I wish that homeschoolers would show up to stuff. I went to the trouble of making a field trip at the Leadville fish hatchery, invited 300 people from 2 groups and no one came. I know it’s a 2 hour drive, but we took our time, stopped at Officer’s gulch to see the leaves and stopped in historic Leadville for a snack and to walk around.
We had a picnic at the hatchery and looked at the huge trout in the outdoor pond.
A chipmunk eating and running around.
The fish runs.
The hatchery is the second oldest in the country (Federal fish hatchery.) The building was built in 1889.
Our tour guide started us in this room. So, right now they are raising only Greenback cutthroat trout (a native species to Colorado that in endangered.) They hand squeeze the eggs from females (they are under anesthesia) to mix with milt (male fish sperm.) The male fish sperm only last 23 seconds – so they don’t add it until they are super ready. It also explains why these fish aren’t reproducing well in the wild, imagine a whole host of factors – getting the right riffle to lay eggs in, the right oxygen mix and water temperature and then finding a male who can come fertilize the eggs within that short time span. It works much better in the hatchery.
The next room was more a history of fish hatcheries, fish trains, the old wooden pipes they used (and used until recently when PVC was laid in the middle of the wooden pipe to transport water.) They used to hand fertilize back then too, and make fish food from grating liver and wild game.
They had fish hatching tables back then too, but they were a bit more complicated and you had to do the math.
A water level marker.
Then we got to go back into the part of the hatchery were the fish were growing from fry to adults. Unless you have a tour guide you can’t go see this part. Baby fry.
A fish run full of 5 ” trout.
The bins of fry are on one side, the Moms and Dads are on the other, separated in the runs.
They crossed a Greenback and a Rainbow trout and got some albino trout.
This multi-filtration system is filtering out iron and nitrogen as well as mixing the water to form more oxygen.
Scanning one of the fish. All of these fish are chipped and you can trace the fry to a certain Mom or Dad. The chips will be used when they are released to check on them at a later date – hopefully finding fish without a chip means that they bred in the wild.
The hatchery also raises boreal toads to send to Laramie, WY. These toads are endangered too.
After the tour we got to see one section of the old water pipes made from wood (the metal rings are to hold the wood in place when the water pressure builds up.) The 1890 pipes were replaced in the 40’s with new wood and though it now contains PVC inside the wood is still good.
Our last thing to do was to go feed the fish in the pond, they were hungry!
We stopped a few times on the way home to take pictures.