The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is sounding the alarm that troublesome zebra mussels have been detected in the state in moss ball products designed for aquarium use.

The small zebra mussels can clog pipelines used for water filtration, render beaches unusable, and damage boats. They also negatively impact aquatic ecosystems by harming native organisms. They are sold as an aquarium plant under names such as “Beta Buddy Marimo Balls,” “Mini Marimo Moss Balls,” and “Marimo Moss Ball Plant.”

LDWF biologists say, however, that the numbers detected in Louisiana are small and that the state’s summer heat will probably kill all or most of them. Still, the department warns anyone with the moss balls for their aquariums to be diligent in following the directions concerning locating and disposing of the zebra mussels.

LDWF asks pet, aquarium, and retail stores selling these ‘moss balls’ to remove this product from shelves and discontinue sales.

Information about the emergence of the zebra mussels was presented by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force has presented protocols to follow concerning the management of the zebra mussels.

If you have recently purchased a moss ball aquatic plant product, we recommend that you take the following steps:

Decontaminate the moss ball using one of the following methods, ensuring that the disposal method you choose is in compliance with state laws and animal welfare regulations:

Once step one is complete, place the moss ball and any of its packaging in a sealed plastic bag and dispose in the trash.

If vinegar, boiling water, or bleach was used, the liquid can be disposed of down a household drain —never down a storm drain where it could enter and damage local waterways.

 If the moss ball was placed in an aquarium, please take these additional steps:

If you are using the boiling method:

To use the disinfection method:

It is recommended that you do another water change within a week and continue to monitor the tank for any unusual or unexpected aquatic life. It is also recommended to never release animals or plants from home aquariums into local waterbodies.

For more information, call the LDWF’s Aquatic nuisance species hotline phone number at 225-765-3977 or email: