BY NICK STARZL, IRON RIVER NFH
Maintenance at a National Fish Hatchery is a never ending issue which managers throughout the nation must assess. Some projects are too large, or dangerous for hatchery crews to tackle. Others can simply be too costly and would take many years to find their way into station budgets, like the recent raceway floor rehab project in the Iron River National Fish Hatchery’s (NFH) nursery building. The twenty two 45 foot x 3 foot concrete tanks in the nursery building are original to the hatchery. The tanks are coated with black epoxy paint on the inside for several reasons. It keeps the tanks from eroding over the many years of water flowing through them, and it helps keep fish waste products from adhering to the walls and floor. Throughout most of the year, each tank is brushed daily in order to keep the culture environment clean for the fish. Eventually over 30 years of use, the floors of the tanks needed a fresh coat of epoxy to maintain their use. It is estimated that if the job were to be hired out it would consume half of the stations annual maintenance budget of $85,000 to be completed. So in October of 2014, the hatchery staff decided to “roll on” and get the job done themselves. By purchasing the supplies and doing the job in house, it only cost the station around $4,000. Many thanks go out to the crew of the Iron River Fish Hatchery for doing what needs to done, even during busy times of the year with limited help.
BY STEVEN GAMBICKI, ALPENA FWCO
Pendills Lake, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, provides a backup water supply for the Pendills Creek National Fish Hatchery located near Brimley, Michigan. The hatchery raises over one million lake trout each year for stocking in the Great Lakes. Water that is free of bacterial and viral pathogens is crucial for the health of fish at the hatchery. Each year staff from the La Crosse Fish Health Center in Wisconsin leads efforts to assess the bacterial and viral status of wild fish captured from Pendills Lake.
Late this summer, Steven Gambicki from the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) in Michigan provided assistance to Ryan Katona and Beka McCann from the La Crosse Fish Health Center with fish sampling efforts on Pendills Lake. Pumpkinseed sunfish, yellow perch, brown bullhead and rock bass were targeted as representative species of the fish community. Trap nets were used to capture the fish, and after the fish were collected they were assessed for bacterial and viral pathogens.
Bacterial pathogens were assessed by collecting a swab from the kidney of each fish and applying it to a media to look for bacterial growth. If bacteria are found, they are isolated into a single colony and run through a series of biochemical tests to see if any certifiable bacterial pathogens are detected. Polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, is then used to verify the results. Viral pathogens were assessed by placing a sample from the kidney and spleen of each fish into a saline solution, which was further analyzed at the La Crosse Fish Health Center. These samples will be diluted and placed on appropriate fish cells to see if any viruses are detected. Any positive results will be confirmed with PCR. Results from bacterial and viral pathogen testing generally take between 28 and 42 days, and can depend on how toxic the samples are, or if there are any pathogens present.