You may, unintentionally, have non-native and potentially invasive species in your fish tank, such as Brazilian elodea, caulerpa, invasive crayfish, northern snakehead, or parrotfeather.

What Can I Do?

Dispose of aquarium contents appropriately. Dumping those contents into a nearby lake, river, or wetland may make you feel like you are freeing the animals, but you may be introducing completely new species into the natural environment. Instead, you can take the following steps:

  • First, consider the alternatives to getting rid of aquarium plants and animals, such as donating them to a responsible hobbyist or disposing of them at a pet store.
  • Alternatively, dispose of plants in your trash or burn them. You may compost them if you know the compost will be produced at very high heat (such as at a commercial composting facility).
  • Contact a veterinarian or pet retailer for guidance about humane disposal of animals. One option is to freeze fish or other aquatic animals, gradually slowing their metabolism.
  • Don’t flush the contents down the toilet because those pipes may lead to a waterway or wet area where the species could survive.

Don’t purchase, sell, trade, plant, or release invasive species. To avoid acquiring invasive species for your aquarium over the Internet, through interpersonal trades, or from pet stores, you can take the following precautions:

  • Take care not to purchase aquarium plants that are quarantined in Washington, meaning that their sale or trade is illegal under state law. Internet sites may be based in other states that do not have the same quarantines.
  • Ask for only non-invasive species at your pet store. You may need to carry a list of invasive species, such as the Washington Invasive Species 50 priority species.