The Province of British Columbia and CKISS were alerted that live invasive zebra mussels had been found in a shipment of aquarium moss balls sold at a Seattle PetCo pet store. The mussels have since been found in several locations in B.C. and other western provinces and states.
In an information bulletin, the Province of B.C. is asking for anyone who has a moss ball in their aquarium to inspect the plant for invasive mussels. Zebra mussels are small and range in size from 1mm to 3 cm, the D-shaped shells can be brown or cream-coloured with jagged brown or black stripes across the shell usually present.
Zebra mussels pose a major threat to BC waters. In other parts of North America, these mussels have caused considerable damage to hydropower stations, and municipal water supplies. The mussels can also have impacts on biodiversity, water quality, recreation, fisheries and species at risk.
What do you do if you find zebra mussels in moss balls?
- Anyone who finds zebra mussels can call the Report All Poachers and Polluters hotline at 1 877 952-7277 to report their find.
- Safely dispose of moss balls by placing them in a sealed plastic bag and putting them in a freezer for at least 24 hours, or placing them in boiling water for at least one full minute and then let cool.
- After this, place the moss ball and any of its packaging in a sealed plastic bag and dispose in the trash.
- Do not flush moss balls down the toilet or put them in the compost.
- Once the moss balls have been removed from the aquarium, do not dispose of untreated water down the drain or into any residential water system or waterway. The larvae of zebra mussels are microscopic, so you should assume all equipment, plants or rocks that have come in contact with a moss ball need to be decontaminated.
You can learn more about the impacts of zebra mussels and what you can do to help prevent their spread here.