It's fair to say that goldfish are sometimes seen as the jokes of the pet world. Whereas you have to plan ahead when getting a dog or a cat, goldfish are seen as super low maintenance. Hey, you can even win them at a fair, after all.
So it makes sense that when people can no longer be bothered to care for their fish, they don't see it as such a big deal. We've all heard the urban legend about simply tossing your fish down the toilet and flushing it away, right? But it seems that actually might not be such a good idea - as one story has proven this week.
A lake in Minnesota has become home to multiple abandoned goldfish - and things have taken a rather dramatic turn. The goldfish have grown to a worryingly massive size and are now considered an "invasive species." The problem is getting so bad that officials from the City of Burnsville have been forced to speak out.
"Please don't release your pet goldfish into ponds and lakes. They grow bigger than you think! We recently partnered with the City of Apple Valley, MN, and Carp Solutions to conduct a fish survey on Keller Lake to assess populations of invasive goldfish and other fish in the lake," they beseeched on their official Facebook. "Large groups of goldfish have been observed in recent years on the lake. At high populations, goldfish can contribute to poor water quality by mucking up the bottom sediments and uprooting plants. These goldfish were caught during the recent survey. Instead of releasing your pet goldfish in a local lake or pond, please consider other options for finding them a new home like asking a responsible friend or neighbor to care for it."
These fish can wreak havoc on ecosystems as they aren't supposed to live in the wild. They can end up eating food that should go to other species, causing them to starve and die out. They can also kill off plant species through overfeeding.
And this isn't the first time released pet goldfish have wreaked havoc across the USA. Earlier this year, Business Insider reported that West Medical Lake in Washington State was also dealing with an invasion. "Thousands of goldfish have infested the West Medical Lake and are crowding out the native fish population. How did this happen? The Department of Fish and Wildlife thinks that a few irresponsible pet owners are to blame. And while the goldfish may have cost the owners a few dollars, this mess is going to cost the state an estimated $150,000 to try to remove these feral fish," they revealed.
Have you ever ditched a pet goldfish in the wild? Well, we hope this makes you think again - you may, quite literally, be creating a monster!