Michigan Sturgeon in the Classroom Webinar

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[no audio] – [Meaghan] So thank
you again for joining us for the Sturgeon in the Classroom Aquarium Best Practices Webinar. As I stated earlier,
my name is Meaghan Gass, and I work for MSU Extension
and Michigan Sea Grant, and we have two expert
hatchery managers here today. They’ll be sharing information related to raising sturgeon in the classroom and also highlighting
some different curriculum that can help provide
support for this effort. The Sturgeon in the Classroom program is supported by many partners, including the Sturgeon for
Tomorrow Black Lake Chapter, the St. Clair Detroit River Chapter, the Conservation Fund, Saginaw Bay WIN, the Northeast Michigan Great
Lakes Stewardship Initiative, and of course Michigan
Department of Natural Resources, MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Little Traverse
Bay Band of Odawa Indians. This webinar has also received support through the NOAA BWET Grant to provide additional
funding for closed captioning when it is posted online and
available in recording form for all attendees. So now I will share an
overview of our presentation before I introduce our hatchery managers. So I will begin with highlighting
general sturgeon culture, including resources, setting up the tank, and different best practices, and also the nitrogen cycle. And then some of the daily tasks that are involved with raising
sturgeon in the classroom. We’ll also highlight what can be done if there is a mortality
event in the classroom, ’cause that does happen when raising sturgeon in the classroom. After we do the general
sturgeon culture overview, then we will have time
for questions by attendees for our hatchery managers, and then we will highlight
different lessons from MSU and the Little Traverse
Bay Band of Odawa Indians along with some additional curriculum that has been developed through the Center for
Great Lakes Literacy. And we’ll also highlight some
citizen science opportunities. So with that, I’d like to
introduce our presenters today. So we have two hatchery managers. Doug Larson is from MSU, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and MSU’s Department of
Fisheries and Wildlife. He is joining us today, and
then we also have Kris Dey from the Little Traverse
Bay Band of Odawa Indians. And they will be both sharing information about raising sturgeon in the classroom and their experiences as being hatchery
managers raising sturgeon. So we really appreciate
you both being here for this webinar, and we look forward to
learning from you today. So thank you both, and take it away. – [Doug Larson] Thanks, Meaghan. First, I wanna thank Michigan Sea Grant for putting this together today. As Meaghan said, I’m Doug Larson. I’m from Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. The first thing I wanna
emphasize to everybody today is that most everything that
comes out of today’s webinar is coming from literature
that was produced by Michigan State University and some of the experiences
by myself and Kris and others that have
participated in this project. And so I’d like to direct
everyone, if you have a chance and you’re looking for some reading, background reading about
lake sturgeon culture or some of the methodology
that we talk about today, I would point you to our
website at glsturgeon.com. If you click on the About Us
link and select Publications, you will be able to find all of the papers that have been produced by
Michigan State University as a part of the Black
River Sturgeon Facility over the last two decades. You can also use a Google Scholar search looking for lake sturgeon
recirculating aquaculture. There is a wide base of literature that does not encompass
Michigan State University, and it is worth taking
some time to understand the background and underlying methodology that goes into this. Okay, so we’re first gonna talk about what the equipment used to
look like for this program, and so broadly based on
materials that were selected for the Salmon in the Classroom program, classrooms were recommended
to purchase tanks that were roughly 55 gallons, which would cost the classroom about $70. A small stand, relatively inexpensive, and then an overhanging filter system like the one pictured here. We have recommended in the past an Aqueon QuietFlow Hanging Filter, which used a internal filter pad in which bacteria could culture and solids could be
filtered from the tank. We’ve recommended a
couple of small bubblers in order to produce oxygen in the tank, and then a chilling unit if
the classroom could afford it to control temperature. Lake sturgeon have an
optimal growing range of, growing temperature of
approximately 24 degrees Celsius or in the range of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. And so we have recommended
this system in the past because it was loosely based on the Salmon in the Classroom program. And it had worked reasonably
well for that use, but as we transitioned to the
next phase of this project, we’re looking to expand to a system that’s better suited
for the amount of waste that lake sturgeon produce. One of the biggest issues with this system is the overhanging filter system has to be changed
frequently. As a result, every time that filter is changed out, bacteria which grow on that filter would strip out harmful ammonia, unfortunately, have to re-culture, and removal of that
filter is both not great for moving blood worms from the system, not great for solids removal, but also ultimately
results in the classroom having to start their tank over and can produce nitrogen levels which are not safe for fish. – [Kris Dey] So we’re talking about tank issues, probably the number one tank issue has to do with the buildup
of ammonia and nitrite. We’ve got, on the slide here, we have just a very simple
diagram of the nitrogen cycle. And you know, really, ammonia
is toxic at pretty low levels. You can sometimes change
the water chemistry to make it not so toxic, but nitrite in itself is very toxic. So a lot of these
classrooms, a long time ago, were having issues
where nitrite would just knock their fish out pretty quickly. So we had to really look at
figuring out what to do next, if you wanna go to the next slide. This is a quick diagram of the
nitrogen cycle in your tank. And so everything starts
from your blood worms. When they come in, your
fish is either eating it or they don’t, but that still contributes to the ammonia. And well, I have here
ammonia and ammonium, that’s actually just based off the pH. But then what we’re
planning or proposing to do for most people, and I
do this at our facility, is that we use bacteria to actually clean the
water, filter the water. This happens naturally. If you’ve ever had a fish
tank that had some orange scum around the rim of it or on the walls, that’s bacteria, actually. And there’s two bacteria in this diagram, shows bacteria one and bacteria
two and how they’re related. So typically, you would actually have to have one colonize to create nitrite, and that way, the other
one could kinda kick in. But if you go the the next slide, this is a simple diagram
that shows kinda the balance between the toxic ammonia
and the nontoxic ammonium. Just something for reference. I think a lot of people don’t
realize that this is related. Depending on where you’re at, your pH might be around
eight, maybe even higher. And really, I mean for us at our hatchery, we’re really close to eight. So we actually, at the
beginning a lot of times may have to get the water
to be a little more acidic. Naturally, a process of the bacteria will create it to be more acidic, and eventually, I mean,
if it went long enough, you’d probably have to add baking soda, but it’d be, like, less than a tablespoon or something like that. But now I’ll go over to, this is nitrite, or this is nitrate. Typically nitrate
can be in really high levels, really high levels. It’s not until the fish gets to be adult where levels of 600 parts per million, 400 parts per million,
start to become toxic. For reference on this slide, the Pellston fish that
were stocked out last year go 650 grams, so kind of right where
that threshold meets is kinda where I put the line
where you should be concerned. But really, most of the
fish throughout the program are gonna be on the left
side of this diagram. So I mean, they’re gonna
be able to withstand a lot of nitrite. Nitrate will actually off gas, as that picture previously
showed, so what you’ll have is that you’ll probably
not ever get above, like, 200 or even 300. But just so you know, if
people wanna reference this, at the bottom of the slide, I put an actual citation
of where we got that from so you can look it up if you want. It’s really an interesting study. So here we are, you’re gonna
be testing your water a lot. Preferably, I mean, I’d
prefer if people tested it, like, twice a week. That gives you the best
information coming forward. Log your data. I highly suggest that for any
teacher who’s being involved. If something happens, this is the only way we’re gonna be able to
track down what happened. So be good about it, you know, keep on it. If we don’t have anything to
reference when we go back, there’s almost no way to
figure out what happened. And really, some of the
troubleshooting in the past has come from reading these data logs and figuring out what happened. You know, if your water chemistry’s good, that rules out a whole bunch of problems. But the API test kit is the
test kit that I would recommend just for a typical classroom. You know, any time something happens to some of our classrooms, I have people send in water samples, and I’ll run a higher,
more sophisticated test. But at the bottom of the slide, it shows the parts of the nitrogen cycle, so you have ammonia nitrite, nitrate, and then you can see how,
through time, it builds, and each one gets bigger and bigger. So you’ll actually, in
