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Ashland pet stores sold contaminated moss balls; consumers should follow ODFW disposal directions

April 15, 2021

ASHLAND, Ore. – ODFW confirmed last month that invasive zebra mussels were discovered inside the aquarium product, Betta Buddy Marimo Ball moss plants, sold by pet stores in the Rogue Valley.

Consumers are urged to stop buying this product and to safely dispose of it. For moss balls that have not been destroyed and for assistance in disposal, contact staff at the Aquatic Invasive Species Check Station on Interstate 5 in Ashland at 503-583-5576.

Moss balls can be safely destroyed either by freezing or boiling them before disposing of it in the trash. Do not flush the moss ball down the toilet or throw it outside as mulch.

The aquarium needs to be disinfected after the moss ball is destroyed. After removing the fish, apply household bleach (one cup of bleach per gallon of water) and let it set for ten minutes before disposing of water down a sink or toilet. Also disinfect filters, gravel and structures with a solution of bleach before disposing of the water down the toilet.

If due to the large size of a tank aquarium or for other reasons making it difficult to disinfect a tank, at the very least, disinfect the water with bleach when conducting a water exchange in the tank before disposing of the exchanged water.

ODFW also released a how-to video on safely cleaning your aquarium and disposing of the moss balls, https://youtu.be/DeLXmPDW23s.

The concern is that zebra mussels released into a storm drain or flushed down the toilet could be introduced into a waterway. They will cause disruption of the food chain, change the chemistry of the water which can cause more blue green algae outbreaks or offensive taste and clog water intake and delivery systems for drinking water, irrigation and hydroelectric power.

“We want to thank all pet and aquarium supply stores who have stepped up and quickly taken moss balls off their shelves,” said Rick Boatner, ODFW Invasive Species Program Supervisor. “Now, we are asking for urgent action from members of the public who have purchased this product,” added Boatner.

ODFW urges everyone to spread the word about the need to dispose of moss balls safely and to report to ODFW any moss balls that remain for sale.

Marimo Ball (Moss Balls) products have to be certified as mussel free before they can be imported or sold in any store in Oregon (OAR 603-052-1390).

Currently, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest are free of zebra or Quagga mussels, thanks to a monitoring program that requires watercraft to be inspected when entering Oregon, https://myodfw.com/articles/waterway-access-and-aquatic-invasive-species-permits.

Contact Rick Boatner at 503-947-6308 for any questions about Marimo balls or the current regulations.

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Contact:

Rick Boatner, 503-947-6308
Meghan Dugan, 541-464-2179

 
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