Fish and Aquatic Conservation

Invasive Species

Information iconU.S. Fish and Wildlife officials navigate the Illinois River where there are jumping silver carp. (Photo: USFWS)

Destroy! Don’t Dump!

zebra mussel nestled inside a moss ball
A zebra mussel nestled inside a moss ball. Photo credit: USGS

Invasive zebra mussels have recently been found in "moss balls,” an aquarium plant product sold at aquarium and pet supply stores. Zebra mussels are regarded as one of the most destructive invasive species in North America. If you recently purchased moss balls for your aquarium, they must be properly destroyed - don't dump them! Follow the DESTROY, DISPOSE, and DRAIN instructions.

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Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) is a non-native aquatic species that invades ecosystems beyond their natural, historic range. They are spread either intentionally, someone dumping their aquarium contents into a lake, or unintentional by way of ships, fishing, hunting and boating, to name a few. Aquatic invasives might also be called exotics, nonindigenous or non-native. No matter what you call them, they are a growing problem.

A primary focus of the AIS program is invasive species prevention. There are coordinators located throughout the U.S. that work closely with public and private sectors to develop and implement AIS projects.

One way to prevent nonnative wildlife species from becoming invasive is to list them as an injurious species under the Lacey Act. This authorizes divisions of the Department of the Interior, such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to regulate or ban the importation or transportation of that animal or plant within the U.S.

Other preventive measures include Ecological Risk Screening Summaries, a process to characterize and prioritize the potential risk of invasiveness from species of wild animals and plants. The Aquatic Nuisance Species Task (ANS) Force, established by Congress and dedicated to preventing and controlling ANS.

Information iconA Burmese python coiled in the grass in the Everglades. (Photo: Bryan Falk/USGS)