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National Invasive Species Week 2013!

National Invasive Species Awareness Week!

Image Credit: NISAW 2013; http://www.nisaw.org

Overview

What do goldfish, the aquatic plant hydrilla, mystery snails, and Oriental weatherfish all have in common? They are living in the wild as non-native species within the Pacific Region! How did they get here? All of these species were originally pets living in aquariums. This is a big problem for many reasons. Released aquarium species can become invasive, taking over natural habitats and competing with native species for resources. So, whether you're a teacher, a pet storeowner, or an aquarium enthusiast, be thinking about how you can prevent invasive species introductions and help us spread the word about National Invasive Species Awareness Week!

Is your aquarium plant taking over the tank?

Photo Credit: Alex Pujanas Don't let it loose!
Plants that are intentionally or accidentally released from aquariums choke waterways preventing swimming, boating and other recreation. Aquarium plant species are bred to be hardy. They can grow fast in the wild and damage habitat for fish and other wildlife. Millions of dollars are spent each year to slow growth and keep our waters open for recreational use.
  • Hydrilla: This aquarium release can survive prolonged freezing winter temperatures. Native to Asia and India, this fast growing plant is invasive in 28 states.
  • Caulerpa: You may know this plant as "killer algae." It is a popular, fast-growing plant in the saltwater aquarium trade. It has invaded many waterways where it outcompetes native algal species and seagrasses.

Don't Let It Loose Infographic

USFWS Why shouldn't you let it loose?
There are a lot of reasons to not release your pets into the wild. Instead of listing them all, USFWS Pacific Region built an infographic to help you understand what to do with your pets:

NISAW 2013 Infographic

Are your fish outgrowing their tank?

Credit: Joanne Kearns You have options!
Aquarium releases such as fish, turtles and snails reduce populations of aquatic insects and increase water turbidity, harming native fishes. They are often not a good food source for native wildlife and instead compete for the same foods and shelter that native animals depend upon for survival.
  • Oriental weatherfish: This small, eel-like fish is well-liked in the aquarium trade because it is hardy and helps keep a clean tank, but several introductions into natural waterways have resulted in one major negative impact: reduction in populations of aquatic insects important as food to native fishes.
  • Mystery Snail: This large (just over 2 inches in height) freshwater snail gives birth to live crawling young. It is popular in the pond and aquarium trade because it eats algae rather than fish eggs or plants. But they are a widespread aquarium release concern since they are potential vectors for the transmission of parasites and diseases. Their shells also clog water intake screens.

Are you a teacher with aquatic animals in the classroom?

Credit: Creative Commons Don't Let it Loose!
Teachers can worsen the invasive species problem by releasing aquatic plants and animals after their lessons are finished. A recent survey shows that one in four teachers has released live animals into the wild. To prevent this from occurring into the future, native crayfish species are now being offered for lesson plans and outreach materials are available to inform students and their teachers about alternatives to release.

Great alternatives to releasing your pet into the wild

Credit: Creative Commons Look what you can do!
  • Adopt your pet out to a hobbyist club in your area.
  • Consult with local pet stores to return your pet for resale or trade.
  • Give it to another hobbyist, an aquarium in a professional office, a museum, or to a public aquarium or zoological park.
  • Donate it to a public institution, such as a school, nursing home, hospital, or prison.

More resources

Credit: Creative Commons Check out the linkes below!

 



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Last updated: April 29, 2014

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