Baby Stickleback!

Stickleback embryos everywhere!  This week we got our first and second shipments of embryos from the folks up in Alaska.  We’ve been preparing for the arrival for some time now and we finally got the ball rolling.  We had to take each clutch (from 6 populations-Rabbit Slough, Resurrection Bay, Anchor River, Whale, Morvro, and Bear Paw) and separate them into petri dishes.  The counting was a little tedious but soon they will become little fry and the real experiments can begin!

Two experiments that will be happening with these fish involve feeding performance, but one of them has the added variable of tannin levels.  The fish, once hatched, will be placed in either a low, medium, or high tannin level.  We will then be counting the number of brine shrimp a single fish can consume in 15 seconds.

Valerie, Kendall, and Jenna working with the embryos in the lab.
Valerie, Kendall, and Jenna working with the embryos in the lab.

We have to change the water in the petri dishes and make room for the next shipment that should be coming in on Monday.  We’re going to be up to our knees in stickleback!

The embryos should hatch about 5 days after we took them off the ice and then we can start to see if they will learn how to eat.  Tiny little eyes are starting to be visible in the embryos and soon they will be fully developed fish!

It’s very interesting (and exciting) to watch the fish develop.  If you look closely under a microscope you can watch their organs form and even see their blood pumping from their tiny hearts.  It’s amazing how small these guys are.  I’ve worked with preserved clutches from stickleback before, but I was surprised by their size nonetheless.  I can’t wait until they are little fish we can observe and test.