A goldfish that thrived to a whopping 14 inches after probably being flushed down the toilet has been caught in a New York river.
Charity Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper (BNW) posted the image to Facebook with the warning: “This is why you should never flush your fish!”
As well as being just plain cruel, introducing non-native species can destroy the habitat of those fish already living in the area.
The fish was found downstream of the wastewater treatment plant of the Niagara River.
A spokesman said: “Goldfish can survive year-round in our watershed… Scientists estimate that tens of millions of goldfish now live in the Great Lakes.
“If you cannot keep your pet, please return it to the store instead of flushing it or releasing it.”
Giant goldfish have been appearing in US lakes for some time. A 2013 blog for National Geographic also speculated that fishermen using them as cheap bait to catch bass may also be responsible for the spike in numbers.
It adds: “The researchers also point out that goldfish can have big appetites, and they excrete a lot of nutrients, which can dirty that clear water and stimulate algae to grow.”
While BNW could not be sure exactly how this particular fish got into the river, they said it was most likely either deposited directly into the water by a pet owner or flushed down a nearby toilet.
The image highlights the problem of flushing fish down the toilet as many cities in the Great Lakes area have sewage systems that flow directly into local waterways.
A spokesman for BNW said: “The story ended well for this fish, but not for our water. Aquatic invasive species that don’t naturally belong in the Great Lakes, like this goldfish, are a constant threat to the health of native wildlife populations and their habitats.
“Large and small, hundreds of different invasive species continue to disrupt and cause damage to our Great Lakes.”