Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) staff scientists were alerted last week that an aquarium plant sold within Vermont and throughout the country may contain an invasive aquatic animal species, zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha). The aquarium plant commonly known as moss balls, may be sold under names including “Beta Buddy Marimo Balls,” “Mini Marimo Moss Balls,” and “Marimo Moss Ball Plant” and were available to purchase in large department stores or through online sales. While the plant is benign, the plants may harbor zebra mussels within the plant, or within the packaging. Consumers who have recently purchased or acquired these items are encouraged to inspect the product or the aquarium for the presence of zebra mussels. If zebra mussels are discovered, it is recommended to remove and freeze or boil the plants and mussels, dump the aquarium water outside and away from a waterbody, and disinfect the tank and materials with water diluted with a bleach solution as the zebra mussels may have already reproduced. The discovery of a contaminated aquarium product available for sale in Vermont highlights the critical importance for all aquarium enthusiasts to be informed about and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. The aquarium trade is one of the major vectors for the introduction of aquatic invasive species caused by the illegal dumping of aquariums in waterbodies, or flushing aquarium water down drains, which can eventually lead to waterbodies.
To alert ANR of a contaminated product, please contact Kimberly Jensen, VT ANR Environmental Scientist, (802) 490-6120, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the national level response, visit the US Fish & Wildlife informational page. Go to the VTDEC and LCBP Zebra Mussel Monitoring Program page for more information on zebra mussel monitoring studies in Vermont.