Monday, June 1, 2009

What A Great Year!

All of our trout have been released, and the school year is drawing to an end. This will be our final post for Watershed Class 22, but soon there will be a Watershed Class 23 and they will continue the Trout in the Classroom program but it is unclear whether or not they will be continuing the blog journal of their experience. We would like to thank all of our followers and hope that you enjoyed our silly trout tales and learned much! We would also like to thank the Philadelphia Zoo for funding next year's trout project! Thank you all so much! Keep checking back in the fall to see if we have decided to continue it!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Trout Release!

It has finally come time to release the trout!

We have been releasing the trout in small groups of about five so that all 40 watershed students can see the trout being released with out it being to crowded.

We have already done 1 trout release so far with Mr. Hoover's class of 2nd graders. We did this on the Little Darby near Wayne Elementary School on the Brooke Trail.

We will be releasing the trout farther up the stream next time! So keep checking back to see how our other releases go!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


We are so sorry that we have not updated in a while. We have been very busy transitioning projects.
In this undocumented time, the trout have been growing and growing and growing! The average size is around 2 inches and the largest are even up to 5 inches! The largest trout have also began to have a rusty red color on their tummies! This is very exciting!
Today Mrs. Gardiner (Tommy's Mom) came in and talked to us about the different flowers in Skunk Hollow like Trout Lilys. We learned a lot about those different flowers.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Observing the Trout and Gary Shmidt

Watershed has been very busy observing the trout: how they swim, how they camouflage with their natural environment, and their behaviors.

We have noticed that one of the trout has a swimming disability. It had an injury and when it healed the fin became crooked. Watershed has nick-named this trout "the trout with fin scoliosis". We believe that this trout would not survive in the wild because of survival of the fittest. But in this classroom environment he is lucky because he does not have too search for food. The trout team has also spotted him resting on the filter and plants to save energy when he is tired. We are considering keeping him because otherwise he will just have to fend for himself in the wild.

Watershed has also noticed that the trout are sometimes biting one another. They are not an aggressive species so we do not think that this will lead to any harm.

Also, Gary Schmidt, author of 2 Newbery Honor books, visited RMS today. He has written The Wednesday Wars, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and, his latest book, Trouble. He came into Watershed and was amazed by our trout! Maybe some day he will read our Nyckel book! :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nyckel Update

The Nyckel Story is almost finished the editing process and we are currently looking around for a publisher. If you know any childrens book publisher's please let us know!

Welcome back from Spring Break!

Today was the first day back from Spring Break! We thank Mrs. Agner for coming in and taking care of the trout over break!

Unfortunatley, one trout died over break. :( But on the bright side, this is the first trout that has died in a long while! We are unsure of the cause, but the trout team will continue to investigate! We are wondering if the death could possibly be an ammonia/nitrate spike. He was a pretty large trout, and we found him stuck to the filter when we came ot school today.
We will keep a watch out to insure the health of our trout!

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Hey it's me Oscar. I think maybe I made a wrong turn because I'm on the surface of Mars! Threes not not much to do here but look at all the really cool rocks. I searching for water but so far have had no luck. Click the first link to see my new alien friend. Click the second link to see me!

I'll see you next week!


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Skunk Hollow Field Study

Today a group of 6 students, Ms. Ackerman, and a visiting teacher from The Philadelphia School(Mrs. Freedmen) went on a field study at Skunk Hollow. This group is the same group of kids that will be attending the Trout Show tonight. They will present the field study results there and explain the process.

Skunk Hollow is one of the release sites we are considering for our trout so we would like to post the results here. Feel free to post comments on what you think about Skunk Hollow as our trout release site!

Chemical Data:
DO= 12ppm
Saturation= 105%
pH= 7.5
Nitrates= <5ppm
Phosphates= 1ppm

Biotic Index Total= 7 (4 class 1 BMI's, and 1 class 2 BMI)

In conclusion, the riparian zone was good but it was filled with invasive species and had slightly eroded banks. There was minimal pollution and many class 1 macro invertabrates.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Trout Show 2009

We are ecstatic to say that we are going to the

Valley Forge Trout Unlimited Trout Show of 2009.

