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Minnesota officials hold aquarium fish donation drive

By Daniel Uria
Minnesota officials hold aquarium fish donation drive
The University of Minnesota Sea Grant and the Minnesota Aquarium Society are providing local fish owners the opportunity to donate their pets after giant goldfish and other improperly disposed fish have caused damage to local ecosystems. Photo by Pongsak A/Shutterstock

BLOOMINGTON, Minn., Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Animal officials in Minnesota are discouraging local fish owners from flushing their pets down the toilet.

The University of Minnesota Sea Grant and the Minnesota Aquarium Society will host Habitattitude Aquarium Fish and Plant Surrender on Saturday, Jan. 23, to allow residents to donate their unwanted fish and aquarium plants, instead of releasing them into surrounding ecosystem.

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"Releasing fish and aquarium plants into Minnesota's waters is potentially harmful to the environment and native species," Sea Grant Program extension educator Marie Kitson said. "Goldfish the size of dinner plates have been found in our rivers and lakes. These fish can become invasive in certain environments and reproduce quickly. They root up plants to find food, which can destroy habitat for native species."

Sharon Moen of Minnesota Sea Grant told the Star Tribune that in addition to the harm they cause the environment, flushing fish down the toilet can be harmful to the pets themselves.

"If you flush, they go to a wastewater treatment plant," Moen said. "There are kinder ways to euthanize fish."

The fish and plants donated at Sunday's surrender event will then be auctioned off with the proceeds benefiting the Minnesota Aquarium society's effort to promote "excellence in fish keeping."

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