If you have a goldfish, and you are kind of over that goldfish, to the point where you are now wondering whether it might be best to set that goldfish free, please rethink that decision.
That’s the request from the Alberta government, which is trying to get Canadians to refrain from dumping out their fish tanks into ponds. Because those ponds are filling up with those discarded goldfish, which are getting really, really big in the wild.
Or, as the CBC notes: “Goldfish the size of dinner plates are multiplying like bunnies.”
“It’s quite a surprise how large we’re finding them and the sheer number,” Kate Wilson, aquatic invasive species coordinator at Alberta Environment and Parks, told the broadcaster.
According to CBC News:
In one case, the municipality of Wood Buffalo pulled 40 of the domestic fish species from a stormwater pond.
“That’s really scary because it means they’re reproducing in the wild, they are getting quite large and they are surviving the winters that far north,” said Wilson.
“Their size is limited in the tank, but when you release it into the wild, that doesn’t exist anymore,” Wilson told The Post.
Like other species of carp, the domestic goldfish Carassius auratus will basically keep growing as long as water temperatures and food resources support it. There are obviously limits — you’re not going to accidentally create fishzilla if you overfeed your goldfish — but given a big body of water with tons of food and warm summers, a fish is bound to get supersized.
Then you end up with a bunch of goldfish bruisers competing with local fish for resources, and you better believe the fish you flushed will give native species a run for their money. Plus, some scientists say, goldfish feces might help support certain types of algae, leading to algal blooms that further disrupt the eco-system.
The CBC reports that a campaign designed to curb this trend, called Don’t Let It Loose, will “focus on educating Albertans about the dangers of releasing domestic fish into nature.”
If people are dumping their aquariums, Wilson explained, they’re also dumping the water it holds, which can carry disease and parasites. What’s more, the goldfish can survive in poor water conditions, she said, and “could be competing with our native species for both food and habitat.”