NANFA-- fish and educational aquariums

Shireen Gonzaga (
Fri, 03 Dec 1999 06:13:42 -0500

When setting up an aquarium as an educational exhibit,
be it at a public library, school, or wildlife refuge visitor's
center, there are some constraints that have to be observed
in order to make it a manageable project.

* It has to be easy enough that a staff member with little
or no aquarium experience can take care of daily chores
like feeding, cleaning algae, and removing dead fish.

* The fish do not have fussy dietary requirements like live
or frozen foods. They should be able to thrive on dried
foods (flakes, freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex worms,
krill, etc.)

* They need to be eye-catching. I know this sounds
superficial but that's what attracts people's attention and
gets them hooked. So the more colorful and interesting
the fish, the better.

* The fish should be small- to medium-sized (depending on
the size of the tank), and be able to co-exists relatively
peacefully and comfortably with other tank inhabitants.

Having said all these, here are my questions:
1. What kind of native fish do you recommend?
2. For a given species, what are its tank size, food, and
community requirements (does it co-exist with other
fish species or does it have to be a single-species tank)?
3. What are it's eye-catching attributes that would make
them interesting to people?

Just to kick things off, I'm personally interested in using
American Flagfish for future education exhibits.
- They will accept dried foods.
- They can be housed in relatively small tanks like a 20g long,
perhaps with 2 males and 5 females. (Tank would have to be
well-planted so the males can establish their territories.)
- The flagfish I have are not too aggressive (unlike the
Sheepshead Minnows that were always looking for trouble.)
I would be able to include a few other small peaceful fish
that are not as attractive-looking but equally valuable. (At
home, I keep my flags with mummichog and banded killies
in a 30g. I call it the party tank. :-)
- The males look like miniature American flags, the kids
would get a kick out of that. And like all pupfish, their
behavior is always entertaining.
- I've heard that flagfish are fairly easy to breed. If time permits,
this could add an extra dimension to the exhibit.

I'm interested in hearing your suggestions for other easy-to-maintain
native species?


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