A wide variety of species from around the globe are sold for use in aquaria. Pet stores, and more commonly online stores, may sell a variety of non-native species without offering any warning about their potential to be invasive. When people decide to clean or get rid of aquariums and dump the contents into a waterbody, they are introducing those species to the natural environment. A recent report from the Convention on Biological Diversity notes that “One third of the aquatic invasive species identified as the worst in the world have been identified as aquarium or ornamental releases,” and that the largest source of non-native fish in Florida is aquariums.
Species that may be introduced by this pathway include Brazilian elodea, bullfrog, caulerpa, Eurasian watermilfoil, hydrilla, northern snakehead fish, parrotfeather, invasive crayfish, and variable-leaf milfoil.
If you are an aquarium owner, you can help prevent the spread of invasive species by disposing of aquarium contents responsibly and avoiding purchasing, selling, trade, planting, or releasing non-native species.
For more information, see the following Web sites:
- The Habitattitude program
- Aquarium fish poised to invade lakes
- Thousands introduced annually: the aquarium pathway for non-indigenous plants
- Freeing Nemo: Aquarium owners releasing non-native fish could endanger marine ecosystems