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Fishy lessons

Nicole Frey
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VAIL- Water and fish poured out of the dark blue plastic container into an aquarium as 14 children at Red Sandstone Elementary School craned their necks. They whispered excitedly as their new classroom pets were delivered. A first fish splashed into its watery home, and then a second fish. But as the trickle of water began to thin, a third fish still hadn’t appeared. Red Canyon High School teacher Steve Nimcheski, the bearer of the aquatic gifts, peered into the container, turned it upside down and shook… nothing. The class held a collective breath as Nimcheski shook the container again. A few more drops of water of water fell into the aquarium, but still no fish.

“I know there were three in here,” Nimcheski muttered looking into the container again, the seconds ticking away.He gave one more vigorous shake, and the third fish flew out and plopped into the aquarium. The class breathed a sigh of relief, and Nimcheski emptied a second container of four fish with much less drama. “They all made it,” Nimcheski announced, and the children cheered in response. Third-grader teacher Stacey Wilson had promised her class a pet since the beginning of the school year, and to her class’s delight, Wilson made good on her vow last week.

The pets, a total of seven tiger fish, rosy barbs, gouramis and blue danios, came from Nimcheski’s ecology class. Red Canyon students Randy Archuleta, Kevin Chadwick and Matt Kroschel had spent the school year caring for the fish and learning about what it takes to ensure the fish a healthy environment. Their responsibilities included testing the water for pH levels and chemicals as well as establishing a balance of plants and animals in the tank. The high schoolers shared their findings with the eager third-graders during an interactive presentation. Kroschel called Jared Gustafson to the front of the room to help demonstrate how to siphon water from the tank. Tim Valdez drew envious stares as he was selected to feed the fish, but Wilson assured her class that everyone would have a chance to feed the class pets in the coming days.



After Jesus Torres correctly identified the filter for the fish tank, he was enlisted to help install it, and Dakota Sloniker was put in charge of monitoring the tank’s temperature – ideal at 76 degrees. Everyone in the class will write in the fish log book – another lesson in responsibility and organization for the children.”How do you know if one’s dead?” Lilly Duimette asked.Chadwick said the smell would alert the class if one of the fish had departed, and while dead is a certainty in life, the children should stress too much about it.”Hope you enjoy the fish,” Chadwick said. “Don’t kill the fish.”

Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or nfrey@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado


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