Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Trout Farming in America Chatham University Acquaculture Lab Will Fine-Tune Breeding Trout for Food

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Trout Farming in America Chatham University Acquaculture Lab Will Fine-Tune Breeding Trout for Food

Article excerpt

Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus on Wednesday morning took a big delivery of fresh fish.

Really fresh.

Five hundred live rainbow trout fingerlings - young ones, 4 to 6 inches long - arrived at the campus in Richland via truck from Laurel Hill Trout Farm's hatchery near Somerset.

They were the first fish to go into the three 500-gallon tanks in the Aquaculture Lab of the Falk School of Sustainability. The plan is to carefully and kindly grow them over the next eight months or so to 12 to 14 inches, or about a pound each. Faculty and students will learn from them. And they will eat them.

That's not why some were shooting above the surface, which was a healthy sign, said Roy Weitzell, who directs the aquatic lab. As his slightly soggy graduate assistant Samantha Harvey put it after helping transfer them from buckets with a net, "They look like happy fish."

"It's a trial run for us," said Mr. Weitzell, who has a Ph.D. in environmental science. He explains that they are starting out working with rainbow trout, or Oncorhynchus mykiss. They're native to the Pacific Coast but now common across the country, not just in freshwater streams and lakes but also in supermarkets and restaurants, as they've become one of the most popular crops for aquaculture, or fish farming.

However, he wants to eventually raise the only trout native to Pennsylvania, the brook trout, or Salvelinus fontinalis. A favorite of anglers and the official state fish, beautiful brookies are less hardy and more at risk in their wild, cold-water habitats. He believes, "This should open the doors for any number of research projects dealing with culture and conservation" - and help repopulate them.

But first, he wants to fine tune all the complicated systems in the lab. It's a cool building on this 388-acre former farm-turned-sustainable school. The water temperature is regulated by Eden Hall's geothermal system and electricity comes from solar panels. …

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