Re: NANFA-- fish and educational aquariums

Shireen Gonzaga (
Sat, 04 Dec 1999 13:48:39 -0500

Dave Neely wrote:

> We all have our favorite fish, which I strongly suspect has a regional bias.
> If we're trying to teach the value of what's in their backyards, then why
> try to come up with a list of favorites? To a kid in Ohio, the salt marshes
> of the Gulf seem as far away as the Amazon.
> I'm not sure that suggesting widespread use of flagfish, or red shiners, or
> Pteronotropis in such a case will achieve our goal (as cool as they mey be).
> I'd <much> rather see it kept to local stuff.

So would I. But I am not qualified to do it. I don't know enough about
my local fish and their requirements to provide a humane exhibit for
them. Given that, I'd rather work with a native species from Florida that
I know well, instead of some in-bred tetra from the fish store.

Nor do I think we should just go dipnetting into local waters, dump the
fish into the tank, and let kids watch them die--all because we do not
know enough about them to keep them healthy and happy. We need to
teach children to *care for* and *respect* wildlife, not treat them as
amusing but disposable "things."

Perhaps if enough people posted their experiences with fish they have
_successfully_ kept, we could build a database of knowledge, not just
for aquarists but also for schools, public libraries, education centers,
and nature centers.

If you have the time and want to be helpful, please answer the *specific*
questions I asked in my previous email (appended below). Please don't
send a gee-whiz list of fish you've kept before--that information is
useless. I need to know *how* you kept them successfully. I'll compile
the information (credited with your name) and politely ask Jay if he
would consider posting this information on the NANFA website.

- shireen


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?

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