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
Is your water garden having a RIPPLE effect on Michigan's waterways?
Published on May 14, 2021
While water gardens add beauty to backyards, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with aquatic invasive species and to prevent escape.
Stop the spread of invasive species with a few simple practices
Published on May 13, 2021
Using boot brush stations, planting native species in your yard, and buying firewood locally are a few ways you can protect the environment.
Invasive zebra mussels found hiding in aquarium plants for sale at pet stores
Published on March 4, 2021
Vigilant pet retailers can prevent invasive species from spreading.
Self-cloning marbled crayfish are now prohibited in Michigan
Published on June 11, 2020
Recent addition to Michigan’s prohibited species list makes marbled crayfish illegal to possess live.
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