your data recording, we can actually see this. And it’s super cool, and once we know that we’re past the nitrite spike, you kinda, you know,
free sailing after that. You shouldn’t have to
be changing your water. You really, I mean, you have to add water, evaporation actually
starts to take its toll. But to get to this point, it’s really important,
too, to prime your tank. So maybe you have it already started, and then your fish comes
into an environment that’s already inviting. So if we go to the next slide, this is, well, our slide from before, but we’re just actually
replacing blood worms in the fish with granulated urea. You can buy this stuff
off Amazon super cheap. We actually set up just
a little automated feeder that goes off three times a day. It costs 17 bucks for a little feeder. You can probably get
10 years worth of urea for, like, five bucks. But it just takes a little bit of urea, and you can actually prime that bacteria without having a fish in there, and it’s kinda automated. Once it gets going,
it’s actually consuming the ammonia as fast as
it enters the system, which is kind of cool. We have a tank at our facility right now that’s got cisco in it, but I still have a timer
feeding the bacteria below. And it’s kind of
important, too, to remember that the bacteria are still
a living creature, you know. You still have to raise these. So if you go like a week
without adding any ammonia, you’ve probably just
killed your entire filter and you’ve gotta start
all the way back at zero and start building bacteria. So it’s important not to forget that you have something
else going on in the tank. That’s very true for if
you have a, like, a break, so if you’re not feeding
your fish over Christmas, like if for some reason something happens and you don’t feed the fish or maybe you took the weekend off and you’re not feeding the fish but you’re still gonna make it to Monday, you actually might have issues where you’re starving your
bacteria over the weekend. So just like a little automatic feeder could take the place of that
and still keep your fish safe. You wanna go to the next slide. This is a super simple calculation on how to figure out what kind of concentration
of ammonia you want. The top left is obviously
the equation itself. The chart below, all you
gotta do is just pick out what your volume of your system is and what concentration you want. Two parts per million is the
recommended operating level for a biofilter. If you go too high, it’s
actually detrimental to the bacteria and they slow down. So you wanna keep it kinda in a range. I think right now, the 700
liters and two parts per million is a pretty good amount. Normally, I go for about one gram a day or something like that. And so dealing with all of this, I figured, Doug talked
about what we used to do, and now, I’ll probably
get into what we do now. We’ve shipped it all, our fish tanks are being all
shifted over to overflow tanks. We’re using stuff that normally people use for, like, reef fish, reef aquariums. And so a larger tank slows
the change in water chemistry, so it’s not as severe and not as quick. So that’ll really help. If you use a sump, you can
actually process all your water in a place where the fish is not, and Doug pointed out that in the past was like this little canister filter on the back of the tank. So you had the surface area
of maybe an index card. But by using a sump, you can actually increase
that exponentially, and we use, in the bottom
right of this slide, there’s a picture of the media. This is just moving bed biofilter media. Specifically, this is Kaldness Media, that’s the company who makes it. It’s a little expensive to purchase, but the benefit is to the extreme in that it keeps itself clean, it keeps rotating as long as
you put a bubbler under it. It’ll float at first when
nothing’s colonized on it, but once it colonizes, it’ll actually become mutually buoyant. And then the act of the
bubbles going through the sump will actually cause it to hit each other, and it’ll shear off any,
like, overgrown bacteria. So it’ll be efficient
as long as it’s running. So that’ll really help with
any nitrite, nitrate spikes. Another thing that should help a lot, in the past, a lot of the schools have either like a canister filter
where it’s pressurized, or they had like a
hang-on-the-back filter. And you really want something that can pull out a lot of
solids and not get clogged up ’cause the blood worms do create a lot of, not only like the clear
casings will float around, even the wasted blood worms. But if that stays in the
tank and in the system, it’ll actually create,
like, this little time bomb, and so something you weren’t expecting and also, you know, it’ll
just release a ton of ammonia. ‘Cause your biofilter has
to take time to build up to a certain amount. But once you’ve reached that, if you throw in another ammonia bomb, it’s not gonna be able to, you
know, eat it up fast enough before it hurts your fish. So on here, I have a list of the, we’re actually switching
everybody over to sock filters. You can run ’em through
the washing machine. They’re pretty inexpensive. I think for our classroom, the one I have, everybody
start out with four. That way, start off every
morning, you clean your tank, you take out the sock
filter, put in a new one, and then you go either wash in the sink or just something like that. – For those of you, to jump in here, those of you who have been to the Black River Sturgeon Facility, this is the technology that
we use in the entire facility. So this is how we clean the water that moves through the facility. We catch macro invertebrates in here, we catch other fish in here, and these sock filters are very efficient both in filtering water and
then, of course, cleaning, so just wanted to reiterate
here what Kris mentioned, these sock filters are much
less work for the teacher, and by pulling them out, you’re not pulling your
bacteria out, as well. – And this, like he said, that’s what those guys
have is the sock filter for the whole building. This whole system is
a miniaturized version of what people all over the
world use to raise sturgeon, sturgeon in recirculating
aquaculture systems, RAS. It’s done all over the place, so we’re really just
taking that technology and making it smaller. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, we just have to make it smaller. So that’s what we’re doing here, and it’s really effective,
really, really effective. If you want, you can go to the next slide. I think, you know, this is a
picture of the tank we have. I do recommend acrylic,
it’s a lot lighter. If something happens,
you can probably fix it. If it’s glass (fingers snapping), that’s just it, you’re done. It’s super light. We get ours from a place in Florida. They’re super helpful about everything. But having 150 gallon acrylic tank, I mean, it just makes
things so much easier. Plus in a 55 gallon tank, our fish are getting
too long for the tank, and they couldn’t turn around. So about a half a meter is about as long as the last
two years’ fish have been. So you gotta plan on a fish
that’s gonna be pretty big. If you feed them the proper amount, they will grow at a pretty good rate, and it should be exponentially. You should be able to predict it. The sump here, it’s not too specific on what sump you truly need. I mean, I think that the concept of a sump is the most important part. You just need to have a pump on one end, your sock filter at the other, and a way to keep the media in the center. This one shown is an acrylic sump that we’ve ordered for
a lot of our classrooms. Ours is actually missing
the middle baffle, but it works really well
just as lightweight, it’s really nice, and
it’s marked, too, for ours. You can also convert a 55 gallon tank, which we’ll talk about in a little bit. – Everything that Kris
has mentioned today, you’ll probably notice, and when you’re distributed this webinar, you’ll have the ability to
access some of the comments that are inside of the
PowerPoint presentation. But you’ll notice that they
are relatively expensive. We recognize that, and we recognize that this is a large
undertaking by classrooms that are mostly funding
this program by themselves. Kris has taken a lot of steps
in raising some of the fish at the LTBB Hatchery to
simplify those methods, specifically putting the
fish on a feeding type that’s a little bit cleaner, a little bit easier to
work with in the classroom. But nonetheless, you’re going
to end up with a situation where you’re looking for funding. And so Meaghan, Kris, and myself, we’re gonna open this particular
section of the webinar up, this is the open discussion, talk about some possible ideas
for funding this webinar, or these tanks. In total, the tank systems
can cost upwards of $2500, which isn’t entirely inexpensive. There are ways to cut some of the corners in building these tank systems. Specifically one of the
things you’ll notice in Kris’s tank system is that he has a very nice,
well-organized stand setup. Certainly, you could have
a teacher build those, or a shop class build
those would be an option. Parents that are interested in this program could help build those, or you could simply decide that you don’t want to
have the stand system, and that will cut out
a little bit of cost. Obviously, the teachers
that are participating in this program now have
tank systems already. They’re 55 gallon systems,
for the most part. As Kris said, those can be
converted into a sump system, but that’s still gonna leave
most of these classrooms short of the funding that is needed in order to purchase these systems. And so I’ve had a lot of
experience and luck in the past, and Kris has, as well, in contacting the local
community foundations. For those of you that may
be in the Emmett County or Cheboygan County areas, there’s the Petoskey Harbor
Springs Community Foundation has provided a substantial,
actually, amount of funding in order to purchase these tank
systems for Kris’s program. I’ve had some luck with
grant funding opportunities from the local health departments for similar programs like
