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Fisheries in Iowa

The Manchester trout hatchery produces more than 600,000 fish for waters across Iowa and is one of the few fish hatcheries in the state. At the hatchery, visitors may feed the trout in outdoor ponds. The creek next to the hatchery has fish in it to show the contrast of a hatchery vs. nature. The facility spawns, incubates and hatches rainbow, brook and brown trout and visitors are allowed to tour the different spawning, incubating and hatching areas. All of these areas are developed to keep trout in a safe and healthy environment so that they may grow and be sent out across Iowa. The center also offers educational science class assistance.

Manchester, Iowa

Possible Guiding, Compelling and/or Anchoring Questions

  • Are there fisheries in Iowa? 
  • How does the process of egg collection work? 
  • At what stage in the life cycle do fisheries send fish out? 
  • Why do we need fisheries? How do they work? 
  • How long does it take for fish to go from egg, to tadpole, to full fish? 
  • Why are the eggs in the hatchery more successfully grown compared to eggs found in the streams? 
  • How does the life cycle of a trout compare to a human life cycle? 
  • If fish hatcheries were to expand, in what ways could it impact agriculture?

Classroom Suggestions

  • The Iowa core standards state in 3-LS1-1 that there is a cycle of life that students must learn. In that cycle and in fisheries there is birth, growth, reproduction, and death. 
  • This phenomenon can be used as an introduction for a life cycle of living organisms. 
  • The water sources in Iowa are all freshwater, we can look at the different habitats for fish in Iowa as well as what each specific fish needs. 
  • Looking at ideas and knowledge that students have previously learned about fisheries located all over Iowa, many students may have background knowledge on what they are and how they work if they live near one or maybe even have a relative that runs one. 
  • To finish off the lesson, bring in a fish hatchery employee to talk with the class than have students can create a big poster board showing the life cycle of a fish in a fishery using lots of color, pictures, and descriptions of their content through the phenomena. 
  • An activity that can be done is to make an aquascope. This can be done by using a plastic half gallon jug, heavy tape (duck tape), and clear plastic wrap. You take this and put the covered plastic end into the water and you can peer into the water and see deeper down with more clarity. Fish Activities for Kids | HowStuffWorks 

Related Resources

NOAA: Article on what fisheries are, how they work, and the effect they have on the fish population.
Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery | YouTube: A video from Iowa PBS documenting the process of collecting fish and eggs for Iowa fisheries in Spirit Lake, Iowa.
Trout Spawning Process | YouTube: A video about the Manchester fish hatchery providing quality facts and imagery.
Fisheries in Iowa: Overview of the 8 Iowa fisheries from the Iowa DNR with a description of each fishery in Iowa.

Iowa Core Alignment


Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth,growth, reproduction, and death

Credit Info

Submitted by Luke Smith and Landon Buckridge

Video by Iowa DNR



Have you used this resource in your classroom? Do you have ideas for improvement? Share your ideas, experiences and feedback about this phenomena.

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