Saving a 'little silver fish' makes a tangible difference - Albuquerque Journal

Saving a ‘little silver fish’ makes a tangible difference

Patrick Horley, Senior Aquarist, collects Silvery Minnow eggs in the Rio Grande. (Courtesy of KKOB)

Like much of the Southwest, New Mexico is experiencing yet another megadrought. Reservoirs are low and farms are struggling, yet the Duke City manages to keep a small oasis flowing through town.

Located in a building the size of an airport hangar at the back of the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden sits a space where silvery minnow conservation efforts are taking place.

“So, yeah, it’s a little silver fish and I get why people don’t think that’s important but everything in the ecosystem, you don’t know until one little piece is gone, that it could cause a collapse,” said Kathy Lang, aquatic conservation and operations manager at the park. Lang is in charge of local conservation efforts for the Rio Grande silvery minnow.

KKOB Radio will spotlight the effort as part of its “The Good News Files” feature Friday.

In 1994, the fish, about the size of an adult middle finger, joined the endangered species list. To this day, those protections keep the Rio Grande flowing through the summer in Albuquerque.

Patrick Horley is a senior aquarist on Lang’s team.

“This is the kind of work that gives me the warm fuzzies,” Horley said. “I’m making a tangible difference year in and year out. I’m not just helping a rich company get richer, which is what most fish farming is.”

A large portion of his work includes setting up egg catchers at various spots in the Rio Grande. He and a teammate then spend 30 minutes at a time searching for silvery minnow eggs the size of a grain of quinoa. This year, they have been tasked with collecting 30,000 eggs, some of which will go to federal conservation programs.

“The Good News Files” is a collaboration among KOAT-TV, News Radio KKOB and the Journal, telling stories that make you smile.

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