Steelhead eggs for teachers in the STEP program (Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties) are not available again this year due to a fungal issue at the hatchery. CDFW is making rainbow trout eggs available to all eligible teachers as an alternative. The response from teachers so far is very positive.
Below is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) I am receiving from teachers. Please feel free to ask more questions and they can be included here.
What are the differences in raising rainbow versus steelhead trout?
The fish are identical in almost every way. Your existing equipment is fine and you hatch and raise rainbow in the same manner as steelhead trout.
Why are steelhead not available again this year?
There are a series of unfortunate events occurring at the hatchery – most notably a fungus that has put the fish and eggs under quarantine. Both the State and Federal agencies are not allowing release of eggs or fish from the hatchery at this time.
Is it true that releasing steelhead helps rebuild the population while releasing rainbow trout just provides food for predators or fish to be caught by anglers?
Almost every fish released as a part of the classroom incubation program will become food for a predator regardless of whether you release salmon, steelhead or rainbow trout. The process of hatching and releasing fish in classrooms is an educational program and not intended to supplement fish stocking or restoration efforts. The value of raising fish in the classroom has more to do with what happens in the minds and hearts of the student than in the lake or river where the fish are released.
Will using my tank for rainbow trout “contaminate” the equipment and make it unusable should steelhead be available in coming years?
Absolutely not. Steelhead and rainbow are essentially the same fish. You should use the same protocols for cleaning your tank as you do every other year.
My school is on break during the time I will have the eggs – will this be a problem?
The fish and eggs should be fine if left unattended for a week although you are encouraged to check on your tank every few days. It is unfortunate the students will miss an entire week with the fish, but this is unavoidable
Why the short notice?
We waited as long as possible in the hopes the problems at the hatchery would be rectified and steelhead eggs would be available.
Why can’t I release the fish in the same place I did in previous years?
These fish are of a different genetic strain than the fish used in the past and may only be released into lakes that has been evaluated as appropriate for these fish. The release of fish is carefully monitored by State and Federal agencies.
For many teachers, especially those in Santa Clara County, the release sites for rainbow trout will be easier as the release sites are closer to the school and to where students live.
Do I need to re-submit my 772 application?
No you do not. All you need to do is send an email answering the two questions outlined in the email sent to you on 3/5/15. CDFW staff will update your file and generate a new permit for you.
Why do I have to pick up the eggs instead of having them delivered to my classroom?
Volunteers from the STEP program have provided the egg delivery service to your classroom for many years. They are opting to not participate in the program this year. CDFW is working with other organizations to create a series of egg pick up sites to give teachers as many options as possible.
Can someone else pick up my eggs for me?
Absolutely. You may have a co-teacher, parent, spouse or friend pick up the eggs. They will need to arrive and tell the staff who they are picking up for.
What do I need when I pick up the eggs?
CDFW hatchery staff and volunteers will pack the eggs for transport for you. You will need to arrive with a small ice chest (with some ice). Ideally, the eggs should be placed in your tank the same day you receive them.
Have other teachers successfully hatched rainbow trout?
Rainbow trout are the most widely hatched fish in classroom aquariums, Presently there are over 250 classes in the Bay Area alone incubating these same eggs with great success.
Will steelhead eggs be available next year?
At this time, we do not know.
Have other teachers made this switch?
Last year teachers in Sonoma County faced a similar issue and were also offered rainbow trout as an alternative. Almost all of the teachers in that program opted to hatch rainbow trout and had a very successful year. They taught many of the same lessons and felt the it was a success. Many of those teachers inquired about continuing with rainbow trout in the future.
When will the fish need to be released?
You may keep the fish for up to 6 weeks after hatch – this would make the final release date May 13, 2015
Do you have more questions? Send them to email@example.com.