this, and then as it turns out, my wife also runs the
Parent Teacher Organization for our school, and so we’ve been able to engage the Parent Teacher Organization
in our son’s school to provide funding for
the these tank systems. But there are numerous opportunities
that exist for funding, but it does require an
already strapped teacher to write grant opportunities
for these tanks, and so Kris and I are both
available and happy to help with funding opportunities. There are other organizations, you saw that Brenda
Archambo is on this webinar. Groups like Sturgeon for
Tomorrow may be interested in funding these tank
systems going forward. And so I think the big thing here, and you guys can please
feel free to step in, the big thing is that these
funding opportunities do exist, and I speak for myself when
I say I’m happy to help with these funding
opportunities wherever I can. – [Meaghan] And I would just add that in the Saginaw Bay Watershed, we have been lucky to receive support from the Saginaw Bay
Watershed Initiative Network, (Saginaw WIN) and the Conservation Fund to help provide support for teachers getting Sturgeon in
the Classroom supplies. And another funding source
could also be DonorsChoose.org. You can develop different campaigns about items that you
need in your classroom, and the donors can choose
what they wanna donate to. So it can be a little less
work than writing a grant, but I definitely will echo what Doug said about the local community foundations. They provide a lot of support for different place-based
education efforts, and this could be a
great way to help connect community foundation to your classroom. And those grants tend to not be too difficult to complete, as well, so that they also have
many grant applications, and this is something
that you can look at, multiple sources and use
match money, too, for this. – Cool, so obviously, it
does take a lot of money to get the top of the line models, which I would say probably
save you a lot of time. I mean, if you have unlimited time, maybe you could get something
that’s very inexpensive, but for the most part, people don’t wanna have to
spend all day cleaning the tank, and they’re not gonna wanna
spend all day, every day doing something that takes
up most of their day. So that’s why a lot of these, you’ll see that some are
more expensive than others. The more expensive options are chosen just because of it’s a lot
easier for the teachers. And when I’m setting up classrooms, that’s my, one of my main
goals is to make certain that the teachers don’t
have this huge burden. I’m gonna try to make
it as easy as possible. In fact, people who already have a tank, you can move to the next slide, it may be, if you have a 55 gallon tank, you may not have to
worry about trying to buy all the components. You could make your own setup. It’ll take some time, and I can give anybody some pointers. There are YouTube videos about this. You can find ’em all over. We’ll probably include
links to some of them. But you may only have to
get a bigger tank on top. You can convert your
55 gallon into a sump. We’ve done it at our hatchery. It’s a little harder
to get the sock filters to sit in there right. It’s harder to get things to hook up, but, you know, in reality, if
you gotta save a lot of money, you know, that may be one way. But it may take you a lot
of time to accomplish this, so there’s a trade-off there, how much is your time worth, and how much can you get out of a grant? The big thing, too, is
that sometimes tanks, reef tanks are not very common. Like, if you go to PetSmart
or something like that, I forget what the pet
store in Petoskey is. But they don’t even sell reef tanks. So you may have to get an overflow, and that’s the top right here
with the white background. What that causes is it’s
a spigot, basically, and it’ll let the water
pull in on its own. And so the siphon is a big reason this tank is so simple and easy to use is that there’s only a
pump that lifts the water. It just overflows the
tank, and it falls back in. There’s very few real moving parts. You’ll just have a pump and a bubbler, and that’s all it has to run. Now you really don’t have to
worry about anything else. And with your make up of
a new sump out of your 55, this picture was just a
simplified version I found. But really, you don’t even
need two baffles on one, you only need just two baffles total. Make sure your holes are smaller
than your biofilter media, and you’re set. It’s all pretty simple, and I think we’ll include some links to products and stuff like that. I’m a big Amazon shopper,
so find it on Amazon, find it wherever you want. But all of these are, like,
really simplistic solutions. The stock filters, because
they’re not pressurized, switching them out no longer takes. We have to shut the water off,
you gotta do all this stuff. You simply just pick it up. It’s a lot easier. I think we’re on to the
next one, Doug, that’s you. – Okay, so we talked a little
bit about nitrogen cycling and how it important it is
to convert harmful nitrogen into a form of nitrogen that’s
not harmful to the fish. But there are other things
that are very important to focus on, as well. And so when we see
mortalities in the program, a very large number are
due to nitrogen problems. But some of them are due to simply not keeping one’s tank clean. And so with anything when
you’re working with fish, the first and the most
important thing that you can do is write everything down. It is very difficult for us to go back and look at clues that could
exist in the water quality data unless things are written down. So please make sure, whether
you create your own data sheet or you ask us to produce one for you, or you have one included
in your startup packet that you are writing down
everything that you see. It’s one of the most important things we teach our people in the hatchery is that the best and the
first line of defense in keeping one’s fish alive is to observe them every day and keep their environment clean. So the tank should be cleaned, siphoned, or netted out daily, and so we’re trying something
a little different this year where we’re offering
these fish a dry food. And it’s not as difficult
to keep the tanks clean, but it’s still important to make sure that anything that’s in
excess is removed daily. One of the number one
killers of young fish, especially, is Saprolegnia,
which is a fungus that forms because you leave too
much fish in the tank, or too much food in the tank, excuse me, or your tank environment is not clean. And so if you take the time
to siphon after feeding, which takes one or two minutes, or you have your students do that, that is a very good and
effective first line of defense. So water exchanges should
happen a little bit earlier on in the tank installation. However, as you get the fish growing and as you have food in the system, as Kris mentioned, you’ve
built that nitrogen cycle to a point where you no longer need to be changing water very often. As Kris mentioned–
– I forgot. – you almost never have to change water once you get a good nitrogen cycle going. And so when we originally
did this presentation for other teachers, one of the most common
things that we were told is that they were changing
water every two or three days. I wanna stress that that
should not be the case. If that’s the case, then your nitrogen cycle
is not what it should be. And the biggest issue
that you’ll encounter if you’re changing water all the time is that tap water has almost no oxygen. And so, you know, we can oxygenate, we can do half tank turnovers, and those things can help in
the event of an emergency, but if you’re doing that very frequently, you’re introducing a variable that’s likely gonna result
in the death of your fish. It’s very difficult to control
temperature of tap water. It’s very difficult to
control oxygen of tap water. And in some cases, you’re
going to be fighting chlorine in your tap water. And so simply relying on a nitrogen cycle is a much more effective system. I mentioned de-chlorinating your water. Kris also mentioned at one point that you can detoxify your water if you have issues with nitrogen. There are chemical treatments available for municipal water. It shouldn’t deter you if, for example, you work in a municipality
which pulls their water from a common source and not well water. There are chemicals available to you, and links will be provided
in this PowerPoint, as well. But again, focusing on daily cleaning and keeping an eye on your nitrogen cycle will alleviate most of these problems. You should scrub the sides of your tank to remove algae growth
as often as possible. You will see algae growth
show up every couple of days. Simply wiping down the
side with a scratch pad or generally, we try to keep
our hands out of the tank, so they make long-handled scratch pads that can clean those off. And of course if your
system uses sock filters, please make sure you change
those as often as needed, which is generally on a daily basis. – So I did notice two things, you know, definitely with this tap water. That’s an excellent example
of why we write things down. We were having some
schools losing their fish out of the blue, and we couldn’t figure out why. They hadn’t written anything down, so we couldn’t figure that out. But then we started getting teachers who were recording things, and the data showed that
the water was perfect, and we couldn’t figure out why. And it wasn’t until we showed up to somebody who had just had an issue, and then we started noticing
they wrote on the sheet that they were changing the tank water, then they put how much. It was always on the day of or
the day after the fish died. And so we started running
some experiments, testing it. Basically, the cold water comes in and sits on the bottom,
right where your fish is. It has zero oxygen, and basically, it feels
like he went into space and took his helmet off. Sturgeon are remarkably, I
don’t know how to put it. – Robust.
