OLATHE, Kan. -- Police are investigating the deaths of hundreds of exotic saltwater fish and coral at a pet store here. The vandalism is expected to cost the shop more than $20,000.
Salt water aquarium hobbyists know that Aquariums Wholesale is one of the most unique shops around. Its salt water reefs on display in the store window attract customers from all over the metro area.
But on Sunday afternoon or early Monday morning, vandals dumped copper powder into four of the store's display tanks. Copper will kill coral and that's exactly what happened. As the coral died, it released toxins into the water that also killed dozens of exotic fish, some of which weren't even for sale.
The owner lost more than 1,000 corals and workers fear that a competitor or unhappy customer deliberately murdered the creatures in an effort to put them out of business.
"We're still having stuff die today," said Jonny Wright of Aquariums Wholesale. "It's still adding up. We have pages of stuff dying. We have to have to add it up for investigation going on. It's a good $20,000."
Aquariums Wholesale is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest for anyone responsible for killing the exotic coral reefs. The store was just getting ready to begin doing business worldwide, raising and selling corals over the internet.
Workers tell FOX 4 News this is a huge loss that will set them back, but they will come back from this. If you can help police with information about who may be responsible for killing the sea creatures, call the TIPS hotline.
It's expected to take two weeks to clean all the rock and get the store's displays back to the beauty that used to bring in customers.