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NYS DEC warns aquarium owners of invasive zebra mussels found in 'moss balls'

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Posted at 12:06 PM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 12:06:13-05

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is warning pet and aquarium store owners, as well as consumers, after invasive zebra mussels were discovered in "moss balls."

The DEC says you should immediately remove and properly dispose of commercially purchased "moss balls," and moss ball products purchased from PetSmart and Petco may be subject to a voluntary product recall.

According to the DEC you should follow these steps:

  • Dispose of moss balls removed from tanks in a sealed garbage bag. Other aquarium plants should also be disposed of as they may harbor zebra mussels;
  • To disinfect a tank after safely removing any animals, apply household bleach - one cup of bleach per gallon of water - and let it sit for 10 minutes before disposing of water down the sink or toilet;
  • Disinfect filters, gravel, and structures with a solution of bleach. Water from filters must also be treated with household bleach before disposing of water down the sink or drain;
  • For larger tanks that cannot be easily drained, email isinfo@dec.ny.gov for instructions;
  • If zebra mussels are in a tank or on a moss ball, take a photo if possible and report the observation via email isinfo@dec.ny.gov, or by phone, 518-402-9405; and
  • Be advised, just because zebra mussels might not be seen does not mean their larvae are not present.

The DEC says zebra mussels can cause environmental and economic harm and its larvae are so small that people cannot see them.

"Zebra mussels can quickly take over once established in a waterbody. These invasive pests will disrupt the food chain, change water chemistry, and clog water intake and delivery systems for drinking water, irrigation, and hydro power. Live mussels released into a storm drain or flushed could be introduced into a waterway, starting a new population and causing significant damage," a release from the DEC says.