Photo shows why people need to stop flushing goldfish
Friday, June 8, 2018, 2:28 PM - Officials have been warning people not to flush their pet goldfish for years. Now, a new viral photo is helping to drive home that fact.
That's because the fish -- which have no known predators in parts of Canada -- have been showing up in local lakes, damaging the ecosystem.
Now, a viral photo from the UK shows the problem isn't unique to Canada.
British angler Lawrence Clarke recently pulled an 8lb 5 oz ornamental goldfish out of a local waterway, and officials are looking into whether or not the fish has set a new record.
Discarded goldfish have been known to grow to the size of footballs in the UK and in Australia, researchers at Murdoch University have found goldfish weighing as much as 4 lbs. While they may start out small in a household tank, they can balloon to the size of a football under the right conditions.
They do most of their growing during summer months, barely growing at all through the winter.
(RELATED: TOXIC TOADS THREATEN NEW ZEALAND'S WILDLIFE)
When a good deed goes wrong
People may think it's humane to set their unwanted fish free in a public water space, but it can have devastating repercussions.
“Once established, self-sustaining populations of alien freshwater fishes often thrive and can spread into new regions, which is having a fundamental ecological impact and are major drivers of the decline of aquatic fauna,” Stephen Beatty, a lead researcher studying goldfish and their movement at Murdoch University, said in a statement.
According to Ontario's Invading Awareness Program, the fish stir up mud and debris when they feed, resulting in cloudiness that can have a negative impact on aquatic plants.
Flushing dead fish can be detrimental as well, because they can introduce parasites or diseases into an ecosystem, especially in areas where water treatment systems are lacking.
How to properly dispose of goldfish
If your goldfish is dead:
First, make sure the fish is actually dead. You can do this by:
- Checking the gill covers for movement, which indicates breathing.
- Checking the eyes. If they are grey and sunken in, the fish is likely dead.
- Gently nudge the fish to see if it moves.
If your fish is dead, there are a few ways to get rid of it. Experts recommend burying the fish deep enough that raccoons, dogs or cats can't access it. Cremation is another option, provided there are no fire bans or restrictions in place in your jurisdiction. You can also place the fish in an air-tight package and place in the trash, but you'll have to be aware of raccoons.
Goldfish in Swan Lake, Markham, Ontario. Source.
If your goldfish is alive:
Getting rid of unwanted, live goldfish is trickier and may take a bit of work. Here are some recommendations:
- Try contacting a local pet shop. Some will take in your unwanted fish.
- Find a pet owner who is looking to add to their aquarium.
- Dentist offices, doctor's offices, retirement homes or classrooms are another option.
- Some communities have fish clubs that may be able to adopt your fish.