Invasive Zebra Mussels have recently been found in moss ball products, a type of aquarium plant product made of green algae.

At this time, there have been confirmed reports of infected moss balls in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is monitoring the situation in close collaboration with federal and provincial counterparts. Updates are being shared through the department’s social media channels on an ongoing basis.

The Government of Canada encourages anyone who may have recently purchased moss ball products in Canada to dispose of them responsibly by doing the following:

  1. Destroy
  • Place the moss ball into a sealable plastic bag and freeze for at least 24 hours, or
  • Place the moss ball in boiling water for at least one full minute.
  1. Dispose
    • Place the moss ball and any of its packaging in a sealed plastic bag and dispose in the trash.
  2. Report
Zebra Mussels found from aquatic imports in Calgary, Alberta. Image Credit: Government of Canada.
Zebra Mussels found from aquatic imports in Calgary, Alberta. Image Credit: Government of Canada.

The Government of Canada notes that moss balls should not be flushed down toilets or disposed of in compost. If the moss balls have already been placed in an aquarium, all accessories in the tank (e.g. rocks, decorations, etc.) should be washed with a strong solution of chlorine bleach and water. It is illegal to introduce any aquatic organism into any region or Canadian waterbody where it is not indigenous, unless authorized by federal or provincial law.

Zebra mussels pose a serious threat to Canada’s aquatic ecosystems. As one of the six prohibited species under the federal Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations, Zebra Mussels are one of the biggest aquatic invasive threats in Canada.

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Once established, these invasive mussels multiply quickly and can harm Canada’s aquatic ecosystems by altering food webs, damaging habitats, and out-competing native species for food. They also have the potential to cause substantial, costly damage by clogging intake structures in power stations and water treatment plants as well as damaging watercrafts.

More information on Zebra Mussels in Canada is available here.

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