Aquarium owners are urged to look for zebra mussels in their aquarium plants after the highly invasive species was found in moss balls at several B.C. locations.
The Province of British Columbia and CKISS (Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society) were alerted that live invasive zebra mussels had been found in a shipment of aquarium moss balls sold at a U.S. pet store.
The mussels have since been found in several locations in B.C. and other western provinces and states.
The province is asking anyone who has a moss ball in their aquarium to inspect the plant for invasive mussels.
Zebra mussels, native to fresh waters in Eurasia, are small and range in size from one millimetre to three centimetres. The D-shaped shells can be brown or cream-coloured with jagged brown or black stripes usually present.
Zebra mussels pose a major threat to B.C. waters. They filter out algae that native species need for food and they attach to, and incapacitate, native mussels. Zebra mussels can negatively impact biodiversity, water quality, recreation, fisheries and species at risk.
These mussels have also caused costly damage to North American hydropower stations and municipal water supplies.
What do you do if you find zebra mussels in moss balls?
Safely dispose of moss balls by placing them in a sealed plastic bag and putting them in a freezer for at least 24 hours, or place them in boiling water for at least one full minute and then let cool.
After this, place the moss ball and any of its packaging in a sealed plastic bag and dispose in the trash.
Do not flush moss balls down the toilet or put them in the compost.
Once the moss balls have been removed from the aquarium, do not dispose untreated water down the drain or into any residential water system or waterway. The larvae of zebra mussels are microscopic, so you should assume all equipment, plants or rocks that have come in contact with a moss ball need to be decontaminated.
Call the provincial hotline at 1.877.952.7277 to report the find.
Learn more about the impacts of zebra mussels and how to prevent their spread by visiting CKISS.ca.