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Invasive zebra mussels found in moss plants sold for aquariums

This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows a group of zebra...
This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows a group of zebra mussels. Federal officials are offering a $100,000 prize in a crowdsourcing effort to find a way to kill invasive quagga and zebra mussels. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the only area not yet invaded by the mussels in the contiguous U.S. is the Columbia River Basin in the Pacific Northwest that contains struggling runs of salmon and steelhead. The basin is also heavily harnessed for hydroelectric power, and officials estimate it will cost $500 million annually to fight the mussels if they infest infrastructure. (U.S. Department of Agriculture via AP, File)(AP)
Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 4:08 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Some aquarium products sold online and in pet stores may contain invasive zebra mussels, the Nevada Department of Wildlife warned Friday.

The alert comes after a Seattle pet store employee reported finding the zebra mussels in the Imagitarium Betta Buddy product.

The products contaminated with the invasive species may be labeled as Imagitarium Betta Buddy Marimo Balls, Marimo Moss Ball Plants, or similar names, and are decorative moss plants for home aquariums, NDOW reported.

.The reports were verified by both state and federal wildlife authorities. Nevada pet stores are being instructed to remove the product from shelves and contact their regional NDOW office for disposal information, NDOW said.

Consumers who bought these products are urged to destroy them, NDOW said. Do this by either freezing or boiling the moss plant and disposing of it in the trash, followed by a thorough disinfection of the aquarium. Do not dispose by any other method.

“This is a serious state and national issue,” NDOW Fisheries Division Administrator Jon Sjöberg said in a statement. “This situation poses a great risk to our waterways and our wildlife populations. Please adhere to our recommendations and do your part to keep Nevada’s water safe and clean from invasive species.”

Zebra mussels are filter feeders that consume large portions of the microscopic plants and animals that form the base of the food web, NDOW reported. The removal of significant amounts of phytoplankton from the water can cause a shift in native species and a disruption of the ecological balance. Zebra mussels often settle in massive colonies that can block water intakes and affect municipal water supplies, agricultural irrigation, and power plant operation. There is no known safe method of eradication once the mussels have become established in a large water body.

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