Biologists have discovered a monster goldfish breeding in Lake Tahoe and are concerned since it is not native to the freshwater lake. This could cause problems with the ecosystem.
According to a report by NBC affiliate KCRA-TV, the giant goldfish can grow to be almost 1.5 feet long and may have been dumped there by aquarium owners.
“Globally, the aquarium trade has contributed a third of the world’s worst aquatic and invasive species,” Sue Williams, an ecology professor at UC Davis says.
Ecologists say pet owners choose to dump their fish into lakes, ponds, or rivers as opposed to flushing them down the toilet because it seems like the the humane thing to do.
“Oftentimes people think, ‘Well, gee, if I just dumped in one fish, that’s not going to make a difference,'” Pamela Schofield, an ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey says. “But it can with goldfish because of the way they eat — they root around in the sediment and that suspends the sediment up in the water.”
Conservationist warn against the practice since the species could become invasive and impact the Lake Tahoe ecosystem. Additionally, they disturb sediment which can impede plant growth.
However, the goldfish seem to be thriving and are said to be breeding at a rather quick pace. “We know that we have a giant goldfish, the question now becomes how long has it been there and how many others are there in the lake?” Dr Sudeep Chandra, an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, told KCRA.
Researchers from University of Nevada, cooperating with the California State Fish and Game department, were on a routine search for invasive species when they discovered this giant goldfish in Lake Tahoe. They were stunned when they made this discovery. In order to do an accurate count, they temporarily stun the fish.
Christine Ngai talked about her reaction when they found the giant goldfish. “You just see this bright golden orange thing starting to float up, and you’re like, what is that? Then when I saw it, I was like, oh…it exists. It’s not your average-size goldfish. So, you’re like, is that real? Oh, it’s real. It’s alive.”
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