Hunt Union Goldfish Harmful to Ecology of Campus Pond

Alex Soroka, Contributing Writer

We put herbicides in the Hunt Union pond. We do this because we want the water to look nice and to control plants growing in the pond. We do this because of the goldfish.
You might not be surprised to hear it but goldfish are not native to New York. You won’t find them deep in the mountains. You won’t find them in the wilderness. Humanity domesticated goldfish in China. We tamed the fish sometime during the Tang dynasty between 1100 and 1400 years ago. We spread these bejeweled creatures throughout the earth. Some ended up on our campus in the Hunt Union pond.
While goldfish diverged from carp hundreds of years ago, their behavior remains very similar. Today, the fish swim about sucking things into their mouth then spitting them out. They do this with everything. Throw a leaf into the pond and watch them nibble! Thing is, these goldfish are not limited to what you give them. They shimmy around and sample everything in the pond, disrupting soil and plants. The shifted soils release stored nitrogen and phosphorus, both of which are supreme plant nutrients. These nutrients add to what the goldfish produce by excretion. The excess of plant food causes algae population explosions, cycling the pond through shades of pea soup-green. The continual disruption of soil prevents some plants from growing. Instead of the stable-soil-loving plants, we have Eurasian Milfoil flourishing in our pond. The milfoil, a non-native species, thrives in constantly disrupted environments and is clogging up North America’s waterways. Once more, the goldfish eat the insects which normally would control the plants. Eurasian milfoil makes the great olive drab mats on the water’s surface.
The mats on the pond’s surface are not pretty, nor are the algae blooms. What our school wants is for the pond to be pretty. Therefore, we use herbicides and coloring. Maybe it is for the potential students, maybe it’s for the current ones, but either way, we treat the plants with fluridome. We use bluing agents on the algae. The fluridome is an herbicide used to control the Eurasian milfoil; it kills. Paul Lord, an environmental science professor, considers fluridome “fairly innocuous.” While fluridome bleaches the cattails, it won’t annihilate everything living in the pond. In fact, it has a minimal impact on the goldfish. Thomas Rathbone, the head of physical facilities, said that the school has “only treated the pond twice in the past 6-7 years.” The school does, however, use “bluing” agents each year. These agents change the color of the water and deny some algae the particular light they need to grow. Again, like the herbicide, this water coloring doesn’t seem so bad. Paul Lord says it isn’t toxic but it “makes the pond look like blue jello.” This can’t be that bad, right?
The Journal of Pesticide Reform published an article in the summer of 1996 stating how men’s sperm counts have halved over the past fifty years. Why? We are increasing our exposure to toxic chemicals. The journal’s findings were not alone; an increasing number of studies are linking biocides to reduced sperm counts. We, as a race, are using enough chemicals to alter our reproductive systems. Perhaps the fluridome is innocuous. Perhaps the bluing agents are not neurotoxins. But what chemicals are used in the containers for these? Were there any hazardous by-products made in concocting Fluridome?
We may not feel the effects here but our use of these chemicals impacts someone, somewhere. Our use of these chemicals on campus is indirectly hurting us. The reason we use them is to beautify the pond. However, we don’t have to use these chemicals. The goldfish cause us to use herbicides and bluing agents on the pond. If we remove the goldfish, we won’t have to use these chemicals.
We can remove these goldfish by adding a natural predator, walleye, to the pond. The process would cost less than two hundred dollars and less than eight hours. The walleye would take care of the goldfish. We would not need to use the chemicals. We could reduce our harm to other humans. In the world of herbicides and pesticides, the Hunt Union pond is just one drop in a bucket. You must know that this is one drop we can change!
There will to support adding walleye to the pond Hunt Union pond at 7 p.m. on Monday in science lobby one.

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