RE: NANFA-- School teacher needs help

Crail, Todd (
Mon, 2 Dec 2002 13:19:41 -0500

See below in [ ] :)

-----Original Message-----
From: m c

My name is Michael and I keep fish.
(and the group says "Hi, Michael")

[Hi Michael!]

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.

[When discussing Biology, I feel this is the only way to get anyone really
interested. I think it's a shame and a scam that so many secondary and
post-secondary programs can garner someone "certified to be learned in
biology" and they've never put these people in the field or had them handled
live "biology". For example, I have a BA in Biology... I was in the field for
coursework 3 times in 4 years (one of those times because I *begged* to go on
the ecology field trip again.. very sad), so I have some personal interest in
this, esp since I can't find any teachers around here who'll take me up on
some offers. Kudos for wanting to do this. Society, imho, will only profit
from your work :) ]

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.

[Darters. Darters. And some more Darters! :) Your best bet is to get in
contact with the NANFA Georgia state rep (If he hasn't already contacted you)
Steven Ellis and see about getting together, who's
close to who and whatnot. They're also going to know better what cyprinids
and such would work well from that area. I'm fairly ignorant of the South
East, but hopefully that will change in the next couple years :) ]

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).

[You aren't kidding there. Get some Madagascaran's and then pop out the map.
Woo hoo, Plate Tectonics lesson too! I think the RML list that you've also
subscribed too will serve you better there. I'm under strict orders to not
exceed 3 aquariums in the house, so I have a 'sausage party' of all males
going on in my Rainbowfish tank. I've been fortunate enough to have a local
shop that also enjoys rainbowfish, and so I've been able to purchase them
retail from farms in Indonesia thru them. There are quite a few breeders on
the RML list, Gary Lange would be a good person to start with. I believe he's
running a site to post on with "have's" and "wants". He could tell you where
to look.]

I hope to get my students more interested in ecology
by showing them fish from North America. The fish
that my students are most familure with are the deep
fried variety. All of the waters in these parts have
been stocked by game species, so except for escaped
bait shiners (and goldfish), few other natives exist.
Gambusia has been dispersed for mosquito control, so
most of the other small fish seem to be locally
extinct. I'll find out for sure when I offer a reward
to any student who finds anything else.

[I'm not sure if you've seined around, but you may be pleasantly suprised at
what you'll find with the right equipment, experience using it and knowing
where to look... Despite the crimes of the past :) Get aquainted with your
local NANFAns. They'll show you the way if you're not familiar already. ]

In the meantime, donations would be appreciated as I
do not intend to keep the local "bream". The kids
already know them inside and out and I will be using
them instead of frogs for the dissection, followed by
the fish fry.

[Someone had suggested Dollar Sunfish etc... I'd get a separate tank for them,
tho. I believe they're all swampers down there (acidic water unless they're
found in fens too?) and really the only thing that would handle their
aggression are rift cichlids (basic water) and gouramies (neutral), and you're
going to run into pH preference issues there. Beautiful fish tho. I liken
the Dollar Sunny to a sunburst finish on a vintage Gibson full bodied guitar
:) ]

I would like to have a native in all 3 of my tanks.
The 20 should be easy, as there seem to be plenty of
non-predatory, cool water fish. The only difficulty
is in balancing between pretty, interesting behaving,
and "What the Heck is that Mr. C". I have been going
through the picture archive picking out candidates,
but suggestions will be helpful. I will start treads
on the candidate species to discuss them later. I
don't want to post all of them at once because I don't
want to flood the list.

[Did I happen to mention darters? ;) ]

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

[This would take extensive work. I can forward on some literature on how one
professional is accomplishing this, and with that, he admits, mixed results.
Mussels could be a good ecology lesson, but it's not bread and butter (feeding
them is a toughie) like raising fish or plants. There would be a lot of work
involved in raising foodstuffs, and I'm not even sure there's much literature
on doing that currently. Familiarity for your students might be better
achieved by getting the appropriate permits or getting in contact with a local
college or university zoology dept, training yourself on identification, and
retrieving some abandoned shells. There are plenty of people around here
would help guide you thru the learning curve :) ]

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 wont
start doing that before then. Allot of things can
happen in 9 months. That is why Im not submitting
proposals to corporations yet.

[I would keep the aquariums in the classroom, but that's just my personal
experience and opinon. My wife taught for a year and as soon as anything left
the classroom, it's completely out of your control. If you're working with
developmentally or behaviorally challenged students, I think you'd save
everyone a lot of trouble (esp the fish :) by keeping things within your eye

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

[I think your best shot here is to get involved with some of the regional
NANFA outings. You're very fortunate to be surrounded by states that have
great representatives. Steven is in the Atlanta area, Bruce is in Huntsville
AL, and Chip is up in Columbia SC as well as a host of other friendly NANFAns.
I'm not sure where East of Nowhere is exactly, but I think you'll find someone
with a couple hours, and let me say... I've never been disappointed with a
drive to meet up with some fellow NANFAns. As well, check with the school to
see about getting dontation vouchers for tax purposes. Santa Crail needs to
clean out his attic from his fish shop he tore down... As we become better
aquainted and discuss this more, there may be some stuff becoming available
for educational purposes :)

Thanks for dropping by! :)

Todd ]
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