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  1. Thank you everyone for your input and advice. Our next attempt with a new class, which starts in 2 weeks, I will have them increase the ammonia concentration that they are maintaining after they have achieved the cycle. That seems like the most likely culprit, even if I am skeptical of such a small amount of fish changing the numbers so much in 12 hours (questioning is my nature though as a science teacher). I think I am also seeing some of the challenges of the class and making sure they follow the protocols; and emphasizing the outcome if they don't. And while I won't dictate what they can get for the tank (within reason obviously) I will direct them in specific directions to hopefully mitigate some of the difficulties. We are learning what retailers work the best as well; most of the fish that have struggled so far in both quarters have come in incredibly small from a specific retailer. Not all of them, but most. So I will caution the kids from buying from them in the future (usually I have not had any issues when I bought from them personally)
  2. That is a good idea. Maybe I will try something like that next quarter. I have a bigger tank in the room and a tank with "class fish" for the students who aren't planning on buying their tanks. We do monitor KH. Our water is harder than hard in our district. So hard in fact, that the aquarium coop test strips turn a different color than is actually available. With that, our buffer is usually in the 180+ ppm range. Very minimal differences. One used dark pebble substrate, one used light and they had slightly different amounts of driftwood. 1 tank that did well and 1 that did poorly had a few live plants, the other that did poorly used fake. Other than that, the setups were identical.
  3. Yeah, we were looking for electives last year and this was the one that I pitched and got approval for. It is by far the most fun class that I have ever taught.
  4. That makes sense and was where I was thinking, I just didn't believe it. It seemed like adding that amount ammonia every 3 days would sustain more bacteria than a few small frogs that haven't eaten in several days (they were shipped to us); but that is anecdotal, so apparently that isn't the case. Another tank in the same class, following the same methodology, has a betta fish and several guppies and they did not have any issues. Everything stayed 0 in their tanks (and they brought the fish from home, so they had a full gut and everything). As I am tying all this out, I am starting to wonder if they were following the protocols. It makes no sense a seasoned fish keeper like the student with the guppies would have complete success and the others would not. Something I will have to ask/keep an eye on as a possibility.
  5. Hello All. I have just finished my second aquarium science class which has been a huge success overall. I have had countless kids tell me that it was their favorite class they have ever taken and in 2 quarters, we have started 20 tanks that the kids have taken home. All the success aside, we have had a little trouble cycling our tanks...or keeping our tanks cycle. We are doing a fishless cycle over the entire course of the class. We start in week 1 with the goal of starting with 4 ppm of ammonia solution that I make for them (using the ammonium chloride powder from fritz). We test the water twice a week (we go through a LOT of test strips!), with the goal of stocking our tanks in week week 7 of the 9 week class. Before the kids are allowed to purchase fish, they are required to show me that the tank has 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites and explain how they know the tank is cycled. Every tank is a little different because some kids buy plants, some kids put in driftwood, decorations, etc, but the testing requirement before we get fish is the same. So I know the tanks are cycled; at least initially. The kids who cycle early, put in about .25 ppm of ammonia every testing day to ensure the bacteria stay alive. All of this prep work aside, both quarters when we have ordered fish and put them in the tanks, we end up with detectable levels of ammonia and nitrite in the tank, and some dead fish. I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what might be going on. An example...we have 10 gallon tanks with aquarium co-op sponges. A student put 2 African dwarf frogs in yesterday afternoon and when she put them in, nitrates were between 0 and 10 ppm, with ammonia and nitrite at 0. Today when she tested, nitrates were up to 25, nitrite was up to 5 ppm and ammonia between .5 and 1 ppm. We obviously changed water and got those numbers back under control, but I cannot figure out why this is happening. It is not an isolated occurrence. Another group had 2 dwarf frogs as well and then 6 zebra danios (maybe 3/4 in long) and her numbers were almost identical. I cannot figure out what is going on. I went through some of the usual culprits; neither fed their tanks at all so it isn't over feeding; neither put in water from the shipping bags, our school is on a well so there is not any chlorine killing the bacteria. Anyone have any ideas that I may have overlooked.
