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Food FYI: Monster goldfish in Lake Tahoe threaten trout

February 22, 2013|By Betty Hallock
  • Aquarium pets, such as goldfish, that are dumped into rivers, lakes and the ocean can disrupt natural ecosystems.
Aquarium pets, such as goldfish, that are dumped into rivers, lakes and… (Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles…)

The monster goldfish that researchers retrieved from Lake Tahoe is the latest discovery that warns of the breakdown of ecological systems if people don't stop dumping their aquarium pets into lakes, rivers and the ocean.

Researchers trawling for invasive fish species found a goldfish that was nearly 1 1/2 feet long and weighed more than 4 pounds. They're concerned about the fish's threat to the ecosystem of Lake Tahoe, LiveScience.com reported Thursday.

University of Nevada Reno researchers found "a nice corner where there's about 15 other goldfish," environmental scientist Sudeep Chandra told LiveScience. "It's an indication that they were schooling and spawning."

The fish are one of several invasive warm-water species in the lake that are consuming native aquatic life such as trout, researchers said. In addition, they excrete nutrients that spur the growth of algae that can muddy Tahoe's clear waters.

It isn't known how the goldfish got into the lake, but researchers said they were likely dumped by aquarium owners -- a common problem that threatens native wildlife in the U.S. and elsewhere.

LiveScience cited a recent report on California's aquarium trade showing that fish owners and importers are introducing hardy, non-native species to California waters. The study said that globally the practice contributes a third of the world's worst aquatic and invasive species.

The message is: Don't dump your fish.

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