Classroom Clowns

08 May, 2017

Brandon Rutherford (center right) and students pose with clownfish ready to ship to Quality Marine.

Brandon Rutherford (center right) and students pose with clownfish ready to ship from Illinois to Quality Marine in Los Angeles.

Saddleback Clownfish Captive-Bred by Elementary Students Reach Aquarium Trade

Sponsored Feature
via Quality Marine

Third-grade teacher Brandon Rutherford, at Stratton Elementary in Champaign, Illinois, has brought the ocean to students and their community for the past four years. His program, the “Coral Reef Project,” aims to teach students and the community about coral reef ecology and its conservation. The project has set up and stocked 13 marine aquariums that can be found throughout Stratton Elementary. The highly successful program has received the support of a number of marine aquarium manufacturers and suppliers, including Quality Marine.

The aquariums are maintained by a group of highly trained 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, under the watchful eye of Mr. Rutherford. He believes that “each aquarium is cherished by the children who care for them and is a vehicle for hands-on science learning,” which is a philosophy that Quality Marine strongly believes in, and is why we have been proud to support Stratton Elementary. We have supported this project for the past three years through donations and scientific collaborations. One of our resident biologists, Cynthia DeLillo, regularly Skypes with the students to troubleshoot and discuss the progress of their aquariums.

300 Clowns to Market
Last year, the Coral Reef Project partnered with marine biologist Dr. Justin Rhodes at the University of Illinois to start a clownfish breeding program. Dr. Rhodes taught the students how to culture rotifers and hatch and rear the larval clownfish. Mr. Rutherford believes this breeding project helped provide students an invaluable educational experience where they learned about chemistry, biology, and technical lab and experimental skills. They are now looking to build a system specifically for the clownfish, and the students are helping design it.

They have bred over 300 Saddleback Clowns [Amphiprion polymnus], and Quality Marine has just received their first shipment. Before shipping, Cynthia DeLillo helped teach the students how to properly pack the shipment for a healthy arrival.

Students prepare clownfish for bagging.

Students prepare clownfish for bagging.

Students carefully bagging clownfish for shipment.

Students carefully bagging clownfish for shipment.

Clownfish bags are inflated with oxygen for the journey from Illinois to California.

Clownfish bags are inflated with oxygen for the journey from Illinois to California.

Boxing up the clownfish, including heat packs to maintain warm temperatures during shipment.

Boxing up the clownfish, including heat packs to maintain warm temperatures during shipment.

Clownfish heading out the door, en route to Quality Marine.

Clownfish heading out the door, en route to Quality Marine.

A healthy, vibration Saddleback Clownfish, produced by the students at Stratton Elementary, and ready for sale at Quality Marine.

A healthy, vibrant Saddleback Clownfish, produced by the students at Stratton Elementary, and ready for sale at Quality Marine.

These Saddleback Clowns are available for purchase, and a portion of each sale will go back to the Coral Reef Project. If you are a hobbyist, visit your local fish store (LFS) and ask about these. If you have a store, ask your Account Manager about how one can be yours.

Here at Quality Marine, we believe children are the future of the longevity of the aquarium trade, and we are proud to assist in educational outreach and will continue to collaborate with the students at Stratton Elementary. We are looking forward to seeing how this breeding program continues to flourish.

Stratton Elementary is a Title One School, and the Coral Reef Project is not funded by the school district. Therefore, the project relies solely on donations. If you would like to contribute to this amazing program, please donate on their GoFundMe link: https://www.gofundme.com/grow-out-our-clownfish

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Editor’s Note – Brandon Rutherford is a CORAL Magazine & Reef2Rainforest.com contributor; you can read many past stories covering his experiences with reef aquariums in his classrooms at http://www.reef2rainforest.com/category/coral-rutherford/

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About the author

Quality Marine
Quality Marine

Celebrating over 35 years in business, Quality Marine continues to provide the aquarium industry with the highest quality and widest selection of marine fish and invertebrates. Learn more at www.qualitymarine.com.

3 Comments

  1. May 11, 2017

    Awesome experiences for talented students. So very proud of this project.

  2. May 11, 2017

    What a valuable experience for these students. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this project. Way to go, ALice Bell and all who participated!

  3. May 12, 2017

    Someone should tell Mr. Rutherford that the oxygen cylinder in the 4th picture needs to be secured so it can’t be knocked over. As shown, it’s a safety hazard.

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