Cute in the fishbowl, not so cute goldfish in the wild

This $1 goldfish from the pet store could be a good starter pet, but it also poses an environmental nightmare in the London area.

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This $1 goldfish from the pet store could be a good starter pet, but it also poses an environmental nightmare in the London area.

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Multiplying rapidly in the ponds they are dumped in and growing much larger than their aquarium counterparts, goldfish ruin habitats and crowd out native species.

A wildlife lover and conservationist seeks to solve the problem of education before the goldfish even come home.

“Pet goldfish are an example of an invasive species in London that is causing a lot of damage to the environment,” said Brendon Samuels, a member of the City Council’s Environmental and Ecological Planning Advisory Committee.

He wants the group to create a pamphlet or poster to hand out at pet stores, with key details about goldfish and what to do if they are no longer wanted, instead of dumping them in yards. water.

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“The inspiration for developing a brochure was, what if we could create an easy way to get information across to when they’re buying a pet goldfish in the first place, letting them know. For example, did you know that your fish was going to get really big, or that goldfish can live 30 to 40 years, or that it’s illegal to throw away and there are reasons why throwing it away is a bad idea?” Samuels said.

No discharge signs are in place in several environmentally important areas of London.

But Brandon Williamson, land management technician at the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, said the problem remained widespread in London and other cities.

Major bodies of water such as the Thames are better able to regulate populations of invasive species such as goldfish, as water levels fluctuate frequently and there are more predators, including bass and bass. pike, which eat other fish, he said.

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But natural or stormwater ponds – including those amid environmental gems like Sifton Bog and Westminster Ponds, where signage has been installed – are generally “closed” systems, with little water flowing in or out, a said Williamson.

A dozen goldfish released into one of these ponds can easily grow to hundreds or thousands in a few years, he said, aided by birds that sometimes carry the eggs on their feet to other areas of nesting.

“They are very invasive, very destructive to the natural ecosystem. When dumped into these ponds, they populate much faster than a native species, much like a lot of invasive plant species here,” Williamson said.

Those little fish in your child’s room can cause serious problems in a pond, literally. Not only do goldfish eat vegetation that other fish depend on for food or shelter, but they also stir up soil at the bottom of ponds.

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“It clouds the water, basically pulls out those sediments and covers fish spawning grounds for many native species,” Williamson said.

Solutions are limited. Winter cold and deep frosts are good for reducing goldfish populations, he said.

He thinks Samuels’ approach could also work.

“Starting at the source would definitely help,” Williamson said. He would also like pet stores to create company policies on customer education, even if it means something as simple as handing out a brochure.

Families who need to get rid of a goldfish should consider selling or donating it using online listings, donating it to a local school or calling pet stores, Samuels said.

“We really need more public awareness that the animals we keep in our homes as pets don’t really belong in the wild.”

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