We will be presenting our streamtable and how we educate people about the Trout In The Classroom Program (blog, confrences,etc.).

It is Tuesday, March 31 at Valley Forge Middle School.


Fly Fishing Educator, Author, and Innovator...


Doors open @ 7PM.

Adults $3 and Children Under 16 are FREE!

All proceeds are to be used for:

Enviromental Restoration and Protection of Northern Chester County Trout Streams!

More information at:

A Great Way to Learn About Trout In The Classroom!

Hope to see you there!
P.S. Look how massive Oscar is!

Friday, March 27, 2009

SHAD in the SHED?

Yesterday Mrs. Agner and Ms. Ackerman took some of the trout team to Easton, PA for a workshop on "Shad in the Classroom". We all crammed in the van at 10:30am. The ride was about an hour and a half. We arrived at the Easton Area Middle School at about 12:00pm. The school was HUGE. All the students wore name tags!

We learned a lot about the upkeep of a Shad tank. Although they are both local fish the care for Shad is a little bit different. Shad like a current, trout like stagnant water. Shad are super important because EVERYTHING eats them. Some raptors have even evolved over time to lay their eggs in time for shad season. We saw pictures of something called a "Shad Bush" a shrub that buds right before the shad start hatching.

They even showed us how to set up the tank. When it was over we were informed that the school would contacts us when we are able to participate.
If you're interested in Shad check this out!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Survivor 2 - Raystown Lake

15 students, 4 parent chaperons, 6 brave trout, Ms. Ackerman, and Mr. Savitch headed out to the middle of Pennsylvania on Friday.

We went to the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators Conference. There we presented the Watershed Philosophy of Learning. The Trout in the Classroom Organization also presented a workshop there. You must be thinking, "ARE THEY CRAZY, JEOPARDIZING 6 TROUTS LIVES!" But do not fret, for they all survived! We brought them in a small tank so that the water would not make to many waves to shake up the trout. We also brought a bubbler, a few lunch pack coolers to keep the trout at a comfortable 50 degree temperature (when they melted we changed them, and put the melted ones in the freezer), and trout food of course. It was a wonderfully successful venture and hopefully, the Trout in the Classroom Organization that presented and our own trout fry inspired many teachers to join the Trout In The Classroom Program!


Saturday, March 21, 2009


Hey guys! It's your buddy Oscar. I spent this week in Aspen, Colorado! I went snowboarding, skiing and tubing! Here's me skiing with my awesome snow gear! I've got to go! My hot cocoas getting cold! See ya next week!

-gabby and tommy

Friday, March 20, 2009


Hi, my name is Oscar. I live in the watershed classroom. Recently I have decided to travel abroad before my friends and I are released into the Darby watershed. So check back every so often for pictures from my vacations!

Hey guys! It's your buddy Oscar! I spent this week in France. So far I have visited the Louvre, l'Opera, Musee de la Marine and many more sights! Here's a picture of me near the Eiffel Tower. It was my favorite attraction!

-gabby and tommy

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What Trout Unlimited said...

As we said in a recent post, the Trout Unlimited people visited the Watershed classroom.

They said that our trout project has been one of the most successful yet! We are flattered that on our first attempt at this activity we got such a delightful comment! We are also proud to say that our survival rates are off the charts and that we have not had to remove a deceased trout buddy in weeks! A graph demonstrating the trout survival rates in several different environments is coming soon. This is a graph we used to estimate the survival rates for a grant a few months ago.

Also, there is a Pennsylvania Assosiation of Enviromental Educators (PAEE) Conference Friday, Saturday, and Sunday that Mr. Savitch, Mrs. Ackerman, and 16 Watershed students will be attending. We are excited to say that we will have our own workshop there, so if you are going to the conference, be sure to see us there! A thorough explanation and pictures will be coming soon!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another Day in the Life of the Watershed Trout...

