20-ton fish tank going on the road

Published online 11/23/2008 12:16 AM

20-ton fish tank going on the road
Get out there
By Ryan Buchanan - The Hutchinson News - rbuchanan@hutchnews.com

One of the coolest exhibits at this year's Kansas State Fair, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks' giant aquarium, is going on tour.
During the fair, my daughter, Bailey, 7, and I couldn't help but stop, marveling at the size, beauty and diversity of the native fish species as they intermingled in the huge tank.
Like the other children there, she asked about what kind of fish each was, confirming the display is a great tool to get kids interested in fishing.
And apparently we weren't the only ones who were impressed. The exhibit received "Grand Champion Outside Exhibitor" at the fair.
Well, in 2009, some of those who missed the fair will get another chance to see the display as the KDWP takes it across the state, with a reservation deadline of Dec. 19.
The mobile aquarium made its debut in 2008 with appearances at the Meade State Park OK Kids Day, the Wichita Riverfest and the state fair.
According to the KDWP, in its initial year of operation, the aquarium was seen by nearly 140,000 people and tolerated winds higher than 40 mph.
The purpose of the aquarium is to increase public awareness and appreciation of the state's fisheries resources, increase interest and participation in fishing and help the staff stay connected with Kansans.
The 40-foot-long aquarium holds 3,200 gallons of water and calls the Milford Fish Hatchery home. It holds both sport fish and non-game fish, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, white bass, striped bass, hybrid striped bass (wiper), bluegill, green sunfish, longear sunfish, channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, buffalo, common carp, walleye, sauger, saugeye, redear sunfish, black crappie, white crappie, longnose gar, spotted gar and freshwater drum.
I got a kick out of listening to spectators tell their "biggest fish I ever caught" stories as they viewed the exhibit.
Knowledgeable fisheries biologists are at the events, answering questions and demonstrating fishing techniques from a casting platform. That was a highlight for my daughter, since late this past summer she spent countless hours out in the driveway, practicing her casting.
The 2009 event schedule is currently under development, and the KDWP says it will hold four or five events in 2009, some of which will be chosen from applications by interested groups. The remaining events will be picked by the Fisheries and Wildlife Division.
Event organizers who want to include the aquarium in their events can obtain an application and other information at www.kdwp.state.ks.us. Click the fishing link at the top of the home page.
The KDWP suggests that organizers keep in mind the large size of the 20-ton unit and ensure they can meet setup requirements before applying. Those requirements can be found on the application, and information, photos, articles and an informative video also are available on the Web site.