Dolphins chew puffer fish to get 'high'!

Dolphins have been filmed chewing on toxic puffer fish, apparently to enjoy their 'narcotic-like effect'.

The footage was shot using cameras disguised as other sea creatures for the BBC series Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, from by the award-winning wildlife documentary producer John Downer. It shows dolphins gently chewing on the fish, and passing it between them, before lapsing into a sort of trance, floating just beneath the surface and apparently fascinated by their own reflections.

Although large doses of the toxin produced by puffer fish can be deadly, in small amounts it can produce a narcotic effect — and the dolphins appeared to know exactly how to make the fish release just the right amount to get them 'high'.

It's the first time dolphins have been filmed acting in this way.

The first of the two-part series will be shown on BBC1 on Thursday, January 2, at 8pm.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.


Thousands of fish feared dead following fire

A shop owner from Seattle in the US fears tens of thousands of fish will have died following a fire above his store on Christmas Eve.

The 100-year-old building on South King Street in the Chinatown district, houses eight businesses — one of them an aquatic shop owned by Djin Kwie Liem, which has been trading there since 1979.

But a fire broke out in the vacant upper part of the building at around 4pm on Christmas Eve, causing extensive damage. Dozens of fire trucks attended the scene and people living in surrounding homes had to be evacuated.

Liem was only allowed back into his ground floor shop shop briefly on Thursday to pick up a few personal belongings, cash and receipts.

There's no power to the building following the fire, so the shop's tanks are without heat, oxygen and filtration. Liem had to use a flashlight to see what he was doing. He told The Seattle Times that he couldn't bear to look into any of the tanks to see the fate of the thousands of fish.

Liem had only received a shipment of about 5,000 goldfish the day before the fire, and an additional 4,000 a fortnight earlier, ready for the Chinese New Year. The Chinese consider goldfish good luck, so this is a particularly busy time for him.

He estimates that 20,000 fish may have been lost, including tropical specialities such as Fighters and Corydoras along with fancy goldfish and Koi.

Liem knows there's little hope for the tropicals, but hopes that some of the coldwater fish could still make it.

Fire officials say the upper areas of the building are so damaged that the cause of the blaze may never be known and business owners have been told it could be weeks before they find out if they can ever reopen.

The same building was the site of the Wah Mee massacre in 1983 — the deadliest mass murder in Washington State history — when 14 people were gunned down by three men in the downstairs Wah Mee gambling club. Thirteen died, but the survivor was able to testify against the gunmen.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.


Four new species found off the coast of Scotland

Four new species of deep sea creature have been discovered off the north west coast of Scotland, exciting researchers who think the presence of three of them could indicate a "cold seep" vent, in which hydrocarbons leak into the water from a fissure in the seabed.

Two species of clam — Thyasira scotiae and Isorropodon mackayi — and a marine worm, which was actually found living inside one of the clams and has yet to be named, were found at a depth of about three quarters of a mile at a suspected cold seep during surveys around the Rockall coast in the north Atlantic by researchers from Marine Scotland.

If confirmed, the cold seep would be the first to be discovered in the area and could lead to controls on fishing.

A large 10cm/4" sea snail (pictured above) which has been named Volutopsius scotiae, was also discovered during the survey, living at a depth of about a mile.

Both Volutopsius scotiae and Thyasira scotiae have been named after the research vessel MRV Scotia, while Isorropodon mackayi has been named after mollusc expert David W Mackay.

Jim Drewery from Marine ­Scotland Science, said: "The discovery of these new species is absolutely incredible, especially when you consider that the sea snail measures a relatively large 4", yet has gone undetected for decades.

"The project we were undertaking was designed to provide advice that would help balance both commercial fishing and conservation interests in the Rockall area.

"The potential cold seep and its dependant community of marine life is a great find as it is just the sort of habitat we were hoping to pick up on these surveys."

Scotland's Environment ­Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Scottish waters cover an area around five times bigger than our land mass and are miles deep in places...The area where these species were found is not fished and the confirmation of a cold seep is likely to result in the region being closed to bottom contact fishing."

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.


