Brian Erickson

Next fall I am teaching an Ecology course for sophomores. The class will include sophomores who have taken the Living Environment Regents exam, and may or may not have passed. My goal is to make this course field-based, interactive, and loaded with actual scientific thinking. My thinking has progressed in several directions for this project. I plan to outline that path, and my current direction, below.

Background: The Path
I began by pursuing the idea of raising trout in the classroom with the help of an organization of the same name. After pursuing this lead a little bit, I was uncertain that I wanted to invest (~$1,300) in a tank and necessary supplies. In addition, I was not certain that I wanted to tie myself down to tank maintenance and upkeep. However, this idea lead to another idea...

Next, I explored the idea of raising other things in my classroom. I was directed to The River Project and noticed that they were part of an oyster reef restoration project. This project recruits NYC citizens to grow, monitor, and return a group of oysters in what they call "Oyster Gardening." I followed the links, and eventually stumbled upon a NY/NJ Baykeepers Oyster gardening program. I have made contact with the leader of this program and will likely have them come in to my classroom in the fall for a presentation. In addition, I am pursuing the possibility of taking a field trip down to the River Project's dock () and working with them to design a trip specific to my classroom's needs.

During my explorations of NY/NJ Baykeeps, I also found the Bronx River Alliance, which lead me to their Bronx River Educator's Guide! I have downloaded the entire electronic guide, and contacted the Education Director. He responded, told me he is currently swamped, and it may take a few days for him to get back to me with regard to the possibilities to integrate their program into my classroom, borrow river monitoring equipment, etc.

Final Project

I decided to focus my attention on making Trout in the Classroom a reality. Below I will outline helpful logistical information.


Equipment- The following equipment information comes directly from Trout in the Classroom
Fluval 405 canister filter and filter media
Pea-size Gravel
Whisper 20 Air Pump
Sandstone 12" Airstone
8' Flexible Airline Tubing
Check Valve - 1 pk
Net Breeder
Battery Operated Digital Thermometer
Floating Thermometer
4" Net
Bacteria Boost or Stress Zyme
Siphon Gravel Cleaner
10’-15’ Flexible Tubing 5/8"
Zinc Plated Clip 1/2" 2 pk
Freshwater Master Test Kit
(Aq. Pharm.)
*Many different types of filters and media are currently in use. We have not yet created a set filter regimen. Follow the advice of your supplier for a heavy load. The filter media you choose should be able to handle a high quantity of waste and should support a large colony of beneficial nitrifying bacteria.
The tubing size and lengths needed, as well as any tubing clips or clamps needed, will vary with your set-up, including which chiller you choose to use.

Suitable Environment Materials
In addition to the above materials, you will also need:
  • tank (30-55 gallons)
  • table, counter, or stand for the tank
  • something to shade the eggs and young alevins from UV light (cardboard, Styrofoam, or dark cloth).
  • insulation for the tank (foam board from a home store, bubble wrap, or the like)--this helps stabilize the tank temperature and reduces wear on the chiller.

You will need a chiller to keep the tank's water temperature at about 50° Fahrenheit. Most chillers are only designed to chill aquarium water to around 60°-70° Fahrenheit. Therefore, for our program, we must purchase chillers that are rated for a larger size tank--for example, for a 55-gallon TIC tank, we purchase 1/4 horsepower chillers which are technically designed for 100-125 gallon tanks. By using a more powerful chiller, we decrease our chances of burning our chiller out after only a year or two.
Here are the most popular chiller options:
1. Glacier —the original TIC chiller, a drop-in.
Glacier Corporation Chiller - Ph# (714) 557-2826 1/6 Horsepower -1 year warranty – Immersed Coil Type (Cooling coil is placed in water)– While this unit is very durable and has been the standard in the past, the chillers below are now generally preferred. No tubing or pump needed for the chiller. A pump will be needed for the UV sterilizer—use what is recommended for the UV flow rate.
2. Prime Tower Chiller -- an efficient flow-through available from That Fish Place
Fairly quiet flow-through chiller. With insulation, this chiller comes on only a few times an hour. Can be purchased separately, or as part of the TIC kit available from That Fish Place.
3. Arctica —nearly silent, a flow-through.
Arctica Titanium Chiller– From That Fish Place flow through type (water is cooled when it is pumped through the cooling chamber) –This unit is UL listed- and purported to be the most quiet of all comparable chillers, which is of great importance to teachers. This chiller MUST be used with insulation, or it will wear out too quickly. This unit requires a separate pump, such as the Mag Drive Water Pump. The That Fish Place TIC kit includes everything you need.
4. TradeWind --a reliable, well-priced alternative
Many TIC programs have been having great luck with chillers (a variety of styles and sizes) from TradeWind Chillers.
Notes about the pump:

