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LTRMP Fish Component 
Laptop Data Entry Application


This tutorial is presented to orient you for electronic data entry of LTRMP fish collections for 2003 and beyond.  The goal of this tutorial is to introduce you to the key elements of the application so that LTRMP fish data can be efficiently and accurately recorded in electronic format directly at the time of collection.  We believe that the interface is quite self explanatory; Dave Hansen has made the electronic data entry interface appear remarkably similar to the paper data sheets we have used in previous years.  Below we present the key elements of the application and provide you some pointers for efficiently entering your data.

Major Sections:
Downloading and Installing the Application
Main Menu
Data Entry Page
Site Record sub-section - Considerations for data entry
Data entry - Site Record sub-section
Individual Fish Sub-section - Considerations for data entry
Data entry - Individual Fish Sub-section
QA and Verifying Records
Special Project and Turtle Bycatch
File Management Considerations
Data Maintenance Menu
Setting Data Defaults
Export New Data Menu
Report Menu
Fish Import Menu
Fish Help Menu

Downloading and Installing the Application

The LTRMP data correction application can be downloaded from the following URL:

The file is named: and is located in the lower right section of the table at the above link.  In the file name convention above, yy is the last 2 digits of the year and ccc is the version number (always use the most current version).


  1. Create a directory named:  "C:\ltrmp_fish"
  2. At the above link, click on the file to download
  3. Save it to "C:\ltrmp_fish"
  4. Double-click on the saved file in "C:\ltrmp_fish"
  5. The application will self-extract and install in the "C:\ltrmp_fish" folder
  6. A shortcut for the application is located in "C:\ltrmp_fish\Fish Data Entry App".  Using Windows Explorer, navigate to the folder "C:\ltrmp_fish" and right mouse click the
    shortcut "Fish Data Entry App" then select copy from the drop down menu. Then, minimize Windows Explorer and right mouse click the PC's active desktop area.  Select paste from the drop down menu and paste the "Fish Data Entry App" shortcut on the PC's active desktop area.  To start the "Fish Data Entry App" application double the "Fish Data Entry App" shortcut on the PC's desktop.

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Main Menu

Open the application by double-clicking on its icon (either on your desktop, if you created a shortcut or in Windows Explorer under "C:\ltrmp_fish")

The LTRMP Fish Component Laptop Data Entry Application will open with the main menu displayed.

main menu

The top button labeled "LTRMP Fish Data Sheet" opens the data entry interface.  The other buttons launch maintenance, import, export, and reporting subroutines and will be discussed later as appropriate.

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Data Entry Page

At the main menu, click on the button labeled "LTRMP Fish Data Sheet".  This will access the main data entry form.  The layout and flow of the data entry form follows the old paper datasheets quite closely.  Major differences are that the electronic sheet only allows pre-loaded, selectable data for many fields (e.g., stratum, gear, period, summary, etc...) and has a different interface for entering individual records.

The electronic datasheet can be broken into 2 sub-sections, a SITE RECORD section and a FISH INDIVIDUAL section.  The SITE RECORD section is always open, and the FISH INDIVIUAL section overlays the SITE RECORD section when it is opened.

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Site Record sub-section - Considerations for data entry

At the very top of the main data entry form, there is a row of gray buttons with black text.   These allow the user to perform various tasks outside of an individual record.  The first button "Done" will exit back to the main menu.  "Open Fish Indiv" will open the Fish Individual form and hide the Site Record form.  "Done Fish Indiv" closes the Fish Individual form and reveals the Site Record form.

Also, in the first row, 5 buttons are available beginning with the text "Flt/...".  These buttons launch filtering macros based on the descriptive text suffix unique to each button (e.g., Not Verified).  These filters are designed to aid maintenance/navigation of the records that have been entered previously and to assist you in QA checks prior to submitting the data to UMESC.  There is one additional filter in the second row that performs a similar function.

The button labeled "Cal" opens a calculator for you, and the button labeled "Open Log" opens an electronic log book for record keeping comments.   Use of the activity log is encouraged.

The second row contains a button termed "Show All" that refreshes all records following an earlier filter.  The button labeled "Bckp to Flash Card" performs an instantaneous dump of the database to the flash card, for backing up the data.  This should be done several times each day during data collection.