  6. Great idea and one I am definitely going to use.
  7. This is awesome. Thank you. Youtube will definitely be a resource and I like the idea how showing the positives and negatives of the hobby. I think what a lot of the students would think of as negatives (wild caught fish for example) actually has a lot of positives to it too.
  8. I will probably be taking you up on that. While I am certified to teach biology, I have only taught physics/chemistry, so having a resources in that field will be helpful. I honestly don't know the make-up of the kids. I pitched it as more of an upper level class (meaning post-bio) but we are not allowed to have pre-requisites for our elective classes. I am having the same problem for the other elective I am starting next year (an astrophysics/astrobiology Star Wars Class) as I don't know the starting level of the students I am going to have. Because of that, I am going to guess half will have had bio and half will have not. So many good ideas. Thank you and I will probably be talking with you as I get into more specifics! I think that is probably the way I decided to go. I think I am going to get groups of 2 where 1 person wants the tank and the other doesn't. If it turns out they both want one, they can both make one but still working in a group. That way, the testing, documentation, care, maintenance, etc. isn't thrown off by absences. That is my next step. I have pretty good relatively close that I am hoping to talk to soon. They are always so busy that talking in person is unrealistic and they are slow with emails (again, probably because they are so busy)
  9. Long Post Warning... First, thank you to everyone. I appreciate everyone's comments and suggestions. Definitely a good point. I think it will be ok, but I guess I won't know until something goes wrong. The school and my classroom is always locked (and only necessary people have the key), and outside of school hours we also have a gate that we shut to separate the classrooms from the extra-curricular activities. Hopefully that ends up being enough. Being in Michigan, there are not tons of interesting local species that would fit in the small aquariums (entirely possible there are and I just don't know about it). Our state does have a Salmon raising program, but they have so many rules and stipulations that I thought it would pigeon hole my vision for the class. Plus they require about $2000-$3000 worth of equipment for a single tank (which even with sponsorships would blast through my budget). Aquaculture/hydroponics was something that I was looking into. Since the 40 gallon tank is literally just a tank/stand right now, I was considering setting up an overhead sump for the filtration and then using that to grow something. I have found a few videos on YouTube, but obviously practical knowledge is more useful, so if anyone has any suggestions. I thought this might give me an additional learning tool plus be cheaper than some other filters (canister, HOB). The koi idea could be really cool too. Personally I don't know much about it, so maybe something with individual research projects. I am torn between the idea of giving them a cookie cutter stocking list as you've suggested vs having them choose their own. Part of me wants to let them research their own and go through the process. A lot of the fun is trying to pick the perfect tank. Plus there is so much conflicting information out there that they will have to justify their choice beyond "fishyfish.com says its ok in a 10 gallon". The other side of that though will be obtaining the fish. Much easier with a predetermined list they are picking from. Same with the plants. Fun for them to choose more difficult for me. Testing is what ultimately got the go ahead for the class; so that is going to be a major point. Test strips will make up the bulk of the testing (and likely documentation) with liquid tests kits as well. I will personally be curious as to how much variety they might present. Overwhelming is an understatement! But I would take this vs the alternative of not being sure what to teach. Lots of good ideas here, thank you. Could you tell more more about the moss slurry start? I have never heard of this before. The more variety that I can provide the students, the better. Heck, depending on what it is, maybe I can use it for the 40 gallon and make it part of the first class. Part of my thought with the Amano's was so I could place them in the 75 gallon community as they are a little bit more robust than the Red Cherries which I think might get picked off by the larger barbs/and rainbows in the tank. The breeding part of it is intriguing; getting 1 large colony of red's going and the using it to seed everything else could be an economical way of doing it. I think you are right. That also might help with the kids that might not want to keep the tank as they can be paired up with someone who does. Awesome list. Thank you.
