Releasing The Fry

releasing fryGetting the fry to the release site alive and vigorous will help them acclimate to their new surroundings. There are many ways to capture, transport and release the fry, but the following has proved to be very successful.

Equipment Needed

  • A simple 5 gallon plastic bucket or an ice chest (picnic cooler) that will hold 36 quarts or more (preferred)
  • At least one small (3 to 4 inch) aquarium net
  • 5/8” siphon hose at least 3 feet long (look for clear vinyl tubing, available at a hardware store)
  • Small pail (1 or 2 gal)

Make sure all equipment is free of any soap residue or chemicals.

Capturing and Transporting Your Fry

Begin to capture the fish by positioning the receiving container next to the aquarium with the top of the container level with the bottom of the aquarium or lower. Start the siphon and begin transferring water to the container. While transferring the water to the container siphon as many fry as you can, the trip down the siphon hose will not harm them. Stop when you have transferred about 3 or 4 gallons of water. Water weighs 8.3 pounds per gallon so the container will become too heavy if you add too much water. Continue capturing fry with the net until you have removed all the fry. When you think you have removed all the fry it is a good idea to scoop out as much gravel as possible to search for any elusive fry. If your trip to the release point is somewhere around 30 minutes or less, the insulated cooler will keep the water cool enough.

Releasing Your Fry

At the release point use a small bucket to add water from the fry’s new home to the container. Add about a gallon or so, wait a few minutes and add some more. Adding water will allow the fry to better acclimatize to their new environment: (the longer and slower you can do this, the better). Factors such as water temperature and pH are unlikely to match between the fry’s new and old homes and sudden changes in these two factors can stress the fry.

If you have the students release the fry, hand them their cup with a fish in it. Have them release the fry at the water’s surface by gently dipping the cup sideways into the water and letting the fry swim out. Ideally, this would be near some cover like rocks or vegetation.

About Ethan Rotman

Ethan Rotman (Bayareatic) manages and coordinates programs that hatch fish in classrooms for the San Francisco Bay Area. He also chairs the committee that manages these programs throughout the state. Ethan has worked with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for over 20 years.
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