Spawning the imagination Students get lively view of science from fish biologist

Print Article

  • Around 250 alevin hatched as part of an aquatic science class at St. Regis High School. Alevin are newly spawned trout still carrying their yolk sac.

  • 1

    Brooks Sanford is a science teacher at St. Regis and his aquatic class is raising trout as part of their studies in fish ecology, biodiversity, and fishery management.

  • Around 250 alevin hatched as part of an aquatic science class at St. Regis High School. Alevin are newly spawned trout still carrying their yolk sac.

  • 1

    Brooks Sanford is a science teacher at St. Regis and his aquatic class is raising trout as part of their studies in fish ecology, biodiversity, and fishery management.

Grade-school students gathered around bubbling tanks in the St. Regis science classroom as Brooks Sanford dumped about 250 of squirmy orange alevin into the water from a net container. Alevin are newly spawned trout still carrying their yolk sac. Some students squeal with delight as they drop down into the pea gravel below.

He explains that it will take 10 days for them to absorb the tiny orange sacs. After that stage, high school students taking his aquatic science class, will split the tiny minnows up into two groups. The groups will have different feeding regiments and different water temperatures, “we will be studying those effects on growth rate,” explained Sanford.

This is his second year as the school’s science teacher and has previously worked in a fish hatchery. He got the fertilized eggs from the Jocko River Trout Hatchery in Arlee and it took 30 days for them to hatch. Once the trout have grown, they will be released in the pond at St. Regis park.

Prior to the fish being released, his class will work with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks on a restoration project for the pond. They plan on dredging it out and will install aerators and docks. All with the hopes that the fish will survive in the half acre pond when released next spring.

The class is an elective course and in it students learn about fish ecology, biodiversity, and fishery management. It’s been popular so far, with 15 students signed up. Brooks stands in front of a black box which looks like a computer hard drive, “this is a chilling unit that’s pumping water which mimics a river system. It keeps the water at a constant 52 degrees, which is optimum for trout growth. It acts like an air conditioner.”

In the wild, fish normally spawn in the spring. The female will dig a nest called a redd and lay her eggs in the depression. Then the male fertilizes the eggs and the females comes back and pushed the gravel over them. The alevin hatch under the gravel and don’t pop from under it until their egg sacs are gone.

Brooks said the Arlee hatchery has developed a strain of rainbow trout that spawn in late October to December. They took a McCloud strain and a Donaldson Strain, and collected late spawners.

Those were bred together and then they took their offspring and repeated the process until they got a strain that spawns later. This was done so the hatchery trout can be raised over the winter and are the right size to be released when fishing season begins in May.

Otherwise, if they took a Shasta Rainbow that spawns in June, they would have to raise it over the winter and that costs more money. The hatchery fish are approximately four to six inches when released.

Most of the classroom fish will be released next spring; however, a few will be kept in the giant tanks that line the room for further study. If people want to watch the progress of the program, Sanford is posting videos on the schools website at www.stregisschool.org/domain/105.

Print Article

Read More Local News

Drivers warned to slow down in winter conditions

December 05, 2018 at 11:32 am | Mineral Independent The Superior Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to a car crash on Sunday, Nov. 25 where a tow truck was recovering a vehicle on Interstate 90. During the process, an SUV plowed into the towing ...

Comments

Read More

Grinch makes appearance in Alberton

December 05, 2018 at 11:30 am | Mineral Independent As people gathered in the Alberton community center to enjoy an evening of games and a potluck dinner late last week, a peculiar character was perched in the corner of the room. It was a green furry ...

Comments

Read More

Montana medical savings account can help you save on income tax

December 05, 2018 at 11:34 am | Mineral Independent People who had medical expenses so far this year that weren’t covered by their health insurance policy, a flexible spending account (FSA) or a Federal Health Care Savings Account (HSA) can get expens...

Comments

Read More

Department of Transportation proposes rebuild at Quartz Flats

December 05, 2018 at 11:34 am | Mineral Independent SUPERIOR — The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) would like to notify the public and seek comments on a proposal to rebuild the Quartz Flats Rest Area on Interstate Highway 90 (I-90) near Su...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 826-3402
105 W. Lynch
P.O. Box 667
Plains, MT 59859

©2018 Clark Fork Valley Press | Mineral Independent Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X