70 bathers bitten by piranhas in Argentina

More than 70 people were injured after a school of fish attacked bathers in the Parana River on Christmas Day.

Thousands of bathers are reported to have taken to the water at Rosario — a city located around 185 miles north of Buenos Aires — due to the extreme temperatures, which topped 38°C.

But around mid-morning, people began to shout that they had been bitten.

Medical officials described the attack as "very aggressive", with some of those bitten having lumps of flesh torn from them. Some of the children who were injured are reported to have lost entire digits.

The fish responsible was described by bathers as 'palometa': a carnivorous fish of the piranha family — probably Pygocentrus palometa.

Officials said the unusually warm weather may have been responsible for the fish congregating at the water surface prior to the incident.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.


Goldfish abandoned in ditch needs a new home

A 20cm/8" long goldfish had to be rescued after it was abandoned in a ditch in West Sussex.

The fish was discovered swimming in just 10cm/4" of water — barely enough to cover it — by one of the volunteer grounds staff at the WWT Arundel Wetland Centre.

The goldfish has been christened Bauble and is currently swimming in a pond used for pond dipping activities at the centre during the spring and summer months. However, staff are hoping to find a new home for him in another pond and are appealing to members of the public to adopt him.

Sam Halpin, who is the grounds warden at the centre, told the Littlehampton Gazette: "We have to segregate Bauble as he is a non-native species in the UK. Many invasive aquarium plants, non-native fish and water borne diseases are spread by thoughtless people disposing of the contents of their aquariums and ponds into waterways in the countryside."

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.


Last remaining Madagascan fish discovered following worldwide appeal

Aquarists at ZSL London Zoo are celebrating the phenomenal success of a worldwide appeal to find a female mate for a critically-endangered cichlid species – after a small population was found in remote Madagascar.

Aquarists at ZSL London Zoo are celebrating the phenomenal success of a worldwide appeal to find a female mate for a critically-endangered fish species — after a small population was found in remote Madagascar.

The Mangarahara cichlid (Ptychochromis insolitus) was believed to be lost in the wild due to intense deforestation and river diversions created for rice farming and agriculture drying up its native habitat of the Mangarahara River in Madagascar (pictured above) and two of the last known individuals — both male — were residing in ZSL London Zoo’s Aquarium.
After launching a desperate appeal in May 2013, hundreds of private aquarium owners, fish collectors, and scientists got in touch with the Zoo’s Aquarium Curator, Brian Zimmerman, to offer up advice, support and suggestions.
One of those to respond to the appeal was a farm and business owner in Madagascar, who recognised the fish as one he’d seen in a secluded north-Madagascan town.
An exploratory expedition was arranged with vital support from HM Ambassador in the British Embassy of Madagascar, so that, along with aquarists from Toronto Zoo in Canada, Brian Zimmerman and Kienan Parbles from ZSL London Zoo could head off to Madagascar to search for the Mangarahara cichlid.

After days of searching empty streams, and rapidly losing hope of finding the cichlid, the team visited a tiny village built on the edge of a now-disconnected tributary from the Mangarahara River.
With help from local villagers, areas of water were cordoned off using nets to mark the search areas. Initially finding only other native species, the team were ecstatic when they finally found the first one of the last remaining Mangarahara cichlids in existence.
Brian Zimmerman said: "We are simply thrilled that we found the Mangarahara cichlid surviving in Madagascar.

"We weren’t holding out much hope of finding any fish in the wild, as so much of the Mangarahara River now resembles the desert because of deforestation and intensive agricultural use.
"These cichlids have shown remarkable survival skills, and managed to find one of the very last remaining water sources to live in, but their numbers are tiny and the non-flowing water is not an ideal habitat for them. We’re now doing all we can to protect these remaining fish."  
As part of ZSL London Zoo’s Fish Net conservation project, which focuses on protecting freshwater species, Brian and the team moved 18 of the Mangarahara cichlids to a private aquaculture facility in Madagascar, where they will receive specialist care while conservation plans are made to bring the species back from the brink of extinction. 

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.


