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close this book Teaching conservation in developing nations
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close this folder Appendix F: Live animals
close this folder Aquariums
View the document A freshwater aquarium
View the document A marine aquarium

A freshwater aquarium

1. Cover the bottom of the container with well washed soil from the animal's habitat if you will be growing water plants.

2. Cover the soil with 2-3 cm of well-washed gravel from the animal's habitat.

3. Cover the gravel with 1-2 cm well washed sand if there is any in the animal's habitat.

A freshwater aquarium - Stage 1

A freshwater aquarium - Stage 2

A freshwater aquarium - Stage 3

4. Cover the sand with a piece of newspaper and pour the water (see #5) into the container, then lift the paper off carefully. This way the sand and gravel won't be disturbed by the water.

5. The water should be clean water from the animal's habitat. However, if you use tap water, let it stand in a clean plastic or glass container for several days to allow any harmful gases to escape.

6. Carefully collect plants with their roots from the animal's habitat and carry them to the container in a bucket or jar of water so that they don't dry out. Wash them carefully in water several times.

7. Plant the plants in the container by pushing the roots down into the soil.

8. You can plant 1 or 2 plants for every 2 litres of water. The plants are necessary to provide oxygen for the animals.

A freshwater aquarium - Stage 4

9. When the plants are established (in about a week) you are ready to collect your animals.

10. If it is possible, before you put the animals into the containers, float the collecting jar with the animals in it, in the container, until the two waters are the same temperature. This will avoid temperature shock to the animals when you add them to the container.

A freshwater aquarium - Stage 5

Some fresh water habitats for collecting are:

- a stream with water plants

- a lake or pond with water plants

- a rocky lake or pond with no plants

- a pond with sandy bottom

- a pond with muddy bottom

Some possible inhabitants of a fresh water aquarium are:

- small fish

- tadpoles and salamanders (good for small jars, starting with the eggs)

- crayfish (good for large jars or pyrex pan; need rock to climb out of water)

- leeches

- snails (clean shells with old toothbrush before putting in aquarium)

- water insects

Fresh water animals will eat a variety of things: algae growing in the water, the water plants, tadpole eggs, chopped earthworms, chopped snails, chopped fish meat, and each other. You will have to experiment to find the right combinations. Remove uneaten food so it does not rot in the water.


The amount of water needed for fish in an aquarium is approximately 3/4 litre water for each centimeter of fish. An aquarium which holds 50 liters of water could hold:



2 cm fish






5 cm fish






2 cm fish and 30 1 cm fish