Fish at an aquatic centre have died following a suspected 'deliberate act' of poisoning. 

A member of the public first raised the alarm when she stepped on a fish at World of Water, in Studley Grange Garden Centre, near Swindon

Staff then frantically battled in vain to save the inhabitants of a tank containing about two dozen discus and plescos fish that were believed to have been dosed with a chemical on Saturday, March 23

The female witness, who was there with her partner and child, said staff looked "distressed" as they removed the affected fish into a bucket of water, which had been filled from other tanks in the room.

Swindon Advertiser: World of Water staff trying to save fish from 'deliberate act of poisoning'She said: "We popped into World of Water to buy some fish for our tank at home. My partner was talking to the sales assistant about which fish we'd like and that's when I stood on one.

"I was with my toddler at the time, and he was pointing at it. I honestly thought it was one of his toys at first, but then I saw blood and realised it was a pleco. It obviously died but the sales woman was so lovely and comforting.

"We all quickly realised that the fish were trying to escape the tank and that's why it was on the floor. Then someone said it smelt strongly of bleach and everyone was told to leave the room.

"The staff, and a couple of members of the public, started removing the fish with nets, putting them into a large bucket which was being filled with water from other tanks.

"I was horrified that someone could do that and you could see the distress and horror in the faces of staff there. They were devastated by it, they really care about their fish."

Swindon Advertiser: A fish killed by the incidentA spokesperson from World of Water said: “As soon as the incident was discovered, our colleagues removed the fish from the polluted system and did everything in their power to revive them.

“Tragically, none of the discus survived the damage caused by the chemical.

“World of Water as a company prides itself in the fact that the wellbeing of all the livestock is, by far, our primary concern and as fish keepers themselves, the staff have been very upset by this act of completely pointless cruelty.

“Whilst we never expected it to be necessary, security around the fish systems will now be increased.

“We simply cannot believe that anyone could be cruel enough to inflict such suffering on innocent creatures.”

The incident has been reported to Wiltshire Police.