Met School Saltwater Coral Aquarium
For this project, we are planning on setting up and maintaining a saltwater aquarium in our schools Great Room. This aquarium will have some fish but the main feature of the tank will be to house different types of coral. Coral is slowly becoming extinct and our class recently discovered that many experts believe that in as short as 50 years, all naturally occurring coral will be dead and the only place you will be able to find it will be in private aquariums. With this in mind, we wanted to try and be a part of the conservatory aspects of the aquarium community. Additionally, this aquarium will become a key educational tool in the school, eventually involving many students (via maintenance and cleaning the tank and through mini lessons on the ecosystems within). The hope is that this aquarium will become a fixture of the school, engage all grade levels, and get students excited about animal conservatory and Science.
We have acquired a 180 gallon tank and the equipment required to run a saltwater tank and plan to begin using the aquarium next year starting in September. The main goals we had for this first section of the project was to get all of the equipment needed and identify what we will need to do in terms of upkeep and the specific species we will be keeping in the tank.
Through meetings with a local aquarium equipment and maintenance store, we were able to learn what sort of equipment we need and what species of fish/coral would make for the most successful aquarium. Additionally, we were able to set up a relationship between the store and the students spearheading this project. This will take the form of a internship with the business that will give my student the opportunity to shadow their maintenance professionals and learn, hand-on, how to keep a saltwater tank of this size. Having access to these experts in the field is indispensable for the future of this project so having set up this relationship is a huge step forward.
For the future, we will still need to get funding to take this project into the next phase (though the coral will be donated, we will need to purchase the fish and the consumable items involved in the general maintenance: salt water, chemicals to balance water parameters, etc). This is the next steps for this project.
To start the whole project, my student Maddy set up a small (10 gallon) freshwater tank in our classroom in preparation for the larger tank and to prove to herself that she could do it (see the photos attached).
Reflection & Celebration
In terms of successes, this project has been great for my student that is spearheading the aquarium. She has found purpose while undertaking this project and, though she has struggled with its massive scale, has been very successful setting up contacts within the community and researching this project.
During COVID, it has been hard to have things to celebrate and highlight as a teacher but having this aquarium in our main shared space for the coming year will be a fantastic surprise for many of our student body!