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Alberta's Ministry of Environment and Parks advises residents to not dispose of live fish down toilets or drains. Here's why.

Don’t flush goldfish, officials warn. Here’s why


Daksha Rangan
Digital Reporter

Saturday, June 27, 2015, 2:02 PM - Officials in Ontario and Alberta are urging goldfish owners who can no longer care for their pet fish are strongly advised not to dispose of them in public ponds, lakes, or waterways.

The main reason? Giant goldfish are appearing in Albertan lakes and Toronto fishery surveys, and they're making an impact on Canada's aquatic biodiversity.

"They show up in regular batches of fish, and every once in a while you get these big fat ones that look like pumpkins, they're so big and orange," says Rick Portiss, fish expert with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), in an interview with The Toronto Star.

Alberta's Ministry of Environment and Parks also advises residents to not dispose of live fish down toilets or drains after the illegal release of the Prussian carp into Albertan waters.

According to the ministry's report, "[t]he Prussian carp is a species of wild goldfish [that] presents a serious threat to local aquatic ecosystems and native fish habitats."

In addition to the Prussian carp, koi and goldfish released from ponds and aquariums can also be harmful to the environment. They can survive Alberta’s climate and grow quite large, the Ministry's report notes.

These fish have no natural predators in Albertan waters, which means they'll use resources and jeopardize the livelihood of other aquatic life.

Image courtesy of the Alberta Ministry of Environment and Parks.

Image courtesy of the Alberta Ministry of Environment and Parks.

The concern about giant goldfish and their over consumption of resources is the same in Ontario.

"[W]hen you release [goldfish] into the wild and they have unfettered access to resources," says Karen McDonald, project manager with the TRCA, in an interview with The Toronto Star. "[T]hey're 'gonna gorge themselves. And it's a large water body so they're not going to be impacted by the small size of the container they're in," she adds.

It's illegal to release live fish into Alberta's rivers or lakes, and doing so can result in fines up to $100,000.

The Ministry of Environment and Parks urges fish owners to donate fish to the local aquarium or school, or to talk to a veterinarian about humane disposal if pet owners are no longer able to care for their fish.

McDonald tells the Toronto Star that, sometimes, TRCA staff will take the giant goldfish home as pets. "Other times they're sent to the Royal Ontario Museum as specimens."

Thumbnail image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

SOURCE: Alberta Environment and Parks | Toronto Star

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to "sea life." This version has been corrected.

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