WARNING: Zebra Mussels in Aquariums!

AQUARIUM OWNERS! Have you recently bought a “moss ball” for your tank? If yes, please read this. You may have inadvertently picked up some hitchhiking invasive species that can cause big problems.

Zebra mussels are invasive aquatic PESTS! They are one of the most destructive invasive species in North America, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Zebra mussels can quickly take over waterways and lakes, disrupting the food chain, clogging pipes and filters, and changing the chemistry of the water. They clog water intakes for power and water plants, block water control structures, and damage fishing and boating equipment, all at great cost.

zebra mussel is seen in a moss ball

Invasive zebra mussels have been found inside a type of algae ball – commonly known as a “moss ball” – that is a popular aquarium addition. Invasive mussels from this product could get into the wild, start a population and do serious damage, so wildlife agencies are urging owners to kill the balls and disinfect their aquarium.

These so-called “moss balls” are actually spherical algae. In the past few years they have become popular among aquarium owners because they’re easy to take care of and provide a plaything or a resting place for fish and other aquarium creatures.

Aquarium water should never be dumped into drains that can lead to local waters. The concern is that live mussels released into a storm drain or flushed could get into waterways.

Instead, the “moss balls” should be decontaminated before discarding, freezing them for at least 24 hours, plunging them in boiling water for at least one minute, placing them in diluted chlorine bleach, or submerging them in undiluted white vinegar for at least 20 minutes. This will destroy any zebra mussels and larvae they contain. Also, they should not be flushed down the toilet. The aquarium and its filters and gravel should be disinfected with a weak bleach solution before fish are returned to it.

If you own an aquarium, we urge you not to buy “moss balls” to furnish it. If you already have them, please destroy and dispose of them responsibly and ensure that your aquarium is a zebra mussel-free zone! For more information, click here:

The PLIA and Pawtuckaway Lake thank you!

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