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The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Giant goldfish in Lake Tahoe will ruin ecosystem

    Giant goldfish have reportedly been found in the depths of Lake Tahoe, Calif.

    Researchers discovered a goldfish that was nearly 1.5 feet long and weighed 4.2 pounds, according to FOX news.

    The source of the goldfish is unknown, but researchers suspect the goldfish are unwanted fish dumped into the lake.

    “It was probably kids with unwanted pets. These goldfish are not native to Lake Tahoe. They could easily be carnival prizes dumped into the lake that have bred in a thriving environment, causing them to grow to such gigantic sizes,” said sophomore Michaela Thompson.

    Sophomore Jake Hutton, a biology major, is not surprised the goldfish are growing to such large sizes.

    “Carp are really large species of bottom-feeding fish. You can find them commonly at the bottom of lakes. Goldfish are really just a smaller species of carp and not many people know that. It is not surprising to me that they would thrive in Lake Tahoe,” said Hutton.

    I believe people should be more mindful when getting rid of unwanted fish.

    It hurts the ecosystem and compromises the natural appearance of the lake. Giant orange goldfish the size of a small child’s head are floating around the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe.

    Although they look exotic and brighten up the waters, they are obviously out-of-place and not native to the lake.

    A group of researchers from the Tahoe Environmental Research Center at the University of California at Davis, the University of Nevada at Reno and the fish and wildlife departments of both California and Nevada, have studied the presence of the goldfish and began an annual survey in 2006, according to The Indian Express.

    The group has begun getting rid of the goldfish by using a method called electrofishing, in which metal wires are placed on the bottom of boats and stun fish with an electrical current. The fish are then captured as they float on to the surface.

    “You can get them out that way, but it is impossible to electrofish all of Lake Tahoe. You can get some, but you are probably not going to get all,” said professor Kristopher Karsten, assistant professor of biology at CLU. “The more important thing is, from a conservation biology perspective, can you get enough so that their population can decline instead of increase?

    Potentially. Especially if you can get the younger ones before they reach breeding age. If the juvenile age does not reach maturity, then the whole recruitment for the population declines and they can go down.”

    Junior Lacy Williams, a biology major at CLU, agrees that the goldfish could be hurting the ecosystem of Lake Tahoe.

    “Once a species has been introduced, they could out-compete the native species and drive it to extinction in that area,” said Williams. “The goldfish would be preying upon the same smaller fish that the native species, such as trout, would consume. Also, their excrements contain nutrients that would cause algae blooms.”

    Hutton said that there needs to be a focus on the pet owners.

    Hutton believes pet owners should carefully think about their purchases in order to prevent these incidents from happening.
    “I would just like people to be more informed about their pet purchases, and I would just suggest to do a little research on an animal before purchasing it,” said Hutton.

    I agree with Hutton that there needs to be more emphasis on the fact that people put these fish in the lake.

    There needs to be more prevention awareness on the matter. People should be more aware of where to place unwanted fish so that the ecology of lakes and rivers will no longer be compromised.

    I am confident that researchers at Lake Tahoe will effectively tackle the issue. Researchers have been slowly improving the lake over time upon learning of the giant goldfish.

    I hope that this helps raise awareness of the consequences of dumping fish into lakes, and that more people think twice before getting rid of their fish.

     

    Louie DeMetre
    Staff Writer
    Published March 6, 2013

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