Tennessee Aquarium Releases 255 Brook Trout

Successful Start To Restore Tennessee’s Only Native Trout

Friday, August 30, 2013 - by Shannon L. Colbert

The Southern Appalachian Brook Trout, SABT, is one of the most beautiful aquatic animals in the Appalachian Mountains. These colorful fish seem to herald the coming of autumn as their brilliant red bellies and bright golden spots appear with the change in seasons. “There’s no mistaking Southern Appalachian Brook Trout when they display their breeding colors,” said Dr. Anna George, director of the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI). “They are the only native freshwater fish in the Southeast with a primary spawn in the fall.”

Once abundant in the mountain headwaters of East Tennessee, SABT are down to just three percent of their historical range today. Logging activities wiped out large portions of the habitat for this fish. When SABT numbers dwindled, many sites were overtaken by Rainbow Trout, a non-native species that can withstand warmer water and more direct sunlight. “Recent efforts to restore the forested areas along these streams are paying off,” said Dr. George. “So there is an opportunity today to begin recovery work for the Southern Appalachian Brook Trout which is Tennessee’s only native trout.”

The National Fish & Wildlife Foundation awarded a grant to TNACI to participate in a study to perfect captive breeding techniques for this species. There is a significant need to progress captive propagation efforts for this species before the remaining distinct populations decline further in the wild.

TNACI biologists collected 50 brood fish from Hampton Creek, located in Carter County, TN, in October 2012. These adults were brought back to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.

Eggs and milt were collected from these brood fish with the help of trout experts from Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, TWRA, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, USFWS. Fertile eggs began developing in late October and by the end of November baby trout began hatching marking the first time this species had been successfully reared in a closed-circulation system.

Before this success at TNACI, Southern Appalachian Brook Trout had only been successfully raised at the Tellico Fish Hatchery in the Cherokee National Forest a few times. Their success, using water from the source stream, inspired the idea that TNACI scientists could do the same thing at the Aquarium using chilled and dechlorinated tap water sourced from the City of Chattanooga. Because most hatcheries operate using flow-through water systems, concern exists about the transmission of disease and escaped fish to nearby wild populations.

On Thursday, TNACI biologists returned to Hampton Creek to release 255 juvenile trout with TWRA. “Each fish was implanted with a tiny wire tag,” said Dr. George. “A graduate student from Tennessee Tech University will survey Hampton Creek in January to obtain some baseline information for this project. A handheld detector will tell us which trout were released this summer.”

This first propagation success and release has taken just under one year to achieve. Biologists will begin the whole process again in another month, inching closer to an expanded program that might one day ensure that anglers throughout the region find robust populations of these gorgeous fish. 


2015-16 Sport Fishing Regulations Postponed Until December Meeting

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission postponed decisions on the 2015-16 sport fish regulations until its December meeting. The action came during the commission’s Oct. 29-20 meeting held in Greeneville at the General Morgan Hotel Conference Center. The TFWC also proposed an amendment to the sport fishing regulations (proclamation 14-17) that would change regulations to ... (click for more)

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Announces New Strategic Plan To Ensure A Bright Future

The  Appalachian Trail Conservancy   has announced a five-year strategic plan that will advance the health and long-term management of the Appalachian Trail. The plan, which was the culmination of a two-year collaborative process between the ATC and the ATC’s board of directors, is a vision and strategy that will build on the organization’s stewardship of the trail ... (click for more)

Downtown Chattanooga Apartment Complex That Brought $3 Million Profit Exempt From Most Taxes Until 2022 Under PILOT

A downtown Chattanooga apartment complex that recently was sold at a $3 million profit is exempt from most property taxes through 2022 under a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement.   No payment of school taxes was included in the deal for Walnut Commons at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way.   The only taxes due on the property for the next eight ... (click for more)

Chickamauga Lock To Reopen As Soon As Next Thursday

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District  plans to reopen Chickamauga Lock to all navigation traffic as early as next Thursday. An inspection of the upper gate anchorage and a repair plan were completed today. Chickamauga Lock closed on Monday after a routine inspection revealed a crack in the anchorage of the upper gate. Lt. Col. John Hudson, commander ... (click for more)

A Vote For Education Is Critical In Tennessee

In a state where just 28 percent of eighth graders are proficient in math and 33 percent are proficient in reading according to national assessments, education is deserving of more attention in 2014 elections. Across the country, more parents are making informed decisions about their child’s education, but for Volunteer State parents without resources, choices are difficult to come ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Saban: ‘Ratings Don’t Matter’

When the first College Football Playoff rankings were released earlier this week, Alabama football coach Nick Saban got it right on the button when he shrugged, “I don't even care, to be honest with you." "To me, none of it matters, What does it matter?” he laughed at the Tide’s No. 6 ranking. “I mean, it only matters where you end up at the end. So what matters to us is how ... (click for more)