Many plants and pets found in aquariums and backyard ponds have been imported from other parts of the world. They tend to be hardy and reproduce vigorously, making them appealing to hobbyists but dangerous 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. Releasing any aquatic organism into the wild is not an accepted practice and is punishable by law.
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
To address this issue, the statewide Reduce Invasive Pet and Plant Escapes (RIPPLE) program offers educational information to aquarium and water gardener professionals, retailers and hobbyists about what to do with unwanted plants and animals so they are not accidentally or purposely 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.
Aquarium and Water Garden MSU Extension News
Published on March 5, 2021
Vigilant pet retailers can prevent invasive species from spreading.
Published on June 11, 2020
Recent addition to Michigan’s prohibited species list makes marbled crayfish illegal to possess live.
Published on April 19, 2019
According to a new law, all retailers of live non-native aquatic organisms must now register yearly with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Published on June 13, 2018
Learn to identify and report invasive species using MISIN: the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network
Become a RIPPLE partner today!
Pet and pond professionals, hobbyists, and educators are invited to explore RIPPLE resources and become RIPPLE partners by learning how to prevent invasions and sharing materials and information with their clients and communities. RIPPLE publications are available for use classrooms, environmental learning centers and retail businesses through Michigan State University Extension.