Our biggest fish is now measuring in at 3 and 1/2 inches (at least!!) This afternoon Lauren and Michelle did a ten gallon water change.
Trout Unlimited stopped by to check out our progress and seemed very impressed with the quality of life we have provided for our trout. We have the cleanest tank they've seen!

We're starting to narrow down our release sites. We have to keep in mind water temperature, the class of the stream(A,B,C,etc), and the benefits our trout will bring to the Eco-system.

The trout team is delighted to announce we have close to 100 trout in our tank alive and thriving!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Girls or Boys!?

Latley the watershed kids have been wondering if our trout are male or female. Mrs. Agner and the trout team looked up how you you can tell... and it turns out that we can only tell when they are sexually mature OR, if we where to dissect them all which we are NOT about to do.

We have noticed all our trout have under bites maybe we should call the orthodontist!


Friday, March 13, 2009

Mr. Hoover's Class Visits

Mr. Hoover's second grade class came to visit our trout on Thursday. They first saw the trout when they were just eggs. They were amazed on how much they grew from they time they saw them to now. The trout team and the whole class would like to thank Mr. Hoover for going to the trout convention and bringing the information back to us. Without him we could not have participated in this wonderful project! For all his work we would like to award Mr. Hoover and his class a Tank Hugger Award!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Test Results!!!!!!!!!

Temp: 50

pH: 6.6

High pH: 7.4

Ammonia: 0

Nitrate: 0

Nitrites: 0

WE GOT WATER!!!!!!!!! :-)

Yesterday we got 32 gallons of water for our lovely trout. We celebrated the water by doing a 15 gallon change. We got most of the debris out of the bottom of the tank. Even though it smells terrible the tank is squeaky clean. All of the test are fine and they look good.

We will be taking more pictures soon and putting them on the blog A.S.A.P.

Friday, March 6, 2009

We Need Water!

Today we did about a 2 gallon water change. We would have liked to done more but we had no more water. Our trout are getting bigger, even the pin heads. No trout have died in a long time!
We need water desperately!

P.S. we have a new blog about our newly acquired Tortoises called

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tortoise In The Classroom

Yesterday, Watershed recieved two Russian Tortoises from a former student who will be going to college next fall.
Their names are Rocky and Wise. Rocky has a roughed up shell, a big appetite, and likes to sleep. Wise likes to be independent and move around a lot. His shell is cleaner and darker than Wise's.
As Mrs. Agner was researching them she was astonished to find that their current living circumstances could possibly make them unhealthy. We need to move them to a larger tank with a lid so we are cleaning out our terrarium for our little buddies. We will also need a UV light and 50/50 substrate with play sand (the kind in sand boxes) and topsoil.

(Pictures coming soon)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sushi! (but not trout sushi!)

Watch Mrs. Agner's favorite author on her favorite show this week!!!!!

Trevor Corson is judging this week's episode of Iron Chef America, battle "Cora vs. Lahlou," in which he demands that Cat Cora feeds him an eyeball! You can catch the episode at the times listed below!!!!

Iron Chef America, battle "Cora vs. Lahlou" will air:

Mar 05, 20099:00 PM ET/PT

Mar 06, 200912:00 AM ET/PT

Mar 07, 20095:00 PM ET/PT
Be there or be square!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


This is OSCAR...... the BEAST!!!!!

To all curious about the Nyckel Story...

We have finished writing the rough draft and now we are on the editing process of the Nyckel Story! We do not want to give away anything so instead we will fill you in about the real Nyckel.

Nyckel is thriving in our indoor enviroment. He has a small build and darts around the tank often! :)

We love to hear what you think of Nyckel so please post comments!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Trout, it's what's for........... DINNER??!??!!

On Friday we will be venturing to the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, followed by a wonderful lunch at City Tavern.

We couldn't help ourselves from searching the City Tavern site for the delicious meals that will be in store for us.... and then we found this:

Pan-Seared Brook Trout - $24.95
Pennsylvania brook trout, brown butter, capers, lemon sauce, herbed barley, asparagus & Sauce BĂ©arnaise

Could it be!!?!?!? Our darling fingerlings............ PAN SEARED!!?!?!?!???????
(We'll be ordering the vegetarian dish!)

