Pupils’ skills help fishy friends grow

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Making a splash... East Gore School pupils Nikayla Vetters (right, 10) and Ella Latty (10) feed the salmon their class are raising to release into the Mataura river. PHOTO: FIONA ELLIS

Requiring a temperature regulator and a chemistry kit, East Gore School’s newest aquatic acquisitions can be complicated to care for.

Room Rata pupils are raising salmon in a tank in their classroom until they are old enough to be released into the Mataura River.

Teacher Treana Morton said it was the first time East Gore School pupils had done this project, which she had implemented three times at a previous school.

It was proving as popular as ever.

“It’s just a really cool all-round life-cycle project for kids,” Mrs Morton said.

“We’re learning about the salmon life cycle.

“We’ll start at eggs and we’ll watch them go through.”

The eggs have been provided by fishing company Sanford, while Fish & Game New Zealand supported the project by providing the equipment.

Room Rata’s pupils were also learning about fish anatomy as part of the project, Mrs Morton said.

“In the past we’ve got a large salmon to dissect.”

Her pupils were also learning how to maintain the water quality the fish needed.

This included controlling the water’s temperature.

“It is quite an intensive setup compared to just normal like your goldfish.

“The salmon have to be kept below 13degC.”

The water was constantly circulated through a filter and a chiller system, re-entering the tank at 12.9degC.

Pupil Nikayla Vetters said she and her classmates made sure the tank water did not have high levels of ammonia.

They tested for this using a special kit and a colour chart.

“If the water is too high with ammonia we need to take half of the water out of the tank,” Nikayla said.

The tank would then be topped up with fresh water that had been sitting for at least 24 hours to allow the chlorine to dissipate.

Most but not all of the original 29 fish eggs had survived, she said.

“The ones that die, we name them.

“I went and buried one.”

She was enjoying raising the salmon.

“I just like seeing them swim around and play.

“I like seeing them grow from stage to stage.”