GLOVERSVILLE - It was not easy for Gloversville High School senior Emily Gifford to help release more than 60 small trout into the Cayadutta Creek recently.
After watching the fish hatch and grow over several months, Gifford said, she had grown quite fond of them.
"I've had these guys since January," Gifford said. "I didn't want to let them go."
Gloversville High School students and staff gather around a large net behind City Hall on Thursday. The net was put in the water to collect insects so students can see what is living in the Cayadutta Creek.
The Leader-Herald/Levi Pascher
She was one of the dozen science students who took the opportunity Thursday to help the environment by cleaning the banks of the Cayadutta Creek and stocking the stream.
GHS science teacher Jeffrey Gardiner said the project started after Thanksgiving, when the students went on a trip to the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill.
He said during that trip, students in AP biology and environmental science extracted the eggs from a female trout and fertilized them with the milt from a male trout.
Gardiner said the students transported the fertilized eggs to the high school and placed them in a 55-gallon aquarium.
He said about three weeks later the eggs started to hatch and develop into the recognizable trout people find in the Cayadutta Creek and other streams today.
"When they hatch, they have a yolk sac attached to them and they basically look like a little worm with a big bulge, and they don't eat until all of that yolk is absorbed," Gardiner said about the early stages. "Once that is gone, you have to start feeding them in a progression, starting with really small food, and as they grow you feed them more."
Over the next several weeks, the students observed and maintained the aquarium, where they were able to learn about the life cycle of trout, and also twice a week went through the standard testing procedures for checking the quality and stability of water, he said.
Gardiner said he attempted to do a similar project with a class at Park Terrace Elementary School last year, but because they tried to balance the levels of tap water, that attempt didn't work.
This time, he said, the high school classes used water directly from the Cayadutta Creek and the experiment had better results.
He said the Trout Unlimited conservation group provided the class with the materials they needed, including the necessary filters and water chiller.
Gardiner said unlike the fish many people keep at home, trout need to have cooler water temperatures to stay alive; that is the reason they needed a chilling unit rather than a heater.
The class had more than 60 young brown trout placed in two buckets to release into the stream Thursday, with the fish ranging from 2 to 3 inches in size.
The class, made up of primarily juniors and seniors Thursday, were wearing waders and brought nets to capture some of the insects the trout would eventually feed on in their new environment.
The nets allowed the students to see and better understand the variety of insects and larva the fish who travel the creek will encounter.
The class also took the opportunity to help the environment by cleaning the various bottles, cardboard and scrap metals that were visible along the creek bed and banks.
"I think it helps and raises awareness for the environment," Hanna Gillis said as she was throwing soaked cardboard into the trash. "We also get to help the creek in our city and I know a lot of kids like fishing here too, so that's good."