Pet goldfish released into UK waters turn into monster 2ft killing machines

Experts have warned that the popular pets should not be released into the wild as they pose a threat to biodiversity and could wipe out other fish in our waters after feasting on insects

Millions of goldfish are farmed each year and they are a popular pet in the UK
Millions of goldfish are farmed each year and they are a popular pet in the UK

Released into the wild, pet goldfish are wreaking havoc on native species, new research finds.

Once they leave the aquarium and are released into open water, they can transform into fat, two-foot-long “giants.”

They eat insects and tadpoles – they outperform rivals and threaten biodiversity.

Taking the “humane option” and trying to save the family sweetheart can have catastrophic consequences for the planet.

The lead author Dr. James Dickey of Queen’s University Belfast said: “Our research suggests that goldfish pose a triple threat.

“Not only are they readily available, but they combine insatiable appetites with bold behavior.

“While the northern European climate is often a barrier to the survival of non-native species in the wild, goldfish are known to tolerate such conditions.

Goldfish are generally quite small, but can grow up to two feet long in the wild


(Getty Images)

“They could pose a real threat to native biodiversity in rivers and lakes, eating up resources that other species depend on.”

They also contribute to poor water quality by stirring up bottom sediment and uprooting plants.

Invasive species are one of the main causes of global losses. The pet trade is responsible for a third of all invasive species in the water.

Owners releasing unwanted animals into the wild are a big problem. The goldfish is popular around the world – often given to children as a prize at fairs.

It was first domesticated over a thousand years ago and has since established non-native populations around the world.

The Northern Ireland team compared the pet to the White Cloud Mountain minnow – a species with a limited history of invasion so far.

They assessed the ecological impacts and risks of potential pet trade invaders based on availability, feeding rates, and behavior.

Goldfish have been found to be voracious – consuming much more than White Cloud Mountain minnow or native species.

In terms of behavioral patterns, goldfish were also found to be much bolder — a trait associated with invasive spread.

dr Dickey said: “Our research shows that goldfish pose a high risk, but we hope the methods developed here can be used to assess others in the pet trade across Ireland and beyond.

“It is very likely that readily available species will be released. Therefore, limiting the availability of potentially effective species, along with better education of keepers, is a solution to prevent harmful invaders from establishing themselves in the future.”

The findings, in the journal NeoBiota, follow appeals to Minnesota aquarium owners to stop releasing pets into waterways after several giant goldfish were pulled from a local lake.

Officials in Burnsville, about 15 miles south of Minneapolis, said they can grow to many times their normal size.

Up to 50,000 goldfish have been removed from local waters in nearby Carver County. They can reproduce easily and survive in winter due to low oxygen levels.

Goldfish could pose a real threat to native biodiversity in rivers and lakes if released into the wild


(Getty Images)

Environmental degradation by aquarium animals is a growing phenomenon.

Carnivorous lionfish native to the Indo-Pacific were released by pet owners in Florida in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew.

They killed dozens of Caribbean species – allowing seaweed to overgrow the reefs.
Goldfish have received less attention than other invasive species.

But warnings were also issued in the states of Virginia and Washington, as well as in Australia and Canada.

In 2013, Scientific American reported that researchers trawling Lake Tahoe caught a goldfish that was nearly 1.5 feet long and weighed 4.2 pounds.

It is estimated that up to 200 million goldfish are farmed each year – most ending up in domestic displays.

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Fry Electronics Team

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