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
Celebrate Michigan’s Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week
Published on July 1, 2022
Become familiar with aquatic invasive species and how best to prevent their spread.
How to report suspicious fish and aquatic plant sightings
Published on May 18, 2022
Reporting unusual organisms protects the environment from unwanted invasive species. Be part of the solution by sharing your observations with biologists.
Multiple infestations of invasive water garden plants discovered this fall in southeast Michigan
Published on November 24, 2021
Over 3,500 pounds of water lettuce and water hyacinth have been removed by the Lake St. Clair Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy biologists.
Caring for water gardens in fall reduces problems in winter and spring
Published on September 1, 2021
Water gardens experience major changes as chillier weather approaches; managing plants, fish and debris throughout the fall will lead to greater success next year.
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