First Loss is Suffered

Photo Credits: Kaibab National Forest

With the ammonia rising, we knew we needed a water change. We pulled about 5 gallons out and put in approximately 4. We are prepping more water for use in the tank.

We also added the extra filter and added the Chemi-Pure filter bag. It claims to eliminate ammonia problems and level pH levels. We hope this helps stabilize things in the tank so we do not have to release the fish just yet.

The fish that we removed was/were the conjoined twins. I know there seems to be a subject-verb agreement issue in that sentence. Our view is that it was one egg. It hatched conjoined organisms. Do they count as one or two? Let the junior scientists debate that one.  One thing we are confident in is that they were not lost due to water conditions. The other fish are thriving in the same environment.

We still have one fish left in the net itself that seems to be struggling. It continues to swim in circles on its side, but it also still seems to be growing. We remain optimistic that it will continue to grow and will be able to be released into the tank in the near future.

First Fry Released into the Guad

The first five fry were released into the Guadalupe River Saturday, February 19th. They spent the previous few days in a smaller aquarium kept cold by ice surrounding it and constant temperature monitoring. When the fry were released, the water in the aquarium only had to be brought up one degree to match the current temperature of the Guadalupe River. The video below shows the process of the release.

4th Grade Student Promotes WOISD Trout Egg Project at TroutFest

This past weekend, Christian F. was able to attend the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited TroutFest in new Braunfels on the Guadalupe River. He spent some time Friday Skyping back to the classroom from the middle of the river where he shared information on the ecosystem and the equipment many fly fishermen use to wade the river. He spent the rest of the weekend in a booth at the TroutFest explaining the Trout in the Classroom to interested attendees.

Two of those attendees were Tyler Befus (13 year old fly fishing phenom and respected angler) and Dave Whitlock (fly fishing pioneer and the designer of the Whitlock-Vibert box). Christian had an opportunity to visit with Tyler and interview Mr. Whitlock. He will have a blog post coming soon about his experience with both including the video to his interview (seen here).  Tyler’s dad said Tyler would like to blog back and forth with our classes to share his love and knowledge of fly fishing and trout.  We should have some amazing items for students to learn about in the future.

Christian meets Tyler Befus

Christian meets Tyler Befus

Christian meets Dave and Emily Whitlock

Christian meets Dave and Emily Whitlock

Mrs. Carrington’s class gets schooled (Get it? Fish. School.)

Mr. Gras answers trout egg project questions

Mr. Gras answers trout egg project questions

Today was another great day to visit the trout aquarium for Mr. Gras and me. We sneaked down the hall trying not to disturb any classes only to find Mrs. Carrington’s class in the Smithsonian and discussing the trout alevins’ progress. Mrs. Carrington invited us in and had the students ask us lots of great questions. We discussed ammonia, pH, life cycle, genetics, and much more.

Other than the photos with this post, I did a terrible job of being a researcher. I did not record or document any questions or the answers from our interactions. So, here is my challenge to Mrs. Carrington’s students:

Use the comment section below to post your question and the answer you were given so that we can all learn from the exchange.

Mr. Gras answers trout egg project questions

Mr. Gras answers trout egg project questions

Photo Credits: Mr. Floyd

The Alevin Anomaly…or is it?

Since the kids were all testing today, Mr. Gras and I decided to check out the trout alevin and test the water for them. When we got to the aquarium, we immediately noticed a few things.

One, the tank looks cloudy today. Further investigation showed that it really just seems to be a fog created on the outside of the aquarium due to the use of the air conditioner in the building for the first time this year. The web cam in the tank still looks great while the one looking through the outside of the aquarium is rather cloudy. The temperature change in the room seems to be the cause.

Another thing we noticed is that the pH is still higher than we would like it. We also added about 11ml of vinegar to try to balance the pH. We did drop it to nearly 7.0 over a period of time. Again, the question in my mind is what affect this will have on the alevin since they seem to be fine at 7.6.

