Thankfulness is a theme that will be repeated by many this month, and why not continue with my talk about the hatchery in Neosho, but with a twist.
The trout that are raised here, almost a quarter million per year, are mostly destined to find a fisherman’s hook, a heron’s bill, a mink’s claws or some other equally distasteful fate. But while they live here for the first 10 months of their lives, they have many reasons to be thankful. From their humble start as tiny orange eyed eggs, they are treated as VIP guests. These piscine invitees enjoy a near constant flow of fresh 60-degree spring water infused with generous amounts of oxygen for their respiratory pleasure. Once hatched, they are provided with ample hiding holes and crevices where they recline until their yolk sacs are absorbed. When their faculties are awakened in a week or two, and they are ready to search for food, they need look no further than the hourly feeder device located directly above, poised to sprinkle a generous smorgasbord of delectable sustenance. Instead of lurking in constant danger in their natural setting and spending hours probing and hunting for nourishment, they can relax in their climate-controlled rearing tank with hundreds of friends and regular meal delivery. If that wouldn’t make a fish thankful, I don’t know what would!
This posh treatment continues as the fry grow, about an inch every month. By the time they are about 3 inches long, they are ready for the outdoors with its sunshine and fresh air. But lest they be subjected to increased dangers, the fencing keeps out hazards such as cats, people and herons, and their growth continues with larger food pellets and the occasional insect treat. If their stay at the hatchery includes a winter time frame, the growing trout might be selected for the full pond treatment. Cooler temperatures allow the fish to spread their fins and explore one of the expansive ponds where they have a near-natural environment while still receiving their hourly meal service. In addition, they have many visitors that visit the hatchery, and all seem to delight in serving them additional food – on top of the already generous amounts provided. Yes, life as a growing trout seems to have all the aspects of royalty.
And speaking of dignitaries of the aquatic variety, let us not forget the very special guests from the endangered species category. Our pallid sturgeons have all the above amenities, but their pools are even heated! They enjoy a constant water temperature of about 70 degrees, so delightful and perfect for optimal growth and survival. The hatchery is even in the final stages of installing a special array of solar panels for this very water-heating purpose. And the sturgeons get to stay in our palatial suites almost twice as long as the trout, leaving after about a year and a half for their permanent home in the Missouri River for (hopefully) a few decades of happiness and prosperity.
Page 2 of 2 - But there are also our most recent guests – the threatened and endangered mussels of our Missouri waters. While not the showy or boastful type, these quiet, filtering mollusks are hard workers that constantly improve water quality with their nutrition techniques. Our mussel room is dedicated to them and to the continued value we place on them and every living creature in this beautiful world we all share. This beautiful hatchery has so very many thankful critters, come by and feel their gratitude today!