How to Make a Self Contained Ecosystem for the Classroom

••• Arisa Williams/Demand Media

Creating a self-contained ecosystem for the classroom allows students to observe how plants and animals function and survive within their own habitat. Students can learn about natural life cycles without having to rely on a book.

    ••• Arisa Williams/Demand Media

    Fill the container with 5 cm of potting soil.

    ••• Arisa Williams/Demand Media

    Cover the layer of potting soil with 5 cm of sand.

    ••• Arisa Williams/Demand Media

    Fill the container with water with a gentle trickle so you don’t disturb the sand layer. Let the water sit for 48 hours.

    ••• Arisa Williams/Demand Media

    Place the aquatic plants into the container. With the stiff wire, poke small holes into the sand and push the bottoms of the plants into the holes.

    ••• Arisa Williams/Demand Media

    Put the snails onto the end of the long spoon and gently place them on the bottom of the container.

    ••• Arisa Williams/Demand Media

    Pour in the two or three fish.

    ••• Arisa Williams/Demand Media

    Put the duckweed in the water.

    ••• Arisa Williams/Demand Media

    Put the top of the container on. Use duct tape to seal the edges tightly.

    ••• Arisa Williams/Demand Media

    Set up the light sources several inches away from the container. Make sure the light sources do not heat the container.

    Things You'll Need

    • Large plastic or glass container such as an empty fish tank
    • Sand
    • Potting soil
    • Aquatic plant
    • 2-3 small fish (guppies or algae eaters)
    • 5 snails
    • Duckweed
    • Duct tape
    • Stiff wire
    • Light source (lamp with no more than 100-watt bulbs)
    • Long spoon

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