The Problem with Invasive Species
Invasive species are plants and animals that are introduced to a new environment where they have no natural predators. They can quickly reproduce and outcompete native species, disrupting the ecosystem and causing significant environmental damage.
Some of the most common invasive species in ponds include:
- Plants: Alligator weed, Brazilian waterweed, common reed, curly pond reed, hydrilla, water hyacinth, water chestnut, water lettuce, and water spinach
- Animals: Bighead carp, black carp, bullfrog, cane toad, grass carp, lionfish, red-eared slider, goldfish, koi, Asian clam, channeled apple snail, New Zealand mud snail, rusty crayfish, betta fish, giant African snail, and apple snail
How Invasive Species are Introduced in the Environment
Many aquariums, nurseries, and pet stores don't label which plants and animals are considered invasive in an area, and an unsuspecting pond owner purchases one. The pond may then become overrun with a certain plant or fish, and the pond owner may think the most "natural" way to get rid of their problem is to release the plants and fish into the wild.
Sometimes, pond owners don’t know what they’re getting into when buying their new pets. Turtles like the red-ear slider, for example, are sold when they are young and just a few inches long but live for around 50 years and over 12 inches long. That’s a lot of commitment that many people aren't aware of when they purchase their cute tiny turtle!
Best line of defense against Invasive Species
Avoid purchasing any animal on the invasive species list in your area. Make sure backyard ponds are contained, as flooding due to rain can cause the pond to spill over and allow the plants and fish to spread to nearby natural water sources. Rinse new plants to remove any seeds, plant parts, fish, and snails before adding them to your yard or pond.
How to Dispose of Invasive Species
Disposing of Invasive Plants
If you want to get rid of invasive plants in your pond or your garden, if you don't have a neighbor or fellow gardener who wants your plants (make sure they're aware that the plants are invasive), you can throw them away. Remove the plants and allow them to air dry. Place the unwanted seeds or plants in a sealed bag or container before throwing them in the trash. Avoid composting as it can lead to the plants accidentally spreading.
Disposing of Invasive Animals
The best way to remove an invasive animal from your pond is to rehome or surrender the animal. You can see if another pond owner would like to take in your fish or other pond creatures (educate them on invasive species first). You can donate your animal to a local school, zoo, nature center, aquarium, or environmental learning center.
If you can't find someone to rehome your invasive animal, you can try to surrender it. Check with your local shelter and see if they accept the invasive species you have. You may be able to return the animal to the retailer where you purchased it. Visit https://www.dontletitloose.com/ for local resources.
People want to get rid of plants and animals in a "natural" way and set them free, not knowing they're introducing an invasive species into their local environment. Invasive species disrupt the local ecosystem they're introduced to by making the native animals compete for food and shelter. These plants and animals often do not have any predators and reproduce quickly, which leads to the population getting out of control and taking over an area. Invasive species don't always look harmful, and you may not even be aware you have an invasive species in your pond. If you want to get rid of invasive plants and animals, it's important to do so in a humane way that prevents them from entering your local environment.