Required Equipment

Required Equipment
Chiller Units
Filter Systems
Optional Equipment
Purchasing Equipment and Supplies

Having quality equipment that is properly maintained is one of the most important components of a successful program. The DNR does not provide this equipment. You are required to purchase it on your own. The following information will help you research and plan equipment purchases. Remember, you can contact a teacher near you who has participated before to get advice about the equipment.

It is important to set up the equipment at least two weeks before picking up your salmon eggs to ensure everything is working properly. The health of your fish will be compromised if you wait until the last minute to set up your equipment.

Required Equipment
Aquarium tank (55-gallon minimum)
Printable Equipment Guide with Descriptions/Why to use each piece
Cabinet/tank stand
Chiller unit (also see below)
Filter system w/ sponge filter (also see below)
Siphon and several feet of narrow tubing
Small fish net
Battery-operated aerator
Several feet of narrow tubing
Aquarium thermometer
5-in-1 test kit (pH, ammonia, hardness, alkalinity, nitrite and nitrate)
Dechlorination tablets (also see below)
Tweezers or turkey baster

Chiller Units
Salmon are a coldwater fish and therefore must have the water chilled in order to survive. Aquarium chillers are necessary for this function. There are two main types of chillers:

  • Power cooler (also known as "inline" chillers) - these are external filters. If using an inline chiller, you also will need to purchase a canister filter. In this system, the water is pumped out of the tank, run through the chiller and filter, and pumped back into the tank.
  • Coil coolers (also known as "drop-in" chillers) - these are internal filters. The water is chilled as it encounters copper tubing that rests on the back of the tank. This type of chiller unit is the one most commonly used by teachers participating in Salmon in the Classroom program.

Various local pet and aquarium supply stores have the required equipment: 


The recommended temperature setting for your chiller is 47°F from egg to swim up fry. Once the fish begin to feed, the temperature can be increased to 52F. A range of 50 – 60 F is acceptable but fish may have reduced growth and increased risk to disease due to the stress of a higher temperature. It is important that your chiller is able to maintain these temperatures in whatever aquarium size you choose.

Be sure to discuss your tank setup with aquarium store personnel to find a filter and chiller that suits the needs of your specific tank.

Filter Systems

  • Sponge filters are required (they greatly increase the chances of stabalizing beneficial bacteria)
  • Hanging (recommended) - all necessary setup equipment typically accompanies the purchase of a hanging filter. Replacement filter cartridges will be necessary over the life of the filter.
  • Canister (recommended) - all necessary setup equipment typically accompanies the purchase of a canister filter.
  • Undergravel system - this system is not recommended because it tends to trap debris, uneaten food and waste contributing to problems with ammonia, bacteria and fungus.


In selecting a filter, it is always better to purchase a larger filter for your tank. For example, if you have a 55-gallon tank, it is recommended that you purchase a filter that is the minimum for a 70-gallon tank versus one that filters only 55 gallons.

Optional Equipment

  • Gravel - In a natural coldwater stream, salmon eggs are protected by large pieces of gravel that hide them from predators and allow cool water to pass through the pore spaces providing oxygen to the incubating eggs. In an aquarium, gravel is purely aesthetic. The gravel is not necessary for the survival of the salmon. In fact, the buildup of waste in the gravel can contribute to water quality issues. If using gravel or rock, place just enough to cover the bottom of the tank.
  • Dechlorination Tablets - If municipal water is the only available water for your tank, be sure to dechlorinate the water ahead of time.


Purchasing Equipment and Supplies
Supplies for Salmon in the Classroom can be found at most aquarium supply stores, such as your local pet store, or through one of our long-time sponsors Preuss Pets-in store or online. The aquarium stores also may be a good source for information. It is recommended that you contact the store well in advance to ensure items are in stock.

Online suppliers, and nearby retail stores that have equipment in stock can be found by typing in the type of chiller/equipment to purchase into your search engine.