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Scientists Urge Pet Owners Not To Release Non-Native Fish Into The Wild

Super-sized goldfish were already found in Lake Tahoe. These goldfish grew to be as big as 15 inches and weigh four pounds, according to researchers in Northern Nevada.

Now, aquarium dumping has been taken to another level after tourists found a prehistoric-looking tropical fish in a creek. The Plecostomus, or a common algae-eating aquarium fish, was recently found dead because it couldn’t survive the cold creek temperatures or didn’t have enough accessible food.

Heather Segale, education and outreach director for the U.C. David Tahoe Environmental Research Center, said the incident highlight the continuing problem of aquarium dumping. Segale said the problem continues to adversely affect Lake Tahoe.

She said the University of Nevada, Reno had removed over 50,000 non-native fish from the Tahoe Keys.

Other non-native warmwater fish such as largemouth bass and bluegill can now be found. Segale said researches suspect the bass and bluegill were brought in by fishermen in their bait containers and placed into the lake.

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Those non-native species compete with native fishes and change the food supply in ways that are still being researched, she said. Segale advised owners of tropical fish to take them back to the pet store if they have grown too big for the aquarium.


Heather Segale, education and outreach director for the U.C. David Tahoe Environmental Research Center in Incline Village, Nev.

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