Amazing images reveal fishes' hidden anatomy

These images are the work of a scientist at Washington University who bleaches and stains the bodies of fish to expose the skeletal tissue through the skin and flesh.

Professor Adam Summers, is the associate director of Comparative Vertebrate Biomechanics at the at the University of Washington and he uses the method as part of his research into skeletal shape.

The fish are collected either as by-catch from fishery operations, incidental mortality during scientific collection, or as part of a study on the developmental trajectory of the fish skeleton.

The technique uses two dyes: Alcian Blue to stain cartilaginous elements a deep blue and Alizarin Red S to turn mineralised tissue crimson.  

The specimen is then lightly bleached with hydrogen peroxide to remove dark pigments, before the flesh is dissolved with Trypsin — a digestive enzyme found in your intestine, which attacks most proteins but not the collagen that holds the skeleton and skin together. To make the skin and remaining connective tissue invisible the entire specimen is then immersed in glycerin, and the result is that the flesh seems to disappear.

The technique is only suitable for specimens less than 1cm in thickness and processing larger animals can take several months compared to just a few days for a small fish.

These images form part of an exhibition called Cleared which is to go on display at Seattle Aquarium. It includes the lumpsucker (pictured above), skate, rays and sculpin.

See more at

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.


Study shows that damaged reefs can recover

There could yet be some hope for coral reefs according to a study by University of Florida and Caribbean researchers, which indicates that even damaged reefs are capable of recovery.

In a 13-year study in the Cayman Islands, warm ocean temperatures led to bleaching and infectious disease that reduced live coral cover by more than 40 percent between 1999 and 2004. But seven years later, the amount of live coral on the reefs, the density of young colonies and the overall size of corals all had returned to the 1999 state, the study showed.

Much of the reef surrounding Little Cayman Island is protected, so damage from fishing, anchoring and some other human activities is minimised, said UF researcher Chuck Jacoby, who helped with the study.

"Nevertheless, all coral reefs, even those that are well-protected, suffer damage," Jacoby said. "Little Cayman is an example of what can happen, because it is essentially free from local stresses due to its isolation, small human population and generally healthy ecology."

Reefs are under threat from overfishing, coral mining, tourism and coastal development and now global warming is accelerating the destruction.

But the UF study offers hope for coral reefs ─ if humans pay more attention to protecting them.

"In addition to saving the living organisms that make coral reefs their homes, safeguarding the habitats could ensure millions of dollars for the fishing and tourism industries, not to mention maintaining barriers that protect coastal areas and their human inhabitants from tropical storms," said Tom Frazer, a professor of aquatic ecology at UF.

The study was published in the November online publication Public Library of Science, and highlighted in the "Editor’s Choice" section of last month’s issue of the journal Science.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.


Sea turtle at US aquarium is confiscated

A Green sea turtle that had been on display at the Idaho Aquarium has been removed by Federal Fish and Wildlife officers.

The two aquarium founders who held the required permit to keep the turtle were given a prison sentence earlier this month after pleading guilty to conspiring to harvest, transport and sell Spotted eagle rays and Lemon sharks for exhibit at the aquarium.

Ammon Covino was sentenced to one year and a day in prison, and Chris Conk to four months.

The sea turtle is a federally protected species and a special permit is required to keep them in captivity. The permit to keep the turtle at Idaho Aquarium was revoked following the convictions of Covino and Conk, who have both been removed from the aquarium's board and payroll.

The Idaho Aquarium is a non-profit organisation, which opened in December 2011 and is home to over 250 species of animals and marine life. 

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.


Piranhas have a new home at Falmouth Marine School

Students from Falmouth Marine School have been busy catching and moving a shoal of piranha in preparation for a breeding project.

The second year marine biology and ecology students spent the last year accumulating a shoal of piranha and have just finished feeding them a quality diet that has left them in top breeding condition.

The fish have been donated from a range of fishkeepers and businesses from all around Cornwall and were held in a special quarantine tank where their health was closely monitored.

Having recently received a donation of a new filtration unit from Tropical Marine Centre, the students decided to use this in a new aquarium that has been themed to mimic the piranhas' natural habitat of the lower Amazon river.

