Zebra mussels found living in aquarium products

By Reader Staff

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Nonindigenous Aquatic Species program recently issued a national alert, making consumers aware that aquarium products known as “moss balls,” sold for betta and shrimp habitat, were discovered to have zebra mussels living inside of them. 

Zebra mussels found in the aquarium product called “moss balls.” Courtesy photo.

A Seattle PetCo employee made the discovery. Meanwhile, moss balls have been found containing zebra mussels in North Idaho pet stores and other parts of the state. They have also been found in Oregon, Washington and Montana. 

All submerged moss ball products are currently being pulled from shelves and are decontaminating store equipment as needed. According to reports, the affected moss balls were shipped to California from a company in Ukraine. 

The larvae of zebra mussels are microscopic, so consumers who purchased these products should assume all equipment, plants or rocks that have come in contact with a moss ball need to be decontaminated.   

Officials emphasize that potentially contaminated water or aquarium products should not be flushed, dumped or thrown away. Instead, transfer fish and animals to a new container. Keep moss ball(s), water, rocks and other products in the aquarium and add one cup of bleach per gallon. Let sit for at least 20 minutes before pouring water down the sink or toilet.

Find detailed information on invasive zebra mussels and the harm they do on the Lakes Commission website: lakescommission/aquatic-invasive-species. The organization will be updating this page as it receives more information.

In Idaho, the Idaho Department of Agriculture is responsible for aquatic invasive species. To report any information related to invasive species or ask questions please call the Invasive Species Hotline at 1-877-336-8676.

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