Giant goldfish invade lakes and ponds in St. Albert, Canada. Officials said the goldfish were discarded by residents into a storm water pond. Now, these once-loved pets have grown and multiplied.

Residents first noticed the increasing number of goldfish last summer in the Edgewater Pond. The city cleaning crew tried to catch all the goldfish out but they couldn't get them all.

Last fall, the crew drained the water from the pond. They had hoped that the remaining waters would freeze in the winter and the multiplying gold fish would die.

"Unfortunately with the winter that we had, we weren't able to get full freezing so the ice wasn't quite as thick. We still have live fish right now," said St. Albert environment coordinator Sarah Cicchini.

Aquatic invasive species specialist Kate Wilson said these goldfish "could really wreak havoc." This is not the case of a well-contained goldfish pond that tourists can feed and watch like koi ponds.

The giant goldfish pose danger to their surrounding habitat as they eat fish eggs, plants and plankton. They can also potentially out-complete the native fish for food sources.

Containing the goldfish is also an issue. Storm water ponds are linked to lakes, rivers and streams. This means the giant goldfish can be on the move as well

Officials will check other storm water ponds in St. Albert to check if these, too, have been invaded by the giant goldfish. This will also determine how big of a risk they pose to the surrounding habitat.

It is not advisable to dump unwanted goldfish in any waterway, experts advised. While many people think it is a humane way of disposing of the goldfish, experts said otherwise.

"This practice is very harmful to native species, to Alberta waters, to our biodiversity and the fish that actually belong here," added Wilson. "We are not advocating that even dead fish be flushed."

Wilson also advised against flushing the goldfish down the toilet. Doing this can bring parasite and disease the fish might accumulate during the trip and all end up in the water system.

Photo: Julian Mason | Flickr

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