Manitoba warns of zebra mussels found in popular ornamental aquatic plant

WINNIPEG — The Province of Manitoba is warning residents there could be zebra mussels in their fish tanks and water gardens after the invasive species was found in a popular ornamental plant.

On Wednesday, Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development said zebra mussels – which are a prohibited aquatic invasive species – have been detected in moss and algal ball products for aquariums and water gardens sold in Western Canada. The products have been removed from the supply chain.

“Zebra mussels have been found at all life stages, including some that are extremely small (size of grain of sand), and are often found inside the moss or algal ball itself,” the province said in a news release.

“This makes it difficult to detect whether your moss or algal ball is infected simply by visual inspection.”

The province said Manitobans should remove and treat all moss or algal balls that were purchased after Jan. 1, 2021.

If you have affected moss or algal balls, the province says you should put it in a sealed plastic bag and freeze it for at least 24 hours, or place it in boiling water for at least one minute and let it cool.

To dispose of it, the province said the moss or algal balls and any of its packaging should be sealed in a plastic bag and put in the household garbage. It should not be flushed down the toilet or drain, or put in the compost.

Manitobans should not put their untreated aquarium water down the drain or any water system or waterbody.

Manitobans who have questions, or believe they have found a zebra mussel, are asked to contact Manitoba’s Aquatic Invasive Species Unit by email at AIS@gov.mb.ca or by calling 1-877-867-2470 (toll free). 

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