Friday, February 20, 2009

6th Grade Visits!

Recently 6th Graders have been visiting our Watershed classrooms during 1st period while most of us were at specials. We had been presenting how Watershed is integrated learning, what we learn about, and the opportunities that Watershed can offer them.

The 6th grade seemed to be particularly interested in our stream table aquarium with our Black Nosed Dace and Crayfish. Untill..................... they saw the trout! All the work we have done with our Native State Fish seemed to really inspire them!

We hope to be exciting a whole new generation of aquaculturists interested in Cold Water Conservation.


P.S. We are still searching for Grant opportunities every day - if anyone has any Grant suggestions we would love to hear about them!! We just recently looked into

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Swim Nyckel Swim!

We recently have been thinking about release dates for our trout.
There are many things we must consider before deciding on a date.
Which stream will we release them at?
Is it close enough?
Is it safe and healthy enviroment?
Are they big and healthy enough?
When do we have time for the 45-60 min. procedure?
What materials do we buy to prepare for the release?
And many more. It's never too early to do reseacrh and be prepared.

The location we will release them will be __________________?

To be continued.......!!!!
(Check out L and M cleaning!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Tomorrow, we are taking a field trip to Valley Forge. Although we are going for a history lesson there is also an interesting story about their trout that would be worth telling.
The trout in the stream off of the Schuykill, Valley Creek, located close to where Washington camped in 1777, are contaminated. A chemical called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) was introduced into the stream from a tire factory nearby in the 1980's. Because of this the trout are a danger to humans if we eat them. You may still go fishing but there is a strict catch-release policy.
We will make sure to stock our trout to a clean, safe, and uncontaminated area!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

Today we did a ten gallon water change! After we did that, we removed the sock from the filter with a little dead friend stuck on it. This is the only death in 3 WHOLE weeks! Thanks to Laurens mom for bringing in Valentines water. Without the help of Lauren and her family we would really have had a difficult time keeping them alive and healthy!!!

Over the weekend Mrs. Agner is going to look for "clean and healthy" snails for our algae problem!!!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fry with Parr Marks!

The trout are getting so big! Our little fishies now range from half an inch to a whopping 2 and a half inches! We are beyond happy about their growth spurt and their adorable prutruding bellies! We've noticed that most of our small trout stay in groups in the bottom, and our bigger trout are in groups at the top. The trout group is extatic to anounce that our finned friends are OFFICIALLY "Fry with Parr Marks"

Monday, February 9, 2009

Water Pennies in our Tank!?

Well, we wish we were talking about the ecologically important BMI (that's benthic macro invertabrates). No sir, we are talking about a real................ penny. Abe Lincoln himself.

We thought a penny would be a good size indicator of how much our babies have grown. We held the penny up to the tank glass and tried to snap away. The problem is the fish still look distorted in size because none of them swim directly against the glass. It's difficult to show just how big and fat many of them have become!!!

Mrs. Agner accidentally dropped the penny into the tank when she tried to compare the size from up above. Smooth moves!

Thanks for the Inspiration Lexus!

Here are the winners of the Lexus Eco Challenge:

Congratulations to them all! We truely are all stewards of the natural world.

Our team didn't make it but we are stiil extremely proud of the work we did! The good news is that we will continue to update the blog of course! Our mission in all of this was to spread the word about trout and cold water conservation and that's just what we'll continue to do!!!!!!!
Check back later today to see how big our babies have grown!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Today we had the best chemical test results we have ever had!

Here they are:

Average Temp: 51 degrees fahrenheit

pH: 6.9

Ammonia: .15

Nitrate NO-3: .5ppm

Nitrate NO-2: .25 ppm

Monday, February 2, 2009


Today when we were doing an almost (because of the events we will soon tell you) 5 gallon water change we accidentally sucked up a little trout friend! This does happen quite frequently but it does not usually make a full journey through the syphon to the water bucket before we get it out, well at least not usually alive. When we saw the trout swimming happily around the water bucket we freaked. We could not stick a net through the bucket because there is a bottle neck, we poured out the water into another bucket, where we scooped the trout into the net and into a cup of water. Then we safely brought him (or her) back to the tank. We are sorry there are no pictures of this exciting event but we wanted our baby trout back to his house and within a few minutes that's just where he was!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Clear Brook Trout? I don't know.