The aquarium was installed within the purpose built 'wet laboratory' at the Marine School where it sits next to other aquarium filled with species that vary from sharks and lionfish to corals and cuttlefish.

The students finished a final inspection of the health of the fish before they carefully caught them in specially reinforced nets and slowly acclimatised them to their newly established home.

Second year student Amberleigh Bracewell said: "Moving a shoal of piranha was a real once in a lifetime experience. We had to be especially careful as they are one of the few species of fish that will try to bite you even if they jump out of the tank and land on the floor.

"We have a fantastic range of marine species at the college and the breeding programme is superb."

Once settled in the new aquarium, the fish should soon start to spawn and the students will be required to carefully remove the delicate eggs before they hatch. The newly hatched fry will be fed specially prepared foods before they're moved to a larger aquarium where their behaviour and feeding habitats will be studied in a project working with internationally renowned feed manufacturer Zebrafish Management Ltd, based in Hampshire.

Course manager, Craig Baldwin said: "The ability to assess the health of any aquatic organism and be able to provide the correct environmental conditions that will encourage them to breed requires the students to develop a range of academic research and practical husbandry skills. Using a species that has such a bad reputation as the piranha is especially exciting for the staff and students."

If you are interested in studying at Falmouth Marine School visit

Two catfish find new homes at Blue Planet Aquarium

Blue Planet Aquarium in Cheshire Oaks has recently taken in two catfish from separate owners after they grew too big for their tanks.

A Red tail catfish (pictured above with Blue Planet's freshwater aquarist, Steve Chester) was donated to the aquarium by a lady who had inherited it from a previous owner. The fish had been well looked after but had eventually grown too large.

It had originally been bought in a shop as a 5cm/2" baby with no warning of the 60cm/5' fish it could eventually grow into. It devoured all the other fish in its tank and very quickly outgrew the 90cm/36" aquarium it was housed in.

The other fish re-homed at the aquarium is a 60cm/24"-long Giraffe catfish which was being kept in a tank so small it could hardly turn round.

Both the fish will go on display at Blue Planet in an exhibit that's currently being re-stocked with large catfish.

The aquarium receives several offers of tankbusters and large fish every month from members of the public whose fish have outgrown their tanks — and it's the same story at other public aquariums and zoos.

BIAZA (the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) has been raising awareness of the problem with its Big Fish Campaign.

The aim of the campaign is to lessen the number of large tropical and marine fish species which have to be rehomed every year by public aquariums and zoos.

Formed by the public aquariums themselves, and supported by many industry experts and hobbyists, The Big Fish Campaign was forged through concern over the high number of large fish species which are sold at a small size and then later have to be rehomed when they have outgrown their owners' tanks.

Commonly rehomed species include Red tail catfish, Tiger shovelnoses, Giant gourami, Pacu and Pangasius. Other problem fish include Niger catfish, Giraffe catfish, large Clarias, Clown knifefish, Leiarius pictus, marmoratus and Perrunichthys perruno, Red snakeheads and Silver arowana.

The Big Fish Campaign was set up a few years ago after it was discovered that over a period of four months, 11 of the UK’s top aquaria had been asked to take on 144 fish that had outgrown their owners' home aquaria.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad.


New species of dwarf goby discovered

A striking new species of dwarf goby has been discovered in one of the world's newest countries.

The new goby was found off Timor-Leste by researchers from Conservation International (CI). It's the first new species to have been discovered in the country, which gained independence from Indonesia 11 years ago.

Timor-Leste occupies the northeastern half of the island of Timor, which is the eastern-most of the Lesser Sunda Islands in Southeast Asia. It has biogeographic influences of both the Western Pacific as well as the northeastern Indian Oceans and is located in the world’s premier area for marine biodiversity, mainly due to the extraordinary wealth of coral reef organisms.

In August 2012 an assessment was undertaken of the Konis Santana National Park — Timor-Leste's first national park — as part of USAID's Coral Triangle Support Program.

