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COLA: The potential lessons in the abandoned aquarium

It appeared there had been at least an attempted release of something from the aquarium into the lake. Did the aquarium break before the release or after?

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Sharon Natzel found this aquarium, with no glass, abandoned at public water access in Hubbard County.
Contributed/Sharon Natzel
We are part of The Trust Project.

Pulling into the public water access parking lot on a Saturday afternoon in July, I was greeted with a mysterious sight.

There in front of my car was an empty aquarium in the berry bushes.

As I opened my door, I noticed a pile of glass in another parking spot.

I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened here in the week since my last visit to this access at the end of the lake?

My mind was whirling as I thought about the educational information that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Habitattitude promote about preventing the spread of invasive species by never releasing non-native animals or plants into the environment, outside of residential and commercial landscape settings.

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It appeared there had been at least an attempted release of something from the aquarium into the lake. Did the aquarium break before the release or after?

Would individuals fishing the lake begin to see blue and red streaks of Neon Tetras mixed in with schools of native minnows?

Neon Tetras originating in tropical freshwater rivers and streams in South America are now a mainstay of the aquarium trade.

Or would we find a football-sized goldfish like the DNR discovered in Keller Lake in Burnsville in July 2021?

These non-native goldfish are cousins to the common carp, a regulated invasive species by the DNR.

These fish release phosphorus into the water when feeding and uprooting plants, which increases algae growth and poor water quality. This can potentially impact habitat for waterfowl, fish and amphibians.

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This is the rake that will be used at Starry Trek, plus an invasive species reference book. Brazilian waterweed is commonly imported and sold by the aquarium and water garden trades, leading to the potential for illegal release into the wild.<br/><br/>Contributed/Sharon Natzel

Would an Anacharis plant, also known as Brazilian waterweed, begin to show up near the fishing pier in the shoreline rake tosses during Starry Trek, an event on Saturday, Aug. 20, where volunteers search for new infestations of starry stonewort, a problematic invasive plant? According to the DNR, Brazilian waterweed is commonly imported and sold by the aquarium and water garden trades, leading to the potential for illegal release into the wild. There was an infestation that was eradicated in Hennepin County’s Powderhorn Lake in 2007.

The impacts of Anacharis released into lakes are:

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  • Dense mats at the water’s surface inhibit water recreationists.
  • Overtakes habitat and outcompetes native aquatic plants, potentially lowering diversity.
  • Provides unsuitable shelter, food, and nesting habitat for native animals. 

The inspection around the broken glass and aquarium in the bushes did not turn up any plants or dead animals. There were no unusual non-native plants visible around the boat dock or on the shoreline. There were no dead fish on the beach. There was one white shell that stuck out, but it is known to be present in another part of the lake and is native, so nothing too unusual there.
In the meantime, the best we can do is share the potential lessons taught in the pile of broken glass and abandoned broken aquarium.

Use this link from the DNR for alternatives to release of non-native animals and plants into the wild in Minnesota: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/responsible-consumers.html .

If you have pets or are considering pets, live the Habitattitude program, which combines Habits + Habitats + Attitudes to protect the environment from invasive species. Read more about this program at www.habitattitude.net.

Choosing the right pet and providing a healthy and secure enclosure minimizes the chance that your pet will escape and become invasive. Responsible pet ownership and protecting the environment go hand and hand. This program is sponsored by multiple organizations, including the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Members of the Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations write a monthly column in the Enterprise regarding water-related opportunities in the region.

More from the Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations:

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