Most of are trout are dark brown with beautiful sparkling spots but a few are clear and yellowish. We are wondering if a few Golden Trout eggs could have possibly gotten mixed in with our Brook Trout eggs. Although this could just be a great example of differentiation among the species... but we have heard rumors that some of the other Trout in the Classroom participants having received different kinds of eggs - even EEL eggs!! Hmmmmmmmm...........

Look at the difference:

Brook Trout:

Possible Golden Trout:

Tell us what YOU think!!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


We'd like to take this opportunity to thank....................

Trout Unlimited:
This Tank Hugger Award goes to Trout Unlimited for periodically visiting our classroom and their generous donations to our cause!

Mr. Savitch and Mrs. Ackerman:
They recieve a Tank Hugger Award because we would like to thank them for teaching us everything about the trout, letting us participatie in this project, replenishing our water supply, and coming in on vacation to be our "Trout Sitters"!

Mrs. Agner: She recieves a Tank Hugger Award for being the Trout Team Advisor, helping us write the grant and planning the blog posts, scheduling water changes, being our personal marine biologist, and so much more!

Julie S:
A Tank Hugger Award goes to her because she made a rotation sign-up which gives every Watershed parent an oppurtunity to donate water to the RMS Watershed Trout Orginization!

Lexus Eco Challenge:
We give them a Tank Hugger Award for inspiring us to challenge ourselves and to make a difference in our watershed!

Without these Tank Huggers none of this would be possible. Thank you all so much!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday's Chemical Tests

Chemical Tests:

pH AM: 7.6

pH PM: 7.4

Ammonia: .25ppm

Nitrate NO-3: 10PPM

Look how much like real Trout our babies are beginning to look!! Isn't Life AMAZING??!?!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How to Impliment this Program in Your Classroom

Today we had a teacher from Montgomery Day School visit us. Hopefully he liked what he saw and will be able to create a similar program in his class. We love being able to share what we're doing with educators and students alike!! We're always open to visitors and are always excited to share all the work we've done.

We used a program called Trout in The Classroom as a guideline to raise our trout. Below are links that will help you find information on the program. Trout Unlimited has helped us greatly from supplies to donations to information. You can also check with your states Fish and Wildlife Service.
Remember: the Brook Trout is not only the state fish of Pennsylvania but
New Hampshire, Michigan, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and
West Virginia!!!

Trout Hit The Movies!

Our first attempt at bringing you a video so you can see exactly what we're up to! We promise it will get more professional as time goes on... this is just an overview :)

Trout Food in the Wild

We hope you did your research just like us!

We now know that Brook Trout eat crustaceans, frogs, amphibians, insects, molluscs, Benthic Macroinvertebrates, smaller fish, small aquatic mammals such as voles, worms and flies in the wild. It is a cycle because some of the amphibians eat the trout fry but when the trout become adults they eat the amphibians.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Salvelinus fontinalis

Our babies are eating up to 1/2 a tsp. of the special "size 2" food a day! They always seem hungry - but we monitor the amount we allow them carefully. We have begun to notice great size differentiation among our little fry - some are more than 2.5cm and some are still only 1cm. What could be causing this?

Our theory is that most of the "swim up fry" who stay near the top of the tank are able to consume the most food. The little guys at the bottom are forced to forage through the pebbles for left overs. In short... some are greedy and some are content just waiting for the crumbs. It is basically survival of the fittest.

We will be trying to photograph this size difference today after our trip to the Eastern Planetarium!

So, you know what WE feed them... but what do you think they eat in the wild?

(the answer when we return...)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Water Fairy

Today we got a large donation of water! w00t! Thanks to whoever gave it to us, it is greatly appreciated!

Thanks to you we were able to do a 36% (20 gallons) water change. The trout are looking great! They are swimming happily in their cold fresh spring water.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nyckel Preview

We have promised you an excerpt from our children's book in progress, Nyckel.

