Lethbridge residents warned about invasive fish species in local storm ponds

Alberta Environment and Parks is reminding residents to stop dumping their unwanted goldfish into storm ponds. The fish, which are considered to be an invasive species, can reproduce quickly and out-compete native Alberta fish. (Supplied)

The City of Lethbridge is advising residents to never release unwanted fish or aquarium plants and animals into local waterways after invasions have been reported at three local parks.

Officials say Prussian carp (goldfish) and other species such as koi have been found in the water at Firelight Park, Chinook Lake and Elm Groves Pond.

The City says workers were at Firelight Park for a short period of time this week to assess the extent of the problem.

"Contractors will be taking an inventory of invasive species at Firelight Park to determine the type, size and quantities of fish present in the Firelight Park in order to prepare the necessary environmental permits and scope of work to address the issue," officials said in a release.

Similar work will be done at the other two ponds at a later date, the City says.

In the meantime, officials want residents to fully understand the dangers the fish pose to the ecosystem.

"Aquatic invasive species have been illegally released into storm water ponds and other water bodies, altering aquatic habitats so that it becomes inhabitable for native populations.

"They can survive Alberta's climate and grow to be very large, and with no natural predators in Alberta, will out-compete native species for resources. As such, they have been listed as invasive species by Alberta Environment & Parks," officials add.

As a result, aquarium owners should never release water from their tanks, plants or dead or live animals into local waterways.

Anyone who finds a goldfish in a storm pond is encouraged to dispose of it immediately instead of releasing it.