It's not uncommon for a TIC school to lose all or almost all its fish. Last year, Guy Merolle, of the Castleton Village School, returned from the 8th grade trip to Washington to discover that the chiller had been turned off. The water temperature was 75 degrees. When he had left for D.C., Guy and his students had more than 75 fish; now all but four were dead.
When Jenn Tifft's students at Middletown Springs Elementary School learned of this tragedy, they voted to donate some of their trout to CVS. Here's a picture of Jenn and her MSES students as they were about to put their fish in my car. Below that picture is one of CVS students happy to be getting a few more trout from MSES.
Well, this year it happened again.
When Jessica West's 3rd graders at Shelburne Community School learned that the students of Eden Central School lost all their fish, the SCS students, too, decided to make a donation.
Bob Wible, TIC liaison for the Central Vermont Chapter of Trout Unlimited, visited Shelburne on April 6 to accept 30 beautiful fry raised by SCS students. Shelburne students asked Bob many questions about the water conditions of the receiving school, for example, was the temp 52 and was the water clear and clean.
Above, Shelburne Community School trout philanthropists.
Then Bob drove 62 miles to the Eden Central School to deliver a very special present to Kara Rublee's and Betzi Goodman's 5th and 6th graders. Bob told the Eden students about the Shelburne students' concerns. Immediately the students started doing water tests. They were also surprised at how large the parr were and wanted to know how much large they might get.
Here's a photo of Bob with the Eden students just before resupplying their tank.
Look at those lovely fish!
Thank you, Shelburne students!!
Transferring trout between classroom tanks can't be done without authorization. Before arranging to add some of the SCS trout to the Eden tank, Bob asked for and was granted permission to do so by Tom Jones of the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife.
What else is going on?
Finally, it looks like some of the tanks that have had persistently high ammonia for a long time are starting to cycle. After two weeks of ammonia readings of 4 ppm at Ludlow Elementary School, late last week ammonia finally dropped to 2 ppm. Just as important, nitrite has slowly started to rise. This may have something to do with the fact that last Sunday, teacher Lisa Marks and her community partner, Kathy Ehlers, added two more bags of Chemi-Pure to their filter. LES was one of several schools using the Fluval 406 filter that received two rather than the recommended four containers of Chemi-Pure.
As I wrote Lisa in an e-mail, "Hallelujah!
And Lincoln Community School may finally be turning a corner too.
On April 8, I got this report from Bob Wible:
I just left the Lincoln tank, and ammonia is still at 4 ppm. The good news is that the nitrite reading is definitely not 0. It is between 0.0 and 0.25, which is progress. Fish look very healthy and are eating well, and there's been some cannibalism. Checked the filter and added a 3rd bag of Chemi-Pure. Hoping nitrites continue to improve over the weekend.
About cannibalism, which is natural, I wrote the following.
Sometimes it's desirable to place overly aggressive trout in the "time-out" room, that is, a net breeder put back into the tank for that purpose. Alternatively, some teachers have had good results by scooping up the smallest fish and returning them to a breeder basket for a while, where they can feed with less competition.
Of course, Charles Darwin would never approve.
One last thought.
Both Ludlow and Lincoln have high pH. They didn't realize this until they performed the high-range pH test. Ludlow's is 8.4; Lincoln's is 8.2. I'm beginning to wonder whether this may have something to do with the delayed start of the nitrogen cycle. Does anybody have any thoughts about this?
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.