  10. Thank you for your insight. I agree there is so much. As a science teacher, my mind is racing with all the ideas...getting to tie in my hobby and hopefully pass that enjoyment on is something I'm really looking forward to. As for the cycle, I was hoping (that is why I coming here, to bounce ideas) that 4 weeks would be enough if I had pre-cycled the sponges. Between the 2 tanks I have in the classroom and the several I have in my home I'm hoping to be able to help them. But after your points, I think you've convinced me to start the 2nd week (even with the pre-cycled material). We'll start with the nitrogen cycle week one so they understand what's going on, and then let them start cycling their tanks and figuring out what they want in them.
  11. Hello Everyone. I am a high school teacher in Michigan and our school board just approved a new class for next year called Aquarium Science. After some background into what I am envisioning, I have a few questions that will help me in planning an developing the class. It is going to be a 9 week course, where I am going to be teaching the students as much about aquariums as I possibly can in that 9 week setting. I even wrote a grant (and am hoping to partner with a local fish store) am going to be essentially turning my classroom into a fish-room where the course "final" is going to be planning, preparing, testing and stocking their own 10 gallon tanks (over the course of 4 weeks). My hope, is that many students will want to buy these from the school and take home with them...providing the funding for the next class worth of tanks and giving them an entry into the hobby. I already have a 75 gallon planted community tank that I was going to use to help teach the testing and maintenance and I just purchased a 40 gallon breeder that will stay in the class as well (stocking TBD, so if you have any ideas, please share). Here are my questions for the community: 1. Curriculum Ideas? This is by far the biggest thing as 80 minutes a day for 9 weeks is a lot of time to fill. There is some obvious stuff (Nitrogen Cycle, water quality, tank ecosystems), but I am sure there are things from the community that I am probably overlooking. What should I teach the kids? 2. Stocking of their tanks? If the kids are going to buy their tank, they can stock it however they want (obviously taking into account the needs of their fish). What should I have the kids do for the tanks that they do not wish to purchase? My biggest concern is what to do with them after breaking down the tank to start the next group of classes. I was thinking of potentially using amano shrimp. They are relatively easy to obtain and relatively cheap (aquahuna for the win) and then when the class is finished, they can go in the planted 75. Does this sound like a reasonable plan? Is there a better option that I am not considering? 3. Equipment- For those of you that have set up fish rooms, when is it more economical to buy a linear piston pump vs individual pumps. Each of the 10 gallon tanks are going to have sponge; if I have 15 a class, would I be better served buying 2 or 3 pumps and splitting the air or should I invest in a system. What about if I end up with more kids? Where would people draw the line economically? (knowing that I have a public school budget) I am sure there are tons of other questions that I will be asking. Any suggestions that anyone has will be appreciated as the class just got approved and as such is very early in the planning stage.
  12. I think it's defintely wolffia. My situation was exactly like yours @Odd Duck. I kept seeing small dots, but overloooverlookeds bubbles from the sponge filter. It took me weeks to realize they were small plants. Thank you everyone for the identification. Now for the real question, since identification wasn't real difficult... how on earth did it get in my tank. I've not had so much as a net put in months. No new shrimp/fish, no hardscape, no plants. Literally, other than changing water and feeding, the tank has been idle.
  13. I was thinking it was duckweed too, but it's so small that I was skeptical. I did not know there was a miniature version, so thank you. Scale is so difficult in pictures.
  14. I was doing some feeding and noticed a new, and random, surface something, and I was hoping to get help figuring out what it is. A little background... this is a 10 gallon shrimp tank that has been running for about a year. I have not added anything (other than water from my tap) in several months, which has added to my confusing. I had to get pretty close because the dots are quite small... so small that I thought they were bubbles for several days as there is a lot of green in the tank. The floating plant around it, is water Sprite.
  15. Hello Everyone I just bought a bunch of new plants for my new tank and after reading everything I will be quarantining these new arrivals (partially to wait until the new tank is totally set up next weekend too). I have done quarantines with anubius before, and just let them float, but this time I have purchased root plants for the first time (Swords, val and crypts specifically). What is the process for quarantining the root feeders? Can I just put them in the quarantine tank or do I need to put a substrate down and plant them for the few weeks before moving them? Most will be potted, but I will have a few others coming from different places (they were sold out on the Co-Op) that will be bare root if that makes a difference. Any help is appreciated.
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