Image Source: Wikimedia Commons. By: Mirko Barthel.

China is known for many things, ranging from the Great Wall to the Giant Panda. It’s also known to be one of the top polluters in the world; though that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing something about it.

Eastern China authorities plan to release 20 million algae-eating fish into the Taihu Lake. This particular lake is severely polluted with sewage, industrial and agricultural waste. Last February, a previous attempt in using fish to clean up the lake was made. At that time, 10 million green and silver carp were released into the water. Apparently, the lake has been suffering a blue-green algae plague, which has also tainted the drinking water supply of millions of China residents.

Now, of all the fish that could be used to get rid of algae, why Silver Carp? Well, this particular fish is a filter feeder, meaning they strain food matter and particles from the water. In particular, these fish can filter particles as small as 4 mm. They also love to feed on plankton. Oh, and they have no stomachs, so they can basically feed constantly and not have to worry about bursting at the seams.

In regards to the blue-green algae, certain species of it can be toxic; however, the silver carp has natural defenses against them. Unfortunately, some blue-green algae species, such as Mycrocystis, can pass through a silver carp completely unharmed. In some past situations, this has led to algae population growth (rather than decline) when in the presence of silver carp.

This government and public donation fish campaign cost China $1.3 million (8.6 million yuan). Given the 50/50 circumstances in mixing silver carp with blue-green algae blooms, I certainly hope they get their money’s worth and that at least some pollution will finally be removed.