Goldfish have taken over a pond in St. Albert.
“They could really wreak havoc,” said Kate Wilson, an aquatic invasive species specialist with Alberta Environment and Parks.
Officials believe the goldfish were dumped into a stormwater pond by pet owners who didn’t want the fish any more. Now the goldfish have multiplied and grown.
Residents first noticed the fish in the Edgewater Pond last summer. City crews tried to scoop the fish out, but couldn’t catch them all. Last fall, water was drained from the pond with hopes the remaining water would freeze during the winter and the fish would die.
“Unfortunately with the winter that we had, we weren’t able to get full freezing so the ice wasn’t quite as thick,” said Sarah Cicchini, environment coordinator with the City of St. Albert. “We still have live fish right now.”
The fish are more than a nuisance; they are potentially dangerous to surrounding habitat.
“We know they eat fish eggs, they eat plants, they eat plankton which could out-compete, potentially, as a food source for native fish,” Wilson explained.
There is potential the fish could be on the move, too.
“Most of these storm water ponds are connected to streams, rivers, lakes – that’s where the water is going to end up,” Wilson said.
This spring St. Albert officials will be checking other storm water ponds in the city to see if there are goldfish there too. After that assessment, they will determine how much of a risk the fish pose to the new environment.
In the meantime, a stern warning to pet owners:
“Do not dump it in any waterways, that is a really bad idea,” Wilson said. “If your fish doesn’t die a horrible cruel death, it could become a real problem for our native species and habitat.”