Trout are not the typical classroom pet, but they're being used in city schools to teach lessons about the environment. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
They can't quite take care of themselves yet, but these preschoolers are pros at raising trout.
Yes, trout. Not goldfish. Trout. Fifty of them, a tankful of tiny trout grown from eggs since October under the watchful eyes of the kids at the South Bronx Head Start school.
The kids learn about a trout's life cycle, see them grow, and then take a trip to release their finny friends into the wild as part of a program called Trout in the Classroom.
The city's Department of Environmental Protection and the nonprofit Trout Unlimited started the program to teach children about the earth and its water supply.
"The actual coming to see the river and the nature and releasing them, that gives them more of a sense of where does it actually begins, so they know that they know that it begins in a river where the water needs to stay clean and they have to take care of the water," said Mairenys Liriano of Group Teach at South Bronx Head Start.
The kids released their fish into the Cross River where they travel about three-fourths of a mile down to an important part of the city's water system,"
"The Cross River, it drains into Cross River Reservoir, which is just a short distance away from here. It's one of 19 reservoirs that are part of the New York City water supply system," said David Warne, assistant commissioner of the DEP Bureau of Water Supply. "We deliver over 1 billion gallons of water a day to the people who live in the city and people who live in certain upstate communities."
So why is the DEP encouraging these students to throw fish into the water we will eventually drink?
"They help the water," said one young student.
Well, there's a more scientific answer, but little Anthony is on the right track.
"Fish are actually very important for maintaining the clean water," Warne said. "They help consume nutrients and other potential contaminants, and so they're part of the healthy ecosystem for the water supply."
A water supply that these kids now understand better and appreciate more thanks to 50 fish.