Welcome to the 2010-2011 6th Grade Montgomery

Trout in the Classroom Wiki Archive!

This is the record of our program from 2010-2011

Please see the new year and data at: http://montgomeryschooltrout.wikispaces.com/

Montgomery School's participation in the Trout In the Classroom program was made possible through grant funding (Sport Fishing and Aquatic Resource Education Grant, PA Council of Trout Unlimited, and PA Department of Education), brook trout eggs, food and technical assistance provided by PA Council of Trout Unlimited and PA Fish and Boat Commission.

A new feature for this year is our embedded "live Water Chemistry data form" where students will be posting the results of our water quality tests and it will update automatically to this website. To see our Water Chemistry results, please click on the navigation link, "Trout Tank Water Testing Results" on the left side near the top of this page.

This Wiki is a work in progress, so please pardon the dust from our construction efforts. Check back often to see the changes.

Montgomery School has adopted the Pickering Creek that runs through our property. As stewards of the creek we participate in the monitoring of the creek annually. Our data can be viewed at the World Water Monitoring Day Website (WWMD LINK). You can see great data records on the WWMD Data Map.

Trout cam is closed - check back in November 2011!

The Trout are Growing Fast and Looking GREAT!
March 25, 2011

Wow, are these trout growing fast! It seems like they get bigger every time we look at them. Most of the fry are in the 3-5 cm range, with a few lunkers to boot. They are starting to lose their parr marks and the pectoral fins have developed the classic orange and white identification stripe. The estimated population has remained steady at 270 trout. The trout seem very happy. The Nitrate levels have gone way up to 80 PPM. The Nitrate test kit has always seemed unreliable, as the dark red colors on the match card are tough to read when comparing to the results in the test tube. As we discussed in our last update, we decided to confirm the chemistry readings by purchasing a few Water Analysis kits from Chemetrics. These test kits involve obtaining a sample and then breaking a vacuum-sealed glass ampoule (that contains the testing chemicals) with a capillary tip that sucks in the proper sample and subsequently changes color to indicate the content being tested. We purchased a variety of these kits over the last two years, and they are easy to use to obtain accurate results. You can learn more about Chemetrics test kits at their website (www.chemetrics.com). The test that we were most interested in is Nitrate, as we want to confirm what we thought were lethal Nitrate levels. The Nitrate test kit we use measures nitrogen amounts between 0.0 and 3.0 PPM. To convert this amount to Nitrogen as Nitrate, we multiply the results by 4.4, so the highest PPM that we can detect is 13.2 PPM. To test the trout water we use a 5X dilution where we mix 4mL of Trout Tank water with 16 mL of distilled water. Then we pour out 15 mL into the reaction tube and follow the directions in the kit. With this dilution method we have confirmed that when the aquarium Nitrate is reading 80 PPM, the Chemetrics test kit measures the Nitrate content at 38.5 PPM. This is comforting to know, but it still means that we should look for ways to decrease our Nitrate levels. We are changing 15-20 gallons of water a week, but we would like to try adding watercress to see if we can lower the Nitrate levels naturally. In any case, the trout still seem happy, so we are not too worried.

The Ammonia levels have increased to 0.25 PPM, but the Nitrite levels have remained at 0.00 PPM. This indicates that the Nitrosomonas bacteria and the Nitrobacters bacteria are doing their jobs. The Hydro sponge seems to have really helped boost the size and effectiveness of the bacterial populations. We have not had any issues with white mold on food or surfaces, but we have seen a few thin brown mold spots develop lately. These seem to “wipe” off so I guess that we just keep scrubbing.

We are a bit concerned about next week as we are on vacation and there is no one available to check on the trout. The good news is that we can all keep an “eye” on them with the web cam, so this gives us some comfort. You can see the trout too at our website: http://montgomeryschooltrout.wikispaces.com/. We are working on plans now for our release next month. We will likely let most of them go in late April, and hold on to 10-20 until the end of May just to see how they do with less fry in the tank.

We hope that all of your tanks are doing well, and that you are enjoying the spring weather. In the meantime, just keep swimming!

The Montgomery School Trout Team!

Trout Fry Alive; saved from a watery grave!

January 21,2011
Good news, the trout are alive! The population is now stabilizing, as we are not losing trout at the high rate we were before. It seems as though the addition of aquarium salt has made a difference. The tank also finished cycling as the Nitrite levels peaked at 2.0 ppm on 12/17 and had dropped to 0.00 ppm by 12/24/10. The number of dead trout removed each day peaked on Dec. 14th when 17 dead trout fry were removed. Based on the discussions on the yahoo site, we are beginning to think that these trout were “pinheads” and they had not developed the correct internal structures to eat food and absorb nutrition. Although the trout did not look like the “typical pinhead,” they did seem to be thinner and more tapered toward the tail. There has been much speculation as to the quality of the eggs and the number of deformed trout. Our understanding is that the new trout egg sorter does a better job of separating the viable eggs from the rest. We have observed less deformed trout this year, only 10 to 15. Last year, we euthanasized about 48 deformed trout fry before Christmas break because we felt the deformed trout would not survive and we did not want them to die over the vacation and cause disease in the tank. The current trout population is at 270 trout.

