Salmon at the Arboretum

Bringing Salmon to a Public Classroom!

A "Salmon in the Classroom" program partnership between

Yakima Area Arboretum (YAA),

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), &

Yakima Basin Environmental Education Program (YBEEP).

We are hosting these chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in a time where many classrooms will not be partaking in the very popular “Salmon in the Classroom” curriculum due to staffing and time constraints. We will be supporting our local schools in a time when traditional field trips and unique learning opportunities are not available due to funding and the ongoing COVID-19 situation. We will be posting updates on the chinook salmon eggs/young in the form of written observations, pictures, videos, and more on this page. As the weeks go on, we will also be creating and sharing different lessons and learning opportunities below that talk and teach about salmon and their development, which can be used for free in any classrooms by any students in any setting.


Schools, classrooms, and youth groups can also request field trips and “virtual fieldtrips” to view and see eggs/salmon live and to be able to talk with Arboretum staff and volunteers working on the project in-person or via Zoom. Requests for specific curriculum or information is also encouraged to be able to meet the needs of our local students and families. Please contact Education Director Coordinator Garrett Brenden for more information.

Continue Below for Observations, Lessons, Information, and More!

Salmon Tank Observations & Reports

General Information for the Salmon Aquarium

Start Date: January 4, 2023

Salmon Species: Chinook/King (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)

Number of Eggs/Salmon: ~220 eggs

Aquarium Size: 75 Gallons

Aquarium Temperature: 48F - 52F (9C to 11C)

  • January 4th, 2023- Approximately 220 chinook salmon eggs (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) were delivered to the Arboretum.
  • The eggs came with black spots and a dull white line toward the outside of the egg. The spots were the developing eyes of the baby salmon and the white line was the spine forming for the fish.
  • Of the eggs received, one (1) dead egg was removed immediately (right photo), all other eggs looked healthy. The dead eggs was orange and not as see-through as the pink, live eggs. Most tanks lose a few eggs in the first few weeks so everything is still in order for now.
  • January 16th, 2023- We have our first 2 hatches of the 220 chinook salmon eggs (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) that were delivered to the Arboretum on January 4th.
  • The baby salmon are called "alevin" at this stage and have their bright orange yolk-sacs still attached to their bellies.
  • The Yolk sacs are their only source of nourishment for their growing bodies at this time. Once they have absorbed ~75% of their sac, they will begin swimming higher into the water column as they begin to look for real food to consume.
  • January 23rd, 2023- From Friday's 4 baby salmon to 215 freshly hatched salmon today! The weekend must've been busy for the little fish as they all hatched at a similar time.
  • Having all the young hatch at the same time can be an ecological adaptation, usually to overwhelm the bellies of their predators, ensuring some young are able to survive when they get full from consuming so many young. Think of it similar to an "arribada" for sea turtles all nesting at the same time and hatchlings emerging at the same time to overwhelm their would-be predators.
  • February 6th, 2023- We have not lost any fish that we can find in the aquariums which is amazing! All the salmon alevins are wiggling around and congregating towards the back of the aquarium. Whether that is due to temperature, water current, perceived exposure, or something else entirely is beyond our knowledge.
  • The salmon are using up their yolk sacs and so in a week or two we would likely see some starting to swim up in the water consistently, looking for food. We will begin to feed when a few begin to swim up in the water column.
  • February 13th, 2023- Algae! The fish are fine, but the tank has a new look. This is common in new aquariums to have an algae bloom that covers plants and substrate. This type of algae bloom was expected and is not harmful to the fish, actually are beneficial by helping remove excess nutrients from the water. It will balance out in a few short weeks/months.


Big Plans for Small Eggs

A look at the salmon lifecycle from egg to kelt! This activity pairs nicely with Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group and YBEEP's Salmon Lifecycle video.


Posters & Signage at the Salmon Tank

2021 SitC Forest Poster.png
Salmon ID.png
salmon cycle 8x12 _1_.jpg

External Links and More Information

Mid-Columbia Regional Fisheries Enhancement Group Salmon Videos Page

Franklin Conservation District Salmon in the Classroom Updates

Yakama Nation Fisheries Resources for Educators

Washington's State of Salmon 2020 Report

Seattle Aquarium Salmon Resources

Making an Impact for an Iconic Species

We will be working with WDFW and YBEEP, following their guidelines and timelines to ensure a successful year with raising salmon. Here is a look at their general timeline.

These chinook salmon will be raised at the Arboretum until they are fry (young salmon) and will be released into the Yakima River in May/early June so they may swim downstream to make it out to the ocean to grow up and eventually return to the Yakima River to spawn and continue the salmon cycle.

The aim of the program isn't just raising fish to help their species recover, it also raises awareness about fish, water quality, habitat, and so much more!

Thank You for Your Support

A huge, tail-swishing, dam jumping thank you to our partner organizations and our Arboretum supporters that made this all happen!

Yakima Basin Environmental Education Program (YBEEP)

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

Bruce Whitmore