Monster Goldfish Found: What Lies In The Waters Of Lake Tahoe? [PHOTO] [VIDEO]

By Staff Reporter on February 22, 2013 12:32 PM EST

Monster goldfish
Gigantic goldfish, like this one held by University of Nevada, Reno, researcher Christine Ngai, have been found in the waters of Lake Tahoe. (Photo: Heather Segale)

Monster goldfish are found lurking in the waters of Lake Tahoe. According to a team of researchers investigating Lake Tahoe's ecosystem, the discovery of a gigantic goldfish species shocked the biologists. In particular, one goldfish weighed a staggering 4.2 pounds and measured 1.5 feet long.

"During these surveys, we've found a nice corner where there's about 15 other goldfish," said University of Nevada, Reno environmental scientist Sudeep Chandra. "It's an indication that they were schooling and spawning." According to Chandra's team, the goldfish likely entered Lake Tahoe when aquarium owners decided to dump their fish.

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For Chandra, the investigation is now focusing on whether the fish came to the lake as fully grown adults are when they were still relatively tiny.

The effect to the Lake Tahoe ecosystem is enormous. Goldfishes are but one of a number of invasive fishes that have made a home at Tahoe. "The invasion is resulting in the consumption of native species," Chandra said. However, as far as goldfishes are concerned, its excrete can cause algal blooms, which can muddy Tahoe's clear waters.

An epidemic across the nation, aquarium dumping has completely transformed the ecosystems of a number of lakes in the United States, threatening the survival of native wildlife. According to a recent study, the aquarium trade of California continues to drive demand for nonnative aquatic species.

"Globally, the aquarium trade has contributed a third of the world's worst aquatic and invasive species," explained Williams, lead author of the aquarium trade report

While a ballpark number of aquarium dumpers have yet to be measured, scientists and biologists know that these nonnative fish could not have invaded the lakes overnight.

Other harmful invaders in North American lakes include a number of tropical fish, seaweed, and even snails. Perhaps the most harmful and most difficult to eradicate nonnative organism is the seaweed Caulerpa. An algae that releases toxic compounds that can kill fish, California dedicated an extensive, and enormously expensive, project to remove Caulerpa from Southern California lagoons in 2000.

While monster goldfish might seem amusing and even attractive, these organisms are destructive to our wildlife. Biologists urge aquarium owners to practice proper disposal of fish. Rather than dump your fish or even flushing the fish down a toilet, call the local pet store or call the state department of fish and wildlife to understand the best way to let go of your pet.

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