You’re almost there!

As the TIC season winds down, there are a few things that we need to wrap up!

1)Post-tests. If you have not done so, please administer the post test and get those in to me. If you are attending a field trip, you can bring them along and hand them off on the day of.

2) If you are NOT attending a field trip, you need to get in touch with me about your next steps for your trout.

3) End of the Year Clean Up

Here are the end of the year clean up instructions! Essentially, you want to drain, wipe down and air dry everything. The only thing that you will be replacing for the 2016-2017 season are the water chemicals (NovAqua Plus, NiteOutII and Special Blend) and the carbon filters. The rest of your equipment can be cared for and then put away until next fall!

You need to also refer to your Equipment and Care Manual right here. This will walk you through the entire process!



Trout Survival!

Hi All!

The trout rearing season is well under way! Over all there have been minimal complications and things are going well for most of you! If you are having some difficulties with high nitrites and HAVE NOT tried replacing your chemicals, that is something you might want to consider. A couple of our classrooms have had luck with lowering their nitrites with fresh chemicals.

Keep an eye out in the mail for your field trip packets coming out in the upcoming weeks! Though it’s only the beginning of March, many of you have testing coming up and I’m sure that the time is going to fly by!

As always, keep the questions coming!



Feeding Time! …Almost

Hi All!

I’m starting to get reports of trout that are swimming near the surface! That’s excellent! I’ve got about 20 or so who are swimming up near the surface, and the rest are content to stay under the pump for now. It’s quite comical to lift the pump up and watch them all emerge out of nowhere!

Many of my trout still have just a little bit of a yolk sac left, though. Even the trout at the surface have some belly left. Some are blatant (you can actually see the orange of the yolk left) and others are a little further along (they’re just a little rotund).

PLEASE be patient when feeding your trout. They most likely will not be eating normally for a little while…they still need to learn how to feed. Remember where high ammonia and nitrite levels come from… Much of the food in the beginning will go uneaten, so feed sparingly. Make sure that you’re watching the trout as your feeding them so that you can gauge how much you should be feeding and if they’re actually eating it or not!

Pearl stopped by the office yesterday for an afternoon of cuteness!




Leaving the nest!

Hi All!

As you may be noticing (hopefully!), your alevin might be becoming more active! Some of them might be swimming around the hatching basket semi-proficiently while others might be swimming in endless circles.

Your alevin are at the point where you can release them from the hatching basket if you have not done so already! Before you release your trout, you might want to consider removing the perpetual circular swimmers! They will most likely not survive, and they do become quite hard to find once they get down into the gravel.

You can gently dump the basket over so that the alevin can swim out and be on their merry way!

At THIS point, you can remove the basket from your tank and let it air dry and store it for next year! You should be testing your water quality daily and keeping track of that. If your numbers are in range, all you need to worry about is ADDING water if your levels drop, which they will.

I would say in about a week you will be able to being feeding your trout. They should be swimming adeptly when you start feeding and their yolk sacs should be fully absorbed. Keep in mind that they have not ever eaten before! Feed sparingly in the beginning until they get the hang of it. It will save you lots of trouble with water quality in the future if you can minimize the amount of food waste hitting the gravel!

That is all that I can think of for now! If you have any other questions please let me know and I will come back and update this post!


So Many Eggs!

Hi All!

EVERYONE has officially received their trout eggs! I couldn’t be happier with how yesterday went and though I do have some business for you in a bit, I want to say thank you! Your excitement and enthusiasm is abundant!

Now that you have your eggs, there are a few things to remember… some are not going to survive! So is life, errr, I guess so is death🙂 You’ll need to keep an eye out for the dead eggs and remove them promptly so that they don’t spread fungus to your healthy eggs. That’s where your turkey baster comes in handy!

You’ll want to continue your water quality testing as well. If your parameters were on target before the arrival of your eggs, they should remain there until the eggs hatch. Once the eggs hatch the embryonic fluid will cause a little spike but it typically will resolve with a 5 gallon water change!