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Data entry - Site Record sub-section

Electronic data entry of a collection begins with information particular to a sampling site.  Thus we will begin here.  In the upper left-hand corner of the SITE RECORD section, the user may select a pre-loaded PRIMARY site from the drop-down list.  Sites are sorted first by time period, then by location code.    When you find the site you are looking for, double-click on it to load it into the form.  You are now ready to enter data into this record.

Alternate sites may be selected in the same way.  However, the application will prompt you for a time period during the loading process, to ensure you select the correct site.

For both primary and alternate sites, when a start date is entered, the application will check the date against the sampling time period beginning and ending dates to ensure you have selected a site that is within the correct time period for the date you have entered.  If a discrepancy is noted, an error message will appear to warn you, but the application will allow you to proceed.

You will notice that many of the fields are pre-loaded with data.  Those fields with a green background are both required and non-editable fields.  Fields with a green label and a white background are required fields, but can be edited.  To enter a start date/time or finish date/time, you may click on the gray buttons adjacent to those fields for machine capture of the data, or you may enter/edit them yourself.

site record

Non-required data fields are white and field titles are highlighted in yellow.  These are quite self-explanatory and I will not go into much detail on these.  Suffice to say that many can be selected from drop down menus while other require keyed-entry.  A few points should be made though.

  1. Please notice that there are blank spaces for entry of field UTM's.  Recording of field UTM's at the point where water quality data were collected is NOW REQUIRED!
  2. Dates and times can be recorded by clicking on the gray buttons above the fields, or by hand.  If you enter or edit the date fields by hand, you will have to enter the date exactly in the "mm/dd/yyyy" format for the application to accept it.  Once the date and time fields have been entered, E HH: and E MM: can be calculated automatically by pressing the "Calu Effort" button just to the right of these fields.
  3. For electrofishing runs, additional fields will become active under the effort fields.  Enter the volts and amps used, as well as the conductivity and temperature in the next data block, then click the gray button labeled "PG" (Power Goal) to calculate Power Goal and Power Used.
  4. Do not bypass the structures fields, even if you have no structures to record.  Either click in one of the boxes to record a structure or click on the gray button labeled "Update All Structures to N0 =(0)"at the bottom of the structure box to update all the fields to 0.  The structure data are stored in a separate table and performing one of the above actions ensures that the table will update properly.  It is also recommended that you do not Tab through the structures fields.  They are not included in the tab order for the rest of the SITE RECORD section anyway.
  5. Be sure to enter a Crew Leader Code.  This field is used in each individual record in the next sub-section.  Failure to enter it in the SITE table may produce errors in the INDIVIDUAL table.

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Individual Fish Sub-section - Considerations for data entry

Once the SITE RECORD portion of the datasheet is complete, you are ready to begin entering INDIVIDUAL FISH.  Looking at the data entry interface below, a few things are apparent.

  1. Notice that the barcode from the SITE RECORD has been carried over to the FISH INDIVIDUAL section.  The data for these sections are stored in separate tables, and must be linked via the barcode.  Barcodes are non-editable.  No other data fields are linked from the SITE RECORD to the FISH INDIVIDUAL section in this application.
  2. The top three rows of menu and SITE RECORD information are still visible in the FISH INDIVIDUAL section.  To exit FISH INDIVIDUAL, click on the "Done Fish Indiv" button.
  3. Do not confuse the arrow buttons at the upper right of the main menu strip with the arrow buttons at the center of the FISH INDIVIDUAL section.  The buttons on the upper right scroll through SITE RECORDS, and the lower, middle arrow buttons scroll through FISH INDIVIDUAL records.
  4. A global "Recorder Code" field is evident just above the UDF fields.  If you enter a recorder code here, it is inserted into each individual record automatically.  DO THIS FIRST BEFORE YOU ENTER ANY INDIVIDUAL RECORDS!!
  5. There are two ways to record FISH INDIVIDUAL information.  Data can be directly typed into the rows by hand, or entered by using a cluster of toggle buttons.  These methods are explained below.
  6. The UDF fields have been broken out into individual bitwise fields to reduce the chance for transcription errors.  It is recommended you do not Tab through the user-defined fields, for the same reason as with the structures fields.  The data are stored in a separate table, and tabbing may cause problems.
  7. Tally buttons are available in increments of 1's 5's and 10's in each row.  If you have multiple individuals for a given fishcode/length combination, you can just use the tally buttons to increment the count for that row.  Each time you touch one of the tally buttons, the counter will increase the catch by that amount.  Once you are done tallying fish for that row, be sure to touch or click on the submit button to transfer the tally to the fish count field.  You may submit once or multiple times, but the count will not be changed until you touch the submit button.

