Canadians Being Advised to Check Home Aquariums

*Press Release* (March 8, 2021 – Williams Lake, BC) The Canadian Council on Invasive Species (CCIS)  is expressing alarm after deadly zebra mussels were found in aquarium plants in BC and Washington state, and are advising aquarium owners across Canada to immediately check the plants in their aquariums for invasive species.

“It is alarming to know that zebra mussels are hiding in aquarium plants because these dangerous invasive species can easily take hold in Canadian waterways causing serious damage to native species and fisheries and can cause damage of more than $43 million a year to municipal water supplies, recreational boating, and other infrastructure,” says Gail Wallin, Chair of the CCIS. “Every aquarium owner must check their plants today to be sure they don’t have any invasive species, especially contaminated moss balls,  in their aquariums.”

Invasive mussels were first discovered in moss balls sold at a major pet chain in Washington state, and this week were also found in a home aquarium in northern BC. These infested moss balls are available in Canada through online orders. If you find moss balls in your aquarium, you should:

  • Place the moss ball into a sealable plastic bag and freeze for at least 24 hours, or
  • Place the moss ball in boiling water for at least one full minute.

After this, place the moss ball and any of its packaging in a sealed plastic bag and dispose in the trash. Do not flush moss balls down the toilet or dispose of them in the compost. Never dispose of aquarium pets, plants, or water into any residential water system or local waterway.

Zebra mussels are invasive freshwater mussels that have infested parts of  Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba and have changed freshwater ecosystems, destroyed shorelines, and impacted recreational and community infrastructure. To date, there has been no reported introduction of live zebra mussels into BC lakes or waterways, but other invasive species have caused serious damage. Some of the most serious invasive species were originally sold as pets or plants for water gardens and aquariums. For example, goldfish released by pet owners have caused serious damage to lakes across Canada. For more information on preventing the spread of invasive species like these, visit https://canadainvasives.ca/programs/dont-let-it-loose/.

“We all have a role to play in understanding the effects of invasive species, and we all need to do our part to prevent invasive species from spreading,” adds Wallin. “In both Washington and BC, the invasive mussels were found by informed individuals, so it shows how important it is to learn more about preventing invasive species and get involved. Check your aquarium and your neighbours’ and report any potential contaminated moss balls or other invasive species immediately. We all need to take action to protect Canada’s waters and habitats by preventing the release or dumping of any aquariums.”

For more information, visit https://canadainvasives.ca/.

About the Canadian Council on Invasive Species

The Canadian Council on Invasive Species works collaboratively across jurisdictional boundaries to support actions and information that can help reduce the threat and impacts of invasive species. Invasive species councils, committees, and coalitions representing provinces and territories across Canada established this federal society to work together to reduce the impact of invasive species across the country.