While observing the alevin to see what affect either of these things might be having on them, we noticed two light gray alevin off to the side by themselves. They looked like they weren’t moving, and even looked as if they were connected through a shared yolk sac. Using a rubber coated spoon, we scooped them out and put them into a cup with the cold water from the aquarium. Immediately, they both showed their disdain for being removed from their safe confines. They were both working very hard to swim around in the cup, but indeed they were both attached to the same yolk sac. Using the Pro Scope (scope on a rope) we captured some video and still segments of them for you to investigate. We returned them back to the tank where they moved into an isolated part of the hatching net once again while all of the others remain bunched together.

What are the odds of this happening? What are the odds of their survival? What made this happen? Will their offspring have a higher chance of this happening? Are these considered conjoined twins?

What makes this interesting is that one of the students jokingly noted that we hatched all of those eggs and didn’t have any with 4 eyes. It was obviously hyperbole, but this might show that it was closer to the truth than first thought. Not four eyes on one head, but four eyes being fed through the same yolk sac.

Below is the video we captured with the Pro Scope. Please leave your thoughts in the comment section.

First Class Delivery

On Friday afternoon, Mr. Mike Gilbert and Mr. Michael Gras delivered close to 200 trout eggs to the White Oak Smithsonian, or the intermediate science lab.  On hand to assist with the placement of the eggs into the aquarium tank were a few adults and three of our intermediate students, Christian, Tyler, and Joe.  We would like to share that experience with you.

Watch for our collaborative efforts with Casis Elementary School of Austin, Texas. They have the only other Trout Egg Project in Texas, and Mrs. Shelley Carrington will be meeting with their educators in a few weeks to arrange the details.

The Trout Egg Project is about to begin!

We just got word that the 100 trout eggs will be available for pickup on Friday, January 28th. That means they will begin their life in the tank over the weekend after being warmed up to the temperature of the aquarium water (50º F). The eggs will then be placed into their hatching net for their approximately two weeks left of life as an egg. Generally, it takes about 50 days at 50º to hatch after egg fertilization. The eggs we receive will be at the end of those 50 days due to packaging and shipping times taking up the previous time period.

1600 trout eggs  (brothers and sisters to these) will be headed to the Guadalupe River to being a new life in the wild. They will have a homes in a Whitlock-Vibert boxes for the rest of their egg and fry life spans.  We will discuss the different survival statistics between the hatchery style setting like we have and the natural “wild” setting most eggs end up in. You will be surprised how much of an affect we can have on the life of the trout and other river species through projects like ours.

Keep an eye on this blog and the webcams listed in the Links and Pages section to monitor along with us. We will be posting our daily findings of water quality in the Aquarium Data Observations spreadsheet linked to the right of this blog as well.

Feel free to leave us questions in the comment section for us to answer for you. Comments require approval by the teachers in charge before they show up on the blog, but we will get to them as soon as we can. Thanks so much for being a part of this project with us.

Our Trout Egg Project

The details finally got all worked out and we are excited to announce our upcoming project.

Future Home of Rainbow Trout

Future Home of Rainbow Trout

Thanks to the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited folks, we will be receiving 100 rainbow trout eggs for hatching in our new science lab! We will be able to watch those eggs go through the stages all the way to fingerlings large enough to release back into the river. We have webcams hooked up and ready to go on our new aquarium (pictured above).

This project is based around the Trout in the Classroom program in place mostly in northern states. While we have a few year round natural trout fisheries not too far away from east TX, we do not have any in the immediate area. Studying this ecosystem is impossible without great, hands on projects like these.

Trout in the Classroom (TIC) is an environmental education program in which students in grades k-12 . . .

  • raise trout from eggs to fry.
  • monitor tank water quality.
  • engage in stream habitat study.
  • learn to appreciate water resources.
  • begin to foster a conservation ethic.
  • grow to understand ecosystems.

Be on the lookout for for more details as to the project start date. The eggs are being readied for shipping, so we hope it will be soon. We hope you will join in and share your expertise with this project. We also hope you will ask us questions in the comment sections to challenge us in our learning.

Welcome to the WO Intermediate Science Lab Blog!

We are so excited to have this space to accompany the projects we undertake in our new lab for grades 3-5. Please feel free to subscribe and follow us along our hands on journey through science discovery. We will be starting our first project in the very near future. I can’t tell you what it is just yet, but I will give you a hint. If I were those little things, I would be freezing!