Moss Balls purchased at Petco and PetSmart may be infected with invasive zebra mussels. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is urging aquarium owners to not only dispose of them, but to do it properly.

The DEC reports the moss balls are two to five inches in diameter and contain the aquatic invasive species' larvae, which are so small they're undetectable by the human eye. Zebra Mussels cause environmental and economic harm and the agency has spent countless hours and dollars battling them in New York's waterways. They disrupt the food chain, change water chemistry, and clog water intake and delivery systems for drinking water, irrigation, and hydro power.

If the mussels are simply flushed or poured into into a storm drain they begin a new population and can cause significant damage. This is why proper disposal is so important. Here are the DEC's recommendations:

  • Dispose of the moss balls and all other aquarium plants in a sealed garbage bag.
  • Disinfect tank and all equipment, filters, gravel, and structures with bleach.
  • Water from the tank and filters should also be disinfected with bleach before disposal.

Use a mixture of one cup of household bleach to one gallon of water for disinfectant. Let the mixture set for 10 minutes before pouring water down the drain or flushing.
Disinfect filters, gravel, and structures with the same solution of bleach. For larger tanks that cannot be easily drained, the DEC will provide detailed instructions if you email isinfo@dec.ny.gov.

If you see zebra mussels in the tank or on a moss ball, the agency asks you to share the information. Take a photo if possible and report your findings to isinfo@dec.ny.gov, or call 518-402-9405.

The DEC offers more guidelines on aquariums and the moss ball recall on their website.  Both Petco and PetSmart are participating in the voluntary recall and offer refunds and proper disposal of the infected moss balls.

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