Red Deerians are encouraged to report any sightings of goldfish or other invasive species in stormwater ponds to the City of Red Deer’s Environmental Services.
Released pet goldfish have been known to lurk in the city’s stormwater ponds and rapidly reproduce – 882 of them were removed from Anders Pond at a cost of $250,000 in 2019-20.
While City of Red Deer workers will still do visual inspections of stormwater ponds for invasive species and maintenance issues this spring and summer, Janet Whitesell, acting utilities manager for the city, said the municipality has no more large-scale fish removal plans, due to budget constraints.
“This may change if there are more reports of goldfish or invasive species found during inspections,” she said.
Inspections will continue as needed, including in ponds and the underground channels that lead in and out of them. “If there are any invasive species found during these inspections… future plans can then be determined on how to handle the issue,” Whitesell added.
In 2020, West Park Pond had been next on the list for goldfish removal, but municipal workers had first wanted to evaluate the success of the Anders program. Fish eggs are known to be unaffected by the organic chemical used to kill off the invasive goldfish and “all the costs would be undone if somebody put another goldfish in the pond,” a city manager had observed last year.
Placing small-gauge mesh at pond outlets and inlets to contain the invasive fish was considered, but there were concerns this mesh could easily get blocked by leaves and other debris.
Environmental Services workers were planning to consult with other municipalities to see how they were dealing with invasive species in stormwater ponds.
The province’s Don’t Let it Loose campaign aims to alert Albertans about the dangers of allowing non-native fish to enter the province’s waterways. This is illegal and subject to large fines.
Goldfish are members of the carp family. They can grow huge if placed in a natural environment and can out-compete native fish for food and habitat, reducing biodiversity. They can survive the winter and are prolific breeders. According to the government website, alberta.ca/dont-let-it-loose-campaign.aspx, Alberta has more than 50 populations of goldfish that are thriving in the wild, as far north as Fort McMurray.
Red Deer residents are encouraged to report any sightings of goldfish or other invasive species in stormwater ponds to Environmental Services, or through the Report a Problem tool (https://www.reddeer.ca/online-tools/report-a-problem/).