Dumping aquariums can spread invasive species

MDC says don’t dump aquariums to avoid spreading invasive species

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) said with care citizens can help avoid the spread of harmful invasive species. 

One way, do not dump aquariums in rivers, ponds, and lakes. A non-native fish recently found at Blue Springs Lake in the Kansas City area provides an example.

A bass angler caught a tropical, 10-inch oscar fish on a crankbait while fishing at the lake. 

Although the head and mouth somewhat resembled a bluegill, the tail, fins, and coloration did not resemble a native Missouri fish. 

An MDC fisheries management biologist identified it as a type of oscar fish kept in aquariums. This fishes’ native habitat is tropical South America. Oscars are members of the cichlid fish family.

This oscar will not survive Missouri’s cold-water temperatures in winter, said Jake Colehour, MDC fisheries management biologist. 

But many non-native aquatic plants and fish kept in aquariums can survive and become invasive. They often out-compete natives for food and habitat because they don’t have native predators or foragers.
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Undesirable non-native fish can crowd out sport fish or baitfish they feed on. They can also spread disease to native fish.

Invasive aquatic plants can completely choke a pond, river, or lake, harming native fish and making those waters difficult for use by anglers, boaters, and swimmers.

Often an aquarium fish will outgrow its tank, or the owner will get tired of caring for it. They decide to dump the fish and plants into public waters rather than proper disposal. 

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