Fish and Aquatic Conservation

How to Break Up with Your Goldfish

A person stands in front of a lake and holds a large goldfish up to the camera.
A 14-inch goldfish removed from the Niagara River. Photo by USFWS.

Goldfish can seem like the ideal low maintenance pet. But if you are no longer able to care for your them, it can be difficult to know what to do with your fishy friend.

Many people think that letting their goldfish loose into a local pond or river is a harmless and humane way to get rid of them. But that’s not the case. When goldfish are released in to local waterways they become an invasive species that can live for up to 25 years and do real harm to the water quality and wild fish communities.

When they are released into the wild, goldfish can grow to the size of football and weigh up to four pounds! These voracious eaters carry parasites, foul the water, and uproot native plants and animals.

Here are some better ways to break up with your goldfish:

Each year invasive species, like goldfish, cause $120 billion in damages to our country. Billions of additional dollars are spent on prevention, detection, control, management, outreach and habitat restoration. Check out Habitattitude U.S. and Don’t Let it Loose for more information on how to be an environmentally responsible aquatic pet parent.