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[APD] Re: Middle Schiool Fish Club.
As a middle school science teacher, I have always shared my hobby of
fish, plants, and aquariums with my students by maintaining tanks in my
classroom and teaching a short unit on habitats. This school year in
particular, a lot of my students have expressed interest in learning
more than my curriculum provides and starting their own tanks at home.
I've been thinking about starting an after school fish club that would
meet regularly to learn about the basics of planted fish tanks. Of
course I would share my cuttings and baby fish with them. Additionally,
we may start breeding projects for certain species of interest to my
students. However, working in an urban school has its own set of unique
challenges. Resources are limited.
I'm curious to hear if there is anyone else out there that has done
something similar or has assisted with a project like what I am
proposing. I would love to find out the details of how the club
functioned and what types of things you did. Maybe we can exchange
notes in the future. Thanks!
Frick Middle School
Good Idea, Caleb,
Check out the Crystal-Springs Upland School, across the bay. They have
done it for years. Contact Tim Patterson, who also teaches middle-school
science. The late Dr. Royal Ingersoll pioneered that effort.
I suggest you enlist the aid of Guy (he pronounces it French, as "Ghee")
at Albany Aquarium.
Living in the Peoples Republic of CA, you are virtually forbidden by law
from doing any kind of natural habitat tank, but Guy can get you going
with legal plants and fish. He probably can even get local natives
through commercial channels, in some cases.
Everywhere else in the US, there are many, many "Adopt-A-Tank" efforts
through the Native Fishes Conservancy <http://www.nativefish.org/>.
Teachers should check that site out, for sure. In CA, misguided
micromanagement says we can't collect or move any "minnows" from their
own waters, so they are illegal in tanks, regardless of species. The
situation for plants is even worse, with some of the nicest aquarium
plants banned from any commercial shipment. I'm not sure any species or
strain of Hygro is legal any more. You must get it from another aquarist
or do without.
Two interesting and easy native fishes from your area would be the
killifish Lucania parva (jokingly called the "Three Tenors Fish" and
originally from FL) and the native Three-Spine Stickleback. [I think the
true common name for the killies may be Rainwater Killifish.]
Both are spread all around the bay as they tolerate salty water pretty
well, but they are usually found in most fresh-water streams entering
the bay. Very plentiful and easy to breed, it would be neat if you could
find a hobbyist (or store) who could provide you with some. Just don't
try to collect them.
My hope is that teachers like you will succeed, and create a new
generation with more common sense, and some understanding of the real
environment, and not just an artificial one as dictated by the best-paid
Assemblymen on earth. ;-) Best of luck.
Plants? See if you can find a local species of Wolffia. They are in many
places in CA and are the worlds smallest flowering plants. Most are
tinier than duckweed and they are quite good to eat, as the fish will
quickly show you. :-) [<http://waynesword.palomar.edu/wayne.htm> is a
delightful site to visit, and has a lot on those and other western
native aquatic herbage.]
Wright Huntley -- 760 872-3995 -- Rt. 001 Box K36, Bishop CA 93514
Mencken's maxim—every election is a sort
of advanced auction of stolen goods.
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