Fla. Fish Called In For A Foreclosure Buffet

Releasing a pleco into a pool. Courtesy village of Wellington i i

Plecos are a kind of catfish, says Dave Hoy. Photos courtesy village of Wellington hide caption

itoggle caption Photos courtesy village of Wellington
Releasing a pleco into a pool. Courtesy village of Wellington

Plecos are a kind of catfish, says Dave Hoy.

Photos courtesy village of Wellington
Treating a foreclosed pool. Courtesy village of Wellington i i

It takes about 15 fish to clean a medium-size pool. hide caption

itoggle caption
Treating a foreclosed pool. Courtesy village of Wellington

It takes about 15 fish to clean a medium-size pool.

Fish food. Courtesy village of Wellington i i

The plecos eat well and might be good eating themselves. hide caption

itoggle caption
Fish food. Courtesy village of Wellington

The plecos eat well and might be good eating themselves.

Florida's foreclosed homes don't just have unmowed lawns and broken windows. Some also have swimming pools full of stagnant rainwater and overrun with algae. One village has taken a novel approach to cleaning those pools; instead of hiring pool services, residents are letting the catfish loose.

Dave Hoy of the Shiner Shack fish farm says many aquarium owners would recognize the fish as a larger version of a pleco, the docile, sucker-mouthed fish usually stuck to the side of a tank. Hoy's plecos have been hired by the village of Wellington in Palm Beach County to chow down on the scum collecting in the pools of abandoned properties.

Plecos are a kind of catfish, Hoy says, and are very communal, very social. For a medium-sized pool, he'll drop about 15 fish in the water and "let nature kind of take its course."

These aren't the same catfish you'd usually find in a sandwich bun, but Hoy says they could be good eating. "We did do a little study with the university," he says. "[We] gathered them up some of these fish, cleaned them up, and they sent them over to Italy. I believe they had some chefs that experimented with some dishes there and said that it is quite good."

Considering all the fish the village is fattening up, Hoy might be on to something. "There might be another use here," he laughs. "We might be developing a new marketplace."

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