By Associated Press - Monday, March 15, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - State wildlife officials are urging Indiana residents to destroy invasive zebra mussels that could be hiding in so-called moss balls sold for aquariums.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday that aquarium owners should destroy any Marimo moss balls they have purchased this year from any aquarium or pet supply store because they might contain zebra mussels.

Zebra mussels have the potential to harm Indiana’s aquatic environment. The mussels have light and dark stripes on their shells that resemble the stripes of a zebra.

The DNR said moss balls should be disposed of in a sealed container in the trash to prevent them from entering local waterways. They should not be discarded in drains, waterways or gardens.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has instructions recommended for destroying the moss balls and cleaning and disinfecting any aquariums that had housed them.

People who purchased the moss balls should also email with the source of the moss balls, the approximate date of purchase and photographs of zebra mussels on the moss balls.

Zebra mussels are one of the most destructive invasive species in North America, and they have been found in pet stores in at least 21 states from Alaska to Florida.

The DNR is working with aquarium and pet supply stores to remove and properly destroy all affected inventory.

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