Pet fish dumping potential problem for Michigan waters

A July 15, 2009 file photo of goldfish in an aquarium. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Pet fish and aquarium owners releasing their species into Michigan’s waters have led the state Department of Natural Resources to issue warnings for owners not to do so.

The warnings are a result of the department receiving several reports of “unique species” ending up in the state’s waterways every year.

State officials say while releasing fish bought in pet shops may seem harmless, they can become invasive and multiply by the thousands, or they can struggle to survive and to fend off more aggressive predators.

Seth Herbst, a biologist with the department, says while Michigan hasn’t yet suffered “detrimental impacts” from releasing pet fish, the potential is there.

Reduce Invasive Pet and Plant Escapes, an environmental group, says owners should instead donate the fish to a learning center or zoo.