The School Aquarium

As some of you may have noticed, the school Aquarium is opposite the main entrance doors by the cloakroom, and, though there are three of us who normally look after it, I have been asked to elucidate some of the past changes that have taken place.

Originally the aquarium contained coldwater fish. One day we found the remains of a fish floating in the tank - when we counted the fish we found two missing. We knew the fate of one, but the other? It was a mystery. A few days later we found another corpse. We picked him out with due ceremony and interred him where fish should be interred. But we were still puzzled. Then, later, at dinner break the same day we found yet another corpse (were they committing fishicide or was it the result of the alarming vapours swirling from the Chemistry lab?). This latest cadaver we found among the plants at the back of the tank where our catfish usually dwelt (CAT . . . Fish, the pattern fitted). This lady received not only our immediate attention, but made us rush to the library where we soon found that we were harbouring a carnivore in our aquarium. Then mystery was solved - we removed the catfish as soon as we could and put it in Father Louis' tank in 1B classroom (with the best intentions).

At the beginning of the term we decided to introduce tropical fish, because all the coldwater fish had died, except the tench, which joined the catfish. The rest of the coldwater fish had died because they had caught fin-rot - a fungal disease - during the Summer recess. We had encountered fin-rot before and dealt with it successfully, but this outbreak was during the school holidays and so we were unaware of it until our return to school when we were on hand to observe the last one die. We have also dealt with Ichthyrothinus (commonly called White Spot) by adding mercurochrome to the water. This, as well as its therapeutic value to the fish, added an attractive fluorescence to the water.

In the past we have had reptiles in the aquarium - crested newts, a triton and a terrapin. At first the newts would not feed properly and one or two died because of this, but later we had more success. The triton is similar to the newt but is somewhat larger. This creature had the misfortune to climb out of the water, scorched itself on one of the aquarium lights and died. After a few weeks most of the newts had pegged out in sympathy and “that is the end of the new(t)s!” The terrapin, a little turtle-like creature, which previously shared the aquarium with the coldwater fish, had to be taken out because he would not have survived the higher temperature required for tropical fish. It is now in the Biology Laboratory waiting for a new owner - any offers?

(Chief vendors - Carroll, L.6; M. O’Sullivan, 4; B. Taylor, 3A)

In the aquarium at the moment are many small fish, mollies and guppies, which are only a few weeks old. They are growing quickly. Some are orange-coloured, some black and some of a silvery colour. The fish are fed by Brother Alphonsus, but there are also some contributors in the school who occasionally drop in nail files, chewing gum, springs, buckles, peas, silver paper, sweet papers, egg sandwiches etc. No more contributions, please - we want the fish to survive and the aquarium to be a pleasure to the eye.

The filtration system in the aquarium is now lodged at the back of the tank, because in its previous position it was constantly being tampered with. The filter is in a glass jar containing a small pump, surrounded by glass-fibre. The water flows into the top of the jar, through the glass-fibre which filters it and the pump then sends out the clear water. Near the middle of the tank, on the right hand side is an oyster shell into which air is being constantly pumped. When the pressure is high enough, the shell opens, air bubbles escape and the shell re-closes - this provides oxygen for the fish.

There is, of course, an electric aquarium heater at the back and a thermostat to control it. The temperature required is about 28 deg. C (77 deg. F) and there is a thermometer at the front so, that a check can be made easily.

Plants are essential in an aquarium because they absorb the carbon dioxide which the fish breathe out. We have had some trouble trying to grow plants. We discovered that it was partly due to poor lighting, so we put in some stronger bulbs. This, however, makes the plants grow tall and straggly and so we have not completely solved this problem. Last rem [term] we put most of the plants into peat pots filled with loam and found that this improved their growth. We also put loam all over the bottom of a large tank in the Biology laboratory. We decided to cultivate plants in it - then catastrophe! ! Some good soul decided to do a spring clean and everything was thrown away ....

As you can see the aquarium provides us with plenty of problems and keeps us busy.

B. Taylor, 3A.

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