Dead chillers! Black gunk! Escaped alevin! All the things that can go wrong! Nice pictures from Matt Buck.
Oh, no! Our chiller has died!
The chillers we're buying these days are very reliable, but they can fail, as recently occurred at one of Mad Dog Chapter's schools. What do you do then!
First of all, every TIC programs should have several plastic bottles of frozen tank water in a freezer somewhere. As soon as you discover that your chiller isn't keeping the temperature as low as it should be, put some of those in the tank to cool the water. (You'll need either to have quite a few bottles or you'll need to start freezing new bottles as soon as you begin to use what's already frozen.)
Fortunately, on a statewide basis, we have three spare chillers for emergencies. These are typically well used and shouldn't be viewed as a permanent replacement for a dead chiller, but one of these can tide you over until you've been able to order and receive a new replacement chiller.
Bob Wible has two of these, and I've got a third.
What's that ugly black gunk?! And what about the foam?
Amanda Pierce and her students at Barre City Elementary & Middle School got very concerned Tuesday morning when they noticed (a) foam and (b) piece of black material about 30 mm. long. All of these were in the breeder basket.
Regarding the black material, Amanda reported several other details:
I quickly e-mailed four invaluable TIC supporters: Robb Cramer, Chuck Dinkel, Tara Granke, and Jeremy Whalen. Help!
The consensus opinions that came back were:
One of our TIC parent-volunteers e-mailed me this morning with the sad news that at the tank he's been supporting, all the alevin escaped from the breeder basket. He was worried that many of these might have been sucked into the filter. Oh, no!
Fortunately, he wrote back this afternoon to say that there were no dead alevin in the filter. Whew! The escapees were all nestled down in the gravel, almost hidden from view.
Nonetheless, this should serve as a reminder of the importance of putting mesh or netting over the filter intake. Here's a photo of how that's been done on the intake of a Fluval 406 filter.
(Those are Chuck Dinkel's hands, by the way.)
You never know when you're going to have alevin loose in the tank. Sometimes the breeder basket gets accidentally dropped. Occasionally a seam in the netting will open up. Fry have been known to jump out of the breeder basket when the water level is high.
So if it isn't covered already, cover your filter intake right now!
In doing so, use mesh or netting that's fine but not too fine. Fine enough so that skinny little alevin can't get through it--and your alevin will be very skinny after they've consumed their yolk sack and before they start eating. But not so fine that every little piece of waste or extra food gets caught on the surface of the netting.
As far as those escapees, their being on the bottom of a 22" high tank will make their swim-up for food more of a challenge. Being so far from the top of the water, where the food would normally be floating, the alevin will hardly notice food that doesn't sink down to the gravel.
One technique to try to address that situation is:
Nice photos from Matt Buck
Marion Cross School teacher Matt Buck sent some great pictures and posted some wonderful videos to the school's Google site. Here are Matt's pictures.
Matt also wrote about the way he, as a first-year 5th grade science teacher, is incorporating TIC into his classes.
Being our first year participating, we're learning about how to balance the TIC work along with other units that normally happen this time of year. For now I've found that dedicating one day a week to TIC (with all three sections of 5th grade) is working well. On this day we update DI spreadsheets, make scientific drawings of eyed eggs and sac fry, plus capture some pretty good video! Besides this whole class dedication I've been having two students per day come in 10 minutes early to collect our water and egg data each day. We're using a Google spreadsheet that seems to be working pretty well thus far. Pretty exciting stuff! The kids are loving it thus far.
Finally, Matt also described the method he used to capture the videos I've provided links to below.
I've an Elmo document camera that we project in HD to the front board. From there I simply took a video with my phone. So we actually lost a good deal of the video quality on the phone.
Not bad, Matt!
Links to Matt's videos.
Joe Mark is Lead Facilitator of Vermont's Trout in the Classroom program.
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 a parent-friend 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.