Salt Water Fish Tank part 1

The boys had a microscope workshop today with their 4H group.  Keith Wilson, from the Extension office, taught the class.  Before looking at the samples he had brought with him (crabs, fish, plankton, seaweed), he gave instruction on how to put together a salt water fish tank.  My youngest son helped him with this.  First, he set the base and tube into the tank then covered the base with gravel.  We learned that you can use crushed shells straight off the beach instead.  tank1Add ocean water and wait 3 weeks for bacteria to grow on the rocks or shells before stocking the tank with creatures. If you don’t let bacteria grow before stocking the tank and the creatures will expell waste and the water will turn yellow with ammonia and harmful bacteria.  The good bacteria will keep the water balanced for the creatures to live in.  Once the gravel was in place, he put in the air filter and turn it on then added critters. His rocks, bacteria, critters and water had previously been in a tank and had separated them for the class demonstration.   

Keith also instructed us on salinity levels.  When the tank looks like it’s lost water to evaporation, you’re supposed to add distilled water.  What evaporates is the fresh water, not the salt, so if you add more salt water to the tank, the salinity is raised and most creatures will die.  Distilled water will replenish the evaporated water without changing the ph or salinity.  tank2

Keith gave us a 20 gallon tank to use.  We’ll set it up in the house and by the second week of December we’ll invite the 4H club over to net some creatures from the surf.  Hopefully club members will be able to come over often and participate in making it a really cool aquarium.  Keith suggested swapping out critters often.  That’s fine with me.  Someone suggested putting a shark in the tank, which would be cool, but I don’t know if I could handle living with a shark for long.  Plus, it would outgrow the tank.  A baby shark for a week or two…that’s ok. 

Tune in for more info in December.