Fish dead in local Swindon shop after suspected sabotage poisoning


A number of fish have died in a popular local fish store following what has been described as a deliberate act of poisoning, writes Jeremy Gay.

Suspected sabotage poisoning in local fish shop

The incident occurred on Saturday the 23rd of March at World of Water Swindon, when a customer first stepped on an escaped suckermouth catfish on the floor, before discovering other distressed fish in the tank that it had jumped out of. 

She told store staff, who instantly saw there was a problem in the tank and rushed to rectify the situation. The tank contained discus fish and L number plecos. Staff immediately reached for nets and buckets, but sadly none of the discus survived the poisoning event. 

"We popped into World of Water to buy some fish for our tank at home,” the eyewitness said in the Swindon Advertiser. “My partner was talking to the sales assistant about which fish we'd like and that's when I stood on one.”

"I was with my toddler at the time, and he was pointing at it. I honestly thought it was one of his toys at first, but then I saw blood and realised it was a pleco. It obviously died but the saleswoman was so lovely and comforting."

Bleach Attack

"We all quickly realised that the fish were trying to escape the tank and that's why it was on the floor. Then someone said it smelt strongly of bleach and everyone was told to leave the room.

"The staff, and a couple of members of the public, started removing the fish with nets, putting them into a large bucket which was being filled with water from other tanks. 

"I was horrified that someone could do that and you could see the distress and horror in the faces of staff there. They were devastated by it, they really care about their fish." 

World of Water fish shop in Swindon, Wiltshire

Pointless cruelty

A spokesperson from World of Water said: “As soon as the incident was discovered, our colleagues removed the fish from the polluted system and did everything in their power to revive them.

“World of Water as a company prides itself in the fact that the wellbeing of all the livestock is, by far, our primary concern and as fish keepers themselves, the staff have been very upset by this act of completely pointless cruelty.

“Whilst we never expected it to be necessary, security around the fish systems will now be increased.

“We simply cannot believe that anyone could be cruel enough to inflict such suffering on innocent creatures.”

The World of Water store is situated in Studley Grange Garden Centre near Swindon, Wilts. It thanked its customers this week on its Facebook page, saying that they are all still processing the event that took place and are trying to move forward the best that they can. 

“Thank you to all of our customers for your continuing support over the last week. We are overwhelmed with the amount of love and support we have received and are very thankful.

"We have just received our first batch of discus back in and they should hopefully be up for sale in the next week.” 

What we think

Discus are sensitive creatures at the best of times, but it appears that someone entered the store and poured something into the tank with the sole aim of poisoning their water and quickly killing them. If it was bleach or another chlorine-based substance it had the desired effect on a tank filled with expensive fish, and it's lucky that more fish in other tanks weren’t also poisoned, and lost. Many aquatic stores (and garden centres) have CCTV fitted these days, so it will be interesting to see if the police can pinpoint who did it via security camera footage.

A number of UK marine stores have reported deliberate acts of sabotage on their livestock tanks via adding copper-based metal objects to their delicate marine invertebrate trays. Other aquarium stores have been victims of theft, from pond pumps and aquarium dry goods to koi and corals. Running an aquatic shop just got that bit riskier.