Fish Pond for Unwanted Fish

May 16, 2018 Last Updated: August 2, 2018

You may think you’re being humane when you part with your pet fish by releasing them to the wilderness—for example, at your local river.

But conservationists think you are hurting the natural habitat and harming local fish.

In San Marcos, Texas, conservationists are asking locals to stop dumping their pet fish into the San Marcos River.

The main fish type causing harm in the San Marcos River is the suckermouth catfish, also known as Plecostomus or pleco. Owners often want to part ways with them when they grow larger than desired.

These fish eat algae and are great for the fish tank, but often out-compete local fish for space and food, and they burrow, disrupting the river’s habitat. These factors affect spawning and population rebuilding efforts intended for the endangered and threatened local fish species.

There are apparently thousands of non-native fish. The city contracts fishermen to spear them.

Conservationists have figured out a way for locals to not have to risk their fish being speared, but still let them go. Fish owners are encouraged to surrender their unwanted fish to the San Marcos Discovery Center’s fish pond.

The pond was specifically designed to provide a place for abandoned, non-native fish. The center is able to separate the fish species in the pond if needed, and will adopt them out to new homes for free.

It could be a panacea for the river’s fish problem—if, and only if, the locals cooperate.

By Mimi Nguyen Ly