Maine biologists don't want this invasive species of mussel taking root here in Maine.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is warning aquarium owners of a invasive pest. Zebra mussels are one of the most destructive invasive species in North America. The mussels have been discovered in "moss balls,” an aquarium plant product sold in Maine. Moss balls are commonly sold under trade names such as “Betta Buddy.”

Zebra mussels outcompete other native species in infested rivers and lakes. The waste they produce accumulates and degrades the environment, using up oxygen, making the water acidic, and producing toxic byproducts.

Biologists say if you recently purchased moss balls, destroy them immediately 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 you've destroyed the moss ball, dispose of it and any of its packaging in a sealed plastic bag in the trash. Do not dump moss balls down drains, in waterways, or gardens. If moss balls were placed in your aquarium, drain and clean the aquarium.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Zebra mussels are one of the most devastating invasive species in North America. When they become established in an environment, they alter food webs and change water chemistry, harming native fish, plants, and other aquatic life. They can cause infrastructure issues by clogging pipelines, render beaches unusable, and damage boats.

Zebra mussels have recently been found on moss balls in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Washington. Zebra mussels so far have not been reported in Maine.

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