09 March 2021: IF&W Issues Invasive Species Alert

I was talking with a friend the other day about different ways that invasive plant and animal species can find their way into Maine lakes. One common way that doesn’t immediately come to mind is summer visitors dumping their aquariums including potentially invasive plant and animal species into a lake or pond at the end of the vacation season. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife sent this PSA around today:



Attention home aquarium owners:

moss ball and moss ball display at pet store

Left: a moss ball, Right: display of moss balls for sale at a pet store


Invasive zebra mussels have been found in “moss balls,” an aquarium plant product sold in Maine. Moss balls are commonly sold under trade names such as “Betta Buddy.” Zebra mussels, which so far have not become established in Maine, are one of the most destructive invasive species in North America.

If you recently purchased moss balls, immediately destroy them using one of these methods:

  • Freeze – Place the moss ball into a sealable plastic bag and freeze for at least 24 hours.
  • Boil – Place the moss ball in boiling water for at least 1 full minute.
  • Bleach – Submerge the moss ball in chlorine bleach for 20 minutes.

After destroying the moss ball, DISPOSE of the moss ball and any of its packaging in a sealed plastic bag in the trash. Do not dump moss balls down drains or in waterways or gardens.

If moss balls were placed in your aquarium, DRAIN and clean the aquarium:

  1.  Please remove fish and other living organisms and place them in another container, with water from a separate, uncontaminated water source.
  2. Aquatic plants may also harbor zebra mussels and should be destroyed along with the moss ball.
  3. Sterilize the aquarium water by adding 1 cup of bleach for each gallon of water. Sterilize filter, rocks, décor, and any other items in contact with the water.
  4. Let the water sit for 10 minutes and then dispose of the treated water down a household drain.

Thank you for doing your part to keep this invasive species out of Maine’s waterways.