• How do I select a PIT tag to purchase?

    With the increased variety of PIT tags available to Columbia Basin researchers, it is important to recognize not all PIT tags have the same performance characteristics. Performance characteristics of PIT tags can impact your projects and the projects of other researchers using PIT tag infrastructure in the Columbia Basin. If a tag has less of a chance of being detected, then research results could be skewed. If a tag is too powerful and overwhelms tags already in the system, it could affect others’ research.

    The PIT Tag Steering Committee and PTAGIS strongly recommends tag performance be evaluated before researchers decide to purchase and release new PIT tags in the Columbia Basin.

    Some organizations that purchase large amounts of PIT tags every year have contracted with PSMFC-PTAGIS to conduct rigorous testing of candidate PIT tags to inform the procurement process. The most recent Comprehensive PIT Tag Evaluations (CPTE) were conducted in 2011, 2014 and 2017. The tags that were selected for purchase as result of these CPTEs are listed in the table below, which is updated as new CPTEs are completed. 

     Standard Tags
     General Tag Size
     Tag Model Selected for Purchase
     CPTE Test Year
     12mm x 2mm
     Biomark APT12
     12mm x 2mm
     Biomark HPT12
     12mm x 2mm
     Destron-Fearing/Biomark SST-1
    9mm x 2mm
    Biomark HPT9
     9mm x 2mm
     RFID Solutions PT300-1

     Specialty (Skinny) Tags*
     General Tag Size
     Tag Model Selected for Purchase
     CPTE Test Year
     10mm x 1.4mm
     Biomark MiniHPT10
     10mm x 1.4mm
     EID/Trovan ID-0162A10
     10mm x 1.4mm
     EID/Trovan ID-1162A10

    *Specialty tags are occasionally evaluated during CPTE testing. Specialty tags are not typically purchased and stocked. Of the specialty tags tested these are the top performers. Specialty tags, while having characteristics that make them desirable in particular research applications, might not have the readability of standard tags.

    These are not the only tags in use in the Columbia Basin, and it is not required that you use one of these tags. It is recommended that you carefully select a tag that meets your project needs and will perform well in current PTAGIS infrastructure.

    If you are interested in working with PSMFC-PTAGIS to conduct CPTEs for your procurement process, please contact Don Warf at dlwarf@psmfc.org.

    If you elect to purchase and use a tag that is new to the Columbia Basin, please be aware that you will need to request that the new tag mask be added to the PTAGIS tag mask validation codes. The tag mask validation codes are used to screen misreads and spurious tags from the reporting system. Please see article # 7 in the June 2014 PTAGIS newsletter for more information about tag mask validation in PTAGIS.

    (Updated 02/09/2018)
  • How do I create a new PTAGIS account?

    You can request a new account from the Log in page on the PTAGIS website. To get there from the home page, click the Log in link in the upper right corner, then click Request New Account.

    After you complete and submit the form, you will receive an automated email to verify your email address (check your spam folder if you don’t see it in your inbox within a minute or two). Once you have verified your email address you will be able to log in and use the Advanced Reporting system and other features that require an account.

  • How can I fix the P4 error Unable to Connect to Database?

    When starting up P4, if you receive an error message that says "Unable to connect to the database. Database service is not running" it means that the SQL Server database service either did not start up or has stopped running. To fix this error, do the following:
    1. Type Services in the Windows search panel to open Services
    2. Look for the service called SQL Server (P4_SQLEXPRESS)
    3. If the Status does not say Running, then right-click the service and select Start
    4. If Startup Type is not set to Automatic, right-click the service and select Properties, and change the Startup type to Automatic

    You may not be able to start the service or change the settings, and in those cases you should consult with your IT department for assistance.

    P4 SQL Server Service

  • Can I submit tagging or interrogation data by email?

    P3 tagging files can no longer be submitted via email or any other means. Only MiniMon interrogation files can be submitted by email. To submit a Minimon file by email you can attach one or more files to an email and send it with the following information:

    Send to: intdata@ptagis.org
    Subject: Interrogation
    Attachments: Interrogation files can be attached separately or be contained in a zip file

  • How do I export data from PTAGIS?

    Data can be exported from both Quick Reports and custom reports in the Advanced Reporting system. The Advanced Reporting system provides more options for both building and exporting the results set you need. Data can be exported to Excel, CSV, Plain text, HTML, and PDF formats. There are two general methods for exporting from the advanced reporting system: interactive and subscription.

    Excel files are exporting using the Excel 2007 format (xlsx); CSV files are exported with comma delimiters and the fields are surrounded by double quotes; TXT files can be exported with any delimiter and the fields are not surrounded with double quotes.

    Excel files are always exported using UTF-8 encoding and TXT files are always exported using UTF-16 encoding. Files exported to CSV, however, have different encoding depending on the method used to export them.

    Format Details
    Excel 2007
    Comma delimited
    Fields double-quoted
    Delimiter specified by user
    Fields not quoted
    Encoding with interactive export
    UTF-8 UTF-8 UTF-16
    Encoding with subscription export UTF-8
    UTF-16 UTF-16

    Interactive exporting
    is done manually after you have run a report and are looking at the results set in your browser by going to Report Home / Export and selecting the desired export format. This will immediately export the current results set to the selected format and prompt you to download or open the resulting file.
    Interactive Export

    Subscription exporting allows you to set up a schedule for your saved report to run and export the results to the FTP server or send them as an attachment to email.
    You can also run a report and send the results to your history list so that when you log in to advanced reporting it is ready to view and does not need to execute against the database.

    Files exported to the FTP site can be downloaded from a folder based on your user name: ftp://ftp.ptagis.org/MicroStrategyExport/YourUserName

    Subscription Export

  • How can I determine if fish were transported or bypassed at McNary, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite dams?

    During the smolt transportation season, fish collected from the juvenile bypass systems at Lower Granite, Little Goose, Lower Monumental, and McNary dams are either trucked or barged to an in-river release point below Bonneville Dam. PTAGIS maintains PIT tag interrogation equipment in these facilities with site codes of GRJ, GOJ, LMJ, and MCJ, respectively. The following information is pertinent only to these four sites. All fish passing through juvenile bypass systems at other hydroelectric facilities are returned to the river by default.

    At the four transportation facilities, the juvenile fish pass through a size and/or debris separator and are then routed into the collection facility. Adult salmon “fallbacks” are diverted from the separator and returned to the dam’s tailrace. During transportation season, fish are generally routed into the collection facility’s raceways where they are held until loaded onto a barge or tanker truck. Under some circumstances, the fish are direct-loaded to a barge as soon as they pass over the separator. A sample portion of the fish exiting the separator are routed to the facility’s lab, where biologists determine the species composition and densities of the group(s) of fish to be transported. Sample fish are also transported.

    Beginning in 1993, PIT-tagged fish exiting the separator at these four sites have been bypassed directly back to the river by default. In 1996 this capability was expanded to allow the automatic segregation of specific PIT-tagged fish. This selective segregation of PIT-tagged fish is called Separation by Code (SbyC).  Separation by Code can be used to override the default bypassing of fish back to the river, or to collect a target group of fish for further hands-on sampling.

    PTAGIS maintains PIT tag detectors in all of the routes through the smolt collection facilities, providing the means to track the movement of each fish through the facility. With this information it is possible to determine which PIT-tagged fish have been bypassed back to the river with high confidence, and to infer (but not confirm) which fish have been transported.

    Using Last Antenna Group to Infer Disposition

    The Interrogation Summary report, available through Query Builder 2 in the Advanced Reporting system,  returns a single record for each PIT tag code detected at a detection site. It also provides the time stamp and antenna group name of the tag’s first and last detection at the site. The Last Antenna Group attribute can be used to determine which PIT-tagged fish were bypassed back to the tailrace and to infer which fish were transported from the facility (see Caveats).


    Last Antenna Group Name

    Detection Time











    If the name contains:






    During transportation season

    Probably Transported

    If the name contains:




    Outside of transportation season


    Probably Bypassed




    Not Transported

    but may not have been returned to the river

    At LMJ:



    During transportation season

    Transported (direct-loaded)



