It’s not easy to raise trout in a fish tank, but this year was tougher than usual.
For the last four years, Crestwood High School environmental science students in Fran Gough’s class have participated in the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s Trout in the Classroom program. Each November the students are sent several hundred trout eggs, which they hatch and rear in a process that combines biology, chemistry and environmental science.
This year the students started out with 443 eggs and raised 157 brook trout, which were released into the Big Wapwallopen Creek last month when they were three to four inches.
Gough said the number of fish raised from the eggs was lower than normal, and it’s a problem that other Trout in the Classroom schools experienced statewide.
“Some schools lost all their trout right after the first of the year, so we did alright considering,” Gough said. “All of the water quality was good in all the schools, and nobody really knows why it happened.”
Perhaps it would make a good scientific investigation next school year.
Despite the mysterious decline, Gough said the program was as successful as ever based on the hands-on learning experience it offers his students. Now in its fourth year, the program has developed into a tradition of sorts at Crestwood High School where the work is being passed down among siblings.
Senior Kira Hoch, who worked on the program this school year, is following in the footsteps of her older sister, Ashley, who was involved with Trout in the Classroom two years ago.
Hoch, along with fellow student Alison Kaminski, conducted a water chemistry analysis on the tank daily, fed the trout and changed water when required.
Gough said the experience, which culminates with the release of the trout, gives students a greater awareness of the environmental conditions needed to raise the fish.
“Every week I have students asking to go in and see the trout and they’re always asking questions pertaining to the chemistry, biological or environmental aspects of this,” Gough said. “It’s been an ongoing good thing.”