Fish and Aquatic Conservation
photo of a Round goby
The round goby is a small, aggressive bottom-dwelling fish. They usually grow three to six inches long, but can grow up to ten inches. Photo credit: Eric Engbretson/USFWS


Aquatic Invasive Species

Invasive Zebra Mussels Found in Moss Balls

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

Invasive zebra mussels have been found in "moss balls," a plant product sold at aquarium and pet supply stores, garden centers, florist shops, and online retailers.  Zebra mussels are regarded as one of the most destructive invasive species in North America and there is concern that live mussels from moss balls could be released into a storm drain or flushed into a waterway and cause significant damage.

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Protecting the Health of Our Fish, Waterways, and Infrastructure

Invasive species cause tremendous harm to our environment, our economy, and our health. They can drive out and eat native plants and wildlife, spread diseases, and damage infrastructure.

Invasive species are a primary cause of global biodiversity loss. They threaten nearly half of the imperiled species in the United States and have contributed to more than 40 percent of the current listings under the Endangered Species Act.

What is an Aquatic Invasive Species

An aquatic species is any type of plant or animal (such as a fish, crab, mussel, or frog) that depends on water for a least one stage of its life. An aquatic invasive species is an aquatic species that has spread or been introduced beyond its native range and is either causing harm or has the potential to cause harm.

These species can spread unintentionally after someone dumps unwanted aquarium contents into a lake or through such everyday activities as fishing, hunting, and boating. Aquatic invasive species are an increasing problem due primarily to increased global trade.

In the United States, invasive species cause an estimated $123 billion dollars in damage and costs every year to things like agriculture and public health, but also hydropower facilities, municipal water supplies, the aquaculture industry!

What are we doing to fight Aquatic Invasive Species?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Branch of Aquatic Invasive Species funds and coordinates aquatic invasive species activities across the country. We prevent introductions, detect and respond to new species threats, stop or suppress the spread of existing invasive populations, and educate the public about threats so they can help us protect America’s aquatic species. Our regional coordinators work closely with the public and private sector partners, and our Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices provide research and technical support. The Service also develops regulations to prohibit the importation and some transport of high-risk species known as injurious wildlife. 

Read more about the Branch of Aquatic Invasive Species.


photo of a Chinese mitten crab

Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force

The Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force coordinates efforts among Federal and State agencies, tribes, regional jurisdictions, and other stakeholders to prevent and control aquatic invasive species in the United States.

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photo of Largemouth bass

Ecological Risk Screening Summaries

Ecological Risk Screening Summary reports summarize the risk of nonnative species becoming invasive in the United States—a useful tool for resource managers.

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photo of Zebra mussels

What We Do

We focus on partnerships that help us prevent invasive species introduction and have coordinators located throughout the U.S.

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photo of a Burmese python

Injurious Species Listing

Under the authority of the injurious provisions of Lacey Act, we can help prevent nonnative wildlife species from becoming an invasive threat by prohibiting the importation and some transport of high-risk species.

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photo of new zealand mudsnails

How You Can Help

We need your help. People unintentionally spread invasive plants and animals when traveling from one water body to another. Learn how you can help keep our waters safe and report aquatic invasive species sightings.

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photo of employees measuring invasive Silver carp

Contact a Regional Coordinator

Our dedicated regional coordinators work closely with state invasive species coordinators, nongovernmental groups, private landowners, and the public.

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