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
DEC 02, 2018
Cardiology
DEC 02, 2018
Dogs Get Heart Disease Too
Scientist are studying mitral valve disease - the dog version. It’s not too different from the human version, and any discoveries made could improve...
NOV 06, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 06, 2018
How do Moths Avoid Being Eaten by Bats? The Secret Might Lie in Their 'Fur'
It’s no secret that bats enjoy munching on moths when they’re feeling a bit hungry, but one thing that has always captivated scientists is how...
NOV 17, 2018
Videos
NOV 17, 2018
Using Genetic Research to Improve Animal Conservation and Care
A group of Peters's Angolan colobus monkeys were brought to US zoos from East Africa in the 80s, but little is known about them....
DEC 24, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 24, 2018
Decoding the Secrets of Howler Monkey Evolution
There exist a bevy of ways that an animal species can be driven to evolve, but one of the more controversial methods of evolution involves a process known...
JAN 07, 2019
Technology
JAN 07, 2019
Software Program Decodes Rodent Chatter
Scientists have long known that rats and mice are social animals, always chatting up something new. Curious about understanding what is communicated betwee...
JAN 14, 2019
Plants & Animals
JAN 14, 2019
Groundwater Salamanders From Central Texas Allegedly 'At Risk of Extinction,' Researchers Say
The discovery of a new animal species is typically followed by excitement and praise, but after a team of researchers from The University of Texas at Austi...
Loading Comments...