blank indiv

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Data entry - Individual Fish Sub-section

There are two ways to enter FISH INDIVUDUAL records.  The first is to type them by hand directly into the rows.  The second is by using the toggle buttons.  These are explained, as follows:

Direct Typing into Rows

row individual

  1. Click on the small gray button labeled "Ind" at the top of the FISH INDIVIDUAL form.
  2. Begin entry in the first FISH INDIVIDUAL row that is added by default.  Fields with a green background are not required in this section, but are highlighted to be more easily visible, beacuse they are used most often.
  3. Type data into the appropriate fields, and use the Tab key or stylus to navigate through the fields.
  4. When you finish recording a row, touch or click on the button labeled "Add New Row" to continue, or click on the button labeled "Done Ind" to finish entering.  As you add rows to the record, they will be appended after the last previously added row.  You may have to do some scrolling to view all records if there are a lot of fish in the collection.  Use the scroll bar immediately adjacent to the FISH INDIVIDUAL form to scroll among FISH INDIVIDUAL rows.


Toggle Button Entry

toggle row

  1. To use the toggle buttons, click on the small button next to the barcode labeled "Grp".  The toggle buttons will appear at the bottom of the screen form.  This was done so that, as new rows are appended on to the database, the most recently entered row would appear just above the toggle buttons.  Note: If you select the "Grp" function immediately upon entering the fish individual form, the application will insert a blank row one into the form.  You must type in the first row of data by hand.  After this, the "Grp" feature appends a row onto previous rows, just like the "Add New Row" button.
  2. If your species is represented among the 49 fish code buttons, click on the button containing that species code.  Next click on the length group button that matches the length group recorded on the paper data sheet.  Next, click "Submit".  That fish has now been added to the database.  If a precise measurement was taken, you will have to edit the length value by hand to the correct value (e.g., if 254mm, then select the 250 button and edit length manually).  You will notice that most fields are automatically filled.  This occurs through a series of dynamic links to previously entered data fields (e.g., Recorder Code, Crew Leader) and through a series of defaults (e.g., Page Number default = 1, Row default = 1 for the first record and automatically increments with additional records, Total/Fork default = T, Fish Count default = 1, Recording Site default = 1).
  3. Now make sure that the record is complete and correct.  If Count was greater than 1, you will need to edit this field (either by typing the value or using the Counter buttons).  Enter any appropriate UDF data at this time.
  4. That's it, now you may enter another the same way.  If the species you wish to enter is not represented in the species button field, you will have to use the direct typing method.  Remember to use the "Add New Row" button when typing data manually.  Try it both ways and see which method suits you best. 
  5. When you are done entering group records, click on the button labeled "Done Grp"

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QA and Verifying Records


qaqc imageOnce you have completely entered a record, you can QA your work by clicking the "QA Barcode" button located in the top right portion of the SITE RECORD sub-section.  This action runs a script that evaluates all fields for valid and complete data.  Warning boxes will appear if there are deficiencies.  You may run the QA/QC script repeatedly.  Each time you run it, the script will check for errors.  You should run the QA/QC script after each collection is completed - before leaving a site - to catch and correct omissions or other data that cannot be retrieved later.

Once records have been QA checked, you may elect to Verify those record using the drop down menu labeled "Verified" just to the left of the QA button.  It is recommended you verify COMPLETED collections once per time period, then export to UMESC.  DO NOT verify incomplete records.  Simply leave them in place until you can get the preserved fish worked up.  Collections will not export until verified.  The crew leader should perform verification.  By doing so, the crew leader is certifying that the data are complete and accurate to the best of their knowledge.

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Special Project and Turtle By-catch

The second option on the main menu allows for entry of special project information and turtle bycatch from routine LTRMP collections.  These data were entered into the routine LTRMP monitoring database through 2002, but are being separated from 2003 and beyond, because of the problems they created in managing, serving, and analyzing the routine LTRMP data.

This section of the data entry application functions similarly to the routine monitoring sections, except that there are no pre-loaded fields, and the rules for many of the fields are turned off to allow users to enter a wider variety of data.  All LTRMP-sponsored contract work or any projects that are intended to have the data served by UMESC must have approved project codes, or the data will not be stored, managed, or served by UMESC.  Project codes can only be selected from the list of approved codes.  For emergency or response sampling, an "EMER" code is available, but these data will not be supported by UMESC, unless the project code is changed later.

