Eco-Enthusiast's

By: Morgan S., Aoife K., & Jack A.

What's the Problem?

Lee Elementary School is having a issue with sustaining life in their pond. The students and teachers released 4 algae eating fish into the pond but due to the lack of plant in the water the fish suffocated because of low oxygen levels. They want to try again. It's now our job as the Eco-Enthusiast's to create a pond/freshwater equilibrium that is able to sustain life and be researched by elementary learners.

Biotic Factors

Dwarf Cattail

The Dwarf Cattail plant is a smaller version of the traditional Cattail and makes an excellent background plant. They're great for small ponds and have a very easy care level. One could call them the Ivy of the water world. All they need is a natural lighting system and water to thrive.

Water Conditions: 45-80˚F, pH 6.5-7.5

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Water Sprite

The Water Sprite is a great floating plant to use for small ponds due to its poor rooting system. Some may call it the Lilly Pad replacement. The Water Sprite is great at removing unwanted and unhealthy inorganic nutrients.

Water Conditions: 68-82˚F, pH 5.5-6.5

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Red-Eared Sliders

The Red Ear Slider is an aquatic turtle that thrives in pond ecosystems. We plan on supplying the pond with 6 omnivorous hatchlings. These turtles will feed on both plants and small fish, keeping the populations balanced.

Water Conditions: 75-86˚F, pH 6.5-7

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Orangethroat Darters

Orangethroat Darters are a species that is a part of the Perch family. They are found in small streams typically in the Western half of the country. They feed on common insect larvae found in the water which keeps these invaders from overpopulating and harming other organisms within the ecosystem. This is a keystone species.

Water Conditions: 33-81˚F, pH 6.5-7.5

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American Toad Tadpoles

American Toad Tadpoles are perfect for a small pond that is heavily supplemented with plants. They feed on freshwater plants and find coverage/protection within them. They remain tadpoles for 70 days before becoming toadlets as well as an invasive species. They are an excellent choice for the Lee pond because they never stop changing at this age which is great for conducting simple and observatory experiments.

Water Conditions: 65-75˚F, pH 6.5-7

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Pond Snail

The Pond Snail is a common addition to ponds all over the world. They are omnivorous scavengers that feed on debris, decaying plants, small dead animals, and algae from the bottom of ponds. This organism is useful for the pond environment because it keeps the ecosystem clean.

Water Conditions: 30-90˚F, pH 5.5-8

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Abiotic Factors

Turbidity

Using the Secchi disk, the turbidity or water clarity at the Lee Elementary pond measured at 4 ntu. This is a good measurement since 10 and over begins to affect organisms living in the ecosystem.
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Temperature

Taken using a Temperature Probe. The top of the pond measured 26˚C and the bottom 24.5˚C. Above 24 degrees celsius is considered lethal for many pond organisms so we will need to find a way to balance this before trying to sustain life in this pond.
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pH

Measured using a pH probe. pH levels showed a low 6. This is too low to sustain life. A perfect pH measurement is 7. The cause of low pH is probably due to high carbon dioxide levels within the water. This will change once plants are added to the water.
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Phosphorus/Phosphates

The phosphates levels are measured using a kit specialized for it. You basically drop a special liquid in the water, and match the color it turns to a key. They measured 3 milligrams per liter which is normal.
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Nitrate

The Nitrate levels in water are measured using testing strips which change color depending on the amount of nitrates within the water. The Lee pond measured 3 parts per million which is normal.
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Food Chain

The food chain begins with the sun which gives the producers energy. The producers consist of algae, dwarf cattail, & water sprite.

--->

It then moves to the pond snail, orangethroat darters, & tadpoles which consume the producers.

--->

At the top of the food chain we have the consumers which consist of red eared sliders, and invasive species which are toads/frogs, ducks, water moccasin, & hawks.

Invasive Species

There are many organisms that reside in the area that remain in the wild that will join our ecosystem on their own. These are known as invasive species. Some examples that may try to join our equilibrium include...


1. Mallard Duck

2. American Toad (adult)

3. Water Moccasin

4. Hawk

5. Coyote

6. Raccoon


Many of these animals could be helpful to our ecosystem, making them a part of the symbiotic relationships mutualism & commensalism. An example of this would be the American Toad. He is a good representative of commensalism. He will eat the mosquitoes and other parasitic insects while replenishing the pond with tadpoles which are a source of food to many consumers. As there are helpful invasive species, there are also bad and dangerous ones. Many of these animals pose a throat to our target audience without meaning to, such as the coyote and water moccasin.

Pricing Guide//Pond Schematic


Dwarf Cattail: $26.99

https://www.etsy.com/listing/197924247/6-minidwarf-cattail-koi-pondbogwater?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=shopping_us_plants_and_edibles-plant-flower-mid&utm_custom1=a9fa96b7-456e-4dbc-8f19-d693a0c82c36&kpid=197924247&gclid=CMeKlOOZ4MUCFZSGaQod1iQAWQ

Water Sprite: $15.00

http://www.bonanza.com/listings/Broad-Leaf-Water-Sprite-x4-Live-Fern-Aquarium-Plant-Ceratopteris-cornuta/250472831?gpid=18283950120&gpkwd=&goog_pla=1&gclid=CLimjMGZ4MUCFYQAaQodibIAjw

Red Eared Sliders: $9.99

http://www.backwaterreptiles.com/turtles/red-eared-slider-turtle-for-sale.html

Orangethroat Darters: $17.95

http://www.aquaculturestore.com/orangethroat-darter.html

American Toad Tadpoles: $22.99

http://www.bonanza.com/listings/6-live-tadpoles-poly-wogs-baby-frogs-Koi-Pond-aquarium-fish-tank-fish-alga-eater/116798981?gpid=18283950120&gpkwd=&goog_pla=1&gclid=CNvi1ank4sUCFQiOaQodCRQAKQ

Pond Snail: $2.99

http://www.petsmart.com/live-pet/live-fish/mystery-snail-zid36-15237/cat-36-catid-700002

Secchi Disk: $18.70

http://www.novatech-usa.com/SCDSK1?gclid=CMTa9M3Y7cUCFQ8vaQodB2sALg

Temperature Probe: $14.95

http://www.adafruit.com/products/642?gclid=CO29mPPY7cUCFQmNaQodxV8ARw

pH Probe: $25.00

http://www.robotshop.com/en/bnc-ph-lab-electrode.html?gclid=CKGRw4rZ7cUCFZGLaQoddTgApA

Phosphate Test Kit: $7.50

http://www.123ponds.com/ap63l.html?utm_source=ap63l&utm_medium=shopping%2Bengine&utm_campaign=googleproducts&gclid=CJ-It6XZ7cUCFQqGaQodFIcAAQ

Nitrate Test Strips: $14.00

http://www.omega.com/googlebase/product.html?pn=WTS-480022&gclid=COf548rZ7cUCFYJCaQodozAAJA


---TOTAL---

$176.06 (plus tax//shipping)

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More Resources

Here are some kiddo-friendly links to help the incredible learners learn more about ponds and how to take of one...

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AB0O5gJPUwoszYeSfJgthE4zFVPVhdPjtQjAonzB0Hw/edit

Conclusion

To conclude this proposal, we as the Eco-Enthusiasts want to give the kids at Lee Elementary the best pond equilibrium possible. Though ecosystem isn't perfect, we feel that it is the best for the learners to be actively participant in activities involving experimental studies along with hands on hand contact to our native Texan wildlife. Please consider!

Q&A

Thank you for listening! Special thanks to Lee Elementary staff and learners!