Article by Meghna Murali
Photos by Bruce Vaughan
Everybody knows that Mr. Whitehead has transformed in his room into an aquarium, but most people don’t know exactly what goes on in this underwater world. These fish tanks came to be in the month of August when he decided he wanted a new experience of owning a fish tank, as he never had the chance to own one in his life before.
When he started the tank, Mr. Whitehead only had the intention of including five fish, but before he knew it, the population of the tank had grown and had inhabitants of different underwater species, including turtles. The turtles were later on brought to the class as one of the grade 9 students asked Mr. Whitehead to buy a snake as a class pet. As snakes are illegal to keep as pets in Singapore, the next best option were turtles. The classroom now has two turtles in a separate tank in the corner of the room. The main reason for buying these turtles were as he says to “trick students into learning by getting something they were interested in.” Mr. Whitehead currently owns four different aquariums filled with different varieties of fish and turtles including fighter fish, angelfish, clown loaches, zebra tetras, neon tetras and a few other species.
The fish tank is mostly managed by two grade 10 students who are experienced for taking care of an aquarium, as they have handled one at home. Mr. Whitehead also had taken part in cleaning up after the tank by changing the filters, though unfortunately he had broken a filter by stepping on the cord. This lead to a light spread of algae along the tank walls.
Recently, there have been strange incidents occurring involving the fish tank. One morning, Mr. Whitehead discovered that one fish had jumped out of the tank onto to the floor to be eaten up by ants. For the next few days he realized several more fish have been jumping out of the tank, possibly due to them still adjusting to their new environment. He quickly solved this problem by adjusting the cover of the tanks to ensure that no more fish can escape from it.
Having a fish tank has definitely been a learning experience for Mr. Whitehead. He has learned a lot from the fact that two fighter fish can’t be kept in the same tank to the fact that buying a filter is extremely expensive. But he says the main thing he has learned about owning a fish tank is that when you keep a lot of fish, lots end up dying. However, despite all these struggles of managing four separate aquariums, Mr. Whitehead most definitely thinks they have been a great addition to the classroom.