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close this bookAquaculture - Training Manual (Peace Corps, 1990, 350 p.)
close this folderChapter twelve: Program design - week three
View the documentSession III-1: Quiz (week three)
View the documentSession III-2: Management plan (part two)
View the documentSession III-3: Equipment shed, feed shed and pump - trainee responsibilities
View the documentSession III-4: Weekly technical report requirements
View the documentSession III-5: Field trips - week three
View the documentSession III-6: Processing of field trip
View the documentSession III-7: Masonry and carpentry projects
View the documentSession III-8: Dissection exercise
View the documentSession III-9: Social awareness
View the documentSession III-10: Personal interview - week three

Session III-8: Dissection exercise

Total time: 2 hours, 30 minutes


· Familiarize trainees with external and internal anatomy of the fish with which they are working;

· In the absence of other resources, learn to use observation of the fish's anatomy to learn about its habits and adaptations to its environment, and then use this information to help make management decisions;

· Provide experience killing a fish, allow trainees to observe their own reactions to this and begin to become desensitized.

Overview: This exercise takes place early in the program, before trainees have access to resources but after they have handled their fish and spent some time on pond management. For many, it will be the first time they actually look closely at the fish with which they have been working. Trainees will receive very specific information about fish anatomy later in the program, but since it is not uncommon to come across unidentified fish species in the field or to lack resource material, it is important to learn how close observation of that animal can provide a good deal of information. In addition, it is important for trainees to recognize that the fish they are raising will eventually be killed, and they must be able to kill fish when necessary. This provides an opportunity for them to observe their own reactions to this aspect of raising an animal for food.

20 minutes

1. In the classroom, trainees are given instructions for this exercise. They are told that each trainee is to catch a fish from his/her own ponds, kill that fish and dissect it. They are to observe carefully, and record and diagram external and internal anatomy and all observations in extreme detail. It is important to point out that this is not a test of the trainees' knowledge of fish anatomy. Depending upon their backgrounds, some trainees may have previous experience and knowledge about anatomy and physiology while others may never have held a fish before coming to training and have little science background. It is an exercise in observation and deductive reasoning. The notes they take will become a notebook section. They are to be handed in the following day, but will be returned to the trainees within a few days to be put into their notebooks.

Have trainees take out a sheet of paper and spend 15 minutes writing down questions they would like to try to answer through this dissection, or specific things they want to look for. Encourage them to also list the steps they will go through to carry out the dissection. (Remind them that since they will be dissecting the fish, the method they use to kill it should not cause physical damage that would make it difficult to identify internal or external organs and/or to observe them as they actually look in a normal fish). When they have finished this and feel prepared, they should go out to their ponds to catch their fish.

2 hours

2. Each trainee catches a fish from his/her pond, kills it and dissects it, recording all observations and any conclusions that can be drawn. Staff should observe, but should not provide input except in the case where a trainee needs to talk through his/her reservations about killing the fish and receive moral support.


· Since this is a field exercise, not a laboratory dissection, dissecting kits are not provided. Trainees should be told the day before this exercise to be sure to bring their pocket knives;

· Scraps of plywood, styrofoam, cardboard or some other material to be used as work surfaces for the dissections;

· Colored pencils;

· Magnifying glass not necessary, but might be helpful for trainees who request it;

· Seines and/or cast nets for catching fish (trainees should already have access to these in their equipment shed).

Trainer Notes:

· Trainees who stocked small fry may ask to use different fish since theirs are too small to dissect and observe easily, especially the internal anatomy. Since they will eventually do a more indepth dissection with much more information during seminar week, we feel it is valuable for them to actually work with their own fish in this exercise. This reinforces the importance of a farmer being thoroughly familiar with the animals he/she is raising. By making very detailed observations of their own fish, the trainees will be able to make management decisions based on their knowledge of their fish, and will be able to note subtle changes that may occur over the course of their pond work. A good compromise is to require the trainee to do his/her best with his/her own fish, but allow him/her to also dissect a fish from another trainee's pond that is the same species, but larger;

· Trainers must be sensitive to the fact that killing and dissecting a fish will be difficult for some people. It is important to let those people talk out their feelings and to provide whatever support and encouragement is appropriate for helping them through this. Similarly, it is imperative that trainers also remember that observation and drawing of logical conclusions based on observations are the main points of this exercise, not knowledge and understanding of fish anatomy and physiology.