A Day In The Life With A Fish Tank


In our class room we have a parakeet. That story to be told “another day.”


But we also have a “Pink Aquarium.”

And are learning about living things by getting to know and care for living things. We are planning on getting a turtle soon.


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It is a pink aquarium because the gravel is pink.

And a few of the “things” inside are also pink. Though we read “Rainbow Fish” and have spent a TON of time on the color spectrum, reading color words another Standards goal, our aquarium is all about PINK.



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It’s an on-going project, with lots of ways it’s all through the “curriculum.”


So far just getting it to “balance” has been a little bit of an “ordeal.

But we achieved that milestone last week. For whatever reason after the fires our meter that measures ammonium went to “safe” what this means is…well in theory...the cycle of the tank, its ability to break down wastes with beneficial bacteria, finally came into it’s own. Nitrogen cycle. After two months. And water changes of 120 gallons of water. You change water when you aren’t sure what else to do.

If you want to set up a tank in the classroom here’s what we did:

( Children literally told me this story we are working on sequencing, order, recall, retell, summary…)

We got a tank kit with a filter. Then we got another filter when Mrs. Puglisi got worried about it. We got gravel, a couple knick knacks from kids that wanted to donate. Real plants are better and we are adding those next week or so. Right now we have plastic ones. We got a heater and an air stone which is important and they like it, a pump. And a lot of extension cords, food, additives for the water to neutralize the chlorine and that is very important. And if you say you are from a school they might “discount” it. Our PetCo gave us a break. And then slowly, slowly we added fish. (3 Mollies, 5 danios, 5 tetras, 3 frogs, 1 plecotomus) After we studied fish. We started with three mollies. Dalmatian mollies.

One was pregnant but they ate the babies, (long story). You need another maturnity tank and you need to watch. Next time we “know.” The momma fish died shortly after, one of two “deaths.” The other was Ernest the frog. (Actually a danio and a tetra died too)


Then we added three frogs but one died in a couple weeks, unknown cause.

We added a plecostomus. They are almost blind in the day. But they can move so fast it’s unbelievable.

5 tiny golden somethings ( danios ) and then five fish we called platys but we think are really something else. That’s the trouble with kids going on-line. They figure things out.

They figure out the platys are really umm…whatever.Wiki had a nice, if long, list.

Here is a site they like. Hope it pastes.

New Freshwater Fish
New Freshwater Fish
African Cichlid Fish Species
African Cichlids
Central and South American Cichlids and New World Species
American & New World Cichlids

Koi Angelfish and Veil Tailed Angelfish
Freshwater Angelfish
Tiger Barbs and other Barb Species
Betta Splendens (Siamese Fighting Fish)
Bettas (Siamese Fighting Fish)

Cory Cats in Many Varieties
Cory (Corydoras) Catfish
Danios/Minnows Freshwater Fish

Tropical Discus and Freshwater Discus Species
Live Fancy Goldfish for Aquariums or Ponds
Fancy Goldfish
Large Oddball Fish Freshwater Fish
Extra Large Oddball Fish

Dwarf Gouramis and other Gourami Fish Species
Live Fancy Guppies with Many Guppy Fish Varieties Available
Fancy Guppies
Hatchets Freshwater Fish

Lyretail, Clown Killifish and other Killies
Larger Catfish Freshwater Fish
Larger Catfish
Kuhli and Clown Loaches and other Loach Fish for Sale

Mollies Freshwater Fish
Platies Freshwater Fish
Plecos and other Catfish for Sale

Rainbowfish Freshwater Fish
Rasboras Freshwater Fish
Freshwater Aquarium Shark Species
Freshwater Sharks

Suckermouth Cats Freshwater Fish
Suckermouth Cats
Swordtails Freshwater Fish
Neon Tetras, Cardinal Tetras and other Fish Varieties

Misc. Freshwater Fish
Misc. Fish

One of the students brought in the Buddha, to stand in the tank. The statue has been called “a fat woman,” the “clown,” and “that strange thing” by visitors to the room. It stands to my mind giving our room a nice peaceful feeling.

The children kind of wait for this….I’ve taken to calling him “a mermaid” which they find interesting. The child that brought him donated saying, “My family sends this to our tank to keep the tank in balance.”

And indeed balance is an important construct in a community aquarium.

As it turns out it took me five weeks to figure out if we put the airstone inside him, he has holes so the bubbles come out of his arms. This bubbling really helps a tank with aeration on the surface of the tank. He is really a shape for a much bigger tank. (I only can hope someone sends that bigger tank in one day.)

I think that we can put a big 50 gallon tank on the piano. But that will be “one day” and it will be fun. Donations, welcome.

This project all told so far cost me about $150. Just so you know.


I asked the kids about the on-going project in our aquarium. Each week we write about them in our journal. A kind of once of week observation. Lots of interesting things get shared there, the “hottest” news is when the fish ate the babies in about six seconds.

I had “get a nursery tank” on my TO DO list. But it was too late. Rather a shock. Live births too.

Here is what they decided to say about “the fish tank” no matter what we do getting “aquarium” in the vocabulary takes work!

Rainbow tells me,

“I am learning about how tiny fish swim all day, they have to be breathing with their gills. Fish are covered by their scales.”

The Fish who took his name from this project says,

“We had lots of fish babies but the fish ate them before we could stop them. Fish have live babies and eggs. They swim inside of the shell to hide sometimes. I like the aquarium the best.”

