Week 1 of Fishkeeper Fry is complete for most of our schools. But what have they been getting up to? And what is Fishkeeper Fry?
Fishkeeper Fry started as a concept in 2016 by Stuart Ashley, one of our Senior Partners here at Maidenhead Aquatics. The first Fishkeeper Fry programme was delivered in 2017. Fishkeeper Fry came about after Stuart noticed lots of children coming into his stores with their parents to look around at the fish. Stuart had a fish-centric childhood and he realised that there was a missed opportunity for the children excitedly looking around his stores. ‘Feed the fish’ was introduced in our stores to help children get hands-on experience, along with some form of connection to care for the fish, and therefore Fishkeeper Fry was the next logical step.
Figure 1: St Mary's Catholic Primary School filling their new tank
The idea for Fishkeeper Fry was to try and break down some of the barriers traditionally associated with fish keeping and enable children to have the opportunity in a way that was safe and controlled for the fish and low risk for parents. By this, they could demonstrate their commitment to their parents and understand the possibilities out there for them.
Figure 2: Beccles Primary Academy pupils colouring in
In providing an opportunity like Fishkeeper Fry, Stuart hopes that children might find something more wholesome before they discover the internet and social media and gain some exposure to an educational pastime. The programme allows children to learn wider life values such as responsibility, time management and core science concepts.
Figure 3: St Peter's Catholic Primary School ‘Fishkeeper of the week’ – Percy
Fishkeeper Fry is an 8-week programme designed for 7–8-year-olds. The programme is for schools with each week’s lesson being taught by the teachers. We are able to assist 75 schools free of charge on the programme. This year we had over 100 applications from all over the UK. Fishkeeper Fry takes children through the whole journey of fishkeeping, from week 1 – setting up the aquarium, to water changes in week 5 and learning about their fish’s digestive systems in week 7.
Figure 4: Fordbridge Primary aquatics club
The programme contributes to the curriculum with focuses on science, geography, and language. It teaches children valuable lessons in caring and being responsible for their pets. As well as this, aquariums have been scientifically proven to lower stress levels and create a calming atmosphere, ideal for the classroom. Keeping a fish tank encourages visual learning because children can observe how their efforts in tasks carried out affect the aquariums and their inhabitants. Teamwork is a vital part of the programme as pupils must work with their classmates to ensure the aquarium is looked after, the fish are fed, and the water is tested. This helps to develop their social skills and self-confidence. This encourages children to look beyond everyday life, sparking their imagination when considering the underwater world evolving in their classroom.
Figure 5: Milestone Academy have set up their tank and done some great research into the fish they are going to be looking after
Each school is assigned a Maidenhead Aquatics store to work with throughout the programme. One of our suppliers, Hagen, sends each store taking part, the equipment that the schools will need including a Fluval Flex Black 57L Aquarium Kit. The stores work closely with the schools to help with any queries and answer any questions that might come up during the programme. From week 3, the stores start supplying fish to the schools as well with a new variety being introduced until the end.
Figure 6: The Round House Primary Academy pupils admiring their new tank
This week, schools have been setting up their new fish tanks. The pupils watch a video created by us explaining important information for example, why you shouldn’t tap on the glass. The class then use tap water conditioner to safely add water to their aquarium along with setting up the filter and heater.
Figure 7: Beccles Primary Academy newly set up tank
Each week, pupils’ complete activities sheets that we send out. The sheets ask questions about their fish and how to safely keep them as well as involving fun activities like word searches, colouring in, and story writing.
Figure 8: Oliver Tomkins School colouring in by numbers
Schools award a ‘fishkeeper of the week’ to the pupil who has been most helpful, asked questions and overall has shown they are the best fishkeeper they can be. Maidenhead Aquatics then chooses an overall ‘fishkeeper of the week’ each week which is announced on our social media platforms and on the website. We also have a ‘worksheet of the week’ that we announce on our social media.
Figure 9: Thrussington CofE Primary School 'Fishkeeper of the week' – Iris
At the end of the 8-week programme, we award ‘school of the year’ to the school that has engaged the best with the programme. The winning school receives a trophy and medals for the whole class. Look out for this year’s winner!
Figure 10: Broom Leys Primary School 'Fishkeepers of the week' - Ryan and Ted
Due to the pandemic, we weren’t able to run Fishkeeper Fry in 2021 so we are even more excited to offer it this year and see what schools get up to.
Figure 11: Lime Tree Academy 'Fishkeeper of the week'
Week 2 starts on Monday, with a new video and tasks to complete, make sure you keep an eye on the Fishkeeper Fry social platforms to see what schools get up to.
Figure 12: Beccles Primary Academy ‘Fishkeeper of the week’ - Lilla
School's out for summer and we have some great ideas for fishy fun, in-store and out, to keep the kids occupied during the long summer holidays. Our stores are also teeming with some fantastic pond plants that are starting to show off their stunning flowers - perfect for adding some late summer colour, attracting wildlife and helping to eradicate unwanted algae.
Occasional use of an Activa Block is a fantastic way to give your aquarium water a polish and remove any chemical residues without having to faff about placing it within your filter. It can be added or removed in seconds, making it easy to use in rotation with any additives that you don’t want taken out of your aquarium water, and it’s a great back up for those rare but stressful occasions where unusual measures are needed.