JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission announced Friday that moss balls sold to absorb ammonia and waste in aquariums can cause “severe damage” to the state’s lakes and rivers.
The moss balls, which are sold under the name “Betta Buddy Marimo Ball,” may contain zebra mussels.
According to the AGFC, the mussels are a highly invasive species that can cause severe damage to the food chain and infrastructure in native lakes and rivers.
The balls originated in Ukraine and were shipped from a company in California to stores nationwide. A Seattle pet store employee was the first to detect the zebra mussels and notified authorities.
The AGFC investigated some pet stores in Arkansas and found the product being sold. Upon further investigation, they confirmed those moss balls contained zebra mussels.
“Some pet stores have already voluntarily pulled the product once they were informed of the issue, and we urge any others to follow suit,” said Bill Posey, AGFC assistant chief of fisheries. “The company that produces the product has closed any further importation of the infected moss.”
He asks anyone who has purchased the moss balls for their aquariums or who has purchased fish with the moss included in the bag to discard the vegetation properly.
“The best thing to do is lay it somewhere where it can dry out, then dispose of it in a trash can,” Posey said. “Please do not discard it anywhere near water or flush it down a toilet.”
The AGFC advises that aquariums containing the zebra mussels should be drained and disinfected with a bleach solution of one cup of bleach to one gallon of water.
Filters, pumps, and gravel should also be treated with the bleach solution and allowed to dry completely for 7 days to reduce the threat of further contamination.
“We don’t want to alarm anyone, but we do need everyone’s help to make sure these mussels don’t further infect waters in Arkansas,” Posey said.
The AGFC said zebra mussels have a hatchet-shaped shell, and are about the size of a fingernail.
“They multiply so rapidly and cling tightly together in such masses that they can clog intake pipes of water supply systems and power generating plants, as well as cooling lines of boat motors,” the AGFC stated in a Friday news release.
They also pose a threat to native Arkansas mussels.
For more information on zebra mussels and other invasive aquatic species, click here.