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Old 10-22-2014, 11:20 AM   #1
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Question Fresh or Salt for classroom? plus river tank

Hello, this is my first post and my reason for joining! I have two separate questions that are not related to each other.

Question 1
I teach elementary science lab and have ALL of the kids come to me once a week with their class.

I had a DonorsChoose project that was funded for a 55 gallon tank. It has a filter, heater, under gravel filter, thermometer, glass pieces for the top. It does not include the lights, substrate, decorations, or fish, which I have to purchase on my own (I can get reimbursed through our school foundation partially).

I have had both freshwater (at school and at home) and a saltwater tank (at home only). I have maintained the fresh water, but my husband was the one that kept up the salt water tank. We no longer had room for the saltwater tank at home and sold it many years ago.

I have not begun to set up the tank yet because I cannot decide which tank to do. Since my husband took care of the saltwater tank before, I would be a complete newbie on set up and maintenance, so not sure what to do. To me, the saltwater tank would be so much more interesting. I could train some 4th and 5th graders to help. I am interested in hearing opinions on this.
Question 2
I have a river tank that has been cycling for about 3 weeks. It has some live plants, but no animals yet. Suggestions on what animals to start with?

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Old 10-22-2014, 12:58 PM   #2
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I think that the lessons for the kids are self evident with either tank. But I raised a few of those also. The big question is will you be there when the kids aren't. I think you need to pretend that you alone will care for the tank, and accept what help you get.

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Old 10-23-2014, 02:26 PM   #3
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best answer I got is do what you feel most comfortable with
saltwater yes it's nicer but at the same time can be very costly
another thing to think about is after the school year who will maintain the tank in the summer months , tearing down a saltwater tank is no picnic , and moving to another location
Now with a freshwater tank yes it still has it's time consuming points with moving and breaking down but it seems to be a lot faster and easier in the long run
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Old 10-24-2014, 08:39 AM   #4
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Yeah I would go along the lines of what 54seaweed said, and do what you feel best about.

Remember that it might be hard to teach the intricacies of aquaria. I'd guess (but I'm not a teacher) that the most important thing is to teach them about symbiotic relationships, and just to steer them away from the unfortunate "just add water" idea that fish tanks are super easy and require almost no work or research.
~ Alex
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"Stay fishy my friends."
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Old 10-24-2014, 10:50 AM   #5
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Well first you need to determine what is going to be main emphasis of any studies revolving around the aquarium.
Are you wanting to introduce the kids to the hobby/science of fish keeping or are you going to use the aquarium as a means to teach the kids about biology, biomes, and different environments?
So in short is the tank there to help teach biology or to teach animal husbandry?

If the purpose is to teach animal husbandry and introduce the kids to the hobby, than either salt or fresh would work, as a fish only salt water tank would suffice and would be almost as easy to maintain as freshwater if stocked with hardy critters.

If the goal is to teach biology than a freshwater set-up would be the best choice.
With a freshwater set-up you can more easily recreate a particular underwater biome and maintain it much easier. Breeding also becomes an option with freshwater.

A saltwater reef tank would also be awesome for the biology aspect, but would most assuredly be cost prohibitive and require at least an couple of hours a day attention and would require about a year of being set-up before the biome would really begin to take off.
There is a private school we work with that has a beautiful reef tank, but it was donated by someone and they also come in twice a week to maintain it.
Definitely something way beyond the budget of the vast majority of public schools.
So considering your constraints, my recommendation is to go with freshwater.
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fresh, river, salt, tan, tank

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