Project Definition

Project Learning

Our team will be designing and building two prototypes for our client, a stream-side trout incubator and an in-stream trout incubator. These incubators will house different species of fish and therefore must create optimal condition for growth and development for these different species. The main species of our prototypes will house steelhead trout, chinook salmon, and sockeye salmon. The research stage of our project allowed us to come in contact with many experts in the area of fish rearing, who gave us valuable information as we moved forward into the design and modeling stage of this project. One specific wealth of information came from our visit at the Aquaculture Wet Laboratory and how the University of Idaho hatches fish. Prior to creating our designs, we reviewed and analyzed previous incubator data and from this information and our other research we were able to create specifications for our prototypes.

Of the specifications that we will optimize, the most important aspect is to optimize the best possible growing environment for the hatching eggs which will allow the fry to leave the incubator as healthy, wild fish. Factors that will effect fish development include lighting, dissolved oxygen content of the water, water temperature, flow rate, and pH. Our team will utilize two different analysis programs to create and qualify the design. The modeling will be performed in Solid Works and the flow analysis will be completed using the computational fluid analysis program Fluent. By modeling our data we will be able to get more precise and specific data before we start to build the design.


The stakeholders for this project are the native chinook, sockeye, and steelhead populations, the environment, local and global communities, and the future generations to come.

Target Specification:

Continuous flow through the eggs must have the following properties:

37.4 F to 48.2 F
Dissolved Oxygen
8 ppm or higher
Less than 200 ntu
7 to 8
Velocity Range
0.2 to 0.79 ft/s
0.5 to 0.9 ft
Less than 4ft-lb/ft^3/s
Environment Concerns
No material leaching or contamination
Use Duration
Stream side: Year long usage
In-stream: April to November
Life of Product
2+ Years
Stream side: minimum weight, handles for carrying
In-Stream: transportable in small plane
Camouflaged to reduced human interference and preserve natural beauty



Stainless Steel
High corrosion resistance, good for marine application
Corrosion resistance, lightweight, high strength
Aluminum Alloys
Magnesium and Silicon alloys have high corrosion resistance, good for marine application
Lightweight, corrosion resistant
Lightweight, Strong and durable, corrosion resistant


  • Improve currently used side-stream incubator design; providing technical and biological reasoning behind features utilized.
  • Create in-stream incubator design that has the ability to be carried in a small-propeller driven airplane or in saddlebags on pack animals.
  • Create two testing models from coolers, two full size side-stream incubators, and two full size in-stream incubators.
  • Each design will be able to fulfill all specifications.
  • Each design will incorporate fail-safes to eliminate the risk of a total fish die off.


The decline of salmon and steelhead in the Northwest has paralleled the steady advancement of Western Culture in the area. Since the late 1800’s salmon and steelhead populations have suffered from a number of different ailments. Problems rise from simple overharvesting to environmental changes such as climate change, deforestation, industrial pollution, and, of course, the damming of waterways.  The construction of the Black Canyon Dam in 1924 destroyed any sockeye habitat upstream of Hells Canyon or more than 40 percent of the historical sockeye territory. Dams along the Columbia and Snake Rivers that allow for fish passage also do tremendous damage on the fish population. These dams slow the river creating change in the temperature and allowing sedimentation to occur. The time of travel for salmon out to the ocean has increased substantially with the taming of the Columbia. Also, fish ladders which allow returning salmon to get over the dams, thus protecting them, do not help the juvenile salmon any.  The juvenile salmon going to the ocean must go straight through the turbines, washed deep below the surface, dazed and confused (NPCC 2010).

Much like the salmon, Native Americans have suffered from Western encroachment (McGreal 2010).  With higher than average obesity, diabetes, drug use, unemployment, gang activity, and poverty levels than the rest of the United States; tribes, like salmon, are in the need of help (Eckholm 2009). The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have started a fish recover project with the help of the US Departments of Energy and Naval Research in the Salmon and Challis National Forests. Ed Galindo, the client for this project, is a part of this recovery effort, with the goal of increasing the hatch rate of salmon and steelhead. The current idea utilizes small incubators located in traditional spawning areas of salmon to augment the salmon run by increasing the native egg hatch rate. These incubators allow the salmon and steelhead eggs to hatch in a controlled environment replicating large scale hatchery’s survival rate without constant human interaction that would create tame hatchery fish that are historically weaker both physical and genetically than native fish. Ed has also utilized incubators in a cultural sense; incubators can be constructed cheaply and with no previous building expertise. Ed uses the construction and management of incubator as a catalyst for intertribal growth (Galindo 1998). Native American high school students, along with mentors, construct an incubator, set it in the wild, manage the Salmon eggs, and watch the eggs hatch and dive into the river to continue the precious cycle that has been repeating itself for millenniums.The project allows students to connect to the salmon and participate in a project that promotes self-worth, community, and demonstrates what can be done when people within the tribe work together toward a common goal.

Ed came to the University of Idaho to advance the current incubator design and optimize it. The optimized designs have the chance at becoming the standard for increasing native salmon and steelhead runs throughout the Northwest, by providing a scientifically proven and economical method that increases not just the quantity of fish in the river, but also the quality.


McGreal, C. (2010). Obama's Indian problem. The Guardian, Retrieved from

Eckholm, E. (2009). Gang violence grows on an Indian reservation. The New York Times, Retrieved from

NPCC. (2010). Columbia River history. Northwest Power & Conservation Council, Retrieved from

Galindo, E. (1998). Indian summer IV. Student Streamside Incubation Project 1998, Retrieved from