Freeze Threatens Florida’s Tropical Fish

Frosted oranges, strawberries encased in ice: the images of Florida’s freezes are familiar, sad and earthy. But just past the crop rows here in the state’s agricultural core, there swims another sizable industry that has suffered more than any other because of this year’s unusually long cold snap — tropical fish. Workers at Urban Tropical covered ponds with plastic and used nets to remove angelfish that could be salvaged from the cold.  The little guys are dying by the millions. A severe guppy shortage has already emerged, according to distributors, while fish farmers statewide expect losses of more than 50 percent as African cichlids, marble mollies, danios and other cheerful-looking varieties sink like pebbles to the bottom of freshwater ponds across Florida. “It could be devastating,” said Ray Quillen, the owner of Urban Tropical, holding a few angelfish he hoped to save by moving them to indoor tanks. “Not just for me, but for everyone.”