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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 April, 2003, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
Aquarium shells out for salt water
The aquarium's octopus needs clean water every day

Staff at an aquarium in Cornwall are having to make their own salt water because local seawater has been contaminated by toxic algae.

The Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay uses pumps to bring in water directly from the sea for its tanks.

However, the pumps have had to be switched off after the discovery of red blooms of algae at the site where it pumps water from, which can be extremely toxic to some marine life.

The algae bloom appears to be dispersing and it is hoped the aquarium will be able to switch its pumps back on within a few days.

Clean water

The bloom was first noticed at the end of last week. Managers then immediately switched off the pumps.

Most of the species in the facility can survive many days without a water change.

But some species constantly need clean water because they are very sensitive or simply produce too much waste.

Matt Slater of the aquarium said: "What we've done is reduce the amount of food to animals here so it reduces the amount of waste the fish produce.

"We have also reduced the amount of water changes we do on all except the most seriously affected fish."

Salt poured into water
Staff are making their own salt water

Three-week-old sea horses at the aquarium are part of an important breeding programme. They are very vulnerable and need constant clean water.

The aquarium's Giant Pacific Octopus also needs clean water every day, simply because it eats so much and produces a lot of waste.

To help with some water changes, staff are having to mix up their own seawater using dried sea salt.

Matt Slater said: "It has to be the correct salinity or it can harm the creatures you are keeping.

"Giving them too much or too little can actually kill them. It's quite a time consuming process - and expensive."

Plans to bring in seawater via tanks from other coastal areas were being discussed.

These have been put on hold since the bloom has started to disperse.

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