Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Our trout are doing great. Yesterday we got rid of the basket and led the last lingering ones out into the "big sea." We've lost about 20 fish so we're thinking about 80 remain swimming around our newly-decorated tank.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What is Aquaponics? from OrganicNation on Vimeo.

Here is an innovative way to take care of our trout waste problem. The owner of "Aquaranch" uses it to grow organic crops. "In nature, there is no waste".

Monday, November 23, 2009

Greetings from Enfield 11/23/09

Hello out there to all those who are participating this year. This is our second year. We're very excited about it! Today, Bill and our Trout Unlimited volunteer, Rich, came out to our classroom, introduced themselves, and led us through our observations of the alevin. Everyone showed great enthusiasm, made observations, did some sketching and had some of their questions answered.

There have been some changes since our last "official" observation. We noticed the alevin are more active with swimming around and making smaller movements. Several have fled the basket and entered the tank. We can spot them pretty well although they do blend in with the gravel quite well. Other things that students noticed was shrinking of the egg sac around the belly, some fin growth and the spine and how big their eyes are.

Enfield Third Grade

Student Posts from Belle Sherman Elementary

Right now our trout are alevin. Even so, they are starting to grow fins and swim more. Their yolk sacs are almost gone! They are all developing stripes. Three of them are dead. Different classes are coming in to test the water. For a while the alevin were one big clump in the corner of the basket. Now they are all over. In a few weeks, we will release the trout into the vast tank. I am looking forward to that. ~ Laurel

Our young trout were born in a hatchery and were brought to us by Bill on Nov. 3 and are growing fast. Sadly, over 10 fish have died. On the other hand, the ones that have lived are growing fishes and are turning a darker color. Hopefully, they will grow in peace. ~ Tomer

Friday, November 20, 2009

One's Out

Today  we lowered the basket into the tank a bit. We had seen some darting around, and thought they might be ready for the freedom of the tank. Lo and behold, one was indeed ready. She/he was spotted at the bottom of the tank...hanging low. Good strategy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Closer Look

Today Bill Foster came into Miss Coffey's 4th grade class at Caroline Elementary. We put a few of the alevin under a digital projector to get a really close look at them now! We noticed that their egg sack is receding as they are absorbing it. We discussed that soon we'll need to feed them food and we might even see them swim to the surface (the top of the basket) to hop into the larger area of the entire tank!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Yesterday Bill came in to Groton Middle School to introduce our trout in the classroom program and explain a little about some of the things we'll be doing this year. Students predicted that somewhere between 25% and 50% of the trout will survive for release in May....we will see.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Trout In The Classroom

Here's a cool video from a Minnesota class! Check out my list of favorite trout videos here.

4th graders test the pH

Greetings from Miss Coffey's class! This is our first year with the Trout in the Classroom program and we're trying desperately to keep our little guys alive! Unfortunately, we're having trouble keeping the pH level down and so far we've lost 11 trout. Here is Silas, Allyssa, and Tommy learning how to test the pH level.

Friday, October 30, 2009


4th graders at Caroline Elementary are so excited to get our trout Monday!!! Our tank is ready...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The 2009-2010 schoolyear is well underway, and we are happy to announce that NINE area schools will be participating in Trout In The Classroom this year! We are setting up our aquariums, and all schools will be receiving Brown Trout eggs (or alevins) on Monday, November 2!

Welcome to our 2009 schools:
Cayuga Heights School 2nd Grade
Enfield Elementary 3rd Grade
South Hill, Belle Sherman and Caroline 4th Grades
Northeast 5th Grade
Newfield and Groton 7th Grades
Lansing 10th Grade Biology Students
Stay Tuned for updates!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yesterday, 115 students from Boynton Middle School in Ithaca released 64 brown trout fry to Fall Creek, in Plumbers Pool, just below Ithaca Falls. The students raised their fry from eggs over the course of 6 months, had fun, and learned a great deal along the way!

Prior to releasing the trout, we checked conditions of the creek. The students found it to have a pH of 7.6, which is slightly basic and correlates well with conditions in the aquarium where the trout were raised. Additionally the water temperature in the pool was still in the mid-fifties, although temperatures in the shallower water were about 62 degrees F. Its getting warm for most trout and salmon, in Fall Creek, but the browns will be OK. A quick check of insect life in the stream reveals quite a few stonefly larvae, which are indicators of good quality habitat and provide excellent food for brown trout.

