An estimated 25 to 30 koi fish — some more than 20 years old and about 2 feet long — would have died, had it not been for the intervention of the Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Department.

An estimated 25 to 30 koi fish — some more than 20 years old and about 2 feet long — would have died, had it not been for the intervention of the Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Department.

Photo provided by Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety

Koi rescue is a different kettle of fish for Grosse Pointe Farms first responders

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published August 24, 2021


GROSSE POINTE FARMS — The Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Department cares about all of its residents — including those that dwell in the water.

Officers were called to a home on Lothrop Road the morning of Aug. 20 on a medical run and ended up not only tending to a human, but also saving a pond full of pet koi fish.

Lt. Andrew Rogers said a live-in housekeeper called because she was in medical distress. He said the woman had walked outside that morning and discovered that there were only about 5 inches of water left in the koi pond, leaving the fish in dire straits. She frantically attempted to refill the pond with a garden hose, but the garden hose wasn’t nearly powerful enough to address the problem, given the size of the pond, which Rogers likened to the size of the kiddie pool at Pier Park. The effort left the housekeeper suffering from an unknown but serious medical condition.

“The water was so shallow, they were laying on their sides in the water and the muck,” said Rogers of the fish, some of which were as large as 2 feet long.

The housekeeper was taken to a nearby hospital, while officers on the scene sprang into action to save the fish. Rogers said they called for a fire engine to come to the scene, which they used to connect to a nearby hydrant. After flushing the hydrant to make sure the water was as clear as possible, Rogers said they spent about an hour on the scene adding just enough water so that the fish would be able to swim again.

A broken pipe in the pond’s filtration system had resulted in dangerously low water levels in the pond. While officers were adding water to the pond, Rogers said a maintenance person for the home arrived and shut off a leak in the system in the basement, which meant that whatever water was added would stay in the pond.

Rogers said the fire engine was never fully hooked up, nor was it taken out of service for the fish rescue. He said they didn’t completely fill the pond because it would have taken all day, but before they departed, they left a garden hose at the home running so that the pond would continue to fill.

The rescue became a popular post on the city’s Facebook page, garnering dozens of likes, loves, comments and shares as of press time. Many comments were favorable, but some criticized the officers for spending time saving fish.

“When we left, all of the fish were swimming,” Rogers said. “I would do it again, because otherwise (the fish were) going to die. … We’re not going to stand around and do nothing. I feel we did the right thing.”

Besides Rogers, those involved in the koi rescue included Sgt. Vincent Finn, Fire Specialist Jason Osborne and officers Keith Colombo, Mike Hodor, Geoff McQueen and Mike Scott.

The pond housed an estimated 25 to 30 of the pet fish, some of which were more than 20 years old.

“I think this is an example of the excellent level of service our Public Safety Department provides our residents,” Assistant City Manager Derrick Kozicki said.

Farms officers have saved other animals before, including dogs and ducklings, but this one was unusual.

“I’m sure this will be the first and last time I do a koi fish rescue,” Rogers said with a laugh.

According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, Japanese koi are colorful, domesticated carp often kept in ornamental ponds. They can grow up to 3 feet in length and have an average lifespan of 40 years. Along with goldfish, koi are the most popular freshwater ornamental fish in the world.