Our trout are eating from our automatic feeder. We are currently feeding the fry the #1 food. We switched back to the Bio-Oregon food as recommended by Spring Reilly despite the issues we had early on. Were are not having any problems with fungus growing on leftover food, as we are currently feeding the trout fry a proper amount of food, or even a little less. Our new LED light (with 50,000 hours of life) will help extend the viewing hours for the avid fans of our trout cam. The LED light bulb gives us the opportunity to observe a great energy conservation tactic as the LED light uses only 8 watts of energy – compared to a 60 watt bulb, or a 23 watt compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). The light will be on from 6AM to 10PM. This will give the trout fry a chance to sleep between 10PM and 6AM.

Our chiller was malfunctioning, and the temperature in the tank was as high as 68 degrees F. To cool the water in the tank we were putting milk jugs filled with ice into the tank. We keep 3 gallon size milk jugs (4/5ths filled with water) in the freezer just for this reason. Trade Wind Chillers sent us a replacement chiller that arrived this week, and the temperature in the tank is back down to 49 degrees. The fry have grown a lot since they hatched how most of the fry are 2cm to 4cm long. One major problem with the trout tank is the pH has been ever since we installed the tank. The pH is currently 7.8, which is basic. The water we use for water changes in 6.5, which is acidic. We think it might be the lava rocks (which provides a habitat for the nitrogen fixing bacteria), that is causing this issue. We might try to lower the pH by adding oak leaves to the tank. The ammonia level in the tank is 0ppm, and so is the nitrite. This shows that the bacteria in the tank are doing their job. The nitrate level is testing at 40.0 ppm. We checked this today with the Chemetrics zinc reduction Nitrate test kit at a 5X dilution. This chemical test kit showed the current Nitrate level to be 8.36 ppm. This is the third time that we have used this test kit to compare against the fish tank test kit and the results are consistently lower than the API Freshwater test kit. At least we feel a bit better about our Nitrate levels. We are currently researching places to but the Watercress, as we would like to include some live plants in our tank to absorb the Nitrate.

The trout cam is getting excellent views of the fry because it is located near the automatic feeder. So, if you have not taken a look yet, please click on the link below to see our Trout in Action! We have good and bad news, and although our trout are doing much better, we have not run out of problems to solve. Until next time… Just keep swimming!

The Green Team!

Trouble in the tank

Dec. 20, 2010

Since the December 8th update, we have lost 80 fish. We have been losing on average, 10 a day. Our highest total of deaths of fish was 17 fish in one day. We are trying to figure out what the problem is in the water that is causing the fish to die. One remedy that we tried was adding aquarium salt, and it seems to have worked. Since we added aquarium salt, we have had three days that nine or less fish have died. To also help the trout, we have been trying to lower our pH. We first attempted this by adding 30mL of vinegar, but it did not work. We also tried more frequent water changes, replacing 10 gallons of water every 2-3 days and adding 100 drops of pH down. We also decided to switch food, back to the left over food that we had from last year. It seems as if the new food gets “bloated” in the water and then the fish will not eat it. The left over new food tends to become covered with the mossy white fungus. Since we switched back to the old food we have not any issues, there is no left over food and no new mossy white fungi growths. To us, we think that the salt has had the best impact as the number of dead fry per day changed significantly with the addition of the Aquarium salt.

Christmas vacation starts tomorrow, so we decided to set up the automatic fish feeder. This will be filled with 80% number “0” food and 20% number “1” food. We set this up to feed the fish once every 24 hours. With all of the issues we had recently, we figured that less food is better. The feeder is set on the second to smallest portion to allow only a very little amount of food to be delivered. Mr. Kline will check on the trout tank ever 2-3 days, and out trout cam gives us the ability to check in on the fry from home. The Trout Cam only works when there is enough light, so be sure to visit the cam during daylight hours. We are working on a light solution to allow for extended viewing times. (click here to take a look!)

We wish you all a happy trout holiday season and a swimmingly safe New Year! See you back in 2011!

- MS Trout Team





Some of the Fish that have died, we sent a copy to the State
This is NOT our trout tank! This is SuperKitty enjoying a drink from our 5 gallon tank at home!

December 8,2010

What's Happening in the Aquarium?

So by now we hope that some of you have checked out the trout cam. Today was a great day for our trout. We lowered the breeding net and our swim-up fry have swam out. We estimated that about 1/4 of our trout have gone into the big tank. Along with our perfectly healthy fish we have some oddities like our trout with a head growing out of its stomach, Slingshot the Two trouts attached at the tail, and spinner - the trout who can only swim in circles. Still we are celebrating how well our trout are doing!

The water in the trout tank is starting to show signs of changing chemistry. The Nitrate level has increased slightly from 5ppm to 7 ppm. This is expected as the trout are starting to eat the powdered fish food. The combination of left over food, and waste from the trout, are adding Ammonia to the water. The ammonia is processed by Nitrosomonas bacteria and turned into Nitrite (a lethal form of nitrogen to trout). The Nitrite is converted by Nitrobacters into Nitrate, a less harmful nitrogen compound that is normally absorbed by plants. This year we added a new component, a Hydro-sponge, to our tank to help process the waste faster. Last year, as the trout grew, the water became excessively cloudy. The Hydro-sponge creates additional shelter for nitrogen-fixing bacteria as water is pulled through the sponge to aid in the processing of waste. We are hoping that this will help keep the Ammonia and Nitrite levels lower than we experienced last year. Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to keep checking in for new news about our trout.