The students concluded that Fall Creek will provide a good habitat, and completed the release. Now the trout will need to fend for themselves in a new environment. The habitat may be fine, but they'll need to content with the fishing Great Blue Heron we observed, bass, and other predators. To see more pictures, click here!

Congratulations to Mrs. Morton's 6th graders, and thanks to the Leon Chandler Trout Unlimited members, and all who helped! Check out our article in the Ithaca Journal!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lansing High School results of Cayuga Lake Measurments

Out on the floating laboratory on Cayuga Lake, we collected data on many aspects of the lake's environment including depth, water clarity, temperature, and types of organisms in the water. These were our results:

The measurements were taken in the middle of the lake, just North of Meyer's park. Specifically, the laboratory was stationed at 42° 32.125' North latitude, 76° 33.723' West longitude. On May 11th, conditions were calm and sunny; On May 12th, conditions were overcast and windy. Lake surface on both days was relatively calm with a few small waves and ripples.

The average air temperature recorded was 54.8 degrees, with a range between 46 and 64 degrees at different times in the day. Water pH and temperature samples were taken at varying depths, some as deep as 75 meters below the surface. Listed below is a range of temperatures and pH readings at various depths:

Depth(m) - Temperature(F) - pH

1 - 46 - 8

5 - 47 - 8

20 - 46 - 8.5

30 - 47 - 8

40 - 43 - 8

50 - 43 - 8

75 - 42 - *

* = no reading

Secchi disks, the devices used to read light penetration through the water, indicated an average visual depth of 4.78 meters, with reading ranging from 4.25 to 6 meters. These readings categorized Cayuga lake as Mesotrphic. Actual sunlight penetration depths are closer to twice the visual depth.

Plankton samples were also collected. Samples were taken from depths ranging fromhalf a meter to 20 meters, with an average sample depth of 9.3 meters. Most samples were collected at 8 meters. At 10 meters, samples collected contained lots of plankton and algae, coloring the water green. Samples at depths shallower than five or deeper than 10 were mostly clear, containing very little life. The most common types of phytoplankton found were Diatoms, small plankton that resemble snowflakes. The most common types of zooplankton were Calanoids, which look like very tiny fish with feelers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Yesterday in Groton we released our trout into the Owasco Inlet across the street from the school. This stretch is a public fishing access so hopefully one day a fly fisherman can admire the brown trout's beauty the way we did for 5 months. Thank you Bill and Trout Unlimited for this experience.

Monday, March 9, 2009

CURRENT Events....

New York State is considering a ban on phosphorus in dishwashing and other detergents, do to the impact of this mineral on streams and lakes. For more info, check this out.

The Town of Ithaca is considering new rules to limit construction and development along streams. Is this a good idea? What do you think?? (Find more info at http://www.town.ithaca.ny.us/setback.htm)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Feeding Time Update

All of our trout are doing wonderfully well.  I raised the temp by 2 degrees to encourage more growth.  We also participated in the live feeding experiment of zooplankton the week before break.  I have some great video clips that I would like to upload if anyone knows how to import these.  I have made many attempts to update my drivers, etc, but the video file cannot be read by a PC because of the .VRO string attached to the file.  The experiment was an exciting opportunity for students to observe some trout behavior.

Most students were accurately describe the features of the trout.  They either listed the parts (head, tail, etc), colorizations and red gills during eating time.

Students felt that the trout were mostly scared or nervous and stayed pretty still.  Some groups had  active trout and were observed swimming around fast in circles.

Hypothesis:  Most groups felt that their trout would quickly eat the zooplankton once they recognized it.  Two groups had the hypothesis that the trout would not know what the zooplankton was so they would not eat it.

Results:  All the groups reported that they observed the trout actively feeding, chasing the zooplankton and swimming fast.  Although some groups over counted (by a lot) at times the number of zooplankton that was really consumed by the fish and as a result this threw off some numbers.  Some groups numbers were too high because they miscounted an aggressive action by the fish as eating.  However, this was a fantastic test for the students to participate in and they are still talking about it today.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Busy Week!