Coral reef fish biodiversity was surveyed from 0-70 m depth at 20 sites and this lovely new goby was among the 741 species of reef fish recorded off Timor-Leste’s northern coast.

It was found in shallow water and has been named Santana's dwarf goby (Eviota santanai), which CI says is "named in honour of Connisso Antonino (commonly known as "Nino Konis" Santana), a national hero in Timor-Leste’s recent struggle for independence."

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad.

Fishing has reduced numbers of reef 'lawnmowers' by more than half

Researchers have produced a landmark report on the state of plant-eating fish on coral reefs around the world.

In the first global assessment of its kind, a science team led by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, has produced a report on the impact of fishing on herbivorous fish populations. These fish are vital to coral reef health due to their role in consuming seaweed, making them known informally as the "lawnmowers" of the reef. Without the lawnmowers, seaweeds can overgrow and out-compete corals, drastically affecting the reef ecosystem.

Among their findings, the researchers found that populations of plant-eating fish declined by more than half in areas that were fished compared with unfished sites.

"One of the most significant findings from this study is that we show compelling evidence that fishing is impacting some of the most important species on coral reefs," said Jennifer Smith, one of the co-authors of the study.

"We generally tend to think of fishing impacting larger pelagic fishes such as tuna but here we see big impacts on smaller reef fish as well and particularly the herbivores. This is particularly important because corals and algae are always actively competing against one another for space and the herbivores actively remove algae and allow the corals to be competitively dominant. Without herbivores, weedy algae can take over the reef landscape. We need to focus more on protecting this key group of fishes around the globe if we hope to have healthy and productive reefs in the future."

While these reef fish are not generally commercial fisheries targets, there was clear evidence that fishing was impacting their populations globally.  

The researchers also found that fishing alters the entire structure of the herbivore fish community, reducing the numbers of large-bodied feeding groups such as "grazers" and "excavators" while boosting numbers of smaller species such as algae-farming territorial damselfishes that enhance damaging algae growth.

"We are shifting the herbivore community from one that’s dominated by large-bodied individuals to one that’s dominated by many small fish," said Smith. "The biomass is dramatically altered. If you dive in Jamaica you are going to see lots of tiny herbivores because fishers remove them before they reach adulthood. In contrast, if you go to an unfished location in the central Pacific the herbivore community is dominated by large roving parrotfishes and macroalgal grazers that perform many important ecosystem services for reefs."

The report is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences) and offers key data for setting management and conservation targets to protect and preserve fragile coral reefs.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad.


Video: Virtual aquarium where the fish will play with you!

This new interactive aquarium features everything from tiny clownfish to huge whale sharks — and the fish will even follow you about!

"Deep Blue" is an interactive video canvas that uses advanced interactive graphics to create a virtual aquarium.

There are a number of highly-detailed scenes to enjoy:

In the "Coral Reef", giant sea turtles swim through an azure water accompanied by schools of tropical fish that appear from the corals to playfully follow the viewers.

"Deep Blue" simulates marine life at a greater depth, where a number of different shark species circle continuously while the viewers can generate bubbles within the otherwise pristine ocean.

There are also two night scenes: "Tuna", in which large school of tuna glide perpetually through the tank, revealed interactively by a virtual light source projected by the participant. And in "Jelly Fish", an even more surreal and tranquil scene of various jellies mingle playfully with the animated phosphorescent particles that flow freely along with the movement of the viewers.

The Interactive Aquarium is the work of Dominic Harris and London-based Cinimod Studio, which says: "All the scenes have a highly detailed realism to them, and yet on closer inspection one discovers a playful tweaking of nature happening. While in real life the fish tend to flee humans, in the Interactive Aquarium they are actively attracted – and appear to make little performances to the amusement and astonishment of an otherwise unsuspecting viewer."

You can see more in the video below:


Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad.


PFK Exclusive: Evolution Aqua and D-D join forces

Evolution Aqua Ltd and D-D The Aquarium Solution Ltd are pleased to announce that they have entered into an agreement which will see them join forces.

This exciting development will further strengthen both companies, reinforce existing sales, and enable new product development and joint exploration into different markets.
Both businesses have grown strongly over the past 10 years and are at the top of their individual fields, operating in completely different but complimentary sectors of the Aquatic marketplace. Evolution Aqua is the leading manufacturer in the Koi and pond sector, whereas D-D specialises in saltwater and reef aquarium products.
David Saxby, as the founder and the major shareholder of D-D, plans to work towards retirement over the next three or four years with a progressive handover of the D-D business to Nick Jackson, the owner of Evolution Aqua.
Stuart Bertram, Sales Director of D-D, is looking forward to the future and can see great opportunity in the new partnership for robust growth where the individual strengths of each company will create a new business greater than the sum of the two individual parts.
This relationship is a great opportunity for customers, suppliers and staff in both companies and the future potential is enormous.  

9 rare fish in stock now at TMC London

If you're still not sure what to ask Santa for this Christmas, check these marine fish out. TMC doesn't sell direct to the public, but if you speak to your retailer quickly enough, they may be able to secure you one of these beauties…

However, given the rarity of many of these in the hobby, they're well sought-after fish, meaning none of them are likely to be cheap. Might be worth getting a price before you place your order...

Many thanks to TMC London for giving us permission to use their pictures.

1. Japanese angelfish (Centropyge interruptus) — pictured at the top of the page

2. Chilled blusher clownfish morphs

3. Conspic angel (Chaetodontoplus conspicillatus)

4. Dr Seuss fish (Belonoperca pylei)

5. Tiger'pyge angelfish (hybrid Centropyge flavissimus x C. eibli)

6. Footballer damsel

7. Pelicier's hawkfish (Plectranthias pelicieri)

8. Tiger tang (Acanthurus polyzona)

9. Wrought iron butterflyfish (Chaetodon daedalma)

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad.


Koi stolen from Lancashire pond

Koi estimated to be worth almost £2,000 have been stolen from a garden pond in St. Annes.

The fish were found to be missing from their pond in Albert Road last week by Peter Jenkins and his partner Elaine Whittle.

The front garden pond contained 14 Koi among other fish, which were popular with local children.

Thieves specifically targeted the Koi, valued at more than £100 each.

Miss Whittle told the Blackpool Gazette: "It’s just despicable what some people do.

"They took all the Koi carp. They obviously knew the value of the fish.

"We can’t afford to replace them. We’re struggling to make ends meet as it is, just before Christmas.

"I just hope whoever has stolen the fish looks after them."

The couple have put up a sign by the pond in their front garden asking anyone with information to contact the police.

The theft is believed to have taken place some time between 5.30pm on Saturday, November 30 and 9am on Monday, December 2.

Lancashire Police are appealing to anyone who noticed any suspicious activity in the area or has any other information that might help trace the people responsible to call them on 101.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad.


Firm fined after giant fish tank crushes worker

A Manchester firm has been ordered to pay nearly £90,000 in fines and costs after an employee was crushed by a huge fish tank, resulting in the amputation of part of his leg.

The 2m-wide tank weighing 200 kg had been specially made by the bespoke services department of Alloy Bodies Ltd — a firm which normally manufactures lorry trailers — for one of its directors.

During a six-day trial, Manchester Crown Court heard how the tank was being loaded into the back of a van in June 2010, when it toppled off a forklift truck, hitting one of the workers and breaking both of his legs. Doctors later had to amputate the man's right leg from the knee down and a pin had to be fitted in his left leg. The 59-year-old employee, who asked not to be named, now has a prosthetic limb and is still unable to return to work, more than three years on from the incident.

The court heard that the fish tank hadn't been secured to a pallet before being lifted and due to its sheer size, workers had struggled to load it onto the van.

The firm was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the work had not been planned, supervised or carried out safely.

On December 9, 2013, Alloy Bodies Ltd., of Clifton Street, Miles Platting, was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £56,621 in costs after being found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Alex Farnhill said: "This was an entirely preventable incident which resulted in an employee having to have part of his leg amputated. His whole life has been affected by the shortcomings of this company.

