Texas Rivers and Streams officials have pulled hundreds of suckermouth armored catfish, also called “plecos,” from its waterways within the past few weeks. Originally an aquarium fish, plecos have become an invasive species, specifically in the San Marcos River. Now that the department has removed the fish from the river, officials hope to determine how to control the population.
The presence of catfish in major waterways is not an uncommon site, unfortunately. Oftentimes, when aquarium owners purchase plecos as pets, they release them in natural waterways when the fish become too big or the owners can no longer care for them. While this might sound like a humane solution for the animal, it is detrimental to the surrounding ecosystem.
Following the capture of over 400 catfish, Texas Rivers and Streams posted their initiative on Facebook, alerting current fish owners to “Never Dump Your Tank.”
“Researchers from Texas A&M and Texas State universities recently removed a total of 406 invasive suckermouth armored catfish (SAC; aka plecos) from the San Marcos River during a dewatering event at Rio Vista Park,” officials shared. “Information collected from these fish will help managers to better understand how to effectively control this invasive species. SAC have been introduced to numerous water bodies in Texas through aquarium dumping–Never Dump Your Tank!”
This isn’t the first that Texans have heard from the department regarding the alarming amount of catfish in their waterways. Last month, Texas Rivers and Streams also posted a similar update.
“These SAC were fitted with experimental tags to study their movements to increase the effectiveness of ongoing efforts to remove this invasive species,” officials wrote.
In order to get rid of aquarium fish, the department recommends either donating or selling to a new owner.
Lake Ontario Faces Similar Issue with Invasive Fish Species
Meanwhile, in Canada, the Fisheries and Oceans department is facing the same battle. Well-meaning fish owners are releasing their pets into the wild. But instead of catfish, the detrimental species is actually goldfish.
When outside of their fishbowl, away from that tiny, plastic castle, goldfish can grow larger than five pounds in size. Those once tiny animals become humongous, ravenous creatures that wreak havoc on other fish as well as plants.
After pulling engorged goldfish from Lake Ontario, the Canadian department posted their own plea on Twitter, reminding current aquarium owners that domestic fish do not belong in natural waterways.
“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.