Archived Outdoors

Invasive mussels found in aquarium products

While the products may be packaged in different ways, this brand was found to contain the invasive mussels. Donated photo While the products may be packaged in different ways, this brand was found to contain the invasive mussels. Donated photo

Invasive zebra mussels have been found in commercially available aquatic moss balls in North Carolina, and consumers who have purchased any such balls in the past month are urged to properly destroy them and clean their aquariums.

Art Bogan, research curator of mollusks with the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, identified the mussels in packaging labeled “Marimo Moss Ball Plant Grab & Go” and “Mini Marimo Moss Balls” as zebra mussels. N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission biologists had purchased the moss balls from a PetSmart in Burlington. PetSmart is removing the product from their shelves but has not shared plans for disposal, while Petco confirmed that they will take the appropriate steps to remove and destroy the moss balls at all N.C. locations.

Other retail outlets, including online retailers like eBay and Amazon, may still be selling contaminated moss. Smaller pet retailers should also be diligent in checking their stock.

Because the packaging may be branded in several different ways, anybody who has purchased any moss balls at all in the past month — as well as retailers who stock the product — should get rid of them. To properly dispose of the moss balls, place them in a plastic bag and either freeze them overnight, boil them or soak them overnight in a bleach solution of one cup of bleach per gallon of water. Then bag the balls and throw them in the trash.

To clean the aquarium, remove fish, apply the bleach solution and let it sit for at least an hour before pouring the water down the sink or toilet. Disinfect filters, gravel and structures in the same way.

Wildlife Commission law enforcement agents will be visiting every retail pet store in the state with information about zebra mussels and how to deal with this potential threat.

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