Hi everyone, and welcome back from break!
The week before break was a busy one- we conducted feeding experiments at all six schools, and I think we got some very interesting results, which I will try to post in the next few days. Many trout seemed to respond to our zooplankton and begin feeding; others did not. Does anyone have specific results to share?

I would also like to thank Colleen Kearns, from Cornell's Department of Evolutionary Biology & Ecology, and Michael Lenetsky from Trout Unlimited for their tremendous help. We had a great time, and I know they are awaiting any questions form the classes!

Check out a slideshow from our experiment at Boynton on the sidebar to the right (just click on the picture), and the movie from Groton, below!

Bill F.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Great Week

Our third grade class would like to send a very special "THANKS" to Ms. Rubin and her class at CHE who graciously donated  trout to our classroom.  Our class was touched by this and wanted to let you know how much we appreciate it.  Speedy and others are doing great and Mr. Brooks will be going over there everyday over break to check in on them.   

Bill and our mentor, Rich, came out to Enfield on Wednesday to perform an experiment with Daphnia and trout feeding behavior.  This was a wonderful time full of great questions and interactions between students, trout and our mentors.  We've put together a video and we are hopeful it will be uploaded soon.   


Mr. Brooks' Class

Monday, February 2, 2009

Feeding Time

Today Bill came to Groton with a great activity to test feeding behavior in our young trout. At this point our trout have only seen the supplied fish food which we've sprinkled on top. We were testing whether or not the fish would instinctively recognize live daphnia as prey or not.

update from South Hill

Our approx. 20 fish are getting quite big...some more than an inch...very active and feisty. They love the larger size of food! pH remains 8, ammonia 1, nitrate 0, nitrite 1. We are adding Stress Zyme weekly still (almost out...!) and nitrate's don't seem to be coming along.

Friday, January 16, 2009

In class we're doing bacteria investigations around the classroom and one group wanted to see if a deceased trout carried anything....and here you have it. It wasn't as bad as some of my counter-tops. Ewww.
Time for Some Fresh Food!

Exciting activities are in store for the coming months- first up is our living food experiment. Colleen Kearns from Cornell's Lab of Evolutionary Biology & Ecology is ready to bring in zooplankton samples for trout feeding experiments. (Daphnia pulex is pictured to the right. Click on the image for a video link!) Will our trout recognize living food? What will affect their feeding rate? We need to schedule classes anytime after January 25 and before the winter break, so please contact me.

We'll have a chance to study the plankton, themselves, and get up-close and personal with the foodweb. It a great opportunity for projects that your students might want to share at upcoming events, such as Ithaca Fishing Day, in late March, or Earthday. There is even talk of creating a marching aquatic foodweb for the Earthday and Ithaca Festival parades!

Finally, we're seeing some high mortality rat a couple of schools. From what I've read, this is not unusual- and the benefit of having a network of schools is that we can help each other out. So, if any class feels they can spare a few trout fry, I will be available to facilitate the re-adoption process. Let's share the wealth!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Enfield Update

Hey All,

 We meant to write an update last week but most of us have been devastated by the loss of fish during break.  Everything in the tank was running properly and the water readings were great.  I came in the day before xmas eve to feed the fish only to find a major fish loss.  The filter stopped working which caused the ammonia levels to soar off the charts.  It took several days to get the ammonia levels down and get the filter operating.  We would gladly accept any other donations of fish from schools who might think they will have too many for the size of the tank 

We completed some sketching, colorization and trout identification in the U.S. with Mr.  Brooks and Mr. Andrews twice before break.  Currently, we have about 10 fish left.  They are well over an inch (we measured them through the glass during math).  Their spots are darker and more defined.  We have noticed that some of the fish still have a small bump on their stomach. 

Mr. Brooks' third grade class

Thursday, January 8, 2009

update from South Hill

WE have @34 fish at last count. We lost 6 over the 2 week break. The ones we have look BIG (easily an inch). Current readings are pH 8.0, ammonia .50, nitrate 0, nitrite 0. Should we do anything to raise nitrate, and lower ammonia? Thanks!