Invasive zebra mussels popping up in aquarium products nationwide, including in Washington

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Invasive zebra mussels are popping up in pet stores across the U.S., including right here in Washington. 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed on Thursday the invasive mussels were found in a shipment of Betta Buddy moss balls that arrived at a Seattle Petco. 

An investigation found other states had also experienced mussels coming in on shipments of the Marimo brand balls. 

The zebra mussel is considered an invasive species and is prohibited in Washington, according to the WDFW. The mussels have the potential to cause significant damage to infrastructure and the environment that could cost the state millions of dollars in repairs. 

“At Petco, we’re committed to supporting the health and wellness of pets, people, and our planet,” said Dr. Whitney Miller, head of Veterinary Medicine at Petco. “We immediately paused the sale of all Marimo aquarium moss balls at Petco locations and on and placed them in quarantine.” 

The retailer is now working with the WDFW to properly dispose of the mussels. 

If you happen to find mussels on the moss balls in your aquarium, the WDFW advises that you remove the ball, place it in a plastic bag, and put that in the freezer. After 24 hours, the bag will be safe to remove and put in the trash. You can also boil the moss balls in water for at least one minute, then throw them away. 

To learn more about the invasive species, CLICK HERE.