    -contact Corps’ site biologist for more information about these operations

    Any other name


    Unknown – last detected at some intermediate point in the facility



    1. The transportation season at a site may be shorter than the collection season. Fish may be collected (passed through the separator) for monitoring purposes prior to the start of the transportation season. PTAGIS has attempted to record the dates when collection for transportation started and ended each year in each site’s Event Log, but these dates should be confirmed by Corps personnel.
    2. McNary Dam had a “Spread the Risk” policy implemented for a number of years that called for the bypass of most fish during the spring, and transportation of most fish during Summer-like conditions. During the spring, only PIT-tagged fish marked for the Corps of Engineer’s Smolt Transportation Evaluation study were targeted for transportation; all other PIT-tagged fish were routed back to the tailrace and bypassed. In recent years, McNary has not had a transportation season. Contact the site biologist for more information about these operations.
    3. During the transportation season, not all fish at a “Raceway” antenna group are transported. On occasion, raceways are intentionally emptied to the river. If the fish in these raceways are routed through a pipe without a PIT tag monitor, or pass through a monitored pipe at a high density, they may exit the facility without a last “River” detection.
    4. If a gate below a “Raceway” monitor leaks or fails, then fish may be routed out to the barge loading dock and dropped into the river, rather than loaded onto a barge and transported.

    PTAGIS recommends that you contact the Corps’ site biologist to confirm transportation season dates and to inquire about any possible operational anomalies that may have occurred during the years in which you are interested.

  • How do I request a new MRR site, event site or release site?

    Event Sites and Release Sites are collectively referred to as MRR Sites. There are two main types of MRR sites in PTAGIS - stream and fixed locations. A stream location is definition for an entire stream or stream segment and can be used for multiple release sites on a stream by specifying the release river kilometer. A fixed location can be defined for a permanent man-made structure or prominent geographic feature, such as an acclimation pond, an island, a lake, or a trap.

    To make a request for a new MRR site, please log in and go to the Request New Validation Code page.

    Once you have logged in, a Request Validation Code drop-down list appears.

    Request New Validation Code

    Select the appropriate type of validation code from this list and then click the Submit button.

    Complete the form with the requested information and click the Submit Request button to send your request to the PIT Tag Steering Committee for review.

    You will receive an automated email notification upon successful submission, approval and implementation of the new validation code. Once the code has been implemented, you will need to update the validation codes in P3/P4 to make it available from the pick list.


  • How can I become authorized to submit data for a Tag Data/MRR Project?

    The project coordinator can add new personnel to the list of authorized submitters by following these instructions:
    1. Log in to the PTAGIS website
    2. Navigate to Services / Tag Data Project Management
    3. Enter or select the 3-letter project code in the text box
    4. Click Add authorized data submitter
    5. Enter the name and email address of the new submitter
    6. Click the Insert link
    Only the project coordinator can edit the list of authorized submitters.
  • How do I request a new Tag Data Project (i.e., Coordinator ID)?

    The PIT Tag Steering Committee (PTSC) requests that tagging data be tied to a project, rather than an individual. Each project will have one coordinator - the person ultimately responsible for collecting, submitting, and responding to questions about tagging data. The coordinator’s contact information will be available on the PTAGIS website. The coordinator can change over time, so that as personnel retire or transfer positions, the project can continue under the same 3-character code.

    To request a new tag data project: Log in, navigate to the Request New Validation Code page, and select Tag Data Project and Coordinator ID from the combo-box. Edit your contact information, if necessary, and click the Update Contact Info button. Enter a new unique 3-character code and Tag Data Project name. Click the Submit to PTSC button when all information is complete.

    After you submit the request, both you and the PTSC will receive automated notifications via email. Once the PTSC has reviewed and responded to your request, you will receive another automated email notification. Finally, the PTAGIS data coordinator will review and implement the new tag data project and you will be notified that the code is available for use in PTAGIS field tagging software.

  • How do I request a new interrogation site?

    Download and complete the Interrogation Site Request Form. Once completed, send it to a member of the PIT Tag Steering Committee (cc ptagisadmin@ptagis.org) for review. You will be notified after the site has been approved and registered in PTAGIS.
  • Why does my P3.mdb file appear to be empty?

    The P3.mdb database file can appear to be empty when opened directly in Access or opened for import into another installation of P3 or P4 if the IT security policy prevents your user account from writing to the Program Files directory on your computer. Since P3 stores data in the P3.mdb file, it needs permission to write to that file. If it does not have those permissions, then Windows quietly makes a copy of it in the Virtual Store and does the writing there. 

