A couple of weeks ago, our science teacher, Ms. Pitt, and our class decided to check on the trout. Although at first glance everything seemed normal, when we checked the chiller it read 20 degrees Celsius. This was a problem that our class did not anticipate, especially since the trout had been familiar with approximately six-degree water. As we tried to determine what the issue was, we struggled to fix it. For three long hours, the chiller’s spike in temperature seemed unstoppable. We eventually decided to unplug the chiller for two hours then plug it back in as was recommended and finally the temperature surrendered back to the cold! It had gone from 20 to 19 in about a half hour and within an hour it had reached 16. As a class we tried to determine what could have gone wrong and by talking to an expert we cleared up any confusion about why the chiller wasn’t working. What could have cause this? Ice!
The fish have matured a lot in the past month. They have all finished absorbing their egg sacs, so they started eating solid food. There has also been a noticeable lack of mortalities lately, which is a positive and exciting observation! They have also all grown into a skinny teardrop shape that are almost an inch long, and they are now a brownish green color. They are also more active than they were when they were smaller and often we see them swimming up to the surface to eat. They have moved out of their clumps and are now swimming around and exploring the tank. In previous observations, we saw that the fish were jumbled together either under a rock that we have in the tank or in the corner below the filter. Now they are more independent and in small groups centered in the middle of the tank as opposed to the corners. Although they have grown, it is important for the trout to reach a certain size before release. This is measured in thermal units and due to an issue with the chiller, the fish are larger than then they would normally be at this rate. The fish are currently growing at a steady pace and we hope to keep it that way!
Our next task in our project is to find a landscape architect to help us fulfill out plans for Trout Brook. Our plans include building a bridge across the small brook behind our school and also removing the invasive plants that are surrounding the waterway. The Natural Resource Council of Maine has been of great support through both the ups and downs of our project and we are excited to take on our next challenge. We hope that we will soon find a landscape architect to help us bring our visions for Trout Brook to life and are looking forward to this next step in the process!
—Julie Pitt, 6th grade teacher, Daniel F. Mahoney Middle School