Monster goldfish roam Lake Tahoe

Photo: University of Nevada, Reno
Photo: University of Nevada, Reno

Giant goldfish (some growing as big as 18 inches) are now breeding at a brisk pace in Lake Tahoe, California.

How Did Goldfish Get There?

As KCRA in Sacramento suggests, goldfish may have been released in the lake by irresponsible pet owners. A commenter on Huffington Post also noted that goldfish are often used as cheap bait for bass, so that seems to be another plausible intro point, if they wiggle off the hook, or if fishermen empty their bait buckets at the end of the day.

For now, goldfish aren’t thought to be as big a problem as the non-native bass, since they are outnumbered 100 to 1. But the fact that they are new arrivals, and are breeding, is pause for concern. The researchers also point out that goldfish can have big appetites, and they excrete a lot of nutrients, which can dirty that clear water and stimulate algae to grow.

Tahoe, like most of the world’s lakes, is already facing problems, from pollution to climate change. Non-native species often can tip the balance to a radically different ecosystem.

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