– Robust, I mean, they can withstand that and still be alive for almost a day or two
days being brain dead. So there was some delay in that, and that’s partly why
we couldn’t track back the origin of it. But once we got a good handle on it, those basically stopped
altogether, you know. Having teachers, instead of
filling the tank from the top, fill from the sump. You know, and overflow tanks, they actually will show
the water level in the sump and not in the tank. The tank is just an overflow, right, it’ll always be at the same level, but the sump can actually draw down. So you’ll be filling that, and that way, all of
ours going to the sump, it’s rolling around in
all those air bubbles and the filter and whatnot, so that’s a real good one. Seachem products, I had
just heard about them a few years ago, and I’ve
been testing them out. Seachem Prime seems to work really well, and also their Stability. Those two things, one’ll clean your water, keep it safe from, like, chloramine, which is something that
most municipalities use. But it also, I think it’ll
offset your ammonia issues. It’ll change the pH to
more of a stable state. Nitrite itself is actually
less toxic to sturgeon if there’s salt in the water. I mean, it’s like two
orders of magnitude more that they can withstand with
just a little bit of salt. So I’m pretty certain that, I think it’s Prime has that. And then there’s a second
chemical, Stability, which actually has the bacteria
that prime that filter. So if you are on a regimen where you’re trying to prime
your tank ahead of time, that’s a great thing to kinda get started. I mean, it only takes
like a capful every week or every five, four or five days. It’s really not that much, and it can really progress things faster. We’re currently working
on some other stuff that’ll really, hopefully speed things up. – We mentioned that we
need to record data, but what data do we record? So Kris has provided
us with this data sheet that he uses as an example
of what you might record. And so there are a couple of things that we record daily in the hatchery that would be beneficial
for you to record, as well. Daily feed amount, one of the best predictors
of growth over day over day is how much a fish was fed the day before. The second most important
predictor of growth day over day is the temperature of the
water the previous day. These two things should
absolutely be recorded daily. If you’re not recording feed amount and you’re simply
hand-feeding indiscriminately, you could be offering too much food, you could be offering not enough food, and these two things invariably
could result in mortality. And so it’s very important to record these two variables day over day. I would also record observer initials so that you know who was
taking care of the fish. One of the most overlooked
variables in fish mortality is the actual observer. And additionally, recording fish activity can be super beneficial. Whenever we start to see
any outbreak of sickness in the hatchery, one of the first things that
we can always run back to is did the fish look like they were not eating correctly today? Are we noticing erratic
swim, or no swimming? Those things are important
variables for us, especially for trying
to diagnose a problem prior to mortality. Another thing that you should measure, another group of things
you should measure, you should do these weekly, lengths and weights are important just simply for connecting
your students with the fish. And then also, it’s a good indicator of an issue with your fish. And so we record daily, we record weekly lengths and weights in the hatchery, and we’ll notice if, for example, our fish growth starts to
asymptote or level off, in which case we know either it’s time to do a feed conversion to a higher feed rate, or we’re underfeeding for some reason, or potentially the fish is
not eating for some reason. – Sick.
– Yeah. So recording weekly lengths and weights can be a good initial
predictor of a problem. Kris mentioned that ammonia and ammonium– – Ammonium.
– Ammonium vary as a function of pH. And so keeping good
records of pH over time is another good way of identifying if you have a nitrogen problem, and where in the nitrogen curve you are. And then additionally, recording
nitrate and nitrite weekly are super helpful in
keeping your fish alive. And so I think, when you run into an issue where you start to see erratic behavior, these are not set in stone. You can switch through
monitoring pH daily, ammonium nitrite and nitrate daily, and keeping quick records of those can help diagnose a problem before it becomes a mortality event. – Just a quick note. Your ammonia and nitrite can
test above the lethal level. And what that is is because
you added the treatment. So don’t be too scared. Like sometimes, you get a level so high, you’re like, “Oh, my God,
how is it still alive?” And you gotta check to
see if it’s still moving. And that’s really because you’ve
done the steps to be safe. But you still need to be
aware that you’re really high and you’re kinda in the danger zone. You still got a couple more
weeks ’til you’re in the clear. – I can’t emphasize this enough, and I think Kris would agree. Daily monitoring will save your fish, and then remembering to treat your tank as a living organism. If you focus on those two things, this program will be quite
a bit more successful. And then if you ever do a water change, even if it’s a half volume change, documenting that is worth noting. Any time you add anything to the system, whether it be a chemical or
simply just adding water, it should be written down. Again, I’m gonna say this a hundred times. Write everything down. – In your water changes,
if you are doing a lot, you’re actually stripping out
the food for your bacteria, so it is possible, oh, they’re just getting started, so just be careful with that. Smaller tanks need water
changes very often. Larger tanks, it’ll take a lot longer, maybe three times as long
for it to reach that level. So if you have a 55 gallon tank, your tank may have overloaded in a week. Well, now you go up to a 150 gallon tank, it’s gonna take three times longer for that one to overload. So you’ll be in that safety
zone a little longer. – And what that provides you is more time, more time for your bacteria to grow, more time for your bacteria to colonize. And so better volumes or
higher volumes are better, and I think the results are pretty clear if you’ve seen any of the fish that have come out of Kris’s program, we had a fish last year that was almost, I guess in feet that was about
two and a half feet long? – The fish, well, it was 500– – Half a meter?
– Half a meter, it was half a meter. – Just under two feet long. You know, that’s a pretty
huge fish at year one. When we compared him
to growth data for fish that were produced naturally, that’s approximately a two
and a half year old fish after one year. – And anybody can get to that point. – Anybody can, yeah. – Just gotta keep with it. – In terms of feeding, so there are some things to keep in mind. Classrooms are five day a
week programs, in general. I know a lot of you teachers would argue that you work seven days a week, and I definitely agree with you there. But there are times where
you’ll wanna take a weekend off. And so it’s important, particularly when you’re in the classroom, to make sure you feed the individual as quickly as possible in the morning. Fish needs to eat, and most of these fish have spent most of their
life in a hatchery. And so one of their main daily cues is the lights are turned
on, it’s time to eat. And so feeding your fish in the morning and cleaning out any
feces from the day before is very important to do. I usually recommend two
episodic feedings a day. It is the way I’ve done it in the past. As they get to this size, though, when you’re getting
them in the classrooms, they can go a couple of
days without being fed. Now I don’t recommend
that, but it can be done. – Like if you’re, last over the weekend. I mean, sure, if he’s a half a meter long, he’s gonna, he can last a week, but we don’t really wanna do that, but don’t be concerned. – Yes, food translates to growth. Feeding on the weekends, if you are able to do it, if you have a parent who could do it, if you yourself are in on the weekends, if students are in for some
sort of a sporting event, we recommend that, as well. One thing we tell everybody is that fish don’t take Christmas
break, and neither do we. And so we feed seven days a week, several times a, hatchery. The sturgeon should be
treated the same way. Much like you wanna eat
three solid meals a day, they definitely wanna eat, as well. As for holiday breaks, you should, especially
over the longer breaks, feed as much as you can. Obviously, a feeding every
day is gonna be difficult, but if you can set up a
schedule with your students, we very, very highly recommend this. And Kris made a really good
note here for everybody. One of the things we saw very
often, early in this program, is that fish would jump out of tanks, and hungry fish are actively seeking food. Lake sturgeon are a sensory based feeder, which means they drag their barbels across the bottom of the
tank looking for fish, and if there, or food, excuse me, and if there’s no food on
the bottom of the tank, they will jet ski, if you will, across the top of the
tank looking for food. And if they don’t find it,
they’ll jump out of the tank. So tank tops are important, but mostly just keeping food in front of your fish is important. Some sturgeon, depending
on the time of year, can grow as much as 11%
in body weight per day. And that requires that they
be fed pretty adequately. This, I would think that
this goes without saying, but it definitely is
something that we emphasize, and that’s don’t turn your water off. Don’t turn your bubblers off. When you leave the classroom, remember that your tank
is a living organism as is the organism living in the tank. And try not to make any
changes to that tank, and even if it means
no, you’re not feeding, you should still be making sure all the other external
processes are going. And remember, if you don’t feed your fish, your fish are not feeding your bacteria. So I mentioned that we’re trying something a little different this year where we’re feeding these fish a dry food. It’s a little easier to clean up. But this may not always be the case. And one of the most difficult parts about sturgeon culture in general is that you have to take a food, in this case, inconsistent
kind of gross feeding source, and convert it into some
sort of known feed amount. And some work done under
the Black River facility by John Bauman gives us an idea of how
we can convert that food into a way that it’s consistently fed across different feeding days. And so it’s a very simple equation, which takes the weight of your fish multiplied by your feed rate, in the classrooms, you should be feeding at between 5 and 11% per day. So in this case, we did an example where we provided you with the example of 8% of feed rate. And then you’re provided
with a conversion factor, which in this case is
subtracting a constant and dividing by a constant. So it’s a very simple equation which simply takes the wet,
frozen weight of blood worms and converts it to a dry weight. And then that food is fed at 8% of the fish’s weight per day. However, if you’re feeding
a dry pelleted food, which most of you will be this year, you can simply take that
dry, pelleted weight, multiply it, or excuse me,
the weight of your fish, and multiply it by that
feed conversion rate. You don’t have to
introduce the second step of converting the food
rate to a dry weight because it’s already at a dry weight. So you take your fish’s weight, multiply it by your constant 8%, and that’s what we’ll be
feeding on a daily basis. And this is why it’s important
to do weekly length to weight because, of course, weight
changes on a daily basis. And if we go back to blood worms, however, this equation is available to you. It actually also works
for other feeding sources like frozen krill, and so keep this in your back pocket. It’ll help you get an idea of what you should be feeding every day. And what you fed the previous day is pretty close to what the growth rate will be day to day, if you even wanna go a
step further and feed based on daily feeding. I see a question here, that normally, we wouldn’t
jump to the question, but this is a good question here, Jeremy. “What kind of pelleted
food do you recommend?” Kris, do you wanna take this? – I mean, we’re just using your standard, yours is like a halibut feed or something. But you know, they like
blood worms a lot more. Blood worms are also
extremely expensive right now, so we’ve been testing to see if we can, and so some of our fish
were given blood worms and then try to go back to dry feed, which they do not wanna do. But some fish have never seen blood worms, so they were very willing
to take this feed. I’m not entirely certain if
you can get it commercially. – You can get small, so we have, generally, hatcheries
have commercial accounts with groups like Bio-Oregon. That’s a great source, and
you can contact Bio-Oregon to see if they’ll provide
small quantities of food. You can contact the hatcheries and ask if they’ll provide
a small amount of food. I mean, I don’t know, Kris mentioned that their program may be willing to do that, as well. But I guess I would start
with trying to purchase it from one of the commercial
vendors like Bio-Oregon if they will allow you to
purchase small on these. They certainly package small on these. – You may have to buy ’em in one, well, they come in 22 kilo bags. – Yeah.
