The koi pond in front of Ross Hall is missing a few of its inhabitants.
A mistake involving the cleaning of the koi pond Nov. 8 resulted in the death of almost all of the fish.
“We failed to put the sodium thiosulfate into the water, which I’m also certain that was the problem all the way,” said Steven Johnston, superintendent of landscape services.
Sodium thiosulfate is commonly used to remove chlorine from water in order to make it safe for fish.
According to David Cline, extension specialist for the fisheries and allied aquaculture department, said too much chlorine can easily kill fish.
“The water needs to be treated after being refilled with city water just to remove that chlorine because it doesn’t take much, only parts per million, to hurt them,” Cline said.
According to Johnston, the fish were removed from the pond while it was being drained to remove algae and other debris. After its cleaning, the pond was refilled with city water, but the fish were returned to the pond before the water was treated, resulting in their deaths.
Emily Key, senior in environmental design and owner of a koi pond, said she received a text from a friend Nov. 8 saying there were dead fish in the pond.
“So when I got out of class, I went over there and there were, I think, five left swimming—all the other ones had died,” Key said.
Key said she, along with Carol Lovvorn, student adviser for the Office of International Programs, removed the dead fish from the water. She and Lovvorn moved the remaining live fish in the koi pond in front of Foy Student Union.
Key said she removed approximately 25 dead fish from the pond.
“A lot of people don’t seem to understand that fish are animals, too,” Key said. “If Auburn had a whole bunch of puppies playing in a field and there was a whole bunch of dead ones, imagine the outrage that they would see with that. But if it’s fish, it’s like, ‘Oops, you know, someone killed all the fish. No big deal.’”
Key said her biggest concern now is the koi pond in front of Foy.
“There’s another pond closer to the entrance of Foy that has not been cleaned yet and it’s full of fry, which is baby fish, and they’re all less than an inch long,” Key said. “And if they clean it, even the same way that they cleaned this other one, even if they fix the water to where there’s no chlorine, the stress of moving those babies, most of them are probably going to die.”
Johnston said he is looking into ways to avoid having to empty the ponds in the future.
“We’re looking now at I guess what you’d say biological measures, so we don’t want to have to get in there and even clean and take that chance anymore,” Johnston said.
Johnston said he is working with Cline on this process.
According to Cline, changing the fish- to-plant ratio in the ponds may naturally help keep the ponds cleaner.
“The biggest problem with the ponds on campus there is that everybody wants to feed the fish, and they end up with excess nutrients in them so it’s very difficult for the plants in there to keep up,” Cline said. “What happens is the algae is also able to utilize those nutrients and they get the jumpstart and take off. So what we need to do is maybe find a few less fish and a few more plants so that the waste that’s generated by the fish can be easily taken up by the plants.”