- MS Trout Team

November 30,2010

The Trout Cam is BACK!!!! Anyone can visit our trout and see how they are doing, at any time. Usually the lights are off on nights, so the best times to view the Trout are Mondays-Fridays 8 AM - 6 PM. Watch with us as the trout grow up!

Most of the trout have absorbed their sacs, and are well on their way to being "Swim-up Fry." The curious thing is that they have not started to "swim up." Our assertion is that because we have not regularly removed the top insulation, the swim-up fry are not well adjusted to the light. As a result, they are laying low. Of course this is normal for Sac-fry. In the wild the trout fry need to stay out of the way of bigger fish and strong currents. They will hide in nooks and crannies, small feeder streams, or in the undercuts from water falls or drops. We will be leaving the insulation off more and more, so they should get more comfortable with the light. They are definitely reacting to the food as most start moving vigorously a few seconds after the food is injected into their water.

Last year we noted that many fry were not swimming up for food. We devised a technique to help them jump-start their eating habits by bringing the food (which tends to float) to them. We mixed a VERY small amount of the smallest food (size 0) to 20-30 mL of water from the tank in a small graduated cylinder. We used a turkey baster to suck up and spit out the water until it was well mixed (until the food is suspended in the water), then we injected some of this mix into the lower half of the net breeder. We also added some food on the top, to mimic the floating food that most fry will want to "swim-up" for naturally. The key is to feed the trout as little as needed. They should eat all or most of the food that you ad. You can feed them 2-3 times per day, but you do not want to overfeed them or else you will have water chemistry issues (high Ammonia/Nitrites/Nitrates) and dirty water.

Over the next few weeks we will be monitoring the alevins to see when they are ready to eat. As they become more comfortable with swimming up, we will begin to release them into the tank. Last year we just lowered the net breeder so that the fry could swim up and out, exiting the top of the net breeder. This worked great as many of the swim-up fry left. We had a number of trout that swam out, but kept swimming back in. They seemed to be more comfortable in their first home… awww… so cute!

Please visit our Wiki-site to see out trout cam and enjoy this wonderful experience with us.http://montgomeryschooltrout.wikispaces.com/

Say goodbye to the Sac... Fry!
~The Green Team

November 12, 2010
Ammonia levels in the tank have started to rise as more and more eyed eggs hatch into Sac-Fry. So far we have removed 20 dead trout/eggs bringing our total down to 407. Overall the Sac-Fry seem to be healthy looking and active when disturbed (light or probing for removals). Last year we had approximately 45 Sac-Fry who hatched with deformities (curved spines, angles spines, and 2 with two-heads). So far we have not seen any deformities, but we are keeping the light out and only searching quickly for dead eggs/trout. We have started our unit on Water, Water Quality, and Watersheds - so we will be prepping the equipment and heading down to the stream to complete our annual creek survey. This survey includes conducting a battery of tests on the Pickering Creek that runs along the south side of the school's property. We will be gathering data on stream flow, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, pH, ammonia, nitrites & nitrates, along with a riparian assessment and biotic index of water quality using Macroinvertebrates. This is always a student favorite as we catch and identify the organisms that live in our local stream. One year we even caught a small Rock Bass. We also plan on putting out a small fish trap to see what fish are in our stream. Last year, when we worked with the scientists from the Ruth Patrick Center for Environmental Research we completed a fish survey and found 25 different species of fish in our section of the Pickering Creek. But we found NO Brook Trout. Therefore, it is our contention that if we find Brook Trout in the traps this year, they will most likely be some of the ones we released last year. One can always hope! We will keep you informed.

Happy Hatching!
~The Green Team

November 3rd
The trout eggs have arrived!

The 6th Grade students at Montgomery School are continuing their studies of how human activities affect our watersheds this year. Our goal is to learn how to be better stewards of the watersheds on our planet, and create solutions and habits that we can all do to help preserve and improve the quality of our freshwater streams and rivers.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about the brook trout and how they survive in the wild. This year we are going to raise them again and so far our numbers are much better then last year.
Sorting & Counting Eggs

Sorting & Counting Eggs

505 eggs arrived on November 3rd, 2010. 76 of these were DOA (Dead on Arrival), 2 were already hatched and dead, and 4 were partially hatched and we could not determine if they were dead. So to begin with we put 423 viable eggs into the net breeder, along with the 4 partially hatched sac-fry. At the moment we have 416 eggs/sac-fry in the tank based on the number we started with - the number removed so far. This is a record for us! But we have experienced high initial nitrate levels. Who ever said raising trout would be easy though? We are really excited to be helping the environment again as we work on Watershed Stewardship and Conservation. Check back later for more and look for our Trout Cam in December!

Their New Home!

Their New Home!

~The Green Team