Okay, well goldfish may not kill you, but they can certainly kill our ecosystems if they are let loose in Alberta’s waters! Goldfish are showing up all over the province – and not just in pet stores or your aquarium at home.
Infestations have been found in storm water ponds at alarming rates over the last few years. How did they get there? People have been releasing their unwanted pets into the neighbourhood ponds behind their homes thinking this is more humane than other alternatives.
So why are the goldfish an issue? Well, believe it or not, the sweet little pet goldfish you’ve cared for over the last 8 months can grow to be the size of a dinner plate! Now, you might be thinking to yourself “Wait a minute, I have tried to raise goldfish in my aquarium and they don’t last a week…no way they can survive an Alberta winter!” Well, that is just not true.
These little fish can tolerate large fluctuations in water temperature and low levels of oxygen, meaning they can survive the winters in poor water quality ponds. Feeding on snails, small insects, fish eggs and anything else they can fit in their mouth, they are both a competitor to and predator of our native fish. They stir up the mud as they feed on the bottom of the waterbody, making the water murky and affecting the growth of aquatic plants.
If all of this is not enough to deter those thinking of releasing pet goldfish into a neighbourhood pond, think about the legal issues. Releasing fish into a public waterbody is illegal and individuals can face penalties up to $100,000 and a year in jail!
So, what do you need to do to protect our water resources from these invasive fish?
- DON’T LET IT LOOSE! Give your unwanted goldfish to a friend, take them back to the pet store, or donate it to a school where kids can enjoy watching them eat their breakfast. Whatever you do, do not “set your fish free” into that nearby pond!
- Don’t flush your dead fish – whatever they died from could eventually get into our waterbodies and harm native fish. Provide them with a proper burial in the backyard, or dispose of them in the garbage.
- Report any invasive species (including goldfish) to 1-855-336-BOAT (2628). They can only be removed if someone is aware that they are there!