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. 

Tennessee Aquarium To Open Southeast's Only Independent Freshwater Science Center Oct. 27

The Tennessee Aquarium will open the Southeast’s only independent freshwater science center next Thursday at 10 a.m. This new home for the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute will be the base of operations for their research scientists, and a central location for other freshwater scientists to convene. (click for more)

TWRA Announces Availability Of Riparian Tree Planing Grants For 2017

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announces the availability of grant dollars to assist cities, schools, community organizations, civic groups, watershed organizations, and conservation groups, etc., with riparian tree planting projects.  All seedlings must be purchased through the Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry. Tree planting season in Tennessee is ... (click for more)

Howard Simmons, 47, Shot And Killed In St. Elmo Monday Morning; Police Interview Person Of Interest

Howard Simmons, 47, was shot and killed in St. Elmo Monday morning. Police said they had interviewed a person of interest in the slaying. Chattanooga Police at 8:30 a.m. responded to a person shot at the 5000 block of Florida Ave. Upon police arrival the victim, Simmons, had already succumbed to his injuries. Ms. Simmons suffered at least one gunshot wound. At this time ... (click for more)

Erlanger To Open Cancer Center On Gunbarrel Road At East Campus

Work is set to begin soon on construction of a new Cancer Center by Erlanger Health System at its Gunbarrel Road East Campus. Erlanger is joining with a development firm, Chatt East 3 LLC of Alabama, on the four-story project located just south of Women's East Hospital on a wooded five-acre tract. Erlanger will be leasing the bottom three floors at a rate of $16.05 per square ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Picture a sold-out baseball game at Wrigley Field or Nationals Park packed with 40,000 fans. That image represents roughly the same number of women and men who die from breast cancer each year.  In Tennessee alone, an estimated 900 women will die from the disease in 2016. It is a sad statistic, but there is some good news: thanks to early detection and improved treatments, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Testerman Forum

I badly misjudged how long it would take me to do my “early voting.” I was in-and-out in no time so I got to the Hamilton County School Board’s agenda meeting well enough beforehand to have an “educational forum” with board member David Testerman. If you haven’t noticed, forums and summits and “community enlightenment” groups are the new rage and, as my friend David laughed, “They ... (click for more)