Rehoming your goldfish is an option you should take before ever considering releasing it into the water, expert says
If you have a goldfish you no longer want to keep, don’t release it into the wild— rehome it on Kijiji instead.
Yvonne Maschke, a fish hobbyist from Oshawa, has hundreds of Oranda (fancy goldfish) swimming in tubs in her basement. In the past five years, she has rehomed hundreds of fish all through Kijiji.
After putting an advertisement up on Kijiji, it typically takes a few weeks for interested customers to respond and for the fish to be given to its new home. The number of fish given to a customer varies from one to about a hundred, depending on the customer. As to why Maschke uses Kijiji, she says, “It’s very well-known, and it’s one of the only platforms that will allow you to rehome fish. Mostly any other platform that I’m aware of won’t allow you to home fish on them.”
Doing a quick search or putting up ads on different services lets you see which sites allow you to rehome fish.
“It’s a fun hobby,” Maschke says. “You get to give joy to somebody because they now have a new pet.”
Rehoming your goldfish is an option you should take before ever considering releasing it into the water, says Brook Schryer, the Aquatic Program Specialist for the Invasive Species Awareness Program in Ontario. He also suggests rehoming it on Kijiji, donating it to a school group or returning it to the store where it was purchased.
Schryer warns fish owners that it is illegal to release goldfish into Ontario’s waters. “Releasing goldfish risks establishing a population of goldfish which may become an established species by outcompeting native species [in those waters],” says Schryer.
Goldfish have already been listed as one of the many invasive species of fish on the Ontario’s Invasive Species Awareness Program website.
An Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System provided by the program shows that goldfish have been found along the Hamilton Harbour, the lakeshore along Toronto’s downtown core, and various ponds across the Greater Toronto Area and the rest of Ontario. It also shows around five different locations across Alberta that goldfish have reported to be in.
Most aquarium pets are not native to Ontario. Improper disposal of these animals can lead to the establishment of non-native populations in our waterways, threatening our native species and biodiversity. pic.twitter.com/6dUpGi2Cii— Invading Species (@invspecies) April 3, 2019
They are not a new invasive species. According to Schryer, historical records of goldfish in Ontario waterways date back to the early 1900s, but still remain a prominent invasive species today.
As part of the outreach and education portion of the program, Schryer travels to lake and cottage associations to educate them on the impact of various aquatic invasive species in their waterways, and what they can do specifically to prevent their spread and establishment.
William Cheung, a biodiversity expert and professor in the Institute of Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia, says once an invasive species is established in a body of water, it is very hard to remove them.
Goldfish belong to the Cyprinidae family of fish, and are a freshwater species. Cheung says species in this family are averse to certain environmental conditions that may be found in some ecosystems, such as lower oxygen levels and higher temperatures. Because of this, they can become more resilient in these conditions than native species, eventually out-competing them for their habitat.
Goldfish also tend to go to lake bottoms when searching for food, uprooting plants and stirring up sediments that become suspended in the lake, affecting water clarity and the amount of nutrients.
“[Fish owners] may think a little goldfish released into the river is harmless and that it’s good for the goldfish because they have a free environment to live in, but they haven’t thought about the long-term consequences in terms of biodiversity,” Cheung says.
Aside from Kijiji, there are Facebook groups and Goldfish symposiums that encourage people to rehome goldfish instead of releasing them into water, where they can do damage.
Maschke has seen firsthand the effects of goldfish in ecosystems they shouldn’t be in. A runoff pond by her sister’s house used to be home to many small frogs that would hatch before migration. “This year, there were no little frogs that came out of the pond because the goldfish had eaten all the tadpoles and eggs before they could hatch,” Maschke says.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019