Aquariums and water gardens add beauty and tranquility to our homes. Many plants and animals that we use in aquariums and backyard ponds have been imported from other parts of the world. While they are excellent to enjoy they may be harmful to Michigan's native ecosystems if they are released into the wild. Although Michigan’s winter temperatures stop some exotic species from reproducing in our lakes and streams, this is not always the case. Some species survive and thrive, negatively impacting the environment, decreasing recreational opportunities and causing severe economic consequences.
It is never safe to release water garden or aquarium plants and animals into the natural environment, even if they appear to be dead.
Together we can keep Michigan’s waterways healthy and pure
- Never release an aquatic plant or animal into waterways
- Inspect and rinse any new plants to rid them of seeds, plant fragments, snails and fish.
- Build water gardens well away from other waters.
- Give or trade unwanted fish or plants with another hobbyist, environmental learning center, aquarium or zoo.
- Contact a veterinarian or pet retailer for guidance on humane disposal of animals.
Learn how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in water gardens with this MSU Extension Smart Gardening fact sheet
Aquarium and Water Garden MSU Extension News
Troublesome turtles: Invasive red-eared sliders in the Great Lakes
Published on February 17, 2023
Popular pets that some consider to be one of the worst invasive species.
No silver lining: Invasive goldfish in the Great Lakes
Published on February 16, 2023
Seeing an orange-colored goldfish in your local lake is actually a sign of bad luck for native fish and plants.
Mobile Boat Wash Program season wrap up
Published on November 2, 2022
The Mobile Boat Wash Program has wrapped up its 8th season of boat wash events for organizations across Michigan dedicated to aquatic invasive species prevention.
Enhance your outdoor living spaces with a water feature
Published on July 29, 2022
Wildlife sightings, soothing sounds, and scenic beauty are just a few benefits from having a backyard water feature.
The Reduce Invasive Pet and Plant Escapes (RIPPLE) program offers information to aquarium and water gardener professionals, retailers and hobbyists about what to do with unwanted plants and animals so they are not introduced into Michigan's lakes and streams.
RIPPLE's education initiatives are coordinated by Michigan State University Extension in partnership with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. RIPPLE is funded by the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program.
Natural Resources Educator