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Okay you all, I've got a "situation" here and I need advice. I am a long-term sub at the local high school. I come in and sub when people are on maternity leave, on disability or leave the school for some reason. Anyway, I just took over a job from a teacher who left suddenly. I'll be in that position for the rest of the year. It's an Earth Science class with 6 tanks, all over 30 gallons. There is another teacher across the hallway who says that they are "his" tanks and he'll take care of them. (The teacher who left said that he was gifting them to the school, not this other teacher and told me that I could take care of the tanks.....)

SO, this other teacher hasn't done a darned thing for these tanks in my room. He's let the water evaporate until you could hear the impellers grinding away on the pump. Fish have died and just been left to rot in the tanks, the lights are never turned on and HE NEVER FEEDS THEM. There are bosimani rainbows and loaches in one 55 gallon tank, a convict in another 55, a 55 full of african cichlids, and another 55 with assorted tin foil barbs and catfish. One 30 gallon tank is empty and another 40 gallon tank has a danio and a few tetras left.

I have offered to help this guy with water changes, and he said, "I've been keeping fish all my life and I don't change the water." He said he only changes the filter pads, but even that hasn't been done in MONTHS. I netted out the dead fish and have been using buckets to top off the tanks. I even snuck some food to the poor fish today. The poor African cichlids stomachs are sunken in, the poor things. When I offered to help change the filter media with student help he said he doesn't like the students messing around with the tanks. Sheesh! I could have the tanks DONE in an hour, but he's being a real jerk about it....

So what should I do? The tanks are in my room, but I'm just a temporary employee. He'll get the room next year. I am trying to get a Python donated to the school so water changes can be made. We have spring break next week and I'm toying with the idea of just going up there while the building is empty and doing all the tanks myself.... I feel so sorry for those poor fish. This was a bad situation for the kids with this teacher leaving so suddenly and they took it very hard..... so have all his fish neglected is making it harder. And this also goes against my morals. I can't just sit back and let those poor fish suffer.... What should I do?

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  • Regular Member

I think you need to be honest with him and you cannot turn a blind eye I hate it when schools decide to take on fishtanks as a learning process but the only teaching that is going on is neglect 101 I would not let this go .Maybe this is achance to do a side project and teach the kids the actual needs of fish and how the nitrogen cycle works and get the class on the band wagon on proper care for these fish .why not. It is hard to step on peoples toes but as a fish lover you possibly could not be the best at your job and watch unproper care of these fish I say you have some serious toe stompping to do !! but you could do it in a very polite way and get the kids involved .it is possible this may bug some of the kids I would definatly do somthing .. :)

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"I've been keeping fish all my life and I don't change the water."

You should ask how long his fish typically live!

And what's his rationale for not feeding them? Jeesh!

I can see how it's a tough situation for you though, not being a full time employee like he is. If I were you I would 'sneak in' and clean the tanks during the break, then see what his response is when the fish look happy and healthy.

Just my suggestion..but I can see your dilemma.

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I AM going in there over spring break to do something. I found an old gravel vac that I'll try. Gosh, I can't imagine the last time the gravel was vacuumed. It'll be a real mess. BUT, I've got a key to my room. It's my room until the end of the year, so I can go in any time I want to. SO, I'll run up there next week sometime and do a water change on each tank and put in fresh filter media and feed the fish. At least I can do that....

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I know this enviromental teacher that has overstock tanks

1 10 gallon with lots of cichlids

1 20 gallon with 12 common/comet goldfish and 3 cory cats...

The tanks have brown algea all over and the water level drops like 5 inches before the teacher does anything about it... it's really sad. I don't have this teacher. I have a class in her room. very sad. I have also heard of kids puring all sorts of chemicals into the tanks. I don't think she should have them.

I am so glad that you can help over the break and i wish you luck with helping these fish.

I also have a long term sub...our old teacher left for no reason too..weird huh?

Edited by FishCrazy
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FishC, that is WIERD about your teacher leaving too..... I've got this room and these tanks until the end of the year so I'm going to do something. This other teacher is just plain crazy. I don't really feel that he cares about the animals.

That's too bad about the tanks in your classroom. Terrible, in fact. You should write an anonymous letter to the teacher who has those tanks and tell him to do his water changes and take care of his fish..... poor fish. :unsure:

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What a terrible situation. I'm so glad you are going to help those poor fish!

I can't help thinking that more people at the school would be sympathetic if it were something cuddly like bunnies that were being so mistreated. IMO fish are just as worthy of our care as any other creature.

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These kinds of stories break my heart. Especially when they involve schools, where young people are "learning" from this experience - what terrible things are they learning - to disregard other living things? I hope you do get to make a difference here, gardengirl. But it is so impossible to to make people change or think. I applaud you for taking the time to care for the fish as much as you can - I hope you can pull it off.

I'm going to just shoot out some ideas, most of which you've probably thought of and discarded, but here goes anyway.

First thing you might need to know: Is it possible that this other teacher who doesn't change water hostile to the prior teacher, and what this prior teacher has accomplished? Why is he trying to "take over" the realm of the prior teacher? (Can somebody throw him a different thing he can "take over", other than the fish tanks?) If you could figure that out, this may help you in dealing with him.