"Below the quiet, still pool, deep into the Darby Creek, swam a group of shimmering speckled Brook Trout. One of them was me. I was not raised like any normal fish, I was pretty lucky. My name is Nykel and this is my story."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Plants Kicked The Bucket

Well some of them at least. A couple of the plants died and they started to rot. We think the plants died because the water temperature is to cold for them. Remember we have a chiller for our trout who need a constant temperature of no more than 50 degrees F. Yesterday the nitrates were 40 ppm which is almost fatal to our friends! We took the plants out, cleaned and today the nitrates are 10 ppm. Phew!

P.S. Nyckel update is coming soon!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Trip to Newlin's Mill

Today we we went on a field trip to Newlin's Mill (Click on it to link to their web site). Similar to us taking care of baby trout they make sure their stream (the west branch of Chester Creek) is healthy for adult Brook Trout. They do this by performing many tests to make sure the stream is healthy. Newlin's Mill also makes small dams so there are enough deep pools. Check them out when you have some time!

On an unrelated note, we did a 10 gallon water change today for our trout and the plants we put in look great!!!! New Pictures are coming soon!!!!

P.S. Even though they take great care of the trout we hope to be releasing them somewhere more local!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Trout go Green

Today we brightened up the tank with some plants. The reason we put plants in is because they help to lower the nitrate count. We did a full water change on Tuesday. This brought the nitrates down.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Ringing in the New Year with Nitrates!!!!

Over break Connor went to New York City, KM went to Chicago, Lauren stayed home, Eric got a tan, and the trout grew half an inch and sprouted spots! (Pictures coming tomorrow!)

Mr. Savitch and Mrs. Ackerman came in almost daily and diligently took care of our responsibilities while we were on break. Without their dedication our little friends wouldn't have made it. However, because we weren't able to be here every day over break the water quality is not as high as we usually keep it. Not to worry though, we are working twice as hard as usual to prepare for a major clean out!!! Unfortunatly we estimate 35 trout died over break; which is around 15% of our trout population. Hopefully we will see a drop in the mortality rate now that we have retuned.

Nyckel fans: he is alive and well! We caught him flipping his fins around and foraging for food!

Our plans for tommorow:

  • 30% water change
  • major filter cleaning
  • hopefully we will be adding freshwater plants soon (to help reduce nitrogen)
  • wipe down sides of aquarium because there is slight alagea growth

P.S. Spring water donations are desperatly need and greatly appreciated. Thats all the trout wanted for the holidays! Please make their dream come true!!!

Drop offs are being accepted at the Watershed classroom door on Windermere Ave.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The gift of a Clean Filter!

As part of our action plan we are completing a 30% (16.5 gallons)water change this morning and another 10% water change in the afternoon. Hopefully this will cut the HIGH LEVELS of Nitrites.

Carefully syphoning the water... don't want to suck up any trout friends.

We accidentally put the filter back together wrong.... it got stuck. We fixed it though.

We cleaned the filter with fresh spring water.

Mrs. Agner reading us the instructions!!

Monday, December 22, 2008


As you can see from the picture of this test, our nitrate level is extremely high.

The fishes waste produces ammonia. Our filter has good bacteria in it to decrease the level of ammonia, but when there is to much ammonia the bacteria turns it into nitrates and nitrites. See the Nitrogen Cycle below.

The nitrate and nitrite count should be close to 0ppms but it is .5-1.0ppms which is dangerously high.


"High nitrate levels are especially harmful to fry and young fish, and will affect their growth. Furthermore, conditions that cause elevated nitrates often cause decreased oxygen levels, which further stress the fish."

Plan of Action:

  • Tomorrow we are going to do a 40% water change (THE MOST WE HAVE EVER DONE).
  • Get some freshwater aquatic plants-live plants use nitrites and help keep nitrates in check.
  • We could have been feeding them a little too much because overfeeding is a major factor of increasing waste. We will now be monitoring the food intake even more diligently!
  • We are going to do a full clean of the filter before our winter break.