CHEYENNE, Wyoming (Release) – An invasive mussel that poses a serious threat to Wyoming’s natural resources and aquatic systems has been found in a number of pet stores across the state. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in “marimo balls” or “moss balls,” a product sold in many aquarium and pet supply stores. Game and Fish urges anyone in possession of this product to dispose of it carefully and to the aquarium water immediately.
Proper disposal is essential to help mitigate the potentially catastrophic effects the mussels could have on the condition.
“Zebra mussels are a extremely destructive invasive aquatic speciesSaid Fish and Game Fisheries Officer Alan Osterland. “Once they settle in reservoirs, lakes or even urban water systems, they wreak havoc. They remove nutrients from the water, clog pipes and waterways, damage boats, and outshine native mussels. Additionally, in many cases, zebra mussels are impossible to remove and could have costly impacts for Wyoming. ”
A marimo ball is a popular tank decoration made from a filamentous green algae used to oxygenate water. It is important that anyone who has purchased a marimo ball closely follows the recommended steps for disposal. To dispose:
- Remove all animals from the water and the tank.
- Remove the marimo ball, the other plants and the water from the aquarium and put them in a heat-resistant pot. Do not flush water into sewers or toilets.
- Inspect the marimo ball and tank for zebra mussels and if you find any contact your regional office or your local fish and game warden.
- Boil the marimo balls, plants, and any water they have come in contact with for at least five minutes.
- Throw the marimo ball and the other plants in the trash.
- Pour the boiled water onto a semi-permeable surface. This could be an indoor or outdoor plant – such as grass or soil – that is not located near standing water or a storm sewer.
Do not rinse the marimo ball, or pour aquarium water down sewers, toilets, or nearby water sources such as a local pond or stream. These actions could spread zebra mussels throughout the hydrographic network.
“We urge people to take extra care and follow these disposal instructions. It is essential for our state’s fisheries, wildlife and communities that these steps are followed. This will be the key to mitigating the potential impacts Wyoming now faces, ”Osterland said.
Anyone who finds zebra mussels in their aquarium should call the local Game and Fish regional office so that a representative can collect the sample. Possession of aquatic invasive species (AIS), such as zebra mussels, is illegal and people are required to report the find within 48 hours. Zebra mussels are striped and measure less than 2 inches. They attach to all hard surfaces such as metal, glass, plastic, stone, wood or rocks. They are extremely resistant to cold temperatures and many chemicals. Hot water is the most effective way to kill them and prevent them from establishing themselves.
“Even if you can’t see the mussels, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there,” Osterland said. “When zebra mussels are in the immature stage, called veliger, they’re so small you can’t see them. But, they can grow even in small amounts of water. This is why it is so important that everyone take precautions.
Pets and other aquatic animals are not immediately affected by zebra mussels.
“Pet fish, turtles and the like should be safe; just clean your tanks and follow the plant and water disposal instructions, ”Osterland said. “Never release your animal into the wild and never pour the water from your tank into a natural water source. It can also spread invasive and other unwanted species.
Wyoming is one of several states in the United States to identify zebra mussels in pet stores and aquariums in connection with marimo balls. The ministry is working closely with other state and federal agencies to resolve this issue nationwide. Game and Fish urges all stores to immediately remove this product from shelves and contact their local hunting and fishing office.
Zebra mussels have never been identified in a Wyoming water source. Aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels, quagga mussels and others, are usually transported in boats. Each year, Game and Fish spends $ 1.3 million in the AIS Prevention Program, which includes inspect and decontaminate boats enter the state and its waters as the first line of defense for protective Wyoming. More information on AIS prevention is available on the Game and Fish website.
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