Enormous Goldfish Pulled From Lake Ontario Leads To Public Plea from Officials

by Amy Myers
(Photo by OLIVER TSANG/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)

Remember those cheesy horror movies where a family releases their fish into public waters and it comes back as a giant monster? Well, in a way, that’s what Canadian officials are dealing with when it comes to Lake Ontario’s goldfish population.

Currently, Fisheries and Oceans, Canada’s federal department that oversees the condition and interests of the nation’s water sources, is fighting to control the invasive species that are causing massive distress on their aquatic ecosystems. One of the main contenders of this problem is oversized pet goldfish.

If you’ve ever won a fish at a carnival, you’ll know that these sea creatures grow to the capacity of their environment. So, if you house them in a little glass bowl with a castle, they won’t get any bigger than half a pound. But when you release them into a natural water source, like a lake, well, this happens.

Fed up with the continuously growing goldfish populations, Fisheries & Oceans posted a few photos of an engorged fish that crew members pulled from Lake Ontario.

“Ever wonder what happens to pet goldfish when they end up in our waterways? This one was pulled from Hamilton Harbour, where we’re studying this #InvasiveSpecies using acoustic transmitter tags,” the department tweeted.

Of course, the addition of any foreign species can be detrimental to any environment. But goldfish, in particular, become insatiable and aggressive in larger environments.

In the Case of Goldfish, Size Definitely Does Matter

Once these fish start to expand to their environment, they can exceed five pounds in weight. While this might not sound like such a bad situation, their massive size wreaks havoc on other species.

Through Fisheries and Oceans’ research, officials found that goldfish impact both plants and animals in Lake Ontario. This includes Northern Pike.

“By tracking these goldfish, we’ve learned that they’re breeding in Hamilton Harbour and targeting key spawning sites for native species like Northern Pike – tearing up aquatic plants for food and clouding the waters with their waste,” Fisheries and Oceans informed.

The department also posted a couple more shots of the gigantic goldfish, showing their enlarged abdomens that rival post-Thanksgiving-dinner bellies.

Lake Ontario isn’t the only water source facing problems with goldfish populations. Earlier this year, Minnesota Lake released a similar image of a gigantic orange fish. Like Canada’s department, the City of Burnsville, Minnesota released a public plea asking residents to keep their pets in their bowls. Or, at the very least, find a pet shop that takes fish that owners no longer want.

For any potential future goldfish owners, this is another reminder that, though small, these critters are pets, too. If you don’t intend on keeping them, maybe opt for a stuffed version as your next Wack-A-Mole prize.