Why you should never release goldfish into lakes or ponds

Thousands of goldfish have been found in a port perry stormwater pond. Videographer Audra Brown with how the township is hoping to deal with the invasive species that poses a risk to the surrounding water and ecosystems.

By Audra Brown and Dilshad Burman

The Township of Scugog is reminding residents to never release pet goldfish into lakes or ponds after thousands of them were found in a Port Perry stormwater pond.

While tiny goldfish in a pond might not sound like a cause for alarm, when they’re released in the wild they can turn into a big problem.

“Goldfish are an invasive species and for someone to come in and dump an invasive species like this into the water – it could be catastrophic,” says Brendan Stephens, the concerned citizen who noticed the large number of goldfish in the pond and notified the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).

In a post on Facebook, Scugog Lake Stewards Inc. also warned people not to release pet fish into natural water bodies.

They say that goldfish remain small and do not multiply when confined to aquariums. But when introduced to a bigger, wild ecosystem, they multiply rapidly, get much bigger and if they were to reach Lake Scugog, could grow to be eight pounds or larger.

In addition, the township cautioned that introducing domestic plants and animals to water bodies can lead to them altering habitats, overtaking resources and spreading disease to native species.

Stephens says if the water in the pond gets high enough to spill over, the goldfish could pose a threat to the ecosystem of a neighbouring stream that is home to trout fry.

Based on the photos of the fish and the number that are present, the township says it looks like the fish have been there for a while and they’re working with the MNRF on how best to proceed.

One option may be to drain the pond and collect the fish and another may be to use netting to catch the fish. They’re also looking at placing signage near stormwater ponds to further educate the public on this matter.

“I think it’s up to all the residents and every angler and hunter to be stewards of the waterways and the lands that we’re trying to preserve here,” says Stephens.

The township has requested recommendations from the MNRF before making any final decisions on how to deal with the problem.

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