Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Every little thing is NOT alright

Today we remember the fish that made our classroom a brighter place.  We gave Bob Marley (the big blue one), our placo, and ALL of our tetras and guppies (what was left of them) the royal flush and sent them to the big fish tank in the sky.  Now the question remains, what happened?  Did Bob Marley go on a spontaneous murderous feeding frenzy?  Was the tank's chemistry compromised?  Why was there almost nothing left of the smaller fish?
RIP Bob Marley and my little friends.
Of course this discussion lead to a spontaneous and awesome teachable moment with my grade 4s and my previously planned light lesson was thrown right out of the window.  We launched into a full scientific investigation about aquarium chemistry and tested the temperature, dissolved oxygen and pH.  Thank goodness for our recent lessons on scientific inquiry and journal writing!  The students were immersed into the scientific method and advanced water quality chemistry and became my little CSI detectives.  We found that the dissolved oxygen was low and pH was acidic but I still wasn't convinced that it was all of the problem.
I spent the rest of the day cleaning out the tank during any free time and we listened to "Three Little Birds" while keeping back the tears.  Okay, maybe it wasn't quite THAT tragic.  When I went to put the heater back in I noticed it was abnormally hot.  Oh bother.  
After school I took the heater and a sample of the water into Big Al's Fish Emporium to have it tested just to be sure.  It turns out the tank chemistry was just about normal.  We determined that the heater went on the fritz and as the smaller fish died (fish boil anyone??), Bob Marley probably ate himself to death!  It is also possible that the leftover rotting bodies threw off some of the nitrates and pH a little bit as well.  The angel fish survived only by their size and that they are tropical beauties of superior genetic stock.  Yeah evolution!  
I bought a new heater and plants and we will let the tank rest for a few weeks before introducing some new fish.  Luckily the friend who gave me the bigger fish has more to donate.  So maybe "every little things gonna be alright" after all.
As I always say, there's always a teachable moment!  What an adventure!!


  1. Who knew that it was the heater all along? It’s too bad that the malfunction caused the demise of all those fishes. I guess you should be wary of the status of your appliances next time. At least you've got a new heater and plants, which should make the tank more welcoming and safe to a new school of aquatic pets. Take care!

    Laverne Weaver @ Carter Heating and Air