Invasive zebra mussels may be in aquarium products sold online and at pet stores throughout Nevada, according to the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
NDOW is investigating reports that the mussels were found in decorative moss plants for home aquariums sold under the names Imagitarium Betta Buddy Marimo Balls, Marimo Moss Ball Plants and other similar names.
Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to destroy them by either freezing or boiling the moss plant and disposing of them in the trash, followed by a thorough disinfection of their aquarium. Do not dispose of by any other method. Zebra mussels can remain alive for long periods out of water and can find their way into waterways via sewer systems and have devastating, irreversible effects on wildlife and aquatic habitats.
Zebra mussels are filter feeders that consume large portions of the microscopic plants and animals that form the base of the food web. The removal of significant amounts of phytoplankton from lakes and waterways can cause a shift in native species and a disruption of the ecological balance.
Zebra mussels often settle in massive colonies that can block water intakes and affect municipal water supplies, agricultural irrigation, and power plant operation. There is no known safe method of eradication once the mussels have become established in a large water body.
At Lake Tahoe, boat inspections are required before launch to check for the similar quagga mussel before allowing watercraft to enter lakes.
“This is a serious state and national issue,” said NDOW fisheries division administrator Jon Sjöberg. “This situation poses a great risk to our waterways and our wildlife populations. Please adhere to our recommendations and do your part to keep Nevada’s water safe and clean from invasive species.”
NDOW was notified of the potential problem after a Seattle pet store employee reported finding the zebra mussels in the Imagitarium Betta Buddy product. The reports were verified by both state and federal wildlife authorities. Nevada pet stores are being instructed to remove the product from shelves and contact their regional NDOW office for disposal information.
NDOW is working closely with other state and federal wildlife authorities to address and monitor the situation. For additional information, contact NDOW’s western region office at (775) 688-1506.
Amy Alonzo covers the outdoors, recreation and environment for Nevada and Lake Tahoe. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 741-8588. Here’s how you can support ongoing coverage and local journalism.