A community fishing pond in Wasatch Mountain State Park near Midway has been overrun by goldfish.
“They look pretty cute in your home, but goldfish are actually ... relatives of the common carp, which are a fish that’s very good at competing with native and wild fish,” said Chris Penne, aquatic biologist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “This is really even a worldwide phenomenon. Goldfish have become established in a lot of different countries. In some cases, they’re difficult if not impossible to eradicate.”
The pond in Wasatch Mountain State Park will be drained for infrastructure work, which will aid the Division of Wildlife Resources in ridding the pond of its golden invaders, according to a DWR press release.
To prepare for the draining, DWR has temporarily lifted the limit of fish that anglers can catch and take from the pond — anglers can catch and keep as many fish as they wish from that pond until Dec. 31, the release said.
In Weber and Davis counties, goldfish have not yet been a problem in the community fishing ponds, but DWR would like it to stay that way, Penne said.
Goldfish can crowd out native fish, or introduce parasites or other diseases to the ecosystem.
Adding goldfish to a community pond is also illegal, Penne said.
In addition, it costs DWR significant time — and thousands of dollars — to remove goldfish from a community pond.
To remove them, DWR adds a chemical to the water that kills the goldfish, and all other fish, he said.
Then, in the smaller ponds in residential areas, all of those dead fish need to be removed so they don’t cause a stench for the surrounding homes.
After the dead fish have been removed, the pond needs to be restocked with new fish, he said.
Penne thinks pet owners might resort to putting their goldfish in a pond because they’re moving, they don’t want the fish anymore or it’s simply outgrown its aquarium.
Some alternatives might be for pet owners to take the fish to a local aquarium shop or put them on online classifieds for other prospective fish owners to claim, he said.
Aquarium shops won’t always take them due to concerns about parasites.
“We’re sympathetic to a degree,” Penne said. “I think ... in most cases, it’s people trying to get rid of a pet. It’s just one of those (things) where it has a lot of unintended consequences.”