Nebraskans who bought Marimo — or "moss" — balls sold as "Betta Buddy" need to check their aquarium tanks for highly destructive mussels that can decrease a native species' food supply, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Zebra mussels look like a D-shaped clam that is less than an inch long. They have alternating light and dark bands and filters plankton from water, which is a food source for animals. Since zebra mussels affect the livability for native species, Game and Parks asks Nebraskans to remove Marimo balls properly. Petco and Petsmart locations in Nebraska agreed to remove the item from their store.
“Please make sure you dispose of any Marimo balls and aquarium water properly so the waters we all enjoy remain invasive-free,” said Kristopher Stahr, Game and Parks aquatic invasive species program manager.
To dispose of them, place the Marimo balls in a plastic bag and freeze them until solid. Then, individuals can throw them in the trash. They should also dump the aquarium water in an area that is not near other water sources. The water should not go down the drain.
Proper disposal is important because young zebra mussels cannot be seen with the naked eye, but they can be transferred through small drops of water. Adult zebra mussels can live out of water up to two weeks.
So far, Game and Parks is aware of zebra mussel populations in the Missouri River that have spread through the entire length downstream of Gavins Point Dam. Populations also exist in Lewis and Clark Lake, Lake Yankton and at the Offutt Base Lake.