I’ve had aquariums since the age of 7. I think most American kids will have at least a goldfish bowl at some point in their childhood. I mean, who can go to a county fair without winning a bag full of goldfish?
Unfortunately, the life expectancy of these fish isn’t very long and the aquarium/bowl gets sold at the next garage sale. It’s a shame. You see, an aquarium is a wonderful learning tool for children. It is a tiny analogy of our world. By learning to appreciate it and how it works, children can gain a larger appreciation for our place in this world and the beautiful and delicate balance that exists between things. I highly recommend that you do yourself and your kids a favor and buy them an aquarium.
You can set up a freshwater aquarium for very little. Maintenance consists of remembering to feed the fish and the plants once a day. It will take you no more than 2 minutes. However, that small investment of time will give back so much more to you and your kids. Besides, it will look beautiful in your living room!
Oh, PLEASE, PLEASE forget about your old 10 gallon aquarium or your brother’s 20 gallon in his bedroom. Those things were atrocious, death puddles! Remember that? The neon blue gravel and undergravel filter? The plastic plants? Ugh!
We’ve come a long way from those days, baby! Today’s aquariums are called “nature aquariums” because they truly are little ecosystems. Natural gravel has replaced the neon blue. Live plants have replaced the plastic, off-green ones. They have become a work of art. Here, take a look at one example:
Here’s a beauty done by a friend. Does it look like your old 10 gallon? That’s what it is- 10 gallons. However, this one has live plants arranged in a pleasing way. Other than fertilizer and some trimming, there is nothing special to attain this type of beauty. Anyone can do it. Yes! Even YOU!
Let’s focus less on the art and more on the science behind it. If you follow me back to your old biology class, we’ll remember that plants are living things and take up nutrients. In an aquarium, these nutrients are provided by the fish and you. Literally, the live plants clean the water by converting your fish’s poop into food. In turn, they provide a perfect environment for your fish by releasing oxygen and phytochemicals that prevent disease. What’s more, deep within the natural gravel bed, a whole community of microorganisms and microflora develop. It is just like what happens in nature. This microscopic ecosystem converts detritus into nutrients as well. The nutrient is taken up by the plant roots. Everything lives off of everything else. Mother nature at her best!
So, my fellow parent, go out and rather than getting your kids that other video game or CD, buy them something that you can work on together as a family. It is something that will teach them SO much about the earth and the synergies within it. It truly is a gift that keeps on giving.
If you need some help as to what to buy, where and how to keep it, let me know. I’d be happy to help.
Here’s some more eye candy for inspiration.