Football-Sized Goldfish Are Popping Up In Minnesota Lakes

A person holding a fish
City Of Burnsville

Minnesota.

The land of 10,000 lakes.

Mostly known for incredible walleye, northern pike, and muskie fishing, some of those 10,000 lakes also contain much brighter colored fish too apparently.

Over the course of this summer, reports of goldfish the size of footballs have been popping up.

A variety of individual carp species are referred to as goldfish, but outside of fish tanks, they’re originally native to the freshwaters of east Asia. Goldfish have been selectively bred for color and kept as pets for more than 1,000 years.

Sometimes, people get tired of their pet gold fish though, and decided to release them into nearby bodies of water. The fish are actually quite adaptable to lakes and ponds and oftentimes they grow far larger then they typically would if confined by the dimensions of a fish tank.

A goldfish in a tank tends to typically top out at 2-inches long, or up to 6-inches in larger tanks. However, goldfish in the wild can grow more than a foot long. The largest goldfish ever recorded was 19-inches long.

Earlier this year fishermen in Virginia and Missouri each hauled in relatively huge goldfish, which were both believed to be freed pets. The Virginia fish was 16 inches long and weighed almost 4-pounds. The fish in Missouri was a butterfly koi, which are also colloquially called goldfish. It weighed an astounding 9-pounds.

Back in 2019, a Kentucky man used a leftover biscuit to catch a 20-pound koi that stirred up plenty of attention on the internet, considering most people had no clue goldfish could grow that big.

More recently, city officials in Burnsville, Minnesota, just south of Minneapolis, shared pictures of several football-sized goldfish that were discovered in a local lake.

They also warned residents to refrain from letting their goldfish swim free in the water.

“Please don’t release your pet goldfish into ponds and lakes!

They grow bigger than you think and contribute to poor water quality by mucking up the bottom sediments and uprooting plants.

Groups of these large goldfish were recently found in Keller Lake.”

A single Goldfish in a lake may not pose an ecological risk, but things can become more perilous once there’s a larger population of them established in a water body. According to WBUR News, goldfish are opportunistic feeders that like to eat plants, insects and crustaceans, taking food away from the native creatures. Their feeding habits can also destabilize aquatic vegetation and cause even larger issues.

This incident isn’t the only goldfish incident the state of Minnesota has had though. The Washington Post, reported that last November, roughly 50,000 goldfish were removed from waterways in Carver County. The County had to pay a consulting firm $88,000 to remove the fish.

In 2018, the state of Washington spent $150,000 to rehabilitate a lake after a goldfish invasion threatened the viability of the entire aquatic ecosystem.

So the next time you think about tossing the goldfish your kids got bored with into a nearby lake, maybe think twice and figure out a different solution.

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