This in turn has them worried aquarists are not doing the right thing with fish disposal.
“It seems most likely that the Albino Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus) fished out of Gordon Pond was released into Gordon Pond from someone’s home aquarium over the summer,” Ms Lane said.
“Oscars are aggressive tropical fish from the Amazon and are popular aquarium fish. In the right environment, they can grow to 45cm long and in the wild will feed on a diversity of fish, shrimps and other aquatic animals.
“This means that although it is unlikely the Oscar would have survived in the pond during Canberra’s winter, the potential for this exotic fish to impact on native species and our waterways is significant.”
Some exotic species, such as Tilapia, infesting Australian waterways have been found to have increased their tolerance for cold temperature waters since becoming established in the wild.
Exotic fish predate native species, competing for food and space. They can alter the habitat and harbour new diseases.
Ms Lane said the release of aquarium fish, dead or alive, into public waterways was illegal under the Fisheries Act 2000 and the Nature Conservation Act 1980.
“Appropriate disposal of unwanted fish is very important for the conservation of our waterways,” Ms Lane said.
“People can return fish to the retailer or if it is sick they can dispose of it humanely by immersing the fish in an ice slurry – a mix of half ice and half water – for 20 minutes and then disposing the carcass in the garbage in a plastic bag.”
The public is encouraged to report unusual fish species to Canberra Connect on 13 22 81.
Photos courtesy of TAMS.