Below are the hatch date calculations for MY numbers.  Remember that you will need to sub in the temperature of your tank if it is not the same as mine! There are also TWO completed worksheets attached. If you received your eggs on 1/12, use those numbers and sub in your tank temperature if it is not 54 degrees. If you received your eggs on 1/13, use those numbers and sub in your tank temperature if it is not 54 degrees.

TU Worksheet

As always, feel free to email me if you have any questions! And take lots of photos because time flies!



You’re Almost There!

Hi Everyone!

Many of you (I hope all of you) are well underway in your tank cycling process! Below you’ll find answers for some of the more frequently asked questions as of late.

If your tank water is cloudy…you’re doing it right! The cloudy water is a sign of the bacterial bloom. You’ve provided the bacteria with ammonia (fish food) and they are hungry! The bloom might last anywhere from 7-21 days.

My tank is currently quite cloudy and the ammonia is reading at around 3-4 ppm. Nitrite levels are elevated as well, I think about 1 ppm. I’ve stopped providing fish food and will continue to test the water quality to watch for the levels to return to normal. I will not be adding more Special Blend, now will I be changing water. Simply practicing patience, and I know you all have plenty of that!🙂

Your ammonia and nitrite levels do not need to get very high in order to provide for the bacteria. If you have seen them spike up around 1-2 ppm, you can stop adding food and give the bacteria a chance to do their jobs without overwhelming them.

You will not need to do a water change until after you’ve received your eggs, either so hold tight on that. I’ll keep you all updated on what you should be doing next!

Remember to take a step back and think about what’s happening in your tank. It will make all of this a lot less scary! You’re doing great, and no two years will every be the same with your aquarium. Understand it the best you can and make judgement calls. We have faith in you!


high five!.jpg

One training down, two to go!

Our Trout in the Classroom Teacher Training went off without a hitch in Norfolk yesterday, except for one thing… We forgot to take a photo! Lindsey and I both remembered as soon as we got into the car to head home!

Thank you all so much for coming out and being ready to roll and a blast! We discussed lots of great things and I wanted to share some of those resources we talked about with all of the teachers.

Pets in the Classroom is a wonderful resource for you all as they provide grant money to teachers to for the maintenance and upkeep of pets in the classroom! This most likely is not applicable for first year teachers, as everything is provided but it’ll help out a little for the second and third year teachers with replacing water quality testing kits and other aquarium chemicals!

Below are some different curriculum sites that came up during our training yesterday which you might find beneficial!

My Healthy Stream is a great starting point for freshwater stewardship! It’s available in PDF format via the link, and you can purchase paperback copies as well.

MinnAqua provides an educational resource that melds recreational angling and stewardship along with the ecology and conservation practices of aquatic habitats.

The Go Fishing Guide is a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission publication aimed towards getting people outside and becoming successful anglers.

Another MinnAqua resource- Macroinvertebrate Identification Key the illustrations are wonderful on this one and they’re in full color. Trout food never looked so good!

All of these resources are available as well on the Resources main page for your use as well.

I’ll leave you all with this for now, let me know if I’ve missed anything that we talked about!


Your Tank and the Nitrogen Cycle!

Alright All-

It is 30 days before your trout arrive, do you know where your bacteria are? (Just to clarify, it is not actually 30 days before your eggs are arriving… but you should read this now and then re-read this again at the beginning of December).

Seriously though, where are your bacteria and how do you get them?

Before we can even start getting ready for the eggs, we need to talk about tank cycling. When I say cycling, I’m referring to the nitrogen cycle (excess fish food/waste= ammonia= nitrites= nitrates) in your aquariums. Once your tank has gone through the nitrogen cycle (4-8 weeks is ideal), it will have the necessary bacterial community to handle trout being introduced without erratic water quality. Last year, we had some troubles with crowding and water quality, so this year we will be provided just a few less fish and we’re hoping to help you build up that bacterial community prior to receiving fish.

Here’s how you should go about cycling your tank:

Preparing your equipment:

It’s time to get your equipment out and dusted off! That includes brand new equipment straight from those dusty and dirty factories.

