We started with our usual - lapbooking together!
Over the summer as I was planning out my Wonderful Wednesday projects I got an e-mail from one of the Moms asking me to "check out" this cool idea of an ecosystem since we're studying the water cycle, nitrogen cycle and oxygen/carbon cycles. It looked really great when I looked at the link she sent me on Scribbit and seemed easy enough. Well on paper, I guess anything can look good... So first I decided to research the idea a little more so I could understand how this "ecosystem" could sustain itself when sealed. I found other websites and comments from people who decided to give this thing a try as well. There were opinions regarding whether you should use beta fish or sea monkeys or tadpoles. There were also opinions concerning whether you needed to have a separate decomposition level or whether two (like used in Scribbit's experiment) were sufficient. Different sites said you needed access holes and/or breathing holes, which to me, then meant it wasn't truly a self-sustaining ecosystem. So the more I read, the more I wasn't sure what was the best way to do this project. Therefore, I figured I should take a trip to my local Petsmart to ask someone there what they thought would work best for the aquatic level part of the experiment, since that seemed to be the main level in question with discrepancies among various websites I researched.
My trip to Petsmart was fruitful - sort of. I found a fish department person who did this experiment herself in high school. Great, I thought!! She told me that there was no way it would sustain itself and that the fish would die. She said that the amount of water per inch of fish made it so no fish but a beta would live in that little amount of water. OK...so a beta fish it was...that was until she told me that they wouldn't sell me a beta fish because it was an experiment and it would kill the fish. She said beta fish are carnivores too (I know that one-we just studied that last week!) she said that also made it so that they had to be fed with pellet food and couldn't sustain themselves with just plants and snails in a bottle. Her advice was to cut an access door in the aquatic level to feed the fish and keep it alive...that is, once someone would sell me one for the experiment because she couldn't.
Off to the Fish Room (an aquarium store nearby)- the person there was also not too willing to sell me a beta fish and snails for an experiment. He confirmed that there was no way that a beta fish could survive without pellets in an experiment as I described...I asked if perhaps the fish could live off the asexual reproduction of the snails eggs that would be forthcoming from snails I would purchase; in addition to the matter that would be decomposed up above sending nutrients into the water not to mention the plant itself they could eat. Silence....then the look I got made me sure that I must have spontaneously grown three eyes in the middle of my head. He then flatly said "no". I thanked him for his advice and insight and then left - promptly checked the mirror in the car for green lettuce hanging out of my teeth or perhaps that third eye.
That left me to ponder this whole experiment. An access door and pellets sounded necessary but then it seemed like it wasn't an ecosystem if it wasn't able to sustain itself for very long. I decided a third trip to yet another pet store would yield me the needed answers to this ecosystem dilemma. So, off to The Pet Pad next. I found a fish person there. She said the only fish that would survive this experiment possibly, was a beta fish. She recommended I put an access door into the aquatic level and feed it fish pellets or it would die. She was willing to sell me the fishes, snails and aquatic plants. So I bought betas, snails and aquatic plants for each child along with crickets for the terrestrial level.
Once we got back home we went outside and collected dead leaves on the ground, twigs, and got some rotting bananas for our terrestrial level. I already had sand, aquarium rocks (from our atmosphere project!), packaging tape and Walmart had soda bottles and earth worms to complete our supplies for this project.
My husband returned from work that evening and I warned him "when you go down to the basement kitchen you will see some fish, worms, crickets and snails on the counter for tomorrow's experiment." Again, with the three eyes spontaneously growing from my head look. His response a moment later was "Is this experiment occurring inside my house tomorrow, so I can have crickets in my man cave?" I assured him we would be outside for this one, which he happily accepted - I then dashed upstairs to check the weather for the morning -whew! Sunny day on tap!
(3) 2 Liter clear soda bottles
1 Beta fish (ask for extra water from the pet store)
1 Snail (large so Beta can't eat it)
Various twigs & dead leaves
Old fruit (bananas, apples)
Packaging tape (clear)
After plants were in and fish was in with snail, we looked for some roly poly bugs and didn't see any but did find some slugs. Some of the kids chose to put them in the next layer we did -which was the terrestrial layer.
|Guest appearance by Grandpa Louie (My Dad who saved the day by getting Sarah a new beta fish!)