North Carolina wildlife officials are warning against an invasive shellfish from the Ukraine that might have been purchased in aquarium moss balls.
The state Wildlife Resources Commission said on Friday that zebra mussels, a mollusk native to fresh waters in Eurasia, were found in recently purchased aquarium moss balls.
“Not only are zebra mussels harmful to other aquatic wildlife, they can also clog water pipes and restrict water supplies,” the agency said on social media.
The mussels can quickly overrun a fish tank and should be properly disposed of, which includes placing them in a solution of bleach.
“A lot of times they are very small if much bigger than a grain of sand, so they are hard to see with the naked eye,” wildlife officer Todd Ewing told WLOS. “The biggest ones we have seen have not been bigger than a raisin or your fingernails.”
The invasive mussel is believed to have first arrived in the U.S. in the Great Lakes in the 1980s from ballast water discharged by large ships from Europe, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
“Where these have been established in the Great Lakes,” Ewing said. “Folks have spent quite a bit of money cleaning pipes every year it’s a nuance for those folks — one we don’t want here.”