First things first… give your tank a quick rinse with warm water to get the dust off. Next up is to clean your gravel. We’ve discovered that the culprit behind the cloudy water is… (most likely)dirty gravel. The gravel comes pre-dirty for you. So be sure to clean it.

To CLEAN your gravel, put all of your gravel substrate in a bucket and spray it with a high powered hose (read: regular hose with your thumb over it). Wash the gravel around with your hand and pour the water out. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat as many times as necessary until your water is running clear. Give your filter media a rinse in the bucket too, though you do not need to hose them off; you can simply fill the bucket and give them a few dunks and rinses.

Cycling your tank:
Now it’s time to cycle your tank! What’s cycling you ask? Well, cycling is the most important part of establishing a healthy water chemistry and bacterial community before introducing fish. Pilot and 2014-2015 teachers were asked to get their tanks up and running about 30 days before the arrival of eggs in order to let the aquarium settle in. We’ve learned that this is not enough when it comes to rainbow trout! Simply adding Special Blend, the bacterial booster that we provide, is not sufficient. You need to provide the bacteria with food (i.e. ammonia)! Here’s how you’ll cycle your tank…

Fill your tank! You can fill your tank with tap water to start. Once your tank is full, you will add two things to the water. First, you’ll add the appropriate amount of water conditioner, NovAqua Plus Water Conditioner, as per the manufacturer instructions. Second, you’ll add the Special Blend, bacteria as per the manufacturer instructions.

If you add the other chemicals at this point, you will only hinder the cycling process by killing off any potential food sources for your bacteria. The bacteria will be present everywhere in your tank, but they will be especially established in the filter because of the added surface area your filter media provide.

Now that you’ve dechlorinated your water and added your Special Blend, you need to feed your bacteria. Said bacteria will digest ammonia (toxic to fish) and produce nitrites (also toxic to fish).

How does an aquarium produce ammonia without pesky trout pooping constantly, you say? Food! Fish food will decay and produce ammonia for the bacteria to eat. Simply adding a pinch or two of food everyday will add ammonia into the system. Once the ammonia is digested, it is turned into nitrites which is also toxic to fish but will be digested by a different set of bacteria.

Once you’ve begun your cycling process, you will want to test for the ammonia and nitrite levels regularly. They will be elevated for some time, which is why you need to have your aquarium begin the cycling process at least 4 weeks (preferably 6 weeks) before receiving eggs. If your ammonia and nitrite levels start to get above 5 ppm, simply stop adding the food and continue to test the water quality.

During the cycling period, you do not want to change your water or add any of the chemicals. The bacteria will do their jobs if you let them! After 2-4 weeks you should see your levels start returning to zero and you’ll know that your bacteria has had a chance to fully establish and will function as they should!
Establishing a healthy bacterial community should make for an easier time for the rest of your trout rearing season. I highly encourage you to read up on this yourself as well and ask any questions that you might have. This year, I would like to see you all setting up your tanks and beginning to cycle them around the beginning of December.


Training Time!

Hi All-

I hope you’ve all had a smooth start to the school year and you’re excited to continue your TIC adventures! My first order of business today is regarding our upcoming training dates.

We will be holding three training sessions this fall for our new teachers but we would also like to extend an invitation to all of you as well! If you would like to attend please let us know ahead of time so that we may plan accordingly. We encourage you to attend if you can make the time as it is a nice refresh and it’s also beneficial for our incoming teachers to chat with you all as well!

Training dates are as follows:

October 27th- Norfolk Public Library, 308 Prospect Ave, Norfolk, NE 68701

9:00 am- 4:00 pm with lunch provided.

November 3rd- North Platte NGPC District Office, 301 E. State Farm Rd., N. Platte, NE 69101

9:00 am- 4:00 pm with lunch provided.

November 5th- Aksarben Aquarium, 21502 NE-31, Gretna, NE 68028

9:00 am- 4:00 pm with lunch provided.

There will be more posts about water quality and some other reminders in the coming days and weeks, so stay tuned!