OATA is asking aquatic retailers and fishkeepers to be on the alert for moss balls products that might contain Zebra Mussels (Dressena Polymorpha).

Reports in the US have highlighted an issue with a variety of moss ball products designed for aquariums, which have been found to be harbouring the invasive species.

“We are not aware that these particular products are for sale in the UK but they might be bought online and enter the UK in that way. This is concerning news and we would urge the UK ornamental aquatics industry and fishkeepers to be vigilant and play their part in making sure these products don’t enter the UK or go on sale here,” said Chief Executive Dominic Whitmee.

Zebra mussels are small, fingernail-sized molluscs native to the Caspian Sea region of Asia. They have three life stages: larval, juvenile, and adult. In the larval stage, the mussels live freely in the water column, where they can be easily transported. Adult zebra mussels can stay alive for several days outside of water and commonly attach to boats, fishing equipment and aquarium plants.

In spite of their small size, zebra mussels clog pipelines used for water filtration, render beaches unusable, and damage boats. They also negatively impact aquatic ecosystems by harming native organisms.

If any such incidences are detected by industry and fishkeepers, we would ask that these are reported to the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat and if possible, please send a photo as that would be extremely useful. Reports of any such occurrences can be made via email to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk.

Find decontamination advice here from US organisations.