(Ludlow 3rd graders with guest TU member Kathy Ehlers)
Third grade teacher Lisa Marks, of Ludlow Elementary School, wrote on Friday with these questions from her students.
Has any other school had two headed alevins?
At least two other schools have had two-headed alevin. See the most recent blog post <http://vermonttroutintheclassroom.weebly.com/tic-blog> and the entry and photo teacher Jessica West of Shelburne Community School submitted.
What does the Microbe-lift Special Blend [and, I’ll add, Nite-Out II] do for the tank?
Your filter needs to establish a colony of “good” bacteria to (a) convert ammonia to nitrite, (b) convert nitrite to nitrate, and (c) eliminate nitrate. Both Special Blend and Nite-Out II add different varieties of these good bacteria, sometimes called “nitrifying bacteria,” to your filter.
Here’s how it works.
Taken together, these various processes make up the “Nitrogen Cycle,” which is quite important to the health of you tank water and your trout.
Occasionally, when nitrate levels remain high, it’s necessary to perform partial water changes to lower the level of nitrate.
(This answer was provided with input from Chuck Dinkel, Maryland’s TIC coordinator.)
Why does the special blend stink?
The smell of “rotten eggs” usually means the solution or water has sulfur in it, specifically the chemical compound hydrogen sulfide.
Was there a school that didn’t lose any eggs?
I don’t believe so.
What school has the most alevins and how many?
I’m not certain since I haven’t gotten reports from all schools, but I’m pretty sure that there are schools around the state that have 180 alevin or more. That high total is misleading, however, because the biggest challenges are still ahead, especially as we approach the “swim-up” phase. Last year, for example, most schools released fewer than 30 fry. I believe the schools that released the most Shelburne Community School, released about 75.
How many schools received a second batch of eggs?
It was nine if southwest Vermont. I’m less sure how many in other parts of the state got a second batch, but I know it was several. A second batch was necessary when the person picking up the eggs got eggs for several schools. In those cases, hatchery staff treated all the eggs with an iodine solution at the same time. Then they started removing eggs for individual schools. As a result, some eggs sat in the iodine solution for a short period of time while others sat in the solution for far too long. Because of over-exposure to iodine, the shells of these eggs removed later in the process began to partially dissolve, in some cases even before the eggs reached the schools. The staff handled the iodine treatment of the second batch of eggs very differently, and virtually all the second-batch eggs have done extremely well.
Can we transfer some of the alevin from a basket that has quite a few alevin in it to one that doesn’t have as many alevin in it?
Yes, you may. Just be gentle as you transfer them. They’re delicate creatures, especially at this early point in their development.
How many eggs were sent to schools in total?
Most schools are using 55-gallon tanks, and these schools got 200 eggs unless they requested fewer. Schools with smaller tanks—typically 20 to 30 gallons—got 100 eggs.
Will we be able to meet you?
These are great questions, by the way. Keep them coming.
Joe Mark, Lead Facilitator, Vermont Trout in the Classroom
In June 2012, I retired after 40 years in higher education, having spent the last 32 years of my career as dean at Castleton. One of the first things I volunteered to do in retirement was to work with Jim Mirenda to help the Dorset School, where his kids and my Vermont grandkids attend, start a TIC program. Gradually that commitment grew into my current role, which is both demanding and highly rewarding.