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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
Oakland, CA

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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