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A fishy fix for algae pollution in Taihu lake

TENS of millions of blue-green algae-eating fish, donated by residents in the nearby four cities, have been released in the past two days into Taihu, China's third largest freshwater lake, to curb algae growth.

The 2,400-square-kilometer lake in east China is a major source of drinking water for 17 million people living around the lake. Blue-green algae choked the lake in 2007 and caused a fall in drinking water supply.

Residents in the four cities around the lake - Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou and Huzhou - donated 1 million yuan (US$146,200) to buy algae-eating fish, such as silver carp and grass carp.

Children in a Huzhou primary school donated more than 10,000 yuan, all in coins. It took a bank clerk three hours to count the money, which weighed 10 kilograms.

Ding Yujia, 11, said she often heard her mother describe the lake as clean and beautiful. "One day I will be able to see the same clear-water Taihu Lake as my mom used to see when she was young."

Blue-green algae, which exists widely in water bodies and grows easily in polluted water, is not harmful itself.

But an excess of blue-green algae removes oxygen from the water, killing fish and other aquatic life, which then decay and release toxins.

A silver carp could consume 50kg of algae and plankton. Researchers estimated that it would take 100 million fish to clean the lake.


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