Norfolk students drafted in to save endangered tropical fish

Chandice Wilson feeding the rare fish

Animal management student Chandice Wilson feeding the rare fish. - Credit: Easton College

Hundreds of rare endangered tropical fish are being saved from extinction by students at a Norfolk college after it joined forces with London Zoo. 

Easton College is one of only two agricultural colleges in the country to have been included in Zoological Society of London (ZSL) freshwater fish breeding programme.

 

The programme has been set up to tackle the extinction crisis affecting the planet’s freshwater fish by refining breeding capabilities and housing populations of threatened fish in key facilities as back-up populations. 

Easton College will be run by City College Norwich following a merger on January 1, 2020. Picture: M

Easton College is one of only two agricultural colleges in the country to have been included in Zoological Society of London (ZSL) freshwater fish breeding programme - Credit: Mike Page

The fish now being cared for at Easton College’s specialist aquatics room, housed within its animal care centre, include six species of freshwater fish originating from areas in central and South America. 

They include the Monterrey Platyfish, which have become extinct in the wild, the Tequila Splitfin, which are possibly extinct in the wild, and the Butterfly Splitfin, which are critically endangered. 


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Easton College’s head of animal and equine, Chris Sturdy, who previously managed the aquariums at Sea Life in Great Yarmouth, was instrumental in bringing the endangered fish to Norfolk. 

He said: “While these are some of the little guys of the freshwater fish world, the fact that they are so rare and endangered makes them hugely important. 

Monterrey Platyfish in their new home in specially designed aquarium.

Monterrey Platyfish in their new home in specially designed aquarium. - Credit: Easton College

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“I am very excited that staff and students at Easton College have this opportunity to make a big impact on the future survival of these species.” 

The fish are now living in aquariums designed by animal management students specialising in zoological studies.  

Student Jordan Mackay said: “The aim with the tanks was to make them as realistic and natural as possible for the fish, to make sure they are comfortable in their enclosure, so they can breed.”

Student Jordan Mackay checking the water temperature in one of the aquariums.

Animal management student Jordan Mackay checking the water temperature in one of the aquariums. - Credit: Easton College

The plight of the fish in the wild is extremely serious due to pollution, drainage of waterways, overfishing and the introduction of invasive species. 

Animal management student Chandice Wilson, said: "These fish do a lot for the natural ecosystem out in the wild.

"So if we can help keep their numbers up, it means that if anything was to happen to them in the wild we do have a back-up species. It’s really good for conservation.”

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