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Introduction Midgatutor



Introduction.

Hello,

This is my introduction to the list.

My name is Michael and I keep fish.

(and the group says "Hi, Michael")

My list address is midgatutordigests at yahoo_com.
I only use this address for mailing lists.  
My regular address is midgatutor at yahoo_com and any
personal communication should be directed there.

I live in Rural Georgia, centrally isolated just east
of the middle of nowhere.

I have a BS in biology, and an AS in natural science. 

I have been keeping fish for about 4 years now, though
most of my fish were lost during a black out last
winter.
The survivors are in a 15 gal, henceforth referred to
as "my personal tank".  They are a collection of
unremarkable tetra and a petsmart washed out
rainbowfish.

The reason that I have joined is for educational
support. I am currently a substitute teacher, I will
start next month as an aid in the behavioral problem
class, and in August I start as a Biology teacher. 

I am assembling ideas for lesson plans involving
aquaria and a "teaching collection" of plants and
fish.   I am coming to teaching though an alternative
program and will be starting education courses soon.  
I am basing my teaching style on the use of concrete
examples.  That is: things that you can actually point
to that are present in the room.  Thus I am taking my
hobby to work.


I have 3 tanks that I will be moving into my classroom
that I am currently stocking.  A 20 gal, a 35 gal, and
a 55 gal.  There will also be a 10 gal for incidental
usage under the stand for the 55.

The 20 is for cool water fish. It is currently empty.
I am looking for Bitterlings, European stone loach,
and North American natives.  I am also looking for
cool water plants for this tank, preferably North
American.  Filtration is a Whisper.  Tank is unheated
except for the heat of the other tanks.

The 35 is a planted tropical "peaceful community".  I
plan to use this tank to teach plant/animal
interaction, convergent evolution, basic biological
cycles, and habitat niches.  I currently have 4 small
tetra, 5 "Mexican livebearers" and 10 pygmy corys in
this tank, as well as 6 SAE's.  Most of the SAE's will
be moved to other tanks.  The tetra were a donation
form a South American Cichlid importer who got them as
bycatch.  One is a cardinal, the other three are
smaller and less easily identified.  I'll offer a
reward for the first student who gets me a Latin name
for them.  The livebearers are a small species the
same size as the tetra.  I got them from the same
source and cannot find an epitaph for them.  The tank
is planted with an "aquabid" package, the list of
spices for which I accidentally deleted. They seem to
be doing pretty good though. There is a piece of
driftwood. Filtration is a Penguin 330 biowheel. Tank
temp is targeted at 76 F.

I am looking for identified species of plants, small
rasbora, small tetra and perhaps Endler's livebearer
for this tank. (yes, I am begging.  Public School
Teacher's prerogative)

The 55 gal is probably the most interesting.  I am
stocking this planted tank around Rainbowfish.  They
are large enough to be seen from the back of the room,
the species can be determined by the color, and they
are peaceful.  The lesson plan almost writes itself: 
"One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish: Divergent
Evolution".  But I haven't found any yet (if anyone
would care to help correct that).

I have had more luck assembling tankmates.   For the
bottom of the tank I have some baby Juli ornatus (or
maybe yellow reganni, we forgot which tank I chose,
and at one inch I can't tell em apart).  The will be
my representative colonial cave spawner cichlid.  To
school with the rainbows I have Cypnichromis
leptosomia, a peaceful, zooplankton feeding, mid water
spawning, mouth brooding, Tanganyikan cichlid slightly
larger than a rainbowfish.  These are also 1 inch. 
Next week a shipment of 1 inch Congo tetra will be
arriving  (amazing what you can find at discount when
you beg).  These will be used as an example of an egg
scattered and a convergent example for the
rainbowfish.  I am looking for a shell dweller to
round out the parenting styles lecture.  N.
multifasciatus has been suggested as the best one for
my purposes.  I hope to find them and the rainbowfish
in the 1 inch size so that they will grow out together
as an integrated community (wishful thinking I know). 
Filtration on the tank is a Penguin 330 biowheel, and
a HOT Magnum 350 (which needs a flow diverter, second
hand).  One heater on each end with a stable temp of
78F.

A planted Tang tank, imagine that?

My water is rather hard, as would be expected for a
county with a Calcium Carbonate mine.  The tetra in
the 35 don't seem to mind, but then, they arrived from
Columbia in a box with 40 deal altum angels, so they
aren't complaining about being in a tank with plants.


I will write a detailed post on my lighting system at
a later date, as I am in the mist of changing them. 
The current system is 2 shoplight fixtures for a total
of 4, 4 ft wal-mart plant bulbs over each of the
larger tanks.  I am adding a Metal Halide to the
_outside_ of the 55 hood so I can have enough light to
grow a mangrove out of it.  I'll let you know how I
make out with the wiring.  If it works I will put the
cool water tank under it and grow a cypress or willow
out of it.

Right now, I am looking for donations of identified
plants, shipped in separate bags, with labeling.  That
is my problem with the package that I bought. They
came in a single bag, wrapped in newspaper. Many of
the specimens were similar enough to cause confusion
when trying to ID them by pictures.
I would prefer to have plants representing each major
land area. (or should that be each major water area?) 
I am not doing biotype tanks, as if I did a tank for
each biotype, I wouldn't have room for students.

I am going lowtech with the chemicals.  I may get more
involved as I get better access to chemicals (and the
chem lab).  Right now I am just dosing with aquarium
salt, and a Squirt (note my precise methods) of each
of the 3 chems from the Kent plant pack, and the
Aquapharm pond plant stimulator, every "now and then".

The substrate in both tanks is "Special Kitty" cat
litter with a little bit of "ph 5"  in the 55, a small
layer of peat, a layer of sand to hold the peat and a
layer of "sidewalk cement" grade pea gravel form the
cement factory.  I seeded some osmocote in the litter
layer.  In the 55 I just added some "plant grade"
Swift Creek gravel that a new friend in Atlanta gave
me, and a sand "beach" on one side for the shell
dwellers.  The 55 is not as well planted as the 35,
and I just tore it apart moving it to the porch.

The front porch may seem an odd place to be moving a
tropical tank in winter, but the humidity form the
tanks were causing a mildew problem, so at the request
of the landlord....

It is a large screened in area, so I put a layer of .8
min and a layer of 4 mil plastic sheeting on both the
outside and inside of each window frame, and installed
a circulation fan.  The tank temp is stable at 78
after 3 days and the temp 10 ft from the tank is 52,
with an exterior temp in the high 30s.  I have gas
heat, so if there is a power failure, I will just open
one of the windows into the porch.

Some of the substrate got a bit mixed up when I
refilled the tank, but most is still layered.

I will start dabbling with CO2 soon, after I get the
lighting sorted out.

Also, does anyone have any experience in culturing FW
clams or mussels?  I would like to learn to maintain
some for a future bitterling tank.


I also plan to offer a free test grade to students who
start aquariums and keep logs on them. I hope to be
able to provide the plants and some livebearers for
them. I can get gravel for free at the cement factory.
That will just leave the tank and filter for the
students to buy at Wal-Mart. You will probably see me
begging for old filters in August but I wonít start
doing that before then. Allot of things can happen in
9 months. That is why Iím not submitting proposals to
corporations yet. 

Any technical or material support on these issues
would be greatly appreciated. 

-Michael 


=====
This is my mailing list address.
Please send any offlist responses to
midgatutor at yahoo_com

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