Aquaponics and rainbow babies: living, dying, learning

Terri Mountjoy is an Intervention Specialist at the Greene County Career Center. She decided to do the Here Fishy Fishy lesson with her students after attending the Ag Biotech Academy workshop. This curriculum allows students to take on multiple roles within an aquaculture farm.

Mountjoy hatched the Rainbow trout from eggs and the students worked on the habitat: cleaning, temperature regulation, water quality, care and feeding of the fish. They were having a great time raising the fish, which they named The Jackson Five, The Brady Bunch and The Olson Twins. She said, “We learned (improvised) the best way to keep our water temperature down, using frozen water bottles, an insulator food bag from the grocery store, and a fan placed on the tank at all times.

“Our water quality continued to score well, with only the hardness being out of range at times. We were pretty proud that our ph levels remained in a neutral state most of the time! We had moments that we had to figure out some cloudiness issues and the importance of a filter. I purchased two filtration systems, a vacuum, and set in place various bubblers to simulate a natural current that is a part of the habitat of the Rainbow Trout.”

Mountjoy was unable to complete her plan for a field trip and eventual release of the trout due to a sad accident: during a transfer from the tank to be cleaned to the new clean water tank, a drastic temperature change shocked the fish and they all died.

Mountjoy hopes to go through the hatching process again in the future. “I had been wanting to try this out for several years in my classroom, eventually hoping to work with some of my lower levelautistic students. My long term goal was to create a place where young adults with autism could have a peaceful low stress place to work and transition to after graduating from high school.”

She appreciated the help given to her at the Ag Biotech workshop. “The presentations, talks, and trips were all very well thought out and planned. The hands-on activities reinforced the lessons being presented, and we received a very generous amount of supplies! And with wanting to start an Aquaculture setup, I felt there was plenty of support if I needed it.”

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