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Invasive Species Prevention: Landowners, Gardeners & Pond Owners

Invasive Species Prevention

What water gardeners, aquarium and pond owners need to know

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.

Join Michigan's campaign to Reduce Invasive Pet and PLant Escapes!  Find RIPPLE materials and information here.

  • Do not purchase invasive plants or animals that are restricted or prohibited in Michigan.
  • Do not transplant or release aquarium plants, fish or animals into lakes, streams or ponds.
  • Inspect and rinse any new plants to rid them of seeds, plant fragments, snails and fish.  
  • Construct ponds or water gardens away from other waters, wetlands and floodplains.

If you have acquired an undesirable, nonnative aquatic plant or fish species for your aquarium or water garden, it is important not to release these plants or fish into the environment including not flushing them into the city sewer system. Instead, use one of the following alternatives:

  • Contact the store where the plant, fish or animal was purchased for proper handling advice or possible return.
  • Give or trade with another aquarium owner, pond owner, or water gardener.
  • Donate to a local aquarium society, school, or aquatic business.
  • Do not compost aquatic plants - seal aquatic plants in plastic bags and dispose in trash.
  • Contact a veterinarian specializing in exotics for guidance on humane disposal of fish or aquatic animals.

Best practices for landowners and gardeners

  • Use native plants and leave existing native plants and trees alone.
  • Don’t accept plants from others unless you are sure they are not invasive.
  • Put seeds in the trash.
  • If you are removing invasive plants, or you are not sure if they are invasive, place them in dark plastic bags and put them in the trash.
  • Be proactive in looking for and reporting invasive plants on your property.