Environmental Science Students Welcome 200 “Classmates”
Chris Weicher’s Environmental Science students are participating in a national program, Trout in the Classroom, in which they will raise brook trout from the egg stage and release them into a local fresh body of water as young fry.
Like any good host, Mr. Weicher had to prepare for the arrival of the class’ temporary charges. Trout at all stages prefer cold pure water so, in addition to a huge 55-gallon fish tank, critical equipment included a filtering system, a hatching basket, a chiller, and thermometers to monitor the chiller’s efficiency. Then, working through the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, he was ready to pick up approximately 200 eggs from the Bath Fish Hatchery. If all goes well, about half of those will grow to approximately three inches and be released in the spring. By comparison, in the wild, despite being native to the region, only about 1% would live.
“We’re giving our eggs the best chance of survival,” Mr. Weicher told the students.
Their first lesson, however, was to take a closer look at the tiny specimen, which meant some needed to be removed from the tank and viewed under a microscope. After the initial look, students opened the egg to view the tiny fish inside. By the following week, Mr. Weicher explained, the “alvevin” would break open the egg covering and begin their post-egg life by eating the contents of their former little home. Then, after about another week, students will need to start feeding the fish and closely monitoring the environment for cleanliness and chilliness to ensure the tank remains fish-friendly. In the coming months, the students will connect a variety of environmental and conservation lessons to their developing guests.
To expand the Trout in the Classroom program, the science department is looking for donations of two 55-gallon fish tanks. Call Burton Howell, department chairperson, at 343-2480x2000, if you have one that is not being used.