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General Introduction

Roach (Rutilus rutilus) are a common freshwater fish – they can often be seen swimming in shoals in the River Wandle. Look out for a flash of silver in the clear running waters and often this is a roach. Closer inspection will show that they have distinctive red fins.

Roach usually spawn in early May although as the spawning activity is weather dependent is can be advanced or delayed by two weeks.

As they are native coarse fish they are pretty rugged so they are reasonably tolerant of poor water quality, warmer temperatures and average dissolved oxygen. In theory this should make them good candidates for the classroom and also it will allow a simplification to the tank & filtration system used for the original Trout in the Classroom TitC programme.

We propose to put roach spawning boards in the River Wandle and at Cannon Hill at the end of March and start looking for the eggs around mid-April.  Once found the eggs will be washed and distributed to tanks in the classroom.

Roach photo
In nature roach spawn from April in shallow water and attach their eggs – as many as 100,000 – to stones and plants. These hatch within four to ten days, the fish larvae remaining attached to the vegetation until they have exhausted their yolk sacs. The young roach remain in shallow water and grow slowly, the males reaching maturity at two years, the females at three.

The fish will be released into the Wandle later in the Summer term.

Resources supplied by The Wandle Trust

The Trust will supply:

  • Fish tank – the tank measures around 70cms by 40cms by 45cms deep
  • Polystyrene protection for the base of the tank
  • A water filter and an air pump, plastic tubing and an air stone – eels enjoy a plentiful supply of oxygen going through the water
  • Chiller – to maintain a constant temperature of the water
  • Washed roach eggs
  • A small net
  • Two hour INSET for staff at a mutually convenient time
  • On-going help and advice

The Roach project will be set up at the very end of the Spring term when the eggs are ready for despatch to schools (this will be weather dependent). It is suggested that the tank be set up at least a fortnight before the fish are introduced. This will allow time for the tank set up to be checked, the river water to ‘settle’ and micro-organisms (too small to see!) to start to work in the tank.

We would hope to introduce the spawn at the beginning of the Summer term.

The Trust also offers:

  • FREE introductory presentation to classes – with images, music and video

All eels will be released in to the River Wandle. The Trust would be happy to help organise this event (advise on a suitable site which is safe and accessible to students) but will not be responsible for transporting students to and from the release site.

Resources NOT supplied by The Wandle Trust

  • A source of electricity and an adequate extension from a wall socket. Four plug extension required.
  • A tank stand – a robust table, desk or bench will be required to hold a considerable weight of water! The footprint of the tank is about 70cms by 40cms
  • Food for the roach – but do not overfeed!
    When the roach eggs hatch they will live off their egg sac for a week or so and will the feed off algae and zooplankton in the water and after a week or two they can be fed brine shrimp (often sold as Sea Monkeys for children to rear at home) or daphnia (water fleas).

‘Roach fry, like those of many other coarse fish, tend to feed at first on microscopic algae              and later on water fleas; this continues throughout the first summer and then they feed on          other tiny swimming creatures associated with plants.’

  • As all roach must be released in to the River Wandle the school will need to organise transport to and from the site

Expertise and Commitment

A considerable amount of expertise and commitment is required by at least one (ideally more than one) member of staff. Roach can be sensitive to their environment – overfeeding is the common problem in rearing them. Stress is another so the students should be warned not to approach the tank too quickly and noisily. They should refrain from tapping the tank sides. The Trust will provide a two hour INSET at your school for those staff interested in helping in the project well before the roach arrive. On-going advice and help will be supplied throughout the project to make it a success – this will be within a handbook and through a member of staff on call.


The cost of the hire of the tank and accessories is UK£100-00. There is also a returnable deposit of UK£200-00 which will need to be paid upfront to ‘The Wandle Trust’ before the programme begins. This deposit will be returned to your school on completion of the project.

More information

If you have any further questions then do e-mail

If you would like your school to take part in the Roach in the 3Rs project then e-mail Please indicate on the mail the easiest way to get back in touch with you – telephone number (call or text?) or e-mail?

We will get back to you as soon as we can. Thanks.

Useful background websites about the Roach:

General information and

A more demanding piece of research about the Roach written for anglers but very useful all the same!

Videos and images

A successful version of the Roach programme was trialled by the Avon Roach Project.


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