Aquarium moss balls may be infested with invasive species

By , KYW Newsradio

Moss balls, a trendy aquarium decoration, could be infested with an invasive species. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is trying to make sure zebra mussels don't become the water version of the spotted lanternfly.

"(Zebra mussels) are only about the size of your thumbnail or much smaller. Oftentimes, people won't be able to detect them in their larva stage - where they are basically little black spots, but once they grow, they grow into clumps," said Mike Parker, the commission's communications director.

"The inside of a concrete or metal pipe can become simply clogged with these which becomes a major problem for municipal systems and drainage overall."

He said the investigation right now is up to law enforcement conservation agencies across the country, like the Fish and Boat Commission and the state Department of Agriculture, who are looking into how long these infested moss balls have been in the distribution chain.

Parker said they know it's been discovered in recent days and that they alerted retailers to not sell them.

"(The moss balls) come from basically one or two places across the country and then they distribute them nationwide," he detailed. "If one of them receives contaminated products, then we're potentially sending them to every doorstep in America that wants a moss ball."

If your moss ball is infested, the key is to destroy the zebra mussels, not dump them. Parker suggested the best way is to freeze or boil them or use bleach or vinegar.

"These are not from here, they are an Asian species, and when an invasive species enters into one of the water systems, they do out-compete our native species and they create problems on a greater scale," he explained.

For more information, check out the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's website.

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