New project codes will be approved by the Fish Component Specialist, and added to the select list of available special project codes to choose from.  To submit a new project, notify the Fish Component Specialist of your intent to begin a new project at least two weeks before sampling begins.  Required information consists of:  WHO is conducting the project, WHAT is the purpose of the project, WHERE will it be conducted, WHEN is the starting date and projected ending date, and HOW will the sampling be done.

Once a project is approved, the Database Manager will update the file named "C:\ltrmp_fish\lkda_fish.mdb", and send it to you to paste into your "C:\ltrmp_fish" folder.  The new project code will then be available.

Turtle data may be entered under the "TURT" special project code.  To link the turtle records back to routine monitoring collections, it is suggested that you record the sample barcode from the routine monitoring collection in the SITE ALIAS field of the special projects database.  This will allow cross-linking of the two databases later, if desired.  Please note:  For logistical and QA/QC reasons, sample barcodes from the special project database do not match those from the routine monitoring database.

There is no EXPORT option for special project data.  However, the data are easy to locate and extract manually.  In the "C:\ltrmp_fish" folder, there is a file named "fish_sp_data.mdb".  To extract special project data from the application, simply copy this file to another location, and open it with Microsoft ACCESS.  You can then work with it in ACCESS, or export it to another format.

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File Management Considerations

The initiation of electronic data recording in the field bestows a considerable level of responsibility to the field station staff because of the innate complexity associated with proper data management.  It is important to recognize this complexity, and staff need to be comfortable with the operating environment of the computers, as well as file management and structure.

Essentially, there are three file storage units to be considered for this application:  the field computer hard drive, the flash card, and an independent, portable storage medium (floppy, CD, Zip disk, etc).  The data are initially recorded and stored on the field computer hard drive, then backed up to the flash card, and then transferred to both UMESC and an independent, portable storage medium.  The independent storage medium will allow you to retain your files and application in the event that the field computer is lost.  Storage locations should be secure, fireproof, and remote from your field computer, if possible.

Whenever you are going to delete or export files, always make sure you have backed up both the application and the data file before commencing.

After exporting files to UMESC, you should also make a copy of each export file on a CD or zip disk, and keep these in the same, secure location as the copies of your application and data files.

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Data Maintenance Menu

A suite of maintenance utilities are available from the main menu of the entry application.  The white bars indicate major sections and the gray bars initiate specific maintenance actions.

 maintenance menu

Backup Data Tables

Within the "C:\ltrmp_fish" folder, the file"fish_data.mdb" contains the information you record in the field.  To back up this file to the laptop hard drive, click on the button labeled "Backup Data Entry Tables".  This procedure will update a file named "fish_data_bkup.mdb" with the current contents of your application, which is also stored within the "C:\ltrmp_fish" folder.

Since the actual data and the backups are stored within the same folder on the laptop hard drive, it is also recommended that you back up the entire"C:\ltrmp_fish" folder to the flash card.  This is done by:

1) installing the flash card utility software, as detailed below (Install Software), and then

2) backing up the entire application  by clicking on the button labeled "Backup All Files in C:\ltrmp_fish\*.* to Flash Card").

You should also keep an additional copy of the entire application on a zip disk or CD by copying the entire "C:\ltrmp_fish" folder from the laptop hard drive to a remote computer, then transferring to the storage medium.  This should be done weekly.

Within the "C:\ltrmp_fish" folder, the file"fish_data.mdb" is the one that contains the information you record in the field.  Again, it is very important to maintain current copies of this file in separate locations, so data are not lost in the event of a hard drive crash or loss of the computer.  Use the button labeled "Backup "C:ltrmp_fish\fish_data.mdb" to Flash Card" to back up the data files to the flash card.  Do this after each collection, and transfer to a remote storage medium daily.

Please note:  A hard drive on another computer is helpful in storing and transferring files, but should not be relied upon as a backup because of the possibility of hard drive failure or other damage.

Restore Tables From Backup

You can also restore your data tables from backup by simply clicking "Restore Tables from Backup".  This will restore data from the file "C:\ltrmp_fish\fish_backup.mdb" to your app.

Although it is not a menu option, you can restore data from the flash card, as well.   Go to Windows Explorer and access the flash card on the "F:" drive.  Go to "F:\back_up_data", and rename the file "fish_data_bkup.mdb" to "fish_data.mdb".  Copy this file into your "C:\ltrmp_fish" folder in Windows Explorer, and click YES when it asks if you want to replace the file.

Refresh Data in Tables

Clicking "Update Number of Fish on Sheet" performs a global update and reconciliation of the number of fish on a datasheet.  This updates the field in the SITE RECORD to equal the sum of all fish count values in the FISH INDIVIDUAL section, by barcode.

Delete Records

When deleting files, please make sure you know what you are doing, and always be sure you have a copy of your files stored somewhere in case you need to retrieve them.  See File Management Considerations and Backup Data Tables above for more details.

Clicking "Delete All Records From Backup Tables" purges your backup tables within the "C:\ltrmp_fish" folder of all records.  This utility is most useful if you do not want to maintain backups of previously verified and processed records (records that have been sent to UMESC) on your laptop.  Keeps the dataset small and nimble.

Clicking "Delete All Records From Data Entry Tables" purges your primary data entry database of all records.  Make sure you know what you are doing with this.  This utility is provided to purge your application of records that have already been sent to UMESC (processed records).  However, it will delete all records.  Thus, make sure all records are verified and processed prior to doing this.

The button labeled "Delete All Records From "D:\fish_flshcrd\fish_backup_fish.mdb" On Flash Card" allows you to purge your flash card, similarly to the previous two options.  Note: This menu option is not available in Versions later than 1.10.

Install Software

The final menu items of the maintenance section are installations pertaining to using the application to automatically back up to the flash card.  To run these installations, simply click on each menu item and follow the instructions provided.

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Setting Data Defaults

The Data Defaults Menu allows users to set data defaults for a handful of fields for the current session.

default values

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Export New Data Menu

Once data have been QA'ed and Verified, they can be exported to UMESC for inclusion into the Level 2 Oracle Data Tables.  A few points:

  1. Data should be exported to UMESC no more than once per sampling time period.
  2. During an export, all verified (v) records are sent.  The (v) in the Verified field is automatically switched to a (p) to signify processed (exported) data.  Subsequent exports will ignore the (p) records so that duplicate records are not sent.  It is possible to change a (p) back to a (v) if you re-QA the record and manually change the (p) to a (v).  Please NEVER do this.  There is no need to and it will create innumerable headaches at UMESC.
  3. If you have unfinished (i.e. preserved fish) collections, they should remain unverified until lab processing is completed.  Proper backing up of the database will ensure their integrity.
  4. Once the export has completed, two text files will have been created in your c:\ltrmp_fish folder.  One will have the prefix fshsite...  and the other will be fshindiv...  Send these to Dave Hansen by email, or by using the FTP utility provided on your laptops.  They can be deposited in the directory.  You will need to send an email to Dave Hansen, notifying him that the files are there, and what the names are.  The files will only stay in the incoming directory for a limited time, so notify Dave promptly.
  5. Please keep copies of the export files, as well.  See File Management Considerations above for more details.

export menu

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Report Menu

The Report Menu provides many utilities and summaries of the data.  Be sure to produce paper printouts of all datasheets and datasheet logs, and mail to Dave Hansen with each export.  These are the top and bottom menu items on the left-hand side of the Report Menu.  Simply click the appropriate button and print.  Other items are self-explanatory.  If questions, contact Dave Hansen or Brian Ickes.

report menu

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Fish Import Menu

The Fish Import Menu allows the user to import the pre-loaded SITE RECORD files for each year of data within a given field station.  All sites for an entire year are included in a sinlge import file.  You must first download the appropriate executable file - done outside of the application.  Store the file in the "C:\ltrmp_fish" folder on your hard drive.  Then, within the application, simply click on the menu bar for your field station.  Be aware that the application will overwrite the existing data file "C:\ltrmp_fish\fish_data.mdb" with the contents of the executable file.  You need to export all existing records or back them up before importing new SITE RECORD files.

import menu

An alternative method for importing new SITE RECORD data files is to simply download and save them to your "C:\ltrmp_fish" folder, then double-click on the executable file.  It will automatically copy the new "C:\ltrmp_fish\fish_data.mdb" file to your "C:\ltrmp_fish" folder.

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Fish Help Menu

The Fish Help Menu provides links to electronic versions of the Fish Component Procedural Manual.

help menu

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Questions, comments, concerns:

Dave Hansen
608-783-7550 ext. 704


Brian Ickes
608-783-7550 ext. 69

Content Manager: Brian Ickes

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