Would it be just possible that you "forgot" that he was taking care of the fish, and did it yourself this once... or twice... and the guy realized he didn't have to do any work, he would just let all of it slide? Never, never say anything against him, and just smile brightly and say how much you enjoy the lovely fish. Then when they are fat and happy and doing well, maybe people will be able to see this is how it's really done?

Another thought: Sounds like someone needs to "gift" some books on fish care to the school library. Maybe the librarian could put them out on a display of "new books." Displayed or not, you could innocently take a book out, bring it into the classroom, and consult the book... (That way you're not the bad guy, you are yielding to a higher authority.)

Also: It sounds like the teacher who left might be in a bad situation, leaving so suddenly. But sometimes people who are ill appreciate others calling on and remembering them. Would it be possible to call, ask how he is doing, and ask if he has any books on fish care you could borrow? (Or even if he had any books that he could recommend.) THEN you can say that the books came from or were recommended by the prior teacher, and it gives them some authority - books gifted along with the fish.

Another angle: I don't know if you are teaching any kind of natural science in your classroom, but you might like to teach a segment on Biosphere II - an artificial closed ecosystem in the late 1980's - that didn't quite work. It almost sounds like your Earth Science teacher across the hall is trying to prove that he can kill fish in a closed ecosystem - much as Biosphere II did. I am no expert on the Biosphere projects, but they had many failure points. The aquarium is also a closed ecosystem. And like Biosphere II, it will need outside resources to be added in order to keep going. Perhaps the aquariums could be part of the lesson??? Anyway, here's a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere_2

Another thought: If the prior teacher gifted the fish to the school, who pays for the food, filters, supplies? Awareness of fish the through Bake Sale? I know, I'm grasping at straws...

By the way, the ASPCA has a single page on fish care - nothing elaborate, very minimal, but it describes much better than what the fish are getting now. It might serve you somehow - with the ASPCA name recognition. (If they see the name ASPCA, they might also realize that there is information on their site for reporting animal cruelty.) You could just print out the "Fish Care" page and leave it lying around...

I know, all of these are longshots, but I could either toss and turn and not be able to sleep, or type a lot to you.

GOOD LUCK!!!

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Gardengirl, some more thoughts (I ended up tossing and turning and thinking about this anyway.)

One thing that might cause people (like the Principal for instance) to understand why you want to take care of the fish in your room - it does reflect on you! Suppose parents, School Board members, or even teachers who didn't know the story, visited your classroom and found dead and starving fish in the tanks. What would they think? Anyone who did not know your long-term reputation would possibly think you are not a very concientious teacher.

I'd be surprised if one teacher messing up another teachers's classroom is considered ok. If someone went into his classroom and cluttered it up and left it in disarray, I'll bet he wouldn't like it - and this has worse consequences than a few books and papers out of place.

If you think this is going to turn out to be confrontational in any way, you might want to keep some notes on what you do. That way, you will have your facts to calmly say things like, "Since I started taking care of them last month, we haven't lost any fish, and when I got here, there were 5 dead fish that had to be removed."

Again, good luck!

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My suggestion would be to go to the principle and, if your up to it, ask to take all the tanks/ find the fish new homes. If the other teacher throws a fit contact the teacher that quit and request a statement/document that proves they were gifted to the school and not this teacher who does nothing to help them out. Maybe you should even make an complaint about the tanks.You should bring it too attention that there are dead animals and filthy tanks in front of children who are trying to learn. Its a health hazard.

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Good points, Sushi, especially the one about it being a health hazard. Also, I wonder what will happen to the fish at the end of the school year - do they go home with children for the summer? In any case, they may need to find new homes come June.

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Apparently, this teacher comes in during the summer to "take care" of the tanks. I shudder to think what that really means..... Anyway, thank you everyone for your kind words. I'm going to come in over Spring break and do water changes, change filter media and feed the fish.

I do think there was some animosity towards the teacher who left. He was irresponsible with these tanks and forgetful. Definately some problems there. This other teacher is sick of dealing with it all, I feel. Anyway, he really wants this room next year and has been annoying about making that clear. I don't care, as I'm out of here in June anyway. All I care about is teaching these kids, getting them to graduation, and taking care of the fish. I really don't care about who gets this room, LOL. Not my problem -- that's the glory of what I do. I can teach without getting caught up in the drama.

The teacher who left was in a bad situation and I've been in touch with him. He was as neglectful as the current guy, so getting advice from him is not going to happen. BUT, the idea about printing out the ASPCA sheet on fish care is wonderful and I'll do that. Good idea. Thanks.

I found an old gravel vac at home and brought it in today. With a little work, I got it working and it will do fine for water changes. I'll do that over spring break. In the meantime, I'll try to figure out what to do with the fish. This guy is talking about breaking down tanks next year, so maybe I can rehome some of the fish. He seems really possessive though, so I'll have to figure out how to finess it.

Anyway, I'm glad I'm here. I always seem to find myself in these positions -- defending those who cannot defend themselves. :-)

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FishC, that is WIERD about your teacher leaving too..... I've got this room and these tanks until the end of the year so I'm going to do something. This other teacher is just plain crazy. I don't really feel that he cares about the animals.

That's too bad about the tanks in your classroom. Terrible, in fact. You should write an anonymous letter to the teacher who has those tanks and tell him to do his water changes and take care of his fish..... poor fish. :unsure:

I sent her a email..but i got no reasponsed

Edited by FishCrazy
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