Goldfish can grow to large sizes, reproduce quickly, decrease water quality and gobble up the resources native species need to survive when released into a body of water bigger than a fishbowl.

By Kelli Bender
July 15, 2021
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giant goldfish
Credit: City of Burnsville, Minnesota - Municipal Government/Facebook

The city of Burnsville, Minnesota, has a unique request for its residents: stop releasing your pet fish into local lakes and ponds.

Burnsville put out the ask in a Facebook post which the city shared on July 9.

"Please don't release your pet goldfish into ponds and lakes. They grow bigger than you think!" the post, which includes several photos of football-sized goldfish, reads.

"We recently partnered with the City of Apple Valley, MN, and Carp Solutions to conduct a fish survey on Keller Lake to assess populations of invasive goldfish and other fish in the lake. Large groups of goldfish have been observed in recent years on the lake. At high populations, goldfish can contribute to poor water quality by mucking up the bottom sediments and uprooting plants," Burnsville added in the post.

Burnsville decided to survey Keller Lake with Apple Valley after receiving complaints from locals that the body of water was infested with goldfish, reports The Washington Post. Even though officials were prepared to find beefy goldish, those conducting the survey were still surprised by what they discovered.

"You see goldfish in the store, and they're these small little fish," Caleb Ashling, Burnsville's natural resources specialist, told the outlet. "When you pull a goldfish about the size of a football out of the lake, it makes you wonder how this can even be the same type of animal."

The large goldfish the survey uncovered grew to that size because of the extra space they gained by swapping the fishbowl for the pond. Unfortunately, goldfish are an invasive species when released into local waters. A hardy species that can live up to 25 years and survive in frozen-over bodies of water, free-range goldfish can easily rob native species of much-needed resources and decrease water quality — especially as they grow larger and reproduce.

giant goldfish
Credit: City of Burnsville, Minnesota - Municipal Government/Facebook

The rise of the giant goldfish isn't just a Burnsville issue. Carp Solutions, the water pest management company that assisted with the city's survey told The Washington Post that cities and towns across the country have been working to battle goldfish infestations.

In nearby Carver County, Minnesota, tens of thousands of goldfish were pulled from local waterways, leading the county to spend thousands on developing a long-term plan to keep the goldfish from causing further damage.

giant goldfish
Credit: City of Burnsville, Minnesota - Municipal Government/Facebook

According to the Minnesota Department of Natual Resources, it is illegal to release a goldfish into a state body of water. Obviously, this hasn't stopped some from letting their pets go in a nearby pond or lake.

For those who have a pet fish that they can no longer care for, Burnsville asks in their Facebook post to "please consider other options for finding them a new home like asking a responsible friend or neighbor to care for it."

This story originally appeared on people.com