ASHLAND, Ore. — An aquarium product contaminated with invasive zebra mussels was sold by pet stores in the Rogue Valley, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife warns.
Wildlife officials across the Northwest have been racing to track down aquarium "moss balls" that contain the invasive species, hoping to have them disposed of properly before zebra mussels can take root in our region.
ODFW urged consumers to stop buying the product, sold under the name "Betta Buddy Marimo Ball," or safely dispose of it if already purchased. The moss balls can be safely destroyed by either freezing or boiling them before throwing them in the trash. Do not flush the moss balls down the toilet or toss them outside.
Aquariums must be disinfected after the moss ball is destroyed. After removing the fish, you can apply household bleach (one cup of bleach per gallon of water) and let it set for ten minutes before disposing of water down a sink or toilet. Also disinfect filters, gravel and structures with a solution of bleach before disposing of the water.
Wildlife officials are concerned that zebra mussels released into a storm drain or flushed down the toilet can be introduced into a local waterway, allowing the invasive species to spread and disrupt our ecosystem.
“We want to thank all pet and aquarium supply stores who have stepped up and quickly taken moss balls off their shelves,” said Rick Boatner, ODFW Invasive Species Program Supervisor. “Now, we are asking for urgent action from members of the public who have purchased this product."
Oregon and the entire Pacific Northwest are currently free of zebra or Quagga mussels, thanks to an ongoing monitoring program for inspecting watercraft carried into the state.
Anyone with questions about how to safely dispose of moss balls can contact the staff at the Aquatic Invasive Species Check Station on I-5 in Ashland at 503-583-5576.