DIY Mini Observation Pond

The spring themes from Mother Goose Time are just so much fun. We like to go in depth with them because they are very science based. Last year my oldest worked on her Insect American Heritage Girl Badge while we learned about Bees and Butterflies. This year we got ourselves some pets to create our own observation pond seeing we don’t live near a pond and if we did it would be frozen over anyways.

homeschool with a mini observation pond

Our observation pond is inside a 1-gallon fish bowl so it can get moved around easy. To finish the unit of the kids get to use their new knowledge to fill a 2.5 gallon tank with new plants, decorations, and such so our new pets can move up to a more suitable for long term home that will take less maintenance thanks to a filter, light, and internal heating system.  For now lets go over how we built a mini ecosystem that can be drug around for observation.

How we created our own mini observation pond.

The tank for your observation pond

For us we needed something that can be moved around easy for the plans I have so we are starting with a one-gallon fish bowl. This is great for the few weeks we will be using it but not for a full-time home.  We grabbed a cheap starter kit so we are not out a lot of money when we finish this unit.

If we have a safe place to keep a larger tank close enough to the littlest ones for observation that I KNEW they could not destroy it we would skip the small tank but I have a feeling these guys are happier moving up to a shelf out of toddler reach when not used for lessons and it gives the big kids time to build the new home after they learn about the pond ecosystem.

If you opt for a larger tank keep the filter off until your unit is over. Yes this is more work for you but you will find that the filter takes away from the fogginess of true pond water. We dumped the water our fish was in into our tank so that the already forming algea and mess would could the water up a bit and leave food for our snail to get started off.

Our mini observation pond

The plants for your observation pond

A 1-gallon tank does not have much room for plants but well you can’t learn about the ecosystem of a pond without a live plant or two. I ordered two large Marimo moss balls off Amazon after a bit of research. These will absorb the ammonia and other contaminants in the water helping keep our new pets healthy. They will move to the new tank as well.

Animals for your mini observation pond

When it comes to animal choices you have a large selection. It is best to consider the environment you are using/creating. You need animals that can handle a small space for a few weeks and work well for your upgrade plans. DO NOT start this project if you have no intention of upgrading out of a small 1 gallon. We went with the following:

Betta for our mini observation pond

A betta fish was our best choice for a main animal

Bettas can do well in small spaces and compared to what our betta is used to the one-gallon is like a palace. We picked the smallest betta the pet store had to offer at about 1 inch. We know he will grow so he will be very happy to discover his final home. It has been a few years since we have kept a fish but our last betta lived many years.

Snail for our mini observation pond

A snail for the tank

While contrary to poplar belief you can put a betta in with other animals the decision to do so takes a good bit of research. We opted for a small snail. He will work hard to control algea in the tank which is part of what the kids will be learning about. His shell protects him from the betta and they work well as part of the overall pond ecosystem.

Check back throughout the next few weeks to see how our pond progresses, how we use it for homeschool, and how the final home turns out. Happy Spring.

Homeschooling can be so much fun. Check out this easy mini observation pond idea for science!


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