By Nikki Jamieson
Westwind Weekly News
A stormpond in Magrath had to be drained following the discovery of goldfish in it.
The goldfish were first reported in the north stormpond mid-summer by people in the community. The town talked with Alberta Invasive Species Council and Fish and Wildlife about what to do, and the decision was made.
“In discussions with Fish and Wildlife, we were kind of saying well, what can we do here? And one of the things that came up was if we can drain the pond and keep it dry for a while, that may be one of your most successful, early methods to try to fix that,” said James Suffredine, CAO for Magrath. “We felt if we drained early and we caught it early enough, if we kept it dry for over the winter, it would work and we’ll go from there.”
“These fish can survive, and they are a real risk to the ecosystem if they were to make it down to Pothole Creek and beyond.”
The town got the permit to go, with work to drain the storm pond going in mid-August. The town is using their own equipment, so they aren’t incurring any other costs besides labour to do it.
If this method does not work, Suffredine said that applying Rotenone, a commonly used pesticide derived from the roots of tropical plants, to kill pest fish, would cost the municipality an estimated $25,000-40,000.
Goldfish have been a problem for several municipalities, including St. Albert, where in 2017, after draining the water, electrofishing and freezing the water and applying Rotenone — they removed an an estimated 45,000 goldfish and koi from storm ponds. According to the city’s website, they were still removing koi from Lacombe Lake Park under the 2019 goldfish removal program with Alberta Environment and Parks.
Under the Fisheries (Alberta) Act, there is a prohibited species list with 52 species of aquatic invasive fish, plants and invertebrates, all of which are illegal to import, sell, transport or possess in Alberta. Individuals releasing fish into public waters can face penalties up to $100,000 and a year in prison. Aquarium fish should never be released into any waters.
Megan Evans, executive director of Alberta Invasive Species Council, noted that it used to be a common practice for people to flush their fish or release them into the wild, as it was “seen to be maybe more human than euthanizing them”. However, releasing them into any body of water can cause all sorts of issues, and if they get into a natural water body, it would negatively impact any native species and the aquatic ecosystem.
“They are really prolific, so they reproduce quite quickly,” said Evans, adding that a female goldfish can lay an average of 500-1,000 eggs in a spawning period. “Some of the impacts include increasing water cloudiness, they can increase the growth rate of things like algae, and reduce native plants that cause oxygen. There is also the possibility of spreading diseases and parasites if they were contaminated and then released into the wild, so they can bring along with them any pathogens and that could impact native species that might be there.”
If you have an unwanted pet fish or are unable to take care of it anymore, people are urged to return them to a pet store, donate it to schools, science centres, zoos or community organizations, or give it away. If you are unable to do so, having a qualified veterinarian euthanize the animal in a humane manner is far kinder than letting it starve to death in the wild or destroy the homes of native animals and plants. Bury your fish if it passes away, as flushing it can lead to the spread of unwanted diseases. If you have any unwanted aquatic plants, dry and freeze them and add it to non-composted trash.
If you spot an invasive species, call 1-855-336-2628 (BOAT) or report it EDDMapS Alberta.