Art Ideas From A Teacher

Lynn Nichelini teaches at the Santa Margarita Children’s Center in Marin. She found these very cool “little fish” and has shared the source and some ideas of how she uses them in her classroom.

She uses them in a variety of ways including…
– with blue playdough
– to make impressions in clay/playdough
– for sorting/measuring/weighing activities
– stream/lake provocation (blue material for water, wood pieces, rocks) for pretend play
– visual for drawing


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Keeping Invaders Out – Wardens and Biologists Make A Great Team

Hatching fish in your classroo helps instill a sense of stewardship within students. They learn to care about their local environments and work to protect and preserve these valuable resources. Some people grow up not caring about the environment or the impact they have on the world.

This article provides an inside look on how law enforcement wardens work to protect California from unscrupulous individuals who sell illegal animals and plants for profit.

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Why Are My Eggs Hatching Early?

I have received several inquiries regarding eggs that are hatching seemingly early. A few teachers have reported eggs hatching before they even made it into the fish tank. As sponsor, you may be the first point of contact for teachers.

All in all – we are experiencing a successful year. The eggs are healthy, we are seeing good survival rates, and most of all – students are learning about fish and aquatic habitats. Yes, some classes have to change their release date to accommodate early hatch and fast development.


Here are a few insights:

  • Hatching fish in classrooms is not an exact science – there are some variables we do not control.
  • The water at the source hatchery fluctuates based on weather. The temperature I give you (and which is recorded on the 772 permit) is an average, not a constant. February had some warm days and this may have impacted the development of the eggs.
  • The eggs will develop at different rates both at the source hatchery and in classrooms. The eggs are addled (shocked) at the hatchery when a large percentage of the eggs have “eyed” and again, some will be further along the process and others a bit behind.
  • The eggs we use have undergone a process to sterilize the eggs to keep the fish from being able to reproduce. This is a new process for CDFW and for most fish hatcheries in general. It appears that triploid (sterilized) eggs develop more rapidly than do diploid (fertile) eggs.

Please keep in mind that this is an educational program on what fish need to survive. There are aspects to the process we simply do not control. This alone is a good topic for conversation with students – the fact that humans attempts to control nature have not always worked out as we had originally envisioned. For example, 60 years ago we built dams to store water and protect against floods. To mitigate the loss of habitat, hatcheries were built to make up for lost habitat. Today we find that hatcheries alone are not enough to maintain anadromous fish populations and the old models for having adequate water storage to protect against floods may not be sufficient. More than a century ago we saw burning of fossil fuels as the path to development and progress and now we face issues that may be related to the excessive burning of these fuels.

Interestingly, not all tanks are experiencing this early hatch. There is a bit of variation around the bay area despite the fact that most tanks are running at similar temperatures.

For next year, we will see if we can get eggs that are a couple of days “younger” into classrooms.

If you have questions, please let me know. You are doing a great job and if the eggs hatch early, it is not because you are doing something wrong. Sometimes we are less in control than we like to think we are.

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Getting Eggs To Your Classroom

By now, most of you have eggs (or fish) in your classroom. Most of you are fortunate to have a coach who delivers the sweet bundle directly to your classroom. Some of you pick up your package of eggs from a hatchery or other site.

These eggs have made a long and complex journey to reach your classroom – one involving both natural and human made systems. Here a bit of information on what it takes to get these precious eggs into your classroom.

Adult fish are spawned in a hatchery – rainbow trout come from the Mt. Shasta Hatchery in Northern California and the steelhead from the Warm Springs Hatchery in Sonoma County. The eggs are allowed to develop for about 35 days until they develop the eye spot. At this point the eggs are addled to help remove weaker eggs. Rainbow trout eggs are then ready to be transferred from the source hatchery to the Silverado Fisheries Base in Napa. The eggs are then carefully counted, bundled and wrapped, ready for delivery to your classroom.


Meanwhile, your application is being processed to ensure only teachers who have completed the required training and have successfully completed the program in the past receive eggs.

