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Sneak Attack on the Invasive Species Front

Some of you may have seen mention of this in the news already:

Game and Parks urges public to check aquariums for invasive zebra mussels

LINCOLN, Neb. – After a recent discovery of invasive zebra mussels within Marimo or “moss” balls used in aquarium tanks, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is urging the public to take precautions to prevent the spread of this highly destructive species.

A container of Marimo balls sold as “Betta Buddy” was first found to be contaminated with an adult zebra mussel at a Petco store in Washington state on March 3. Game and Parks subsequently inspected two Petco locations in Lincoln and found zebra mussels present in several Marimo ball containers.

Since then, contaminated Marimo balls have been found in pet/aquarium stores in several states. All Petco and Petsmart locations in Nebraska were cooperative when asked by Game and Parks to remove the product from their shelves.

A zebra mussel is a highly invasive aquatic species that looks like a D-shaped clam, with alternating light and dark bands. Most zebra mussels are less than an inch long. They form dense colonies and filter large quantities of plankton from water, decreasing the food supply for native species. Adult zebra mussels can live up to two weeks outside of water. Additionally, young zebra mussels – or veligers – are invisible to the naked eye and can be spread through even the smallest drops of water.

To prevent the spread of zebra mussels from aquariums, Marimo balls should be removed, placed in a plastic bag, frozen solid, then disposed of in the trash. All aquarium owners should dispose of tank water away from water sources, like a stream, and instead dump water in grass or gravel. It is important to not dump aquarium water down the drain as this can spread zebra mussels to water bodies.

“We need the public’s help to prevent the spread of zebra mussels from aquariums and fish tanks into our water bodies,” said Kristopher Stahr, Game and Parks aquatic invasive species program manager. “Please make sure you dispose of any Marimo balls and aquarium water properly so the waters we all enjoy remain invasive-free.”

Game and Parks regulations require anglers, hunters, and boaters conduct clean, drain and dry procedures before leaving a water body. Those persons also are not allowed to arrive at a water body with water from another body.

The Missouri River has a zebra mussel population along its entire length downstream of Gavins Point Dam. Lewis and Clark Lake, Lake Yankton and the Offutt Base Lake are the only other confirmed Nebraska waters with zebra mussel populations.

For questions and to report aquatic invasive sightings, contact Game and Parks at npgc.ais@nebraska.gov or at 402-471-7602. Visit neinvasives.com for more information on invasive species in Nebraska.

 

Here is what the product looks like:

BettaBuddy3

Open the lid:

BettaBuddy1

Inside that ball of algae, small, adult zebra mussels have been discovered.  Apparently, these are coming from the Ukraine and who knows what all is in the water and algae ball.

The discovery of this literally just happened this week, some of that is described in the news release.  How this product got past inspection and into the U.S. is worrisome.

This product would be far less of a threat of zebra mussels being introduced to new waterbodies than transport on watercraft.  However, any source of invasive species is a threat and if we can eliminate that threat we are going to.  If you have purchased this product, please dispose of it in the manner recommended in the news release.

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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