Children will investigate domestic fish varieties and then set up their own fish tank to observe.
What You Need
- encyclopedias, books and magazines about fish
- fish tank
- clean rocks
- water filter
- water treatment chemicals (if needed)
- fish food
- Observation Record (PDF file print and copy)
What to Do
- Investigate! Divide the class into small groups. Have them go through encyclopedias, books, and magazines about fish and choose three kinds of fish (freshwater) suitable for a class aquarium. Suggest that they find out what the fish eat and what kind of environment they require. Your local pet store is a good place to find books and pamphlets that would be specific to caring for and monitoring the habits of fish. Encourage children to keep a notebook of information that they collect.
- Set up your materials! Ask children to list what would be needed to care for the fish the class is studying. The list of materials above is also a good place to start. Ask a knowledgeable employee of your local pet store to check over your list to be sure that nothing has been overlooked. When you have everything you need, set up the aquarium and let the temperature and water chemical balance adjust for several days. Then add your fish.
- Observe and record! Attach copies of the Observation Record onto a clipboard next to the tank. Ask children to visit the tank periodically to make observations. (You may wish to do a sample observation with the class beforehand.) By looking at the chart, you will be able to tell who has taken a turn to observe and who has not yet visited. The observations may be read aloud to the class at regular intervals.
- Suggest that children take turns feeding the fish and cleaning out the tank. (You may want to consider using fish that eat algae!)
- After everyone has had a chance to observe the fish, collect the observations and make a graph showing the different observed behaviors of the fish. Then you can have children use the graph to answer questions about the fish.
- Since purchasing real fish and equipment may be a financial burden for you and your class, you may want to do an art project in place of the observation project described above. Children can create a diorama “aquarium” with a large cardboard box for the aquarium and fishing line for hanging artistic fish that have been colored by your children to match real fish.