– So 50 pound bags, so you probably would have
to buy one bag at a time, and they’ll ship it overnight. I mean, normally, it’s
like FedEx, pretty quick. But you might have to calculate how big you can still grow. I don’t have any numbers on that yet, but we’re hopeful that this year, we’ll be able to come up with something. – Yep, and the shelf life on that food is generally somewhere close to year if you store it in a semi-dry room like a chemical storage room works, or if you store it in your refrigerator is actually what I would recommend. And your shelf life will be a year, and for the most part, these fish are not gonna be big enough to where you’ll be
converting in feed sizes, and I don’t think that I
would recommend that anyway ’cause it introduces a variable that you’re probably not
prepared to work with. So if you buy one large
50-pound bag of food, if that’s an option, you may be able to get through a significant chunk of the year. – Right now, if you are
writing anything down to, right now, I think they’re on 1.5. But by the time you guys get them, they might be on two. – That’s millimeters.
– It’s millimeters. But if you’ve contacted a feed company, they’ll know what you’re talking about. – Okay, and then the last slide before we’re gonna open up
the floor for questions, Mr. Kris. – What, go back, oh, you went twice. – Oops, sorry, everyone. – I said, what are these signals I have? It work? (laughing) – Hey, there’s a delay. – All right, ta da, here we are. So inevitably, your fish is gonna die. And I don’t care how
long you’ve been in it, it’s gonna happen. Sometimes it’s just
their, their day to go. If you’re there and you see
them at the early life stages, you’ll know that fish put a
lot of energy into quantity and not quality, a lot of times. So these fish are putting out hundreds of thousands of little guys, but not everybody’s gonna make it. Sometimes it’s due to an accident, sometimes it’s due to just
that was his day to go. Other times, it may be disease related, something that is extremely hard to treat. Unless you have a
veterinarian’s prescription and a whole bunch of FDA approvals, there’s not really anything
we can do about it. So just, you know, prepare
yourself, prepare your class, and something, I guess, could it happen. But when it does, you need to contact somebody immediately, preferably of a support team staff, and they can help guide you through this. Record everything, all your observations, whether the fish was
subgilling when you found him, whether he was on the surface, was he on the bottom, was
he white, was he pale? Were his eyes bloodshot? That’s a indication sometimes
of, like, a lack of oxygen. Sometimes we’ll even have
bubbles under their eyes, like in their eyes, under their skin. That’s another one that
we have to be careful of. So the person, whoever you call, will hopefully help walk
you through some of this. Preferably when we get that question, “What do I do with my fish?”, most of the time, I tell people just put ’em in a Ziploc bag,
go put ’em in the freezer ’til the end of the day
or something like that. Sometimes people bring the fish back, and then we’ll respectfully bury it out behind our facility in the field. You can, if you want, bury it yourself. I think that’s acceptable in most places. If you’re, traditionally,
we would put down a small offering of tobacco to say, you know, “Thank
you for being with us. “Your time with us was worthwhile.” And too, if you can,
collect a water sample if you’re really concerned that that may have been a problem. I have water test kits for my
staff or my classrooms that, we’ll send people down, we’ll just get a jar,
put it in the fridge. Whenever I get a chance,
I’ll go down and pick it up and I will, oh yeah, yup. And I will get that, sorry. I’ll get that water chemistry, and we can actually run, and
I have a really nice test so we can test for other things than what your test kit can. And then finally, the main thing is you’re gonna have to
break it to your students. I think sometimes it’s easy
to just try to ignore it or to get caught up in
it, but you really need to go through the steps of,
like, actually counseling. And it seems like, for me, I don’t have to deal with students a lot, but you’re actually gonna
have to work these kids through a loss, and I’ve seen classrooms who
refuse to name the second fish because they think, “Well,
he’s just gonna leave me, too.” And it sounds really sad,
or you know, whatnot, but it does happen, so we
need to prepare ourselves and work through those stages of grief. If your fish was PIT tagged,
don’t bury it in the field. You should harvest the PIT tag or send it up to us,
we’ll get the PIT tag out. So the PIT tag is somewhat expensive, so we’d prefer if we didn’t
bury them all over the place. And I think we go to questions then. – [Meaghan] Yes, so we’ve received a number of different questions. And if any attendees have any questions related to aquarium best practices, this will be the time to discuss that before we turn this into
discussing different curricula. So our first question’s from Charlie. “Does the sump fit underneath
in that stand shown, or is it separate?” So this is going back to that. – Oh, so the acrylic one does. You have to call, so
the guy down there at, we go through Fish Tanks Direct. He actually knows to
build the stand in a way that the back edge, it comes off. So he’s had instructions, and we’ve bought six tanks, five tanks through this guy. So he knows that the back
needs to be removable because that tank, that sump, is actually almost exactly the same size. It’s about two inches
or three inches smaller, but on your traditional stand, you’re actually gonna be
able to get it in there. If you’re building your
own, just leave the. That’s a good question. – [Meaghan] Thanks, another
question we had from Mandy is, “So what is the appropriate size “a sturgeon should grow to
after six months in a tank?” – Well, you guys could
calculate it out, right? So if you are sampling weekly, you should be able to predict out, right? You just extend the table. I think under, as long as
you’re changing your feed rate as they’re growing, you’ll probably reach their
maximal, obtainable size. I know in Pellston, I think
it’s two years in a row she’s had a fish over 600
grams or something like that. So she got really big, she
got some really good fish. In those same tanks, she also had a fish at the same age that was maybe only about 400 grams. So it really varies. – Yeah, there’s going to be, you know, big differences in your fish. Some of them will adjust
to feed really well. Others will not. Some will feed more aggressively than their cohabitating fish. I would provide you more with a range than an exact value. If you’re in the range of 300 millimeters to about 500 millimeters, that’s a pretty wide net. – Anything over 300.
– Yeah, yeah. I would, if you’re seeing that, ’cause by the time you
get them in general, they’re between 150 and 200 millimeters. If by the time you get them back to us they’re still in the 200,
250 millimeter range, then there’s a pretty good chance that that fish was underfed. But, and I can’t overstate this, if it lives in your
classroom to that point, the survival rate, year over year, is still going to be pretty high. So I wouldn’t stress too much
about having a small fish, nor would I lose my mind
over producing a fish that’s 600 grams or so. The important thing is
the fish stays alive as opposed to shooting for a target. – Yeah, we’ve already,
we’ve had some classrooms actually slow down their tank, right? So there’s a lot of variables. Temperature’s one, and
most of our calculations will be the same. Temperature is just flat rate, it’s always gonna be 20 whatever. But some classrooms actually
cool their tank down. Yeah, I know I had one that was worried that they were gonna overdo things. So their fish came out
a little bit smaller, but I think they would
have been on the same track as the Pellston tank. I wouldn’t worry too much about size unless your fish doesn’t grow. If your fish doesn’t grow at all or gets smaller throughout the year, I would be concerned. I mean, that’s really why
we track the growth, too, is that–
– Yeah. – If it is, if it’s just not growing, I mean, we’ve had a condition where, when we had a 55 gallon tank, it kept overloading the filters like every three or four days. They actually stopped
growing for two weeks, and that’s, once the
water quality gets so bad, they’ll actually stop growing. And when we upgraded them
to a 150 gallon tank, gave them the nice moving bed biofilter, it changed everything, and the
growth just took off again. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised
if you got a seven gram fish and came out at, like, 700
or something like that. It all, too, depends on
where you’re starting at. I mean, some fish could
be as high as 20 grams when you get ’em, some fish may only be seven. I mean, exponential growth, it depends on where you’re at
now to where you’re gonna be. – Yeah, I would, yeah. So bring that all full circle, I would focus more on consistent growth and consistent growth
rate as monitored weekly than I would at end goal. If you’re growing consistently
without leveling off, then you’re doing a good job. – Yeah, happy fish. – Happy fish don’t move a lot. – [Meaghan] Thank you, another question, it was more of a request from Michael looking for an itemized list for, with purchasing ideas
for starting a new tank. So I think that’s something moving forward with the Sturgeon in
the Classroom program, streamlining the items
that would be needed, is something that we plan to do in order to be able to
share that information and. – There are some listed in
the comment notes section of this presentation. If you’re a member of our
Sturgeon in the Classroom program, you should have already
received a sturgeon care guide. Page two should have a list
of everything you need. – [Meaghan] Great, thank you. And then this is another partner who is working on a museum exhibit, and they’re wondering
if you wanted to include a Sturgeon in the Classroom
aquarium setup for the exhibit. Is there any kind of
lid you would recommend, thinking more about instead
of keeping the fish in, keeping kids out of the tank in a space where you wouldn’t necessarily
have a security guard. – So the acrylic tanks
are actually enclosed halfway on the top with
a lid that goes on, so those are pretty good. Some of the ones, I think the one pictured in one of the first few
slides actually has a canopy. Those are kind of nice. But for the most part, I guess
anything you could put over would be good. – Yeah, most tanks are gonna come with a custom tank, lid option, so I would, if you’re purchasing the tank, I would spend the extra few
dollars to purchase the lid. – [Meaghan] Great, thank you. And just wanted to reiterate, here’s another question
about conversions of food. So with the conversions
for food based on weight, do you do those
conversions weekly as the– – Yes.
– fish changes the rate? – Yeah, so you could do
the conversions weekly if you sample your fish weekly. If you decide you wanna
take it a step further and try to estimate daily growth based on previous year’s growth, you could change the
daily feed rates daily. In fact, that’s what
we do in the hatchery. We have an equation that
says, “I fed you X yesterday, “and temperature was Y yesterday, “therefore, you weigh this much today, “and as a result, you should
be fed this much today.” So we actually do that in the hatchery. You can do it weekly, though, if you don’t wanna over-complicate it. But if you’re mathematically minded and you’re interested in doing that, certainly, you could change
that equation every day. – You can do it real easy in Excel. – Yeah.
– Yeah. – That study assimilation
rate, what they’re putting on. – Yeah, and in general, lake sturgeon are a very efficient feeder. And so if you’re feeding them at about 8% body weight per day, that’s because that’s approximately what they can convert into growth. So the assimilation for sturgeon is generally pretty close to one over one. – [Meaghan] And just thinking about, I know many of you might have
Chromebooks in your classroom, but Google Sheets is a great option if you wanna involve students in this and teaching them about formulas. I see a lot of connections
with that, they’re projecting, and then also just looking
at the data analysis. And I know that was something
that partners shared in the chat was that Google sheets is a great way to help track data, and then also have your students
involved in that process. – I often have some of our
classrooms report back. There are sizes in the Google Sheets and they share it with me, and I have them graph it out. And if you have the trim line and you tell it to predict forward, you can actually go out
to your release day, and so on like January,
I’ll have them predict the release size, and it’s
in general, pretty close. – [Meaghan] Awesome. – Look like a wizard. (Meaghan laughing) – [Meaghan] And another
question we had were, “What are the dimensions
of 150 gallon tank?” So thinking about classroom sizes, I know that there are some that are, they’ve limited sizes and
space in their classroom. That is a constraint,
especially in science classrooms where you have a lot of
different items. – In the new tanks that
we have been looking at and we kind of go for
and we’ve been buying, I believe they’re four
foot long, two foot deep, and about 30 inches high. They’re wider, like depth-wise, than the standard 150 gallon tank so the fish can turn around. I know that was a big concern when we first started switching over ’cause some of the 150 gallon tanks may only be 18 inches wide, almost as wide as the 55, but
they’re just six feet long. So we try to get a smaller package in, and I definitely understand
not being able to fit it. We’ve tried some classrooms that are just almost
impossible to find some place where you’re not, like,
in front of a window. And if you are in front of a window, block out the light, if you can. We have duct taped garbage
bags, contractor bags, over the windows to stop the light. If you don’t, you’ll get
algae growth like crazy. You’ll get high, high temperatures, like almost 30 degrees
Centigrade, so really, really hot. Also the fish is really stressed out, and if you do encounter algae issues or if you really want a really clean tank, UV filters would be something
you could add to the system. It’s an extra investment, so I would only go there if
you were really having trouble. Sometimes, the tank
actually faces the window, and the windows of classrooms,
not much you can do about it. Those tanks typically have
a lot of algae issues. – Gotta keep in mind,
too, with lake sturgeon, they’re a two-dimensional fish. They’re benthivorous, which
means they stay on the bottom for the majority of their life. And so Kris mentioned
that they had some fish that were having troubles turning around. They’re not a salmon,
they can’t simply flip up in the water column. They tend to spend most of
their time on the bottom. And so a wider tank is better. – [Meaghan] Great,
another question we had, “Is there a method you use
to weigh and measure the fish “that you have found that works best?” – I just simply measure
them on a gram scale. You can take a piece of
PVC pipe, cut it in half, and put a ruler inside of it with an end that they
put their nose against. That’s one way to do it. You can do the same thing
with a board and a ruler, but the most important thing is to get a consistent length measurement is to make sure that that face, that rostrom is pushed up
against the solid surface so you get a consistent measurement. And then I measure what’s
called total length, which is essentially the rostrom all the way to the tip of the tail. – What was I gonna say? Length and weights. For Doug and I, we love the metric system. – Yes.
– Not everybody does that. If you are trying to communicate to us what is going on, it may be very difficult
for us to understand. – Yeah, we’re very metrics-based. – Somebody one time was telling me their tank was 68 degrees or 65. I had to go to my computer, my phone and figure out what in the
world that changes over to ’cause I am not great at
switching back and forth. Or if their fish is six inches
or heaven forbid, ten ounces. I can’t convert that in my head. So if you wanna go quick, or just start everybody else
using the metric system, and hopefully, your science class is using the metric system, but don’t forget. – [Meaghan] Great. We have another question about, related to the system and running it. So a teacher has kept, Brad
has kept his system running over the summer.
– Yeah. – [Meaghan] Cleaning it every week, and they have ended up with what appears to be a lumpy, tannish-brown bacteria in the top of the tank, in the top tank resting at the bottom. Is this most likely the
same bacteria as in my sump, and should I move it underneath or just siphon it out? – I would just siphon it out. Brad, if you can, I
would bump up your rate at which you add urea. If you get one of those cheap feeders, you can even have it do once a day. I mean, I would recommend the small amount more consistently, but it actually may be going
through a boom and bust cycle. You do have bacteria, and you probably have both types. They’re probably just at a
very low level right now. But you can feel free to
siphon that stuff out. It probably won’t help you in the end ’cause you’ll want everybody
down below where they can, I mean, the surface area, those little wagon wheels, is incredible. The only thing that’s any better than that is, like, sand. And my facility actually
has a gigantic sand filter that’s, I think it’s like
two orders of magnitude more surface area per inch,
or something like that. – [Meaghan] Great, we had another question about using a seeded bacteria
filter to prime the tank. Have you heard of anything for that, for using those for tank priming? – I’ve never heard of that. – I think, I like to actually, so in my experience,
whether or not that works, I mean, we have taken old
filters that were cashed out because they’d been
filled with blood worms, and we’d frozen them
and reseeded that way. I’ve not found that
that works really well. For somewhat obvious reasons,
those filters are frozen, and things die when they’re frozen. But I mean, we’ve
reseeded with old filters and not had very much luck. I think the better option
is to simply purchase the bacteria seeding material off Amazon. That stuff works extremely efficiently. – Yeah, and I think,
too, it depends on how, and I’m not familiar with, what was it? – A seeded bacteria filter.
– Seeded bacteria filter. I’m not familiar with how those
work or anything about it, but, too, you gotta remember
when they’re shipping it, too, it needs to be in ammonia, and it needs to be in nitrite. So those bottles typically
already have some bacteria and what they need in there. So it’s probably just easier to add– – It’s quantitative, too, right? So they tell you on the bottle what you have to feed per
gallon or per liter of water. It’s quantitative, you know
exactly what you’re doing. You know you’re not over seeding, and if you’re feeding consistently at the right urea concentration, then you know exactly
what you’re gonna get. – Biofilters and this bacteria stuff, there’s a ton of research out there. If you have any access to
any literature, Google, Scholar or anything, it is all out there. You can even calculate based on, like, the dissolved oxygen in the tank. You can calculate how
much that fish should be. I mean, they have everything. They even calculated how much
oxygen that bacteria uses per, like, I think surface
area or something like that. So you guys can, you know,
you can take our word for a lot of this, too, but there’s a lot of
information out there. – [Meaghan] Great, and then
time for one more question before we continue on to make sure we stay within our allotted time for the webinar. For the classrooms this year that are involved in the Sturgeon
in the Classroom program, are you recommending that
all classrooms use dry food and the pellet foods for this school year? – Yeah, so I think that
Kris has gone through a lot of effort, first of all, to make sure that these
fish are on to dry food. Whenever possible, dry
food is the way to go. There is some lake sturgeon research that indicates that,
particularly early on, it’s difficult to get ’em
onto those food types, but once you get them
onto those food types, they will eat it consistently. Think of it as like teaching
you kid to eat their broccoli when they’re young, and knowing that they’ll
eat it as an adult. So yes, I would recommend that. Blood worms are gross, and they’re getting incredibly expensive as a result of some new
environmental regulation in Asia, and so wherever possible,
if you can do it, I would definitely feed the pellet food. – Yeah, we’ve tried to make it easier for the teachers at every step, and this was one step
that we’ve been working on and, you know, theorizing
about for a little while. And now that we’re finally
getting to the end of this, we’re realizing we came
out with at least 35 fish that are loving dry feed. And if we can make it that
much easier for people, that’s what I would like. If they don’t take to
whatever you’re feeding them, we can always go back to blood worms. I guess you can hold out for that, but for the most part, you
probably want to be feeding, I mean, you can put ’em
on an automatic feeder. I mean, there’s a little
rotating feeder that you can get, 17 bucks, and you don’t even have to worry about feeding them over the weekend. – Right. – And there are some issues
where you might have to worry about, like, ammonia loading, but you can deal with
that on Monday, maybe, or even slow it down over the weekend. – Right, yeah. And without getting overly technical, blood worms are gross. I mean, they’re fly larvae
that are raised in gross ponds, and as a result are, you know, the larder that these
blood worms are frozen in is kind of disgusting, and so you’re introducing
another variable. And so if we can
eliminate that by feeding, by feeding a dry, pelleted food, I think you’ll find it’s a lot easier on everybody involved. And one more thing, if you
have any more questions, I know we’re done with the
question and answer section, but you’re always welcome
to contact myself. I think Kris would say the same. Shoot us an email. We can generally answer your
questions relatively quickly, and we’re happy to. – [Meaghan] If there
are additional questions that we haven’t addressed
during the webinar through Zoom, we are recording all the questions, so we can also follow up with you offline. – Okay. All right, with that, we’re gonna switch into the. – [Meaghan] Classroom connections and highlighting different ways to further extend student learning connected to the Sturgeon
in the Classroom program. – So I think I probably mentioned earlier, we have a program ourselves
at Little Traverse Bay Bands. This program, we first started, you were the original guy, so. – I don’t know, 2013 was our first year. – So we’ve kind of expanded from there. We’ve had our lumps with it, but this is, I believe this is, like, the heading or the intro on
the slide of a lesson plan. I don’t get too into the lesson plans. I do mostly the tank stuff. We have an entire education department who works with that. They have helped put this together. I mean, it’s really incredible stuff. And it covers a lot of cool things. I think what’s really different about this is the Anishinaabemowin
language in the course. So we really try to bring the
tribal perspective into this and give people kind of a
different view of the world that maybe sometimes they don’t get, I think out of all the sections, the one that I didn’t
necessarily understand was border crossings, and I think that has to
do with having the teacher maybe become more familiar
with the Odawa culture and maybe Native American
practices, in general. In that way, the teacher’s
maybe a little better off to answer questions, so I think that’s what that
second to last section would be. Each one, if you wanna go to the next one, I’ll pause for a second. Well, the next one, this is a list of all of the lesson plans we have. I believe there’s 12 in total. The picture here is, I
believe they’re doing the Marquis Capture stuff in Pellston. So it’s kind of like a hands-on section. Part of this, too, and I believe lesson 11
is the role hatcheries play. It’s required for most of the classrooms to come to the hatchery and have a tour, so we tell them what we’re doing and kind of give them, you know, this is actually what’s happening. And then probably, you know, most of our fish are all released the first week of May, last week of April. So they get a chance to
come down to the river, they’ll have a ceremony, and then they’ll get
to release their fish, and they’ll get to see adults, I think that’s really important, too. Connecting the dots, you just, you saw your little fish, now, you get to see what
the big guys look like. You know, we can answer questions later if anybody has any questions. – And then just briefly, I’m gonna plug a couple of lessons from the Michigan State
University program. I’ve had the good fortune to work on both of these programs, both on the tribe side and the Michigan State University side, and I just wanna say, these lessons on both sides are fantastic, and we would very highly
encourage the teachers to use them in the classroom. It’s getting to the point where the paradigm is
focusing on the curriculum as the most important part of the program, with the fish being a very,
very beneficial addition to the program. And so obviously, the fish’s survival is the most important thing, but if we can emphasize on the curriculum, if you do have a mortality
in the classroom, the program doesn’t have
to pass on with the fish. And so check out these
curriculum, if you can. We distribute the Michigan
State University program through the
glsturgeon.com website. This is also where you’ll
find any information about our publications,
and just generally, it’s education-based
lake sturgeon curriculum. So I highly recommend this. I’m gonna focus on two
of the newer lessons that we’ve put out. The first is our Mark
and Recapture lesson. So I’m not gonna go through
all of this with you. I’m gonna give you some general idea of what the lesson’s like. I’m happy to help if you have questions. Please feel free to contact me. But this lesson focuses on a technique that we use in fisheries to identify or calculate population sizes when we can’t simply drain a lake and count all the fish that are present. This curriculum was
developed with teachers and based on current standards. Each lesson is gonna give
you a objective, outcomes, both the skills, knowledge,
and dispositions. And then it’s going to walk you through the steps to doing the lesson and how to do the
calculations that are provided in the lesson. But Mark Recapture in
general, just very simply is, for example, we do this
with lake sturgeon. We go out into the field,
and we sample lake sturgeon. And every time we catch a lake sturgeon, we provide some sort of a mark. And here’s what some of
those marks look like. So on the bottom right,
this is an RFID tag. It’s a coded 16-digit tag that we inject into the fish. We can identify that fish
out of a series of 1200 fish. On the top right, we can use floy tags, which are visual tags that tell our divers not to catch a fish, or that this counts as
capture for that fish. And so we go out and we do some
sort of a mark on that fish. We release that fish, and we go out a second time,
we recapture those fish, or recapture some number of fish. And so the ratio of the
number of fish marked times the number of fish captured divided by the number of
fish that were recaptured gives us an estimate of population size. And now, there’s some math here, and obviously, you’ll have the opportunity to go through that, but in short, how many did I mark, and how many did I recapture? That’ll give you an
estimate of how many fish are in that population in general. And it’ll even allow you to calculate a relative error rate
associated with that. And so the way we do this
in the classroom is twofold. The first part, we give
you a visual aid to use. And so in this case, I really
like to use Swedish Fish because I love Swedish Fish. You can do this with marked beans. It’s a really inexpensive lesson. You mark some organisms or beans and you distribute them
through a population, re-sample, find out how
many were recaptures, and then you can use that to calculate the number of beans there. And you can actually do this several times and see how close you get to
the actual number of beans that are in a population. It’s a really, really simple calculation, and it’s really powerful. It’s how we do all of our
lake-wide assessments, it’s how we do most of our
assessments on the Black River. And then we try to come back and tie that into data that we’ve collected. So then I’ve provided you with data set, looking at captured
adult lake sturgeon males in a two-year period, 2017 and 2018. This is real data that we
generated on the Black River. And then from this data, you can calculate the number
of males in the population. And just as a spoiler, if you get a chance to do this lesson, it’s extremely accurate
to the number of males that are actually present. So this lesson is a really neat way of kind of enforcing
on your kids, you know, using a very simple math equation, this is how we do manage, and we use these assessments
to then come back and say, “Okay, well,
we have X number of fish “in the population. “We know we can take 1% of the population. “This is how many fish
we’re gonna harvest.” And it gives you a very
broad and simple way of understanding fisheries management, and it’s connected to data
that we already collect. So that’s a cool lesson. The next lesson, a
little bit more hands on and maybe a little bit more complex, but as we move towards the
technological revolution, and we have groups of students who are moving towards
being able to write code, we provide a lesson that gives you an introduction to R and R Studio. Now, most of you have
probably never heard those, heard of those programs before, but very simply, there are a
simple, code-based platform which allows your students to run really basic statistical tests to give you an idea of differences between different populations. R is open source, and what that means is that
people write their programs, people write the programs in R, and then they distribute them, and then you can use those programs to answer complex questions. If you’re in biology or if
you’re gonna go into biology, you absolutely have to know how to use R. It’s getting to the point now where everything in fisheries management has some sort of connection to R. So while that may seem complex and it may seem like it’s
above what you know how to do, we’ve provided a step-by-step guide to do really simple comparisons in R. And everything that’s done in R will come with some sort
of a YouTube resource that you can go back to and figure out how to
perform that test in R. This is a really approachable lesson. We’ve tried to make it
as simple as possible. It’s answering a very basic question about two different populations of fish and how they differ between one another. And so just like the previous lesson, you’ll get objectives, you’ll
be provided with outcomes, and you’ll get a lesson that has data that actually comes from our population. So the lesson is very simple, like I said. It’ll show you everything
from how to download R and to how to compare
these two populations. So it’s very approachable, and again, I’m always open for
questions if you have them. If you’re a teacher and you
have trouble understanding this and you wanna know more, please reach out because I’m happy to sit down and do hours upon hours
upon hours of R tutorials. – [Meaghan] And that
could even be an option to connect via Zoom in the classroom. – Exactly, yep. And if you contact me, there’s a pretty good chance that I’d be interested in
teaching your kids about R because I love doing R. But as you can see, without going through
this in too much detail, you can make basic graphs in R, you can do basic statistical tests in R, and what you’re left with is a good way of looking at a population
visually for the students. So those are just two lessons. The third lesson, and
actually the reason why a lot of this came together is that we’re putting together
a Citizen Science project through Michigan State University Black River Sturgeon Facility. The idea behind this
project is that we have fish that move into the Black River, and they pass a certain point. So we know that lake
sturgeon are coming up, but we know that there
are other migratory fish that come up, like white sucker,
like darter, like redhorse. And these other fish are
never quantified by us because we’re so focused on lake sturgeon. But one of the things that we’ve noted in the last three or four years is that predation is driving
population growth or decline in some of these systems. And we have no way of estimating what the biomass of predators is and how that can affect
other drifting lake sturgeon or small lake sturgeon eggs, things that get eaten in the river. And so using this Citizen
Science camera set, we can put a camera at
the mouth of the river, and as these fish move up, citizens are able to look at this video and say there’s a smallmouth
bass, there’s a darter, and my personal favorite, there
goes a beaver by the camera. And so we’re providing
this video over time during this spawning run and during the larval drift period with the hopes that the
students will go back, look through that video in
perhaps one-hour snippets, large groups of citizens could do this. It doesn’t just have to be students. You could identify and measure
the fish that are present, report that back to us. We can then convert that to biomass, and through Citizen Science, we have an idea of what
the year over year biomass of lake sturgeon
predators is in the river. Now this project is a work
in progress, for sure, but we seem to have
fixed all of the kinks, as you can see by these
links to YouTube videos here. I totally recommend you check them out. Again, the beaver video is awesome. And so next year, we’ll be
deploying these camera setups, and by the fall of next year as part of the curriculum
that MSU provides, we will be deploying the
Citizen Science project, and we’d really love it if everybody who
participates in this program, particularly if you have
interest in doing this and your students have access
to computers or technology, that you’d consider being a part of this because I think that this will fill in a really important knowledge gap that as, you know, as management entities, we simply just don’t have
the resources to measure. So this is a cool program, and I’m looking forward
to deploying it next year. – [Meaghan] And before
we wrap up the webinar, I wanted to share some information related to the Center for Great Lakes Literacy. This center is a network
of partners and students, educators, scientists,
environmental professionals, and citizen volunteers that are dedicated to improving
Great Lakes stewardship. You can learn more by visiting cgll.org where on the website there
are a variety of resources from curricula to science
and teacher features. So it’s a great way to learn
more about different issues related to Great Lakes literacy. And as a part of the Center
for Great Lakes Literacy, there are the Great
Lakes Literacy principles which parallel ocean
science literacy principles, so this is a great way to further extend the Sturgeon in the Classroom program as a threatened or endangered species, and seven out of the
eight Great Lake states across the United States. This is a great way to learn
more about the Great Lakes and the importance of
this freshwater system for our communities and
local economies and more. So these are great ways
to extend the learning through place-based education, and then lastly, in partnership with the Great Lakes
Stewardship Initiative, Sturgeon for Tomorrow, and many partners, we have developed an adapted version of the SCUTES Educator Handbook. This features different
lessons and resources, including some developed and
highlighted earlier today in this webinar by MSU and the Little Traverse
Bay Band of Odawa Indians and also by Michigan educators that are currently participating in the Sturgeon in the Classroom program. So digital versions of this printed binder are now available at this link where you can access and
download the different files via Google Drive folder. So with that, we’re gonna open
up for some more questions, if you have any related to curricula and further ways to
extend student learning connected to the Sturgeon
in the Classroom program. It doesn’t look like we have any questions related to curricula. And I think the resources
that Doug and Kris highlighted are great resources to check out and ways to further
extend student learning connected to this, and I just wanted to echo what Doug said about having the opportunity to raise a sturgeon in the classroom is a great way to connect your students to this threatened species in Michigan. But you can connect your students through these lesson plans even without having a sturgeon. So if you are unable to have
a sturgeon in the classroom due to space constraints, these lessons are a great way to partner and help your students learn more about lake sturgeon and their importance for our Great Lakes communities. So to conclude, Doug and Kris, I would like to give you the opportunities to acknowledge all the different partners that have been involved
with the development of this presentation. – Very briefly, I just
wanna say thank you, especially to Kris. He’s done a really great job in putting a lot of
this material together. We’ve got several funding sources both for Michigan State University and Little Traverse Bay Bands. Thanks to everybody
who was a part of this. Thanks to Meaghan for putting it together. If I can leave you personally
with one final thought, when in doubt, write it down (laughing). – [Meaghan] So thank you all so much for joining us today. We hope you learned more
about best practices for raising sturgeon in the classroom, and also ways to further
extend student learning through different curricular resources. I wanted to give thanks
to our expert presenters. Doug and Kris, we really
appreciate you coming and sharing this
information with all of us in the midst of a very
busy season for you all. So thank you very much for being here. – Thanks, everyone, for attending. – Yeah.

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