Alligator Patrols Google’s Data Center


The pond on Google’s data center complex in Berkeley County, SC, which is used to collect water for the facility’s data center cooling system. The pond is home to algae, tilapia and at least one large reptile. ( Photo: Connie Zhou for Google.)

Google’s data centers may not be surrounded by moats filled with sharks with friggin’ laser beams on their heads. But one of them has a pond full of alligators.

At its data center campus in South Carolina, Google is using three large basins to collect rain water, which it then uses in the cooling system for its servers. The water must be filtered before it can be used by Google, a task that was complicated by the appearance of algae blooms.

Google’s solution was to introduce tilapia in to the ponds. The tilapia is a fresh water fish that eats floating aquatic plants, and reuces algae blooms. They’re also a popular menu item in restaurants – hence the next challenge.

“Nature takes it course, and an alligator moved in to begin eating the fish,” Google’s Joe Kava said during a keynote presentation at the 7×24 Exchange in Phoenix. “So we wound up with a four-foot alligator living in our pond.”

That’s a feature that not many data centers can claim.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. The Lenoir data center has Stormtroopers!

  2. Ha! But I wonder how they filter the water at a large scale and manage not to harm the algae, the fish, or the reptile...