During the Easter break we had to adjust our plan slightly. The substrate in our tank had been in use for over 7 years, this meant that much of the nutrients would have been extracted and would need replenishment. I had been in-touch with Andy from Ripples Waterlife in Shenstone. After hearing about our project he was keen to help us along.
I had asked whether he could provide us with some new substrate to provide lasting plant growth. He kindly agreed to gift 2 8kg bags of fluval stratum towards our project, as well as some root tablet fertilizers and some bacteria sachets to help encourage plant growth! We visited his amazing shop and enjoyed conversing with him about the hobby, our project, as well as taking some time to view his healthy and well stocked range of flora and fauna. We would like to thank Andy for his generosity and we hope that we can arrange a trip to visit him and his shop when we are ready to stock fish/shrimp in our aquarium.
The task of replacing/adding to the substrate would be lengthy and so my brother kindly agreed to join me in school during Easter break. We started by removing all the plants/wood, rocks and water. Following which, we began to create mounds out of the old substrate where we wanted to bank the new substrate up to create a taller/deeper look to the scape. The old substrate was useful to keep in the tank as it contains much of the bacteria which are essential to the oxidation of ammonia and nitrites (we will cover more on this with the pupils at a later date).
After pouring the new substrate in, we placed the wood in positions the pupils had decided before Easter. We also positioned some rocks in areas which helped us bank more substrate up against the back of the tank. The tank was then carefully re-filled with water.
We noticed that some of the plants had ‘melted’ during holidays (see the picture below). This can happen as the nutrient levels in the water column undergo big changes when a new substrate is added, as well as plants adapting to growing underwater. This meant that we would have to plant these plants to try to keep them alive. Their roots would then be able to establish themselves and draw nutrients from the soil.
We left as many healthy plants in the pots as possible so that pupils could plant them after the Easter break. We also ordered the remaining plants required from Scaped Nature, and we look forward to their arrival so pupils can place them in the aquarium.