Wrong label blamed for aquarium kills in Albuquerque and Texas


ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s happened again. The same thing that killed a hundred fish at the ABQ BioPark Aquarium is also to blame for a much larger fish kill at a Texas aquarium, according to a new lawsuit filed in Texas.

After investigation, the aquariums said they determined that they received a chemical that was mislabeled. It quickly proved fatal for the fish.

The president and CEO of the Texas State Aquarium Tom Schmid announced a lawsuit against the supplier Thursday. “We are now aware of at least one other aquarium that suffered a major fish loss after using the same chemical, with the same batch number, from the same supplier, Fishman Chemical.”

That aquarium Schmid referenced is the ABQ BioPark Aquarium. In October, the aquarium here was dealing with a parasite problem in a reef tank and thought switching to a different drug would be the solution. Suddenly, fish were struggling to swim, sinking to the bottom of the tank.

The ABQ BioPark Aquarium manager Holly Casman said 100 fish in the Atlantic Coral Reef Tank died with an estimated value between $10,000 and $15,000.

“Within about 45 minutes, the fish just started spinning and dropping and dying,” she said.

“We knew we had our dosage right, but we weren’t sure exactly what could have happened. The next day, an aquarium in Florida actually contacted us and said the same thing happened to us, so we compared our sources for this particular chemical and found them to be the same. We called the company and said there’s two aquariums that have had a problem with your drug, you might want to pull it off the shelves,” said Casman.

“It was horrible to find out this chemical was being sold to aquariums all across the country, and it could happen again,” said Casman.

Casman said she’s learned of four aquariums that had problems with the chemical: two in Florida, the aquarium in Corpus Christi, and the aquarium in Albuquerque. She said the two aquariums in Florida did not want to be publicly identified.

The Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi had almost 400 fish die one month ago Thursday when they tried to get rid of parasites. They launched a full investigation and learned, this is a matter of mislabeling.

Instead of getting the drug to treat fish parasites called trichlorfon, the supplier shipped the aquariums a chemical used in film processing and a stabilizer for pain and motor fuels called hydroquinone, according to a news release by the Texas State Aquarium.

“We knew we didn’t do anything wrong. We had our dosage correct, and we were scratching our heads as to what could have happened,” Casman said.

Casman said Albuquerque city attorneys are reviewing the case and haven’t determined any possible legal action against Fishman Chemical.

“They did say they did quality testing on it though,” said Casman.

In a comment released to our CBS affiliate in Corpus Christi, Fishman Chemical said, “Fishman Chemical, LLC. is the leading company in North America for distributing pharmaceuticals to aquariums, research centers and fish farms. Fishman, who is out of the country, says on his return to the United States, he will release information on Tom Schmid and Texas State Aquarium.”

The statement also said, “Also information that Schmid released to the press after the incident was both ridiculous and untrue.”

Fishman said “they are making it a top priority to find out the truth, but first they have to figure out what was going on at the Texas State Aquarium when this incident took place.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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