Your sponsor picks up the eggs and your permit either from the hatchery or a centralized meeting spot (e.g. Berkeley marina) and the eggs are delivered to your classroom. This is a fun and amazing process to watch as groups of coaches, most of them fly-fishers, meet to collect the exact number of egg packages, match these to your permit, place them carefully in ice chests and zoom off to classrooms all around the greater Bay Area.

It is a large and complex system involving 3 hatcheries, 380 classrooms, 30 sponsor/support organizations, and a gaggle of CDFW staff. Eggs are sent as far as Watsonville, Mendocino County, Lake County, and Tracy – not to mention the 9 Bay Area Counties.

All of this is done because the people behind the scenes believe in you and your ability as a classroom teacher to help students learn the value of quality habitat and how individual actions can impact the survival of wildlife.

The Classroom Aquarium Education Program in the San Francisco Bay Area is the single largest program of its kind in the entire United States. We have enjoyed tremendous environmental successes over the past decades and programs such as this and teachers such as you deserve a fair share of the credit.




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Picking Up Eggs From Warm Springs Hatchery

Teachers in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties receive eggs from Warm Springs Hatchery. Here are special instructions for to confirm your egg pick up.

1 week prior to egg pick up – Call OR email to confirm you will be picking up eggs:

  1. Call (707) 433-6325 between 9:00am and 3:00pm; or
  2. Email
    1. Include the following information:
      1. Teacher(s) Name
      2. School Name
      3. Best Contact Phone Number
      4. Pick Up Date (this must be the same as on your application)
      5. Pick Up Location (see below)

Note: You MUST receive a confirmation either via email or voice to voice contact confirming your egg pick location for the following week.

You May Select Any Egg Pick Up location

  • Warm Springs Hatchery: 3246 Skaggs Springs Rd, Geyserville CA 95425 –(707) 433-6325 – Available for Pick-Up between 10:00am and 3:00 pm
  • Sonoma County Water Agency: 404 Aviation Boulevard, Santa Rosa CA 95403 – (707) 484-9518 – Available for Pick-Up between 10:00am and 5:00 pm – Please contact David Berman if you want to pick up after 2 PM ( or (707-484-9518)
  • Coyote Valley Fish Facility: 1229 Lake Mendocino Dr, Ukiah CA 95482 – (707) 462-7756 – Available for Pick-Up between 10:00am and 3:00 pm

On the day of pick up

  • Bring a small ice chest to transport the eggs
  • You may have another person pick up the eggs for you
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Teachers Can Write Poetry Too!



H20 is fluid and clean

Rain falls and travels quietly down the river

Wet river flowing clean

Wading a slow flowing stream

Cold blue streams flowing to the sea


Drought dry lakes

Turbid flows seep from flood-drenched hills

Rain fills the river and fish thrive

Keep the river fresh and clean


H2O stands for water

Fish love clean water

Oxygen provides life

Flows throughout life

Riffles, riffles everywhere


Wet fish in a drought

Clean river give life to fish

Clear fluid bubbling with life

Fish making bubbles








Water, river, oceans, and life

Alameda Creek roaring full

Warm, cool, life

Without water-no life

Take the plunge if you dare


Wondrous water is wet

Fluid rivers rebound from drought

H20, rivers, oceans, H20

Fluid rivers wet and clean

Condensing misty droplets


H20. Exotic. Diverse life.

Rivers bubbling with life

Helping fish

Rivers flowing, reservoirs growing

Fluid waters of rivers flowing into the ocean

Water: strong and beautiful



Thanks for all the creativity.

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2 Changes In Policy

There have been a two changes  in policy  I want to share with you.

  • Length of time eggs/fry may be held: As of this year, fry must be released no later than 8 weeks from the date of egg delivery. In the past, fry had to be released within 6 weeks of hatch. This new policy is simpler and more definate – it was difficult to determine the day of hatch. Keep in mind the longer you hold the fish in your classroom, the greater the risk of mortality. We continue to encourage release as soon as the fry button-up to decrease mortality.
  • Returning your permit after release: After you release your fry, you must return your signed permit within 2 weeks. This is a firm deadline. We suggest you fill out your form immediately following release, make a copy, and return the original either to CDFW directly or to your sponsor.

These changes are statewide in scope and apply to all teachers hatching fish in California. Please let me know if you have questions.

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