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Invasive zebra mussels found hiding in aquarium plants at pet stores

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Invasive zebra mussels found hiding in aquarium plants at pet stores 
Vigilant pet retailers and hobbyists can prevent invasive species from spreading


Update from Michigan State University Extension: An observant employee at a Seattle Petco recently discovered zebra mussels in a shipment of Marimo moss balls which are popular in fish aquariums and are sometimes used as houseplants. The employee reported their findings in the United States Geological Survey Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database, alerting aquatic invasive species managers across the United States. Since the initial report, multiple states reported zebra mussels in moss balls available for sale at popular pet retailers. The products have since been removed from retail shelves. While invasive zebra mussels are now common in many water bodies in Michigan, they still pose an invasion risk here, and are far less common in the western United States.

Decontamination Recommendations
Infested moss balls and packaging should be double bagged, sealed and disposed of in the trash. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommends that tank water from aquariums holding infested moss balls be decontaminated by adding 1/10 cup bleach to every gallon of water and allowing at least 10 minutes of contact time before draining.

Discoveries of zebra mussels in retail stock or in household aquariums must be reported to the state. Reports should be made to Seth Herbst, DNR Aquatic Species and Regulatory Affairs Unit Manager, at HerbstS1@Michigan.gov or 517-388-7759. You can also use this contact information for assistance with inspection or proper disposal.

Read more here.  

Michigan's RIPPLE program (Reduce Invasive Pet and Plant Escapes) offers clear guidance on how to avoid spreading invasive species via aquarium and water garden hobbies.  

For more information, contact Paige Filice with MSU Extension.

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