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Diatribe: The Dead Fish Of Lake Erie.


I used to be an avid aquarium enthusiast.  I was quite young when I got my first tank, a ten-gallon tank with a lighted cover, and I messed with it constantly filling it with swordtails, mollys, platys, cichlids, kissing gouramis, and dozens of tetras.  I also included an assortment of catfish, eels and other peculiar bottom dwellers.  Basically, I bought fish that I thought were unusual or beautiful.  Or on sale.

They didn’t always get along.

It wasn’t until I was well into my fish-keeping career, and untold numbers of aquatic deaths later, that I learned the importance of limiting the number of fish per gallon and selecting compatible species.  I’ve certainly seen my share of dead fish.

This week, residents on the coast of Lake Erie are seeing more than their share as dead fish have been piling up by the thousands along a twenty-five-mile stretch of the lake’s shore.  Environmental officials believe the deaths are the result of a natural phenomenon known as lake inversion.  The condition that brings cold water to the water’s surface, bringing with it lower oxygen levels that kill fish, can be brought on by a number of factors.

“Something, whether it be a storm, or cooler temperatures at night, or strong winds, triggers a temperature change in the lake,” Ontario Ministry of the Environment spokeswoman Kate Jordan

Another possible cause for the mass deaths could be an as yet undetected sewage spill.  Several agencies are investigating.  So far, the dead fish are washing up on the Canadian side of the lake but there is a stretch of shoreline starting in Cleveland, Ohio that is particularly susceptible to lake inversion.

The worst memory from my aquarium time remains the undeniably grotesque and unique smell of the “floaters”.  Waking in the morning, or returning home after a long day at school, to learn that one of my little charges had perished was always heartbreaking.  But the sooner they met their watery bathroom grave, the sooner the smell would dissipate.

The Canadians would have to do an awful lot of flushing.

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From → Diatribes

One Comment
  1. It’s too bad you can’t replace the water in the whole lake & changing the filter, like with aquariums


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