Many plants and pets commonly found in aquariums and backyard ponds have been imported from other parts of the world. These organisms tend to be hardy and reproduce vigorously, making them appealing to hobbyists but dangerous to Michigan's native ecosystems if they are introduced into the wild. Although Michigan’s winter temperatures stop some from reproducing in our lakes and streams, this is not always the case. Some plants and animals survive and thrive, which can negatively impact the environment, decrease recreational opportunities and cause severe economic consequences.
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 do not get accidentally or purposely introduced into lakes and streams.
Aquatic plants and animals can reach Michigan's waterways via several pathways. They are most commonly released when people can no longer care for them or they escape unintentionally during flood events. 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.
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.
Get to know the invaders
Learn about invasive species currently found in Michigan, where they are located, how to identify them and report new sightings through the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network at misin.msu.edu.
Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations
- The state and federal government regulates the sale of some plants and animals due to their invasive potential. It is illegal to be in possession of, sell, offer to sell or introduce into the environment prohibited and restricted plants and animals. For a complete list, visit michigan.gov/invasives. Be aware that retail names and descriptions of plants and animals can be mislabeled and misleading.
- Registration with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is required for any person selling, or possessing for the purpose of selling, non-native aquatic species. Registration is required annually and expires December 31st. Registered sellers are also required to report species sold in Michigan. For more information about registration and reporting visit www.michigan.gov/sellaquatics.
- If you are retailer and you suspect you may have received a regulated plant species in a shipment, contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development immediately at 1-800-292-3939 or MDAfirstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you are retailer and you suspect you may have received a regulated fish, mollusk or crustacean in a shipment, contact Seth Herbst at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, (517) 284-5841 or email@example.com
Learn more about RIPPLE, including available educational videos and materials, on the State of Michigan's RIPPLE webpage.
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