CLOSE
Murdoch University
Murdoch University

Australia Is Having a Giant Goldfish Problem

Murdoch University
Murdoch University

For decades, Australia’s Vasse River has been victimized by alien invaders: goldfish discarded from home aquariums that are growing large. Very large.

According to researchers at Murdoch University, goldfish in the Vasse River have the fastest known growth rate of the species anywhere in the world. The nutrients available in the Vasse, where the fish have been living for more than two decades, and the fish’s ability to travel great distances mean they can enjoy a growth spurt without being hindered by a poor aquarium environment. University staff logged their largest sample at roughly four pounds:

Murdoch University

How do they get so big? It might be better to wonder how they usually stay so small. According to National Geographic, goldfish are domesticated carp that were first imported into the U.S. in the 1850s. It’s not true that they remain as tiny as when they're first purchased: Given a proper protein-rich diet and warm water, they’ll pretty much keep growing. Keeping one in a bowl is never recommended, as it can lead to stunted growth and a lack of oxygen. If your fish is on the small side even with room to spread out, it might have been sold as “tank suitable,” which means it won’t get much larger than 10 inches.

While these large fish are probably enjoying their comfortable new habitat, their presence is proving disruptive to the local ecosystem. Because the fish can travel as far as 142 miles, they’re winding up in bodies of water that suffer from their presence: Lower aquatic fauna and the spread of disease are two possible complications. Murdoch researchers are hoping further investigation into their travels will be able to pinpoint exactly where the fish are going so their numbers can be reduced before native species are affected.

The moral? It’s never a good idea to release your unwanted fish in local waters. Try returning them to the pet store or find a place that specializes in gill-related rescues. 

[h/t BBC]

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Chris Jackson, Getty Images
arrow
environment
There's Only One Carbon Negative Country in the World (Here's How They Do It)
Chris Jackson, Getty Images
Chris Jackson, Getty Images

In 2017, the small nation of Bhutan became the first and only carbon negative country in the world. That's right: not carbon neutral, carbon negative.

In an article on the subject, the Climate Council—an independent, Australia-based nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public on matters related to climate change—defines carbon negative status as occurring when a country's carbon emissions are not only offset, but are actually in the negative due to the generation and exportation of renewable energy. There are several reasons for this impressive feat.

Bhutan—a small, landlocked country in the middle of the Himalayas—has a population of approximately 813,000 and produces 2.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. The country is 72 percent forest, and those forests trap more than three times their carbon dioxide output through a process called carbon sequestration, the long-term storage of carbon in plants, soil, and the ocean. This means that Bhutan is a carbon sink: It absorbs more carbon than it releases as carbon dioxide. Specifically, Bhutan is a carbon sink for more than 4 million tons of CO2 each year. In addition, the country exports most of the renewable electricity generated by its rivers, which is equivalent to 6 million tons of CO2.

Bhutan is also exceptionally environmentally friendly. This is partly because it takes a holistic view of development, measuring it with the Gross National Happiness Index instead of the Gross Domestic Product Index, like most countries. Instead of only prioritizing economic improvement, Gross National Happiness balances it with sociocultural and environmental improvement. The eco-conscious country invests in sustainable transport, subsidizes electric vehicles, and has an entirely paperless government.

Bhutan has pledged to remain carbon neutral for all time, and it's safe to say it's doing pretty well so far.

[h/t The Climate Council]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Daniel Berehulak, Getty Images
arrow
environment
Sip on This: The Queen Has Banned Plastic Straws at Buckingham Palace
Daniel Berehulak, Getty Images
Daniel Berehulak, Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II is a big fan of naturalist David Attenborough, and it’s making an impact on royal dining. After working with the iconic Planet Earth narrator (and British knight) on an upcoming conservation film, the monarch felt inspired to take action close to home, banning plastics at royal palaces, Fast Company and The Telegraph report.

At Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Scotland’s Palace of Holyroodhouse, staff will now have to eschew plastic straws and plates, ditching disposable plastic dishware for china, glass, and recyclable paper. The ban will slowly rid public areas of plastic, too. In the palaces’ cafes, all takeout containers will be replaced with compostable or biodegradable alternatives, and plastic straws will slowly be phased out.

While plastic water bottles and bags often get more attention in anti-pollution campaigns, plastic straws are terrible for the environment, and the Queen isn’t the only one taking notice. Plastic straws are one of the most prevalent types of litter, and because of their size, they can’t be recycled. Scotland’s government banned them in parliament in January 2018 and hopes to ban them throughout the country by 2020. Companies like Pret a Manger are already trying to take action against straw waste, introducing paper straws instead.

The problem isn’t limited to the UK—in the U.S., Americans throw away an estimated 500 million straws per day (that’s between one and two per person). In California, several cities have mandated that restaurants provide plastic straws only if customers specifically ask for one, and the legislation may soon spread to the rest of the state. Beginning in July 2018, Seattle restaurants will have to offer compostable or recyclable straws instead of plastic ones as part of a new ban.

Time to make like the Queen and start a BYO-straw movement. Might we suggest you try a reusable silicone or stainless steel option?

[h/t Fast Company]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios