A whole new meaning to schools of fish

Classroom pets are not out of the ordinary – but have you ever seen a class raise 65 rainbow trout, then release them into the wild?

That’s exactly what 37 lucky schools across Alberta are up to this year with the Fish in Schools: Raise to Release (FinS) program. Through the program, teachers and students – from Kindergarten to Grade 12 – have the chance to watch the trout life cycle unfold – right before their eyes! It’s a unique opportunity to watch trout grow and learn about how they adapt to changing environments.

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Raising these trout isn’t easy! They like cold, fresh water which means special equipment and constant care are required.

What can you learn from raising trout?

  • The shells of the rainbow trout eggs are clear!

The first body parts you can see developed are their beady, black eyes. Sometimes you can see the young fish moving around inside.

  • The hatched trout have a sack of food attached to their belly!

At this stage, they are called alevins or sack-fry (named for that funny-looking orange sack that’s attached to them).

  • The fry sure like to eat!

A specific feeding schedule is set to ensure the fish aren’t fed too much or too little. The slightest over-feeding can lead to undesirable water conditions – and unhappy trout.

Where do these fish go?

With spring just around the corner, these classes will be releasing their trout into the wild soon! Trout are being released into lakes as far north as Wilderness Park in the Peace region, across to Little Bear Lake just outside of Cold Lake, and down to lakes in Kananaskis country in the Southern Rockies.

How can you take part?

Are you an aquarist, angler or science buff? Would you like to volunteer in a school community in your region?

FinS is a provincially delivered program involving teachers and volunteers from across Alberta. The program is continually growing, and may need your help! New schools require an experienced advisor to help them maintain the aquarium and raise the trout from egg to fry. If you are interested in becoming an advisor, send an email with your region to fins.program@gov.ab.ca. We’d love to have you on board!

2 thoughts on “A whole new meaning to schools of fish

  1. I hope proper precautions have been taken against the possible spread of whirling disease etc. I think we would do better to work on habitat protection and promote catch and release to protect populations of bull trout and cutthroat in Kananaskis Country at least. I hate to be the naysayer, because I do believe in education.

    • Hi Phil,

      Thanks for the question. The FinS program implements stringent fish-rearing guidelines and schools are provided with eggs sourced from provincial hatcheries. Water bodies that are selected for the program have taken all factors into consideration and representatives are also present to observe the fish release.

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