A large Regal tang was the sole survivor after its 680 l/150 gal. aquarium was smashed by a thief at a shop in Massachusetts.
The 18-year-old fish, called Big Blue, is popular with customers at the family-run Animal Instincts Aquarium and Pet Centre in Fall River. It has been resident in a reef display tank at the store for the past 14 years, ever since a customer returned it because it had outgrown their aquarium.
But an unidentified man broke into the shop last week, smashing the front door and taking money and cash registers. However, instead of stopping there he struck the reef tank, which was situated in the fish room at the back of the shop, several times with a metal pipe until it cracked.
He then removed a piece of glass from the broken tank to ensure that the water poured out and onto the floor.
The shop's owner Bob Schenck said that 25 fish and 40 different types of coral died in the incident. Some of the residents of the tank had been at the shop for decades.
He told local newspapers that he was amazed Big Blue was still alive.
"She survived in this little bit of water on the left side with no gravel, just flopping around. I don’t know how she made it. It blows me away.
The shop has a number of security cameras installed and there is footage of the incident, but so far the man hasn't been identified.
Mr Schenck said the attack on the fish tank almost made him want to give up and close the shop's doors. He originally offered a $500/£330 reward to anyone who could give the police information leading to the suspect's arrest - but with the help of a customer, this reward has been increased to $800/£528. Other customers have donated live rock and even a pair of clownfish for the new aquarium.
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