Don’t dump unwanted fish into ponds, streams or lakes say Utah officials

Sep 9, 2022, 7:00 AM
fish unwanted utah...
August 29, 2022: Goldfish found in a pond on the Mail Draw Wildlife Management Area on Diamond Mountain. (DWR)

SALT LAKE CITY — For anybody thinking about dropping unwanted aquarium fish (or fish that were caught elsewhere) into a lake or pond, the word from the Division of Wildlife Resources is “please don’t.”

It can lead to problems like disease, poor water quality, and stress to native and endangered fish.

“Illegal fish introductions seldom improve fisheries — instead, illegal introductions typically ruin fisheries and threaten the species that live there,” DWR Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger said in a press release.

“It is also illegal in Utah and can result in a class A misdemeanor.”

The reminder comes after DWR biologists said they found oscar fish in Millrace Park Pond in Taylorsville. Oscar fish are native to South America and are typically seen in freshwater aquariums.


The DWR said biologists also found hundreds of goldfish in a pond in the Mail Draw Wildlife Management Area on Diamond Mountain.


The list of negative effects that follow an illegal fish dump is long. The fish can prey on and outcompete native fish species, including endangered fish. The new fish can introduce disease, and otherwise negatively impact the quality of the water.

And it can be expensive.

“It is very expensive and takes a long time — often requiring rotenone treatments that kill all the fish — to restore these waterbodies after fish have been illegally introduced,” Oplinger said. “Please help our native fish species and maintain quality fishing in Utah by never dumping a fish.”

Finally, the DWR tells anglers they’re not improving a fishing pond or stream by moving fish around.  

“Instead, these illegal introductions often ruin a fishery,” said DWR spokesperson Faith Heaton Jolly in a press release. In order to get rid of non-native fish, all of the fish in a body of water will be killed according to the DWR website.

Please call 1-800-662-3337 to report invasive fish, or if you see anyone illegally introducing fish into a body of water.

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Don’t dump unwanted fish into ponds, streams or lakes say Utah officials