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Snakeheads Call Potomac Home

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Snakehead

Brian Gratwicke
Like a bad penny, they are back. Since 2002 when Snakeheads were found in a Crofton Maryland pond, they've managed to swim into the headlines over and over. Most recently on the Snakehead hit list is the Potomac, where biologists belive they have taken up permanent residence.

Not Related to Crofton Snakeheads
Unfortunately, non-indigenous fish are not a new thing to the Potomac. It is estimated that over one third of the Potomac's fish species were not there 200 years ago. Snakeheads are now part of growing number of 'alien' fish.

Perhaps the most troubling part of this story is the fact that the Snakeheads in the Potomac have been tested and found to be unrelated to those found elsewhere in the United States. That means that someone released Snakeheads after extensive media coverage of the first release, which warned the public of the damage the fish could do to local waterways.

Stop the Dumping
If you are reading this, odds are you aren't the sort of fish owner who would dump aquarium fish where they don't belong. However, there are still far too many people who don't think twice about dumping unwanted fish.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm asking once again for your help to stop the dumping. Spread the word to those who own, or are thinking of owning fish. Tell them to never dump a fish. While you are at it, educate fishermen to never release a caught fish if they suspect it's not native to the area. They should turn the fish over to the authorities, or if that's not an option, destroy the fish.

What to Do With Unwanted Fish
There are many options for getting rid of an unwanted fish, but dumping them in the wild should never be one of them. Here are some options for people who want to get rid of an undesired fish:
  • Give the fish to a Pet Shop
  • Donate it to a Public Aquarium
  • Donate it to a school, nursing home, or medical office
  • Place an ad for a free fish in the newspaper
  • Contact a Fish Club
     
Many waterways have been permanently damaged, others are at risk if the dumping of aquarium fish doesn't stop. Please do your part to educate others about this serious problem.
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