Poor Sandy.

A couple of days ago, the children noticed that one of our goldfish, Sandy was bent double and was lying on the bottom of the fish tank. Lego, the other goldfish was also looking a bit sick. We observed the fish carefully for the next two days. Lego seemed to get little better. However, Sandy was bent double and was not moving. But the children noticed that he was still breathing. We did some internet research and found out that Sandy had bacteria in his stomach which was making him bend in the middle. We found out that there was no way to help Sandy because the bacteria was already in his stomach, and that Sandy was going to die.

We talked about what we should do about Sandy. After much discussion, the children decided to take Sandy out of the fish tank so that he would die quickly, and so that he wouldn’t infect the other fish.

The children wondered where to bury Sandy. They remembered burying Madeline and were able to transfer knowledge and understanding from that experience.

Where can we bury Sandy?
We can’t bury him with Madeline because the children planted seeds and we might dig up the seeds.
Yeah, because now it’s a garden with things growing.
Before it was nothing growing.
So maybe we can put him in another garden?
But we don’t have another garden.
How about if we went to the park to bury it?
Yes. I agree with Jenny’s idea.
No, we can’t bury in homes. I think he don’t understand.
It’s okay.
It’s because we buyed the fish at Homes, that’s why he think that.
Yeah, he’s good at remembering.
No space in the park.
No way to dig.
Like moles.
We are not moles.
We can’t put in the desert because it’s too far away and there might be sandstorms.
Anyway there are no deserts in Japan.
Egypt maybe?
It’s too far away. We have to go in a airplane but we can’t do that.
So where?
I have an idea. Maybe we can bury the Sandy outside of the school? We can put it in a zip bag and we can bury him.
Yeah! Good idea.
We need somewhere.
How about the ocean?
But how can we get there?
It’s too far.
No, we can go on the train.
Nihon Odori. It’s the next stop.
Yes, it’s only one stop.
It’s not too far.
But not in the ocean.
No, not the ocean, only in the sand
Or we can bury him in Yamashita Koen?

The discussion bounced from child to child with very little adult intervention. It is interesting to see how much the children’s speaking and listening skills have developed since the beginning of the year. The children are listening to each other and are building on and developing each other’s ideas; every child contributed; all of the contributions are relevant and logical; the children are supportive of each other and everyone’s ideas are respected.

It was time for lunch and we still had not reached a consensus on where to bury the body. So for now, Sandy is literally sitting on ice, in the freezing compartment of our fridge, while we decide what to do. To be continued …

Uh oh! Carl just noticed that now Lego is bending in the middle.

5 thoughts on “Poor Sandy.

  1. It seems you should wear gloves to prevent yourself from getting infected.
    taken from

    Symptoms in fish

    The main symptoms of fish tuberculosis are loss of scales, loss of color, lesions on the body, wasting, and skeletal deformities such as curved spines.

    Looking a slides of infected tissue under a microscope is sometimes enough to recognize Mycobacterium marinum, but in most cases a bacterial culture will be necessary. Both Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium marinum are acid fast, which means that they stain bright pink against a blue background.

    Treating fish tuberculosis is really difficult and euthanizing the fish a probably less painful for the fish than forcing it to go through endless treatments that may not have any effect on the disease. Euthanizing all the fish in the infected aquarium is also the best way of preventing the disease from spreading.

    If you decide to try and treat your fish, keep in mind that Mycobacterium marinum can infect you as well. The risk of being infected can however be decreased dramatically by following a few simple safety guidelines. You can read more about this further down in this article.

    Fish can be treated with the same drugs as humans get when they become infected by Mycobacterium marinum, e.g. Kanamycin. Since this is a very resilient microbe, normal treatment involves administering at least two different medications over the course of at least three months.

    A lot of aquarium problems can be fixed by performing frequent water changes, increasing the water temperature and adding some salt to the water, but fish tuberculosis is not one of them. Raising the water temperature may even worsen the problem since Mycobacterium marinum prefers warm water (their ideal temperature is 30°C).


    Since curing fish is virtually impossible once the disease begins to manifest, preventative measures are highly important.

    Keeping your fish healthy, happy and well-fed will boost their immune system and make it possible for them to handle limited exposure to Mycobacterium marinum.

    Wounded or otherwise weakened fish should be moved to quarantine tanks where they can be treated and given time to recuperate, since weak fish that is left in the main aquarium can serve as a breeding ground for all sorts of malicious microorganisms that may eventually grow numerous enough to attack even the healthy fishes.

    New fish should ideally be quarantined before you allow it into you main aquarium. Plants, substrate, equipment etcetera should be sterilized to kill of potentially harmful bacteria before being introduced to the aquarium. See the plant section for more info about how to sterilize plants without causing injury to them.

    An aquarium that has had an outbreak of fish tuberculosis should be meticulously cleaned out with bleach and left to dry before you restock it.
    Fish tuberculosis and the aquarist

    When aquarists become infected by Mycobacterium marinum, it is usually because the carry out maintenance work when they have cuts or other skin problems on their hands or arms. Our skin is remarkably good at keeping malevolent microorganisms out, but as soon as the skin gets injured, an important part of the body’s defense system has been breached. It doesn’t have to bee a large wound; a simple paper cut or eczema can be enough for Mycobacterium marinum to slip through. When handling an aquarium where you suspect that Mycobacterium marinum may be present, it is consequently important to use protective gloves. You may have a tiny sore that you haven’t even noticed, such as a torn cuticle. Some aquarists prefer to use gloves all the time, or at least when they have damaged skin, since it is impossible to know if Mycobacterium marinum exists in an aquarium before the fish start to show symptoms of fish tuberculosis. You can also catch fish tuberculosis by using your mouth to start a siphon. Washing your hands and lower arms with soap after handling fish and aquariums is naturally always recommended.

    Symptoms and treatment
    When aquarists become infected with fish tuberculosis, it normally starts as a skin problem. Mycobacterium marinum is a slow growing mycobacterium and it can therefore take several weeks before you notice any symptoms. The first sign is normally small purple lesions or “bumps”. The lesions will grow and spread and Mycobacterium marinum can proceed to destroy the soft tissue under the skin, including tendons and joints. In severe cases, fish tuberculosis can spread to the bones and cause symptoms similar to arthritis.

    Most doctors never come in contact with fish tuberculosis and if you show up with some strange lesions on your hands, they might not realize what is causing it and put you on a general oral antibiotic that will not kill Mycobacterium marinum. It is therefore very important to inform your doctor that you are an aquarist and that you may have caught fish tuberculosis or some other disease from your aquarium. Mycobacterium marinum can be successfully treated but only if the right combination of drugs are used. Just as with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the treatment will normally need to be carried out over the course of several months. In serious cases, intravenous administration of antibiotics may be required.

  2. I am very sorry to hear that Sandy passed away. It is great that KC are putting their heads together to give Sandy a proper burial. I wonder why the ocean is not an option… because it is a freshwater fish? Very impressive KC!

  3. Ohh KC… I am sorry for your loss… Yamashita Koen would be a great place as it is just near the sea. I hope Lego will feel better soon…

  4. Oh I´m so sorry for he loss of Sandy….. I hope the other fish will be ok….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *