But where do the fish come from?

A drip tube connects the quarantine tank to the newly caught fish.

A drip tube connects the quarantine tank to the newly caught fish.

Since the upcoming water gallery has 3 aquaria featuring live creatures, you might be wondering where they all come from!  For the freshwater aquarium, staff members go out on fishing expeditions right here in Ottawa.  Most recently they went to Petrie Island in the East end of the city, and brought home a good haul of fish like Black Crappies and Perch.  When staff members go out fishing, they only use nets as a means to catch the fish since fishing poles and hooks can cause damage.  In fact, some of the fish that were caught had hook damage already.  These fish will have to be observed to see if they heal in their new home, and if they don’t they likely won’t go on display in the gallery.

Newly caught fish being moved into quarantine tank

Newly caught fish being moved into quarantine tank

After the fish are caught, they are brought back to the museum to begin the acclimatization process.  Out in the Ottawa River, the fish are used to temperatures around 4 or 5 degrees, but the freshwater aquarium at the museum is kept closer to 15 degrees, meaning the fish have to adapt slowly so they don’t get too stressed out. In order to help them adapt, the cooler where the fish are kept right after they are caught is set up next to an aquarium where a drip tube connects the two.  The drip tube contains warmer water and oxygen, and after a few hours the fish were looking much healthier than when they were caught! Another trick to help the fish adapt is to leave the light off in the room where they are being kept; bright lights could be stressful!

The fish have now been moved into a quarantine tank where they will stay for a few weeks and receive treatments to ensure they aren’t sick or carrying any harmful bacteria. Once staff is sure they are healthy and won’t harm the other fish in the tank, they will be moved into the freshwater aquarium in the gallery!  Although it takes a while to make sure the fish are healthy and will survive in the museum environment, all of the fish on display in the freshwater aquarium are examples of our local biodiversity, and not purchased from a store or supplier.

About Kate Beresford

As a Guest Services Host at the Museum of Nature since 2006, I get to see the visitor’s reactions to the museum first hand and speak with them about their experiences here; what they like and what they don’t! No two days are ever the same! My background is in Art and Culture and I’ve had the opportunity to work in a few different museums and galleries across Canada and in the UK, which has only increased my interest in and love for museums. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share some behind the scenes information with you all!
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