Dear Nervous Goldfish In Bag Number 3,
We are happy to have you as part of our Cedar Key Aquaponic system.
I know by now, you've heardof the sad misfortune that befell both Goldfish Bag Number 1 and Goldfish Bag Number 2.
Please know, in your simple 2-chambered heart, that I am taking all precautions to ensure that you, my 15 cent friends, make it safely into the 150 gallon aquaponic fish tank at Cedar Key School.
It saddens me to think of poor Bag Number 1.
How excited they were to be dipped from the crowded feeder fish tanks at Petsmart.
Like you, they heard me tell the Petsmart sales associate,
" Pick out some lively, healthy ones, these fish are not going to feed some oversized Oscar. They get to live a long healthy life making poo for my school aquaponic system".
You see Bag Number 3, the plants in the aquaponic system need your poo to thrive and you need clean water to thrive. We send your pooish water to the plant beds, they slurp up the poo, grow abundantly, and depooed water splashes back down to you.
It's a beautiful thing.
When I asked my students to move all the hungry bluegills from the aquaponic tank, it never occurred to me to check behind them. They are so capable.
Rest assured Bag Number 3, I NEVER would have released the crew of Bag Number 1 into that tank on that fateful Friday if I even suspected danger lurking below.
I can still hear the twenty tiny splashes as the goldfish of Bag Number 1 plopped happily into their new home.
Those splashes ... they haunt me.
Who knew the kids would miss not just any bluegill, but the saucer-sized, hungriest bluegill in the school.
Oh it was a mournful Monday when we went to check on Bag Number 1's status. Although we peered intently, our noses touching the surface water, no gold fish were visible, only an overstuffed bluegill of epic proportions.
Alas, poor Bag Number 1 ... we wanted them to make poo NOT become poo!
Still, we gathered ourselves up and resolved to try again ...to honor the brave crew of Bag Number 1... and to make more poo of course.
Bag Number 2 ... sigh ... their story will ring familiar, but the blame here is my own, and yes, another bluegill is involved.
A few weeks after the Bag Number 1 debacle, I returned to Petsmart for 20 more lucky to NOT BE "feeder fish" for our system. As it was a weekend, I decided to "park" the crew of Bag Number 2 in my garden pond, an old livestock tank with iris, anacharis, and a few minnows. I had removed the last bluegill in a drawdown some 2 months before.
As before, the crew of Bag Number 2 splashed joyfully into the livestock tank "pond". I watched them for awhile as they explored the new tank, glinting in the Florida sun and finding their way among the many aquatic plants there.
A few days later, a casual glance revealed no goldfish in the garden tank pond. Bright orange fish, clear water, a dark green background ... some of Bag Number 2 should have been visible, but no ...
And then I saw him. Lurking beneath a lily pad, a bluegill of about 6 chubby inches.
How did I miss that fellow? A few months before, I had drained that pond to a few inches and removed all (I thought) the larger fish.
Not a single member of Bag Number 2 survived my mistake.
So, dear members of Bag Number 3, I understand your nervousness.
I assure you that my students and I have checked and double-checked the aquaponics tank ...and we will check it one more time before you splash down tomorrow.
Third time's the charm.