Mentoring kids on aquarium keeping

eatyourpeas

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Covid-19 continues to take a toll on some young minds. They are bored, underchallenged in school, and parents are going crazy.

I am starting a little aquarium group on our street and have interested kids from 5 to 15 years old. I am putting together a little packet for them to read and learn some of the basics, and it will be in printed form (too much screen time already!).

I would appreciate any suggestions as to going about this the right way.
:fish::fish::fish:
 

Guyb93

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I think kids need to be taught anything they can to be honest and need people like yourself who is willing to do so , good luck I hope you have success
 

Fish4dawin

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You could start with a 5 gallon tank. And if some kids show interest maybe they can upgrade the tank to a 10-20 gallon.
 

jkkgron2

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Will they each have a tank? If so, maybe start out with a 5g betta tank for each of them and then later on they could focus on adding some live plants and maybe some shrimp, depending on the specific betta.
 

Kyle E.

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5g tanks are a little small for beginners :/. Water chemistry can really get bad fast...

I understand the logic though.
 
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eatyourpeas

eatyourpeas

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The current plan is to start with plants, shrimp. It will be a 5 gallon tank setup that they get to start from scratch and observe. There is no hand sanitizer in my house, but a good sink to wash hands. If all goes well I will help fund a tank for those who commit to properly keeping one. They will take turns at determining what needs to be done on a weekly basis, and are free to come and check on the tank in between cleanings.

We will cross the fish bridge at some point in the future, maybe. In the meantime they can learn about the ones I have. Should I get a Betta?
 
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mrsjoannh13

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All I know is my 8 year old LOVES the API test kit. She'll knock me over to get to that thing and make all the colored test tubes with the drops.

Otherwise I have taught her some parallels about fish and people to help her understand why fish need certain things. For example, someone said that having a fish in a small tank with no plants or decorations is like a human living in an elevator without any artwork or activities. Ask the kids would they be happy living in that environment. So it's things like that to help them understand the fish's perspective and the things fish need to be healthy are similar in a way to what people need.... sufficient space, healthy oxygen source, minimal stress, being around groups (schools) of their friends, healthy food, etc.
 

Colin_T

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Let them culture live fish foods. It has science (biology) in but don't tell them it's science based, and shows them how the life cycle starts in the oceans and rivers. Start with infusoria (Paramecium) and green water (single celled algae). Then move onto Daphnia and Rotifers, which eat the infusoria and green water. Add microworms, grindal worms and other small live foods.

If the kids learn about this they will be able to make their own live fish foods and see some weird little creepy crawlies that shouldn't freak them out, but will hopefully encourage them to look around nature and see little things, not just big things.
If you have a magnifying glass or microscope the kids can look at the food and see it close up.

The following link has info about breeding fish but tells you how to culture live foods. You can print it out (in parts or in full) and let the kids read it and follow the directions to make their own fish food. Maybe get them to do infusoria and green water first, then find some live Daphnia and give everyone some to put in their cultures. Let them grow the Daphnia in both cultures and see what they do better in.

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Teach them about using clean containers and not having soap or chemicals/ residue on their hands when working in water (basically it's bad for aquatic organisms). Give them all clean buckets with "FISH ONLY" written on them and teach them how to make a gravel cleaner from a plastic drink bottle and hose.

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You can teach them about the filtration cycle and show them different types of filters. Teach them how to clean/ maintain the filters.

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Teach them about water quality and chemistry. Water is made from 2 Hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom. If you crack the bond in water you get hydrogen to run vehicles and oxygen to breath. If you combine them you get water to drink, use on plants or keep fish in.

Teach them about the pH, GH and KH. Maybe get some calcium based rocks and other types of rocks and do a vinegar test on them. The kids can put some vinegar on the different rocks and see what happens. They can also put the different rocks in containers of water and monitor the pH and GH changes in the water.

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Teach them about plants and lighting. Throw in some info about different wavelengths of light coming from the sun and from light globes.

Let them grow plants in water and in pots out of water. Most aquarium plants will grow on land, in pots or in aquariums. If they grow them in pots, the plants should flower and the kids can see the different flowers. They might even be able to get some seeds from their flowers and grow them on for a second generation of plants.

Once they know about the filter cycle and culturing fish foods, get them to breed some fish.
 

PheonixKingZ

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I think a basic snail tank would be great for starters, and then maybe bump it up to a shrimp tank.

Also teach how to properly clean/care for the fish/invertebrates they will/may be keeping.

It’s great you are getting kids involved, not many are interested... when people ask if I have social media, I say “Oh, I have a forum” and then they say, “A forum what what?” And I say “fish keeping”, and they say “Oh...”.

Not many kids my age are interested in fish keeping. :/

You can use my research paper for when they are experienced enough for bettas. ;)

Keep it up! I’d like to hear how it turns out. :)
 

Naterjm

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Colin_T is preaching a masterclass for fish keeping... not that I disagree with it.

But the age range for the kids mentioned is between 5-15 years old.

That is a wide range, and I’m sure the older kids in that bracket would have no problem grasping those more complex concepts.

If it helps, Cory from aquarium co-op has a great demonstration of the nitrogen cycle involving skittles or m&m’s. Would be great for a younger audience.

@Colin_T does have some great ideas to reach a more mature young persons interest.

I would have to suggest that a candy demonstration would be a great intro for the younger end of that age bracket.
 

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