Aquaculture adventures

Fish in a school? Of course! Two of our GrowNextGen teacher leaders are jumping into aquaculture projects with their students. Fish eat soy, as you can learn about in this e-learning course, and they’re learning more about raising and feeding fish indoors!

Todd Tayloe is a zoology, ecology, and anatomy and physiology teacher at Carroll High School. Tayloe is growing perch in an aquaculture system that consists of 25 perch in a 125 gallon tank.

Tayloe has grown plants with biology and ecology students in the past, hoping to teach them about where their food came from. He has also done some aquaculture with his zoology students. He decided to put the two together this year. “Since this is a trial run, we are monitoring the conditions for life and growth of both parts, the plants and the fish. I hope to expand upon this in the coming years, but not knowing exactly how this is going to go, we are taking little steps at a time,” Tayloe said.

The plants were started in late November, then planted on the 17th. Tayloe added the fish to the tank on December 31. “I still have to add about a teaspoon of ammonia every 4 or 5 days—the fish are not big enough or plentiful enough yet for the system,” he said. “The water pH is holding at a steady 7.25 to 7.35. Good for the fish; a little high for the plants, but they still seem to be thriving.”

Shelby Dodds teaches food science and agriculture education at Global Impact STEM Academy. Dodds is growing tilapia in an aquaculture system and also growing soybeans as the plants to be used in making fish feed. The plan is to grow soybeans, grass, and lettuce to create fish feed to have a fully functional system. Her students are monitoring data from water quality testing data and the growth progress of the soybeans. In addition, they’ll develop a recipe for making the soy-based feed.

“The system we have is a 100-gallon oval fish tank with two eight-square-foot planting areas for media/produce. Currently, there is a plan in place to start growing crops in the system after they germinate. We are planning on doing soy products from which to create fish food. Students will learn to develop different animal feeds and evaluate nutrition and meat production per pound of feed created. Once we have the introductions done for food science, the goal is to have students create a newsletter for the school community about their project,” Dodds reported.