Once you have selected a chiller, that will determine which size pump you use. Each flow-through chiller requires a certain range of gallons or water per hour. Please ask your chiller source the recommended pump capacity and power for the chiller you chose.

Other Suggested Equipment (as needed)
  • Turkey baster to remove dead eggs and extra food/waste from the tank (some prefer pipette or bent paper clip)
  • Buckets (2 or more), to age water before putting in the tank
  • Battery-operated aerator, to give the trout oxygen during transportation (available at pet stores)
  • Long-handled scrub brush, to loosen grime and growth in tank
  • Ammonia removal compound, for use in ammonia emergencies (available at pet stores)
  • Tap-water-safe compound, for use in emergency water changes (available at pet stores)
  • Clean ice packs, for use in transportation and/or chiller emergencies

For information on setting up your tank, visit the TiC website, which features step-by-step instructions and a video!

$ Cost $

The costs of this project will vary depending on the aquarium supplies you currently have access to. That Fish Place- That Pet Place offers several start-up kits for Trout in the Classroom teachers in NYC. The kits vary in what they offer but are designed to provide the necessary equipment to begin your project. A tank and stand are still required when you purchase this kit. This project will likely cost you $800-1,300 to get up and running. To maintain this project over multiple years, an on-going investment of ~$100-200 per year is required.

Funding Sources
Many options are available for funding your project. The Trout in the Classroom site lists several potential donors. Note, some grant applications through this page take several months to approve, so you may have to wait a year before getting the project running in your classroom. In addition, you may consider submitting grants on Donor's Choose for some or all of the required supplies for this project.

After contacting the NYC Trout in the Classroom Coordinator, I have a potential donor who is interested in helping fund my project. In addition, I am the Science department chair at my school and have complete control over budgetary spending . I can allocate as much money as needed to make this project a reality.


Under the recommendation of the Classroom Coordinator, I will order my aquarium supplies in late August or early September. You need to get your tank ready roughly 30 days before actually receiving your trout eggs so that they tank is stable and ready for the trout. I will then pick up my trout eggs on October 7.
For a slightly more detailed timeline, check out this page of the TiC Website. Or, read through this for detailed timelines and what to expect on a weekly basis.

Who to Contact
The go-to person for this project is:
Lilli Genovesi
NYC and NYC Watersheds Trout in the Classroom Coordinator
office: (718) 389-2002 ext 4452
cell: (917) 832-0857

A potential, Bronx-based NYC teacher to contact with questions is: Michael Green at JHS 117 (

Lesson Ideas
The possibilities for lessons surrounding Trout in the Classroom are quite extensive. I am anticipating that I will teach lessons about water quality, trout life cycles, freshwater habitats, the NYC water supply, etc (See above pdf "NJ TitC" for some lesson ideas, also visit here for more ideas). I plan to combine in class lessons with several trips to the Bronx River. During these field trips, I will use suggestions from the Bronx River Alliance's Educators Guide, for both location and activity ideas.

Comments from James Cornwall: This is an awesome idea! Our school has been trying to figure out what to do with the students that fail the Living Environment regent instead of putting them in the same class again.