Something Fishy Going on in Biology Class

This winter, students in Besant Hill’s Life Science class are participating in California’s Classroom Aquarium Education Program (CAEP). A partnership between educators, students, and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, CAEP provides the tools and resources necessary for raising native salmonids (trout and salmon) in the classroom. The objective of this program is to raise awareness of conservation efforts surrounding these unique anadromous fish by raising native rainbow trout in the classroom and releasing them into the local watershed once they’ve become juveniles.

Over the course of three months, students observe the lifecycle of these sensitive fish as they progress from eggs to juvenile trout. Daily water chemistry measurements are recorded and analyzed by students as they seek to determine possible correlations between fish mortality and water quality. Topics such as freshwater ecology, conservation biology, and fish anatomy and physiology are explored through the lens of these rainbow trout that are native to southern California streams.

This spring, the program will culminate in the release of these juvenile fish into Lake Casitas watershed. Biology students responsible for releasing these fish will take this opportunity to assess the health of the riparian zones along the lake as the trout they cared for become adjusted to their new environment. Future biology classes will use the observations and data from this program to better maximize trout survival rates next winter.

In connection with this project students learn about:

  • freshwater ecology
  • anadromous fish (fish who migrate between the ocean and freshwater streams)
  • and conservation biology

Southern California Steelhead: Against All Odds