COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — Invasive mussels have been found in product sold at pet supply stores in South Carolina, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The invasive zebra mussels have been found in containers of “moss balls” which are filamentous algae used in home aquariums, according to the DNR. The product was found in stores of two different pet supply chains in the state.
Wildlife officials in Oregon discovered the mussels inside “Betta Buddy Marimo Ball” brand moss plants in a Seattle PetCo store. It was later discovered in other states, including South Carolina, according to the DNR.
Anyone who purchased one of the products should not discard them down sink drains, toilets, or dumped in any river or stream, according to Ross Self, chief of Freshwater Fisheries for DNR.
“These mussels are highly invasive, reproduce quickly and can cause huge problems if they are introduced into our waterways or lakes,” Self said.
Anyone who purchased a moss ball aquatic plant product is asked to decontaminate it using one of the following methods, making sure the disposal method is compliant with state laws and animal welfare regulations:
- Place the moss ball into a sealable plastic bag and freeze for at least 48 hours, OR
- Place the moss ball in boiling water for at least one full minute, OR
- Submerge the moss ball in chlorine bleach, diluted to one cup of bleach per gallon of water, for 20 minutes, OR
- Submerge the moss ball in undiluted white vinegar for 20 minutes
Then, place the moss ball and any of its packaging in a sealed plastic bag and put it in the trash, according to the DNR.
If vinegar, boiling water, or bleach was used, the liquid can be poured down a household drain, but not a storm drain where it could enter waterways.
Water that contained the moss ball should be diluted with bleach at 1/4 cup per gallon or boiled for one minute, the DNR said.
If the moss ball was placed in an aquarium, the DNR said to take the following additional steps:
- Collect any fish or other living organisms and place them in another container, with water from a separate, uncontaminated water source
- Sterilize the contaminated aquarium water by adding 1/4 teaspoon bleach for each gallon of water. Let the water site for 15 minutes and then dispose the sterilized water down a household drain
- Clean the aquarium and accessories using one of the following methods, ensuring that the disposal method you choose is in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations:
- Make a disinfection solution using 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water
- Soak the aquarium, substrate, rocks, decor, and filter media in the bleach water solution for 15 minutes
- Rinse off all items prior to setting up the aquarium
- Dispose of the previously used filter media and replace with new media
- Use a dechlorinating product to neutralize any residual chlorine prior to reintroducing aquatic life
- It is recommended that you do another water change within a week and continue to monitor the take for any unusual or unexpected aquatic life
The DNR added that no mussels have been found in South Carolina yet, but some have been found in waterways in nearby states.