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Re: Help with water experiment

> Date: Thu, 07 Aug 2003 12:30:54 -0400
> From: Bill Wichers <billw at waveform_net>
> Subject: Re: Need some expert help with water experiment at elementary

> The best solution to your heat problem is to partially bury the tank in
> ground. All you need is a few hours with one of the little bobcat
> frontloaders to do it.

A good idea but since we need to be concerned about access afterhours, I
think I need to keep it raised. I'll get less snakes and that way, too.

> For electrical power, you could also go overhead.

This I hadn't considered, but I doubt the district would agree, they were so
intent on burying all other lines -- safety issues I'm sure.

> Typical natural ponds don't have any powered circulation. Most natural
> small ponds also do *not* have any fish in them, but rather a wealth of
> microscopic and small critters (daphnia, rotifers, etc...). If you put any
> fish in you will lose most of the smaller life like the daphnia since the
> fish will be quick to clean your pond of them.
> If you have to put in some fish you will probably need some kind of
> circulation.

Sounds like I should try with no circulation and no fish. More interesting
for the microscope.

> >Is a metal tank going to add harmful things to the water? I recall it as
> >bit greasy, what should I wash it with? Vinegar? Is the metal going to
> >anything harmful? I know it will rust some after several years, at least
> >the rim, is that a problem?
> Depends on the metal. Galvanized (zinc-dipped) tanks are commonly used in
> agriculture and don't seem to be a problem. I don't think the zinc comes
> off fast enough to built to toxic levels in the water. If you want to be
> the safe side though, you can get a polyethylene tank liner from someplace
> like http://www.aquaticeco.com/ (Aquatic Ecosystems, which has a lot of
> large tank stuff since they support the agriculture and fish-farming
> industries).

I added a liner to my galvanized tank/pond and so know how to do it. Not too
expensive but a lot of work. I've got enough to do -- all my myself. I may
let this slide until I know it is necessary.

> Your normal seasonal changes will take care of the life cycle for you. If
> you can get a few gallons of natural pond water from a REAL pond (not one
> in someone's backyard that is constantly treated trying to make the water
> clear), about 2/3 water and 1/3 silt from a shallow area, you can get a
> decent pond starter culture. If you want to pick certain parts of certain
> life cycles for certain species you're going to need power so that you can
> maintain your pond conditions at some specific point. If you're on a tight
> budget you'll probably need to let the pond's natural cycle determine what
> you study and when you can study it.

This school is near an exclusive (rather new) neighborhood that has ponds
(with huge spraying fountains) and a golf course. I can get silt from there
or the drainage ditch along the school and that neighborhood. Both could
have lots of golf course chemicals. I have an established home pond that has
no chemicals added, but no silt. Should I chance the ditch dirt?

> I think you will have the best results filling the tank with
> your local water, making sure it is dechlorinated, which if you don't have
> chloramine can be accomplished by just letting the tank sit for a while
> preferably with some aeration. Then put in several gallons of pond culture
> from a natural pond, and make sure to get some duckweed. The more starter
> culture the better. Your tank should start looking like a natural pond
> within a few months, and the pond critters are fairly durable and easy to
> maintain. Lots of science classrooms around here have "pond tanks" that
> were started in just this way, and require zero maintenance except for the
> occasional water level top-off.
>          -Bill
> *****************************
> Waveform Technology
> UNIX Systems Administrator

This sounds like a plan! (Plus mosquito dunks.)

I need to locate duckweed, think it is available at Lowes in the tray
between the wet plants.

I'm considering adding the silt to a few large tubs instead of the entire
bottom of the pond, to plant water lilies and stuff into. Is it important
that I have a lot of silt? Draining this over the summer will be much easier
if I have tubs, not that I know I'll have to drain it, but I might. I expect
the neighboring homes will be terrified of West Nile mosquitoes if I don't
have circulation and fish. And if I''m not there, I can't be sure it's not
growing mosquitoes.

Should I add plants right away? I can take some from my aquarium and pond,
and I'll be hanging pots of bog plants along the rim eventually. I might be
able to get some from the ditch or golf course ponds, too. I don't really
know what to look for, wish I'd gone on Tom's Florida Plant Fest!

Thanks Bill!