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ODFW calls for disposal of contaminated aquarium plant

A screen shot from an Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife YouTube video shows an invasive zebra mussel, which the agency says has tainted a specific type of aquarium plant. It’s asking Rogue Valley residents to dispose safely of the plants, then disinfect their tanks.

The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife is calling for the disposal of a contaminated aquarium plant sold by pet stores across Oregon — including the Rogue Valley — that has since been pulled from the shelves, according to a news release.

ODFW discovered invasive zebra mussels inside Betta Buddy Marimo Ball moss plants. ODFW officials said that if the invasive species are released into a storm drain or flushed down a toilet, it could be introduced to a waterway, causing potential food chain disruptions and changes to the water chemistry, which can cause more blue green algae outbreaks or offensive taste. It could also clog water intake and delivery systems for drinking water, irrigation and hydroelectric power.

“We want to thank all pet and aquarium supply stores who have stepped up and quickly taken moss balls off their shelves,” said Rick Boatner, ODFW invasive species program supervisor, in the release. “Now, we are asking for urgent action from members of the public who have purchased this product.”

Moss balls can be destroyed by either freezing or boiling it before throwing it in the trash. The plants should not be flushed or used as mulch, the release said.

Anyone requiring disposal assistance should call the Aquatic Invasive Species Check Station, located off Interstate 5 near Ashland, at 503-583-5576.

Following disposal, the aquarium needs to be disinfected, ODFW said. After removing the fish, household bleach should be applied to the aquarium water at a rate of one cup of bleach per one gallon of water. After letting it sit for 10 minutes, dispose of the water down the sink or toilet. Filters, gravel and structures should also be disinfected with a bleach solution.

“If due to the large size of a tank aquarium, or for other reasons making it difficult to disinfect a tank, at the very least disinfect the water with bleach when conducting a water exchange in the tank before disposing of the exchanged water,” the release said.