    The Virtual Store directory can be found by opening a Windows File Explorer and pasting the appropriate path from below into the address line.

    for 32-bit computers use:
    %LocalAppData%\VirtualStore\Program Files\PTAGIS\P3

    for 64-bit computers use:
    %LocalAppData%\VirtualStore\Program Files (x86)\PTAGIS\P3
  • What are Orphan and Disown records?

    Orphan records are created when a PIT tag is detected at any registered interrogation site, but marking information has not yet been submitted for that tag code. Orphan records are indicated by the value ORPHAN in the Mark Site, Release Site and Tag File attributes. The Mark Date and Release Date attributes have values of 01/01/1900. An orphan record will be updated with marking information when a tag file is successfully loaded into PTAGIS that contains that PIT tag code as a mark record.

    Disowned records are created when a previously loaded mark record is dotted out or changed from a mark event to a recap or mortality event. Disowned records are indicated by the value DISOWN in the Mark Site, Release Site and Tag File attributes. The Mark Date is set to 01/01/1900 and the Release Date is set to 01/01/2100. Similar to an orphan record, a disowned record will be updated with marking information when a tag file is successfully loaded that contains that PIT tag code as a mark record.
  • Can I download a list of interrogation sites with metadata?

    Yes, you can download a list of all interrogation sites by using the advanced reporting tool. Once you have logged in and launched the tool, navigate to Standard Reports - MRR and Interrogation Site Info. The All Interrogation Site Table report shows all interrogation sites that have ever been registered in PTAGIS. Associated metadata is also included, such as, latitude/longitude coordinates and other location information, description, data steward contacts, and site status and operational dates.

    This report can be filtered using the View Filter and exported to a variety of formats. Please watch video tutorial #2 (How to Use Query Builder 2) for information on how to use the view filter and how to export report results.
  • What data are available?

    The complete PTAGIS dataset is available through the new reporting system. Interrogation data files are now being processed directly on the new database server approximately every 30 minutes. Interrogation sites that are managed by PTAGIS are submitting data approximately every hour.

    Tagging, recapture and mortality data are still being processed on the legacy database server and are synchronized to the new database management system on a regular schedule throughout the day. It may take up to three hours for tagging data to become available in the new reporting system.
  • Where are Registered Tag Lists?

    A registered tag list was a list of tag codes that could be used to filter a report in Query Builder. This list could be created by uploading a text file of PIT tag codes, or by registering the PIT tag codes from a Query Builder results set.

    In Query Builder 2, the functionality is similar, but the details are a bit different. Please see the documentation for How to Use a Text File as a Filter on Tag Code and How to Use a Saved Report as a Filter on Tag Code for details.

  • Why do I get JavaScript errors on the Quick Reports?

    The reporting software we are using to create the Quick Reports and the Advanced Reporting tool has some known issues with Firefox browsers. Both the Quick Reports and the Advanced Reporting tool are best viewed using Internet Explorer and Chrome browsers.

    If you prefer to use Firefox, simply refresh the webpage to clear the JavaScript errors.
  • How do I query and download data like I do with Query Builder?

    Query Builder 2 is available through the Advanced Reporting tool. Please see the documentation for How to Use Query Builder 2 for details. There are also a number of video tutorials and a recording of a webinar demonstrating the new reporting system available on the Tutorials page.
  • How do I view data in the Browse Data reports? I only see a Count.

    The first time you view a report in the Advanced Reporting tool, you may only see a Count field and a value.

    To see the attributes that are available for the report go to the Tools menu and select Report Objects. This will give you a list of fields that can be added to the report. You can add attributes to the report grid by dragging and dropping, or by using the right-click menu.

  • How do I view the complete tag history for this PIT tag?

    Without logging in you can view the complete tag history for up to 300 PIT tags using the Complete Tag History report. You can enter or import up to 300 tag codes and view the complete history for each tag one at a time.

    1. Go to Quick Reports / Complete Tag History.
    2. Enter a PIT tag code in the text box labeled Value. OR click the Import file link to import a CSV file from your local computer of up to 300 PIT tag codes.
    3. Click Run Document.

    In the Advanced Reporting tool, you can view the complete tag history for a group of tags defined by a coordinator ID, mark site, release site, mark date, and/release date. There is no limit to the amount of tags you can view this way, however, if you try to view the entire PTAGIS dataset it will crash your browser.