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Friday, March 12, 2021

Aquarium Owners:
DEC urges the nixing of moss balls

INVASIVE SPECIES: Popular live algae globes found to carry zebra mussels

By MATT SURTEL - msurtel@batavianews.com Mar 12, 2021 Updated 19 hrs ago

Aquarium owners and pet shop have received an unusual alert from the state Department on Environmental Conservation. If you have moss balls, remove them — immediately. And please dispose of them carefully. Moss balls are small globe composed of algae. They’re popular in aquariums, where they provide oxygen and beneficial bacteria, help control unwanted algae growth, and have a quirky green appearance.

Invasive zebra mussels have been discovered inside and on some commercially purchased examples, as reported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Consumers are advised that moss ball products purchased from PetSmart and Petco may be subject to a voluntary product recall.

Zebra mussels are an aquatic invasive species. Several species of algae comprise moss balls, which are two to five inches in diameter. Zebra mussel larvae are so small that people cannot see them, according to the DEC. If released, the larvae can cause great harm to area water bodies. Consumers are advised to remove and properly dispose of any moss balls purchased within the last year by following these steps:

■ Dispose of moss balls removed from tanks in a sealed garbage bag. Other aquarium plants should also be disposed of as they may harbor zebra mussels.

■ To disinfect a tank after safely removing any animals, apply household bleach — one cup of bleach per gallon of water — and let it sit for 10 minutes before disposing of water down the sink or toilet.

■ Disinfect filters, gravel, and structures with a solution of bleach. Water from filters must also be treated with household bleach before disposing of water down the sink or drain.

■ For larger tanks that cannot be easily drained, email isinfo@dec.ny.gov for instructions.

■ If zebra mussels are in a tank or on a moss ball, take a photo if possible and report the observation via email isinfo@dec.ny.gov, or by phone, (518) 402-9405.

Just because zebra mussels aren’t visible does not mean their larvae isn’t there, DEC officials said. Zebra mussels can quickly take over once established in a waterbody. They will the disrupt the food chain, change water chemistry, and clog water intake and delivery systems for drinking water, irrigation, and hydro power.

NOTE: Live mussels released into a storm drain or flushed could be introduced into a waterway, starting a new population and causing significant damage.

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