‘Potential pathway for species to become invasive’: Game and Fish warn of dumping fish in lakes, rivers

Local News

For a child, there may be nothing more joyous than taking a trip to the pet store to pick out the fish for your new aquarium. 

It’s great, fun taking care of the fish for a time, but what happens when it’s no longer a joy — it’s a bother? 

In some instances, the now-unwanted fish are dumped into a lake or river. 

That is something Greg Power with the North Dakota Fish and Game Department says is the wrong way to go about it.

“People get tired of them and don’t want to disregard them or bury them and they will oftentimes throw them into waters and into lakes, and that’s when issues arise,” said Power.

The goldfish or other kinds of fish that are not native to North Dakota cause problems for the fish that are already in the water. 

“We have documented goldfish in some of our community fisheries in the Fargo area. It does happen in North Dakota, it is not super common, but it’s always a potential pathway for species to become invasive in many areas,” said Ben Holen, Aquatic Nuisance Species Coordinator for North Dakota Fish and Game Department.

“In certain species, if you have more than one, if you have a male or female for example and they reproduce, they actually can have a disaster at any given lake,“ Power said.

Fish owners need to plan ahead when they decide they no longer want the aquarium and the fish living there.  Find someone who wants the fish or consider donating them to a pet store. 

“If you get tired of them, do not release them into our rivers, creeks, streams or lakes because a lot of bad things can happen,” said Power.

Officials say dumping any live fish, fish eggs or other aquatic organisms into North Dakota waters is illegal.

Getting caught can result in a misdemeanor charge, a fine of up to $1,500 and 30 days in jail. 

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