Guest Post: Pet Fish or Alien Invader?

If you aren’t following our friends at The Fisheries Blog, you should be. They post all kinds of fascinating science on the fishes of the world – like this recent post from our former post doc, Solomon David. Enjoy!  

By Solomon David – (originally posted at The Fisheries Blog, January 21, 2019)  Although dogs and cats are probably the most recognizable pets in the United States (and many other countries), did you know, by number owned, freshwater fishes are the most popular pets? At an estimated 139 million individuals, pet freshwater fishes eclipse cats (94 million) and dogs (89 million) and of course birds (20 million). That’s A LOT of fish!

South American Tiger Shovelnose Catfish (Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum) caught in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya River. Credit: LDWF

But what happens when Nemo, Jaws, or Gary outgrow their tanks; or when pet owners grow tired of their state-fair-prize Goldfish? The take-home message of this post is please DO NOT RELEASE PET FISH. Thanks to social media, fisheries folks can see examples of pet fishes released into the wild almost every week, from South American Pacu found near Chicago, to Goldfish in Lake Tahoe. The message of previous Fisheries Blog posts and countless other organizations still rings true: DO NOT RELEASE PET FISH.

In general, releasing pet fishes into the wild can have the following consequences (more detailed list here):

Continue reading at The Fisheries Blog –>

(Seriously, there’s a lot of cool pictures and a line up of invasive fishes “most wanted,” like the giant goldfish below!) You should check it out. 

Goldfish (Carassius auratus)
Credit: USFWS