British Columbia

B.C. company launches campaign to donate fish food to struggling zoos and aquariums

A B.C. company is using its expertise in harvesting invasive species to make fish food in support of aquariums and zoos across the country that are facing financial struggles amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Piscine Energetics harvests invasive shrimp to make fish food

Mysis shrimp are harvested by Piscine Energetics and turned into fish food for both aquariums and zoos and for home and office hobby aquariums. (Piscine Energetics)

A B.C. company is using its expertise in harvesting invasive species to make fish food in support of aquariums and zoos across the country that are facing financial struggles amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Piscine Energetics harvests Mysis shrimp, an invasive species found in lakes in B.C.'s Interior, to make fish food. They've just launched a campaign to donate much-needed fish food to aquariums and zoos which are struggling to find the funds to feed their fish. 

Mysis shrimp were introduced to some lakes in the 1960s as a new food source for dwindling fish stocks, but salmon didn't take to them. Shrimp populations exploded as they fed on phytoplankton in the lake but weren't being eaten by fish.

Piscine Energetics came along in 1997 with patented technology that netted the shrimp when they came to the surface of the lake to feed. 

"We remove these invasive shrimp and we turn them into what some people believe is the world's most sustainable aquarium and aquaculture fish food," president Nuri Fisher said. 

Aquariums, zoos struggling

Aquariums and zoos are one of Piscine Energetics' primary markets and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Fisher witnessed first-hand how those institutions were so seriously impacted.

"They virtually had normal operating institutions and with the flick of a light overnight, they go from normal visitor revenue to zero visitor revenue," Fisher said. 

In B.C., the Vancouver Aquarium closed on March 17 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While closed, the not-for-profit lost almost all revenue, but still had $1 million each month in animal care and facility costs.

The aquarium took on fundraising efforts and created partnerships within the community to try to stay afloat, but a spokesperson for the aquarium said the financial need continues. 

"The Vancouver Aquarium is still fighting for its long-term survival.  Even when we are able to reopen, it will be at very limited capacity and it will therefore be very challenging to get back on our feet financially."

Wanting to help, the company came up with the idea for the Save Your Aquarium campaign, which Fisher said "bridges the gap" between their two main markets: large, public aquariums and home or office hobbyists.

The ‘Save Your Aquarium’ campaign will provide buckets of fish food for aquariums and zoos in need of assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Piscine Energetics)

When individuals and organizations purchase a bucket of Piscine Energetics fish food for their personal or office aquarium, the company donates a bucket of food to an institution of the donor's choice. 

If someone doesn't have a fish tank but still wants to help out, they can buy a bucket of fish food, and then both buckets will be donated to an institution in need.

The Vancouver Aquarium says it's a worthwhile initiative.

"It is wonderful that Piscine Energetics is supporting our industry in this way," an aquarium spokesperson told CBC News. "We sincerely appreciate their support."

With files from Daybreak South

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