A social media post about a locally flushed-goldfish goes viral and comes with a warning to pet owners. The Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is asking pet fish owners not to flush their fish down toilets.
The organization posted a picture of a 14-inch goldfish that was found in the Black Rock Canal a few years back to remind folks of what can happen when live fish get released in the Niagara River watershed.
The response from the post was a bit unexpected.
“People were really concerned with the actual fish itself, and what the outcome was for that fish,” Chris Murawski, director of community engagement for Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. “And, a lot of people had questions like, if you flush a fish down the toilet can it survive?”
As it turns out, if the fish does survive, it can cause some serious damage. Goldfish are a part of the carp family, which are not native to this region.
“They’re bottom feeders, like most carp, they can disturb the bottom, and cause other fish to be unable to find food,” said Murawski. “They can also eat the eggs of our native fish and just outcompete the native fish for food.”
He says, even if the fish is dead you shouldn’t flush it down the toilet
“It might carry diseases that, if it got out to our native wildlife, could affect them,” he said. “Also, we think it’s a little inhumane to flush them down the toilet whether they’re alive or dead.”
According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation website, even though goldfish are not native to the U.S., some carp have been naturalized to the environment. They’ve been established in 15 watersheds in New York State.
“The carp species that are here are naturalized and don’t pose an exact threat right now,” Murawski said. “The one species that everyone is worried about is the Asian Carp, which is in the Mississippi watershed, and if those aggressive fish get into the Great Lakes they could decimate the native species.”