Monday, 5 April 2010

Fishy Wishes to You All!

It’s Easter half term which means I have two weeks off work. I really appreciate the generous holidays of working in a school, but… I keep thinking about fish.

Just after Christmas, we bought a tropical aquarium for the library. I was a little apprehensive when the idea was originally pitched to me, but I’ve surprised myself by how attached I’ve become.

A group of pupils formed an Aquarium Team (AKA ‘The Fish Club’) and the idea is that they maintain the tank. Of course, I supervise, but never having kept an aquarium before it has been quite the learning curve! Last month the chemical analysis of the water was tested and I was told it was ‘practically perfect’; this is no mean feet for a beginner and I was so proud!

We have mostly Mollies, but other species include Platy, Danio, Gourami and (my favourite) Siamese Fighting Fish. There are 15 ‘adult’ fish in the tank, which has a Sponge Bob Squarepants theme. There are also several snails (urgh) which reproduce at an alarming rate!

We had babies in February, which was quite a shock as we didn’t realise we had a pregnant fish – such was our lack of knowledge. I have since come to the conclusion that a Dalmatian Molly must have been pregnant before she came to our tank. Having now learnt about live bearing fish, I started to suspect that our Leopard Molly was pregnant, and we became proud parents once again in March. We currently have approximately 50 Molly fry living in two nursery nets inside the main tank. Due to various fishy deaths, we now have one male Molly to four female Mollies and my fingers are crossed as I hope against hope that we have no more Molly babies; the tank has become a den of sin and I don’t know how we’ll cope with any more additions to the family.

The fish are always on my mind and the very first thing I do each morning is check the tank for any anomalies (which is also the very last thing I do each day). On the last day of term I gave the fish some ‘Vacation Food’, which nourishes the tank for 14 days. I shall pop in this week and again next week to make sure the fish are still happily swimming around Bikini Bottom Beach.

The aquarium has proven to be a hit around school and brings in loads of pupils every day; it has raised awareness of the library and (so far) we have only had one incident of an ‘alien body’ being introduced to the tank. In our school, the library provides a sanctuary for pupils with various problems and we have realised it helps settle disaffected pupils / those who are ‘outsiders’. Three members of staff (plus one Pupil Librarian) have become so taken with it they have started aquariums at home!

I was quite tentative at first as I thought having an aquarium would generate a lot of work, and whilst it is true that I have minor panic attacks each time the pupils do partial water changes, I wouldn’t be without it. It has made the library a happier place and it is lovely to have pupils and staff wander in and learn about fish. We have a fishy display and maintain an Aquarium Diary. Without hesitation, I would recommend an aquarium as an addition to any school library.


  1. We lost all but three babies during the two week half term. Plus two other fish. Sad times.

  2. The last baby fish died 2 weeks ago; he was 14 months old and fully grown. As he grew larger it became obvious he was a Platy, and that my original suspicion of Molly was incorrect. However, the second lot of fry born in the tank were definitely Molly babies.

    Looking back, I learnt such a lot about aquariums and really enjoyed it. It helped make the library a more central place to the school and improved pupil involvement.

    As I move to a new job, I shall really miss the aquarium. I hope it continues to thrive...