‘Football-sized’ goldfish take over lake after people dump pets in water

'Football-sized' goldfish are taking over ponds and lakes after years of people dumping unwanted pets.

Conservationists have begged people to stop releasing their pet goldfish into bodies of water as they're growing to become an invasive species.

In the city of Burnsville, Minneapolis, huge goldfish the size of footballs have been discovered in a local lake.

It's believed the incredibly large fish were let loose and now residents are being told to stop.

The usually small goldfish are growing and 'mucking up' the bottom sediments of the lakes and uprooting plants, it's said.

Not only that, but large numbers of the humungous species are being found.

The city tweeted recently: "Please don’t release your pet goldfish into ponds and lakes!

"They grow bigger than you think and contribute to poor water quality by mucking up the bottom sediments and uprooting plants. Groups of these large goldfish were recently found in Keller Lake."

However, pet goldfish finding new homes in wild waters isn't a recent issue, with the species deemed as "disposable" as early as the 1800s.

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The trend of giving them out as prizes at funfairs is believed to have begun at this time, leading to them also being disregarded.

Last year, between 30,000 and 50,000 abandoned goldfish were removed from waters in nearby Carvery County in Minnesota.

Goldfish being used as bait also contributes to the problem.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said earlier this year that a "few goldfish might seem to some like a harmless addition to the local water body – but they're not."

They explained work goes into monitoring and managing the various types of species in the water to "protect" them.

The problem of the large fish has also been found in other areas, including Washington and other states, as well as Canada and Australia.

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The brightly-coloured fish cost billions of dollars worth of damage each year, states the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Even though it can be difficult to imagine the destruction caused by the tiny fish, they have the "ability to drastically change water quality."

Instead, even if people are trying to do something kind, their actions have "unintended consequences", says Caleb Ashling, a natural resources specialist.

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