Re: NANFA-- IL-IN NANFA trip report - John G. Shedd Aquarium

Jeremy Tiemann (
Mon, 21 Apr 2003 14:38:12 -0500

Good report Sajjad. I wish I would have been there, but I went on a
collecting trip to Horseshoe Lake in southern IL for work over the
weekend. We collected about 20 species of fishes, seven species of
turtles, two species of frogs, and three species of crayfish. Maybe
next time I can go. We need to get another collecting trip together
sometime for the IL/IN folks in the near future.


>On Saturday April 19, 2003, the IL-IN local chapter
>of NANFA met at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
>Ryan DePauw, IL-IN NANFA chapter chair, had arranged for this trip
>with Kurt Hettinger, fisheries biologist at the Shedd and
>NANFA member. It was a pleasant day and we had about 17 people
>Kurt takes care of the Illinois Lake and Rivers Gallery at
>the Shedd (the native fish) and gave us a behind-the-scenes
>tour of the facilities. I will describe the places we visited
>in order (as best as I can recall).
>First, we stopped by the Hospital/Veterinarian facilities.
>There are 3 full-time Vets on staff who take care of
>fish illnesses. Recently, they worked on a 150Lb Grouper
>which had cancer in its head.
>There are four water quality technicians who take about
>200 water samples a day in the more than 100 different
>water systems. The four main water systems are Temperate
>Fresh, Temperate Salt, Tropical Fresh and Tropical Salt
>with ways to control temps in each individual display tank.
>The water is gravity fed down through enormous mixed-media
>filters into large holding tanks two levels underground.
>That water is then pumped up, through de-aeration towers and
>sent back into the tanks. The tanks also have individual
>undergravel filters which provide backup filteration.
>We were then given a peek at the latest, greatest exhibit
>- Wild Reef - which opened this year. It's floor to ceiling
>panaromic views of a coral reef (90,000 Gallons) and a HUGE
>shark tank with several shark species, barracudas and other
>reef fishes (20 ft high concave viewing wall, 60-80 wide?).
>All the walls were decorated with fibreglass corals to give
>the experience of being underwater inside a reef. Amazing
>exhibit, that. One display wall was approx 5" of acrylic.
>Next, we walked past the Quarantine facilities where all
>incoming fish are observed and treated for parasites
>for a minimum of 45 days. Non-staff weren't allowed inside
>and even staff take precautions not to get in contact with
>that water and take it to other tanks. All fish are treated
>for ecto-parasites. Later, the muck on the bottom of the tank
>is settled and extracted and examined for any parasites. When
>there are no more parasites in the muck, the fish are released
>into the display or rearing tanks.
>Several plants - terrestial, marsh and aquatic plants are also
>grown for use on the displays. I saw an exceeding cool tank
>(6ft long standard aquarium) full of Venus fly traps in a
>damp, marshy type environment.
>We then visited some of the breeding facilities where amphibians
>from South America (Eel/snake-like, aquatic amphibians),
>endangered turtles, corals, salt-water shrimp, live foods (guppies,
>zebra danios, ghost shrimp) are bred. Apparently, quite a bit
>of the corals on display have been captive-propagated. Others
>were obtained from other aquariums or are US-Customs confisticated
>Then we went over to the Illinois Lakes and Rivers exhibit
>behind the displays. We were shown several interesting
>fish that were off-display :
>- Rainbow trout (hatchery raised)
>- Yellow perch
>- Bass
>- European Sterlet (cousin of Sturgeon) - a Customs confistication
>- Northern Pike (Silver)
>- Colorado Pike Minnows
>One interesting diplay were the year-old sturgeon that were
>being raised for release. They had been collected as eggs,
>hatched and raised for a few months by a WI-area aquarium.
>The Shedd got a few hundred babies that they are rearing
>for re-introduction pending approval from State of Illinois.
>Every few days, a sample of the baby sturgeon are captured,
>measured, tested etc. Apparently, the scales on the baby sturgeon
>are razor sharp and Kurt was showing us the cuts on his
>fingers from handling the sturgeon which take a really long
>time to heal.
>We also got a chance to feed the Rainbow trout - and some
>who got too close to the tank got splashed well.
>Kurt also showed us the F. notatus fry that he is rearing right
>now. He also showed us the stream environment he setup for his
>Rainbow darters (very similar to the one described by the gentleman
>from Michigan in the AC).
>We also saw the huge 'fridges housing the frozen food and the
>kitchens used to prepare the feed.
>Kurt has bred most of the native fish that he has on display -
>longear sunfish, darters, etc. He also has raised bowfin from
>fry and maintains several kinds of turtles.
>All in all, it was an enjoyable way to spend a morning.
>All the participants are appreciative of the time and effort
>by Kurt Hettinger and the Shedd for giving us this opportunity.
>Thanks are also due to Ryan for arranging the event.
>If I have inadvertently left out anything, I request any of
>the other participants to chime in.
>Thank you,
>Sajjad Lateef
>Sajjad Lateef

Jeremy Tiemann
Illinois Natural History Survey
Center for Biodiversity
607 E. Peabody Dr.
Champaign, IL 61820
Phone: (217) 244-4594
Fax: (217) 333-4949
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