Proper Disposal of Aquarium Plants and Fish

HabitattudeIf you own an aquarium or water garden — what do you do with unwanted aquarium pets and plants? Never release them into the wild!

Many of us may have disposed of unwanted aquarium fish, plants, snails, crayfish, frogs, or turtles by releasing them into local waters, flushing them down the toilet, or maybe allowing them to escape. It seems simple and kindhearted, but these are inappropriate actions and there are better solutions.

Release or escape of fish and plants from aquariums and water gardens can harm Minnesota waters and native species. Besides not being good for our lakes and rivers, it is illegal in Minnesota. Aquarium fish can carry diseases that can kill native fish. Invasive plants can clog waterways and snag boat propellers. Recent examples of releases in Minnesota include: piranha, pacu, water hyacinth, water lettuce, Amazonian catfish, koi, goldfish, yellow iris, even a cayman!

Getting a Habitattitude will help provide some alternatives to releasing pets or aquatic plants into the wild.

Alternatives to Release:

  • Contact a retailer for proper handling advice or for possible returns
  • Give/trade with another aquarist, pond owner, or water gardener
  • Donate to a local aquarium society, school, or aquatic business
  • Seal aquatic plants in plastic bags and dispose in the trash
  • Contact a veterinarian or pet retailer for guidance on humane disposal of animals

Information provided by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources