. I wish they would use more common, readily renewable ones.


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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-10-2006, 12:41 PM
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We never did anything like this at my high school - but then again, my high school was unique.

The first time someone came into the store asking for help with this assignment, I set them up with anacharis, and a white cloud or a couple of snails. But I also gave them store-used gravel and tank water to start them off.

However, I was suprised when some students told me their teacher told them to use feeder goldfish. I wasted no breath in telling them how cruel that was, how their teacher was stupid for suggesting such a thing, etc.... I'm surprised I haven't been fired yet.

I love clown plecos. They're some of my favorite fish. This story almost made me cry.
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-10-2006, 01:13 PM
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Coulda been worse.
She coulda used a puppy!
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-10-2006, 01:25 PM
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Coulda been worse.
She coulda used a puppy!


Anyways, Java moss and snails have survived in my garage in a 20 gallon tank for 4 months now. Not exactly sealed off but not maintained or supplied any real light either.
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-10-2006, 01:47 PM
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That's pretty bad...as a former bio teacher (HS and college) that's probably one of the most piss-poor assignments I've ever heard. Several key things that the teacher should have mentioned: ECOLOGY!!!! There are things to teach/instruct such as: 1) limiting factors...teacher should have asked "what are they?"...competition being one of the most important factors...abiotic and biotic...enough air to breath, water, nutrients, space itself, etc. 2) niches 3)basic biology principles such as photosynthesis and respiration, and a bunch more stuff.

Granted a project like that should be directed more for an advanced class or even an AP (although not in the AP curriculum). It would be fun for a more remedial class, but the lessons on inter- and intraspecific competition, biotic/abiotic factors, etc have to be toned down a tad to be better understood.

The idea is novel...but poorly executed.

Re-boot!
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-10-2006, 03:03 PM
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It sounds like there are only two things to be learned from this rather cruel project:

Sisters never listen to their elder brothers (believe me I know)

and...

Generally people think puppies are more important than fish (odd judgement call.. discuss..)...
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-10-2006, 04:25 PM
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While I acknowledge the inherent idiocy of the project form the get-go, atleast they learned a lesson. Once the plecos die, in the next few days, and you sister receives a failing grade, and she has to deal with her being responsible for several fish deaths, perhaps your sister will realize that you were right. And trust me, your little sister telling you that you were right is nearly priceless.
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