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Aquarium Dumping Linked To Giant Tahoe Goldfish

Posted: February 22, 2013

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The giant fish in Lake Tahoe are thought to be spawning and schooling after being dumped there by aquarium owners.

You're going to need a bigger fishbowl.

Scientists searching for invasive species in Lake Tahoe scooped up a bright orange goldfish measuring nearly a foot and a half long and weighing more than 4 pounds, according to the website Live Science. (You can see it here.)

Environmental scientist Sudeep Chandra says a survey has uncovered a "nice corner" of the lake where about 15 other giant goldfish were living, apparently after being dumped there by aquarium owners.

Finding that many domestic goldfish (scientific name Carassius auratus) in one place is "an indication that they were schooling and spawning," Chandra tells Live Science.

"It's unclear whether the giant fish were introduced as fully grown adults, or while they were still small, Chandra said. But even a small creature can have a big impact, if there are enough of them.

"The goldfish are just one of several species of invasive warm-water fishes in Lake Tahoe. 'The invasion is resulting in the consumption of native species,' Chandra said. What's more, the invasive fish excrete nutrients that cause algal blooms, which threaten to muddy Tahoe's clear waters."

The story goes on to explain that aquarium dumping has become "a common practice in the United States and elsewhere, and it's taking a toll on native wildlife."

Sue Williams, a professor at the University of California, Davis, Bodega Marine Laboratory, co-authored a study that found the aquarium trade has contributed to one-third of the world's worst aquatic and invasive species problems.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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