APR 30, 2017 07:27 AM PDT

Avoid Releasing Domestic Goldfish Into Nature's Waterways

Goldfish are among some of the world’s most popular species of pet fish, but despite popular belief, it’s generally a good idea to keep them as pets right up until the day they finally kick the bucket.

Many people set their goldfish free in the wild after they become too large for their own domestic pet enclosures at home, but experts are advising against doing so, as goldfish are considered an invasive species and can have a negative impact on the natural ecosystem where they’re dumped.

Goldfish terrorize natural ecosystems with their invasive behavior; they multiply quickly and grow very large, all while doing things that hurt other native fish species.

Image Credit: Sara Thompson Michigan DNR via Popular Science

The reason for their invasiveness lies in their ability to easily adapt to almost any environment. By being set free in a local pond or stream, that goldfish essentially takes it over. It will grow incredibly large and multiply very quickly, which has implications for other fish species sharing the same ecosystem.

Related: Star the goldfish received a surgical procedure to remove an eye tumor

In a piece we shared in August of 2016, we discussed the circumstances surrounding goldfish dumping and how it has a negative impact on the ecosystem where they’re dumped. Goldfish, on the other hand, have no problem adapting and overwhelming the ecosystem, growing to weigh almost 2kg and the size of a football.

Their size probably has something to do with the fact that they’ll eat almost anything and they’ll eat a lot of it, including the eggs of other fish, which reduces the reproduction rate of other species in the region.

As horrible as that sounds, that’s not the only problem with setting goldfish free in the wild, the accompanying study published in the journal Ecology of Freshwater Fish at the time also revealed that they behave a lot like carp, stirring up the sediment at the bottom of the body of water and contaminating the surrounding water, which makes it harder for other species to thrive.

Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was recently tasked with handling a goldfish situation in numerous natural water bodies in the state. According to reports, DNR had to remove hundreds of pounds of goldfish from those bodies.

“It means they’re taking up all of the resources of fish that should be there,” says Sara Thompson, Lake Erie Unit Manager for the Michigan DNR fisheries division. “Only one or two native fish were found in that stretch.”

Related: Fish frozen solid by nature in the midst of eating another fish

Goldfish weren’t native to either ecosystem, so it’s believed that a few (or many) pet owners may have intentionally dumped their ex-pets into them to say goodbye. After that, nature took its course and they replicated several times, grew very large, and stirred up ruckus.

Reports say that up to 8,000 goldfish weighing as much as 450 pounds in total were removed from these water sources.

Other states across the United States are facing similar problems and are considering ways of dealing with them, including Colorado, which recently dealt with a similar scenario:

Obviously, stricter laws enforcing how goldfish are disposed of could help, but finding ways to assist the current problem of all the goldfish being where they don’t belong is also required to help save other species of fish that are now forced to co-exist with an invasive species.

Source: Popular Science

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 20, 2018
Earth & The Environment
SEP 20, 2018
Biodiverse forests are more resilient to drought
Biodiversity is confirmed yet again to be a savior for vulnerable species. In a new study published in Nature, scientists determined that forests with more...
SEP 23, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 23, 2018
The Benefits of Vertical Farming
In some parts of the world where agriculture becomes a problematic endeavor, vertical farming offers a potential solution. Newark, New Jersey is a great ex...
OCT 22, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
OCT 22, 2018
Duplication Events in the Genome Drive Evolution
The majority of plants that grow in the wild and on farms have undergone some kind of duplication event in their genomes....
OCT 24, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 24, 2018
Researchers Accidentally Discover a New Crocodile Species
In most cases, the discovery of a new animal species would be considered a positive finding in the scientific community. But the circumstances surrounding...
OCT 31, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 31, 2018
Study Suggests Extinct Elephant Birds Were Nocturnal and Nearly Blind
Elephant birds were massive birds that went extinct a long time ago. Some estimates suggest the last of the species perished some 500 to 1,000 years ago, b...
NOV 05, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 05, 2018
Anthropogenic Activity Reduces Bee Diversity, Study Confirms
Bee populations are in decline all over the globe, raising serious concerns about their current situation among conservationists. That said, researchers fr...
Loading Comments...