Sharpee is listening and says,

“I think we are the only class with a fish tank. Our frogs are the favorite ones in the tank. Everyone comes to the room to see them. They have to go to the top and get a bubble of air. Frogs do not breathe with gills. They are amphibians. We have a bird. We have fish. We are mammals and we want a turtle. And we have a snake skin and we have bugs. We like to learn from looking at these things. The rolly pollys are ridiculous.”

(She was quoting me…ridiculous… we have about 50 rolly pollies in a container I call the Rolly Polly farm. Under a dirt covered piece of wood. All brought by Elephanturez, because SYLVIA, my daughter, thought this was very cool.

The Pen-name says,

“I like our fish.”

Chelsea is pretty reflective, she tells me,

“Fish in our tank do not eat each other. We have fish that are in a community. We don’t eat each other in a community. The fishes get along. The frogs hide their faces it is so cute.”

At this I have to say that this popped into my head when I started my tank at home realizing we were pretty much negating the food web and the cycle of life stuff….so I like to point out rather too often the differences this tank has with the pond down the street. Altho there really isn’t a pond down the street. We do have an ocean.

And the plecostomus seemed to be trying to munch on the dead frog. But I’m still not sure that was what was going on. So it’s a pretty happy tank.

Elephanturez noted,

“I am the one that can put in the food.”

Because he is almost always picked up late I let him feed the fish. And he likes to kind of put that in others faces. In a nice, clear way.

Shamalanadingdong knows a lot about tanks, his Dad keeps them,

“We have a plecostomus in our tank, one of them, that is 12 inches long, it is so big you could fry him. We like to watch him but he is in a 100 gallon tank. This tank is 10 gallons good for a beginner . We need to get real plants so we can have a healthier environment. The plants have oxygen. It is important to have the water with that.”

And here I have to laugh. If this one in my tank gets to be 12 inches it will be longer than the tank…well close. One thing to note this has caused them to understand gallons, measuring. We watch and note our water changes, keep data on when, how much. We are learning about water plants and from that exactly what plants do and how they oxygenate. All good good application. So one day I think things will “click.”

Superman said,

“Getting a fishtank is a good idea. We are buying one for my house because I like it.”

Lorena notes,

“Anyone can keep fish. But you have to buy them at the fish store or maybe catch them in Africa.”

Apple has learned,

“Fish are animals that live in water. Special ones in water with salt. Fish like salt we put some in our tank, not a lot. It helps them to be healthy. Salt is important for all things that live. I like salt on my chips. And on pretzels. We like snacks like goldfish too.”

Jellyfish comes over to say,

“We are going to print fish. We ate smoked salmon and we ate the trut with almonds on food day. Mrs. Puglisi cooks in it the fry pan. She caught it in Alaska I think. We are going to put paint on the fish and make designs.”

Well we are, what can I say? A few fish from a market make wonderful prints on Chinese rice paper. One of these Fridays. I did NOT catch the trout in Alaska. I bought a smoked Alaskan Salmon and I cooked a few store trout a la Almondine one Friday in my skillet. Not a bite left. Delish. I have a think about Fridays and good healthy food promotion. Again, I try to bring it to life rather than preach it. Fish is a pretty good food for kids. If you avoid the mercury and fishing out the oceans. So I get farm stuff. I’ll attach a recipe.

Trout Almondine


6-8 Trout Fillets
1 stick butter
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbls. white Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup slivered almonds
seasoned salt


Sprinkle the lemon juice over the fillets, then lightly coat the fillets with flour. Season with salt and pepper. Saute the fish in the butter until lightly browned. Place the fillets in a baking dish. Put the almonds, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce in a skillet, stir and lightly brown the almonds. Drizzle the sauce over the fillets.
Bake at 375 degrees F. for 15 minutes.

Ding-Dong who has a little bit of a hard time with turns tells me,

“I like to eat the lemons in the fish. (I had a bowl of lemons with our trout, so I redirect him back to the things we have learned from this project) I am learning to watch fish all the day.”

Satisfied off he goes. I guess to watch the fish.

Sponge and Spongebob are buddies. What they said kind of blended together, here is what I wrote down,

“I like that we can see if they are chasing. We watch them play games. In the fires the tank finally got balanced so we got the nitrogen cycle figured out. I think it was how hot it was. We were changing the water everyday but now it is okay. We test with our kits for ammonium, and for nitogen and for PH. It can’t be too acid, but not too base. Everybody gets a chance with the test papers. And it is science. We have chemicals to put in if we need them.”

Yeah we do have chemicals. I think its rather a joke we are in charge of that!
We do lots of testing and talking about it. And trying to think about it.

Superstar likes to PH test so I asked why we do that, here was that shocking news,

“We test with the papers to see how red it is. If it is very red it means it is like lemons. And that is not good for fish.”

Okay I’ll get out the academic vocabulary. I hear it. They are 6. It all gets rather humorous.

Lava -girl finished up with this thought,

“We learn everything in our room. We are learning about the fish and living things. We know we have to care for living things and the earth. It is our place in space. and we are here to help take care of this earth and these fish too.”


1 Comment

Filed under Class Daily News, Funny things, Kid Voices, Observation, Pink Aquarium, Science

One response to “A Day In The Life With A Fish Tank

  1. sarahpuglisi


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