"No effort was made to plan the work in advance, despite it being a highly unusual activity for employees at the factory. The firm should have considered the risks and found a safe way of moving the fish tank.

"If it had been secured to a pallet and loaded onto a larger vehicle, rather than a van, than the terrible injuries the worker suffered could have been avoided."

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.


First Zebra shark born at The Deep

The Deep aquarium in Hull is celebrating the birth of its first baby Zebra shark.

The female shark, which hatched out last Monday, weighed in at 72 grams and measured 23cm/9" in length. She is growing steadily and is now 25cm/10" long.

Zebra sharks (Stegostoma fasciatum) take a long time to mature, so staff at The Deep were delighted when mating behaviour and "practice eggs" were seen in the aquarium's Endless Oceans display.

These practice eggs do not contain a yolk and are the first signs that a female shark is maturing.

After a few months an egg containing a yolk was finally produced and this was transferred to a holding tank in The Deep's quarantine area. The gestation period for the Zebra shark is about six months in the egg, so it was a bit of a waiting game for excited staff at the aquarium.

Kathy Duke, Curator at The Deep said: "We used a technique called 'candling', which is where you shine a light through the egg casing under water and we were absolutely delighted to see a shark embryo in there.

Later on in her development, our vet and science officer used an ultrasound to take a better look inside the egg and was able to measure the size of the baby shark's heart which was 6mm in diameter — the size of a pea.

"Although these first few months are a delicate time, she is enjoying feeding on prawns and mussels. We have taken advice from colleagues in America on feeding and growth rates, so we are able to provide the best possible care."

When Zebra sharks hatch they have black and white stripes, which develop into more of a leopard pattern later in life, giving them their other name of Leopard shark.

The Deep currently holds the European studbook for Zebra sharks, which helps co-ordinate all the breeding efforts for this species across Europe, sharing vital knowledge on their reproductive biology.

The young shark will remain at The Deep while her growth rates are closely monitored. If all goes well she's likely to be transferred to another aquarium at a later date so she can be paired with an unrelated male Zebra shark and one day hopefully produce some eggs of her own.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.


Thousands of fish evacuated from Norfolk aquarium

A major operation to rescue more than 3,000 fish at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary got underway on Friday morning after power to vital life support systems was lost during severe flooding in Norfolk.

Staff worked through the night after the sea breached defences and flooded the building to a depth of more than a foot throughout, and fire officers were still pumping water out on Friday morning.

Special transport vehicles with their own life support were sent from Sea Life's Dorset headquarters to provide emergency back-up, and begin the operation to remove the fish.

The majority were safely removed on Friday. Sharks were caught in their tank with two divers using nets to steer them towards other staff holding landing nets before being rushed out to a waiting van with aerated tanks.

Some of the evacuees have been settled at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre while others were take to quarantine facilities in Weymouth, Dorset. The remaining fish and other animals were expected to be evacuated on Saturday.

The Sanctuary building has suffered serious damage but the full extent is as yet unknown. With a very real prospect that electricity might not be restored to the building for days, all the residents had needed to be moved to alternative facilities as quickly as possible.

Sanctuary General Manager Nigel Croasdale praised the efforts of the fire service and his own staff.

"My displays team and three other staff worked right through the night and we have all been very anxious about the welfare of our resident creatures," he said.

Sea Life reinforcements to help exhausted Sanctuary staff, arrived from as far afield as Blackpool and Alton Towers.

"In spite of our best efforts we were unable to save around a dozen fish," said Sea Life's head marine biologist Rob Hicks.

"They were the older and weaker individuals, including three mackerel and three Pacu," he added.

"We regret every loss of course, but to lose so few in such circumstances as we have faced in the last 48 hours, is testament to the Herculean efforts of everybody involved.

"We'd publicly like to thank the Fire Brigade and the local community that have offered help and refreshments over the last few days."

The Sanctuary is also home to penguins, otters and seals, which are also likely to be relocated until power is restored and necessary repairs undertaken.

The Sanctuary will be closed to visitors until further notice. A full estimate of the extent of the damage is to be carried out over the next few days.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.