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
Prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species
Published on January 16, 2020
Some water garden plants and animals have the potential to become invasive.
Registration now required to sell non-native aquatic plants
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.
New Online Tools for Aquatic Invasive Species Identification
Published on June 13, 2018
Learn to identify and report invasive species using MISIN: the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network
Keep classroom pets out of the wild
Published on June 4, 2018
At the end of the school year, prevent the release of invasive plants and animals into the environment by following RIPPLE recommendations for proper handling and disposal.
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