URGENT UPDATE re: Zebra Mussels Found in Aquarium Moss Balls

RALEIGH, NC (March 5, 2021, 1:50 p.m.) — This afternoon, Dr. Art Bogan, research curator of mollusks with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, identified the mussels found in aquatic moss ball packaging labeled ‘Marimo Moss Ball Plant Grab & Go’ and ‘Mini Marimo Moss Balls’ as zebra mussels. N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission biologists purchased the moss balls from a PetSmart in Burlington. PetSmart is removing the product from shelves but has not shared their plans for disposal. Another national pet supply retailer, Petco, confirmed with Wildlife Commission officials that they are taking the appropriate steps to remove and destroy the moss balls in all its N.C. locations. Other retail outlets, including online retailers like Ebay and Amazon, may also be selling contaminated moss. Smaller pet retailers should be diligent in checking their stock too.

It is widely believed that the packaging may be branded in several different ways. In an abundance of caution, anyone who has purchased ANY moss balls in the past month are urged to follow the instructions in the press release below about how to properly destroy them and clean their aquariums.

Retailers who stock this product should remove it from their shelves immediately and contact their headquarters office for disposal instructions or dispose of them as outlined below.

Wildlife Commission law enforcement agents will be visiting every retail pet store in the state with information about zebra mussels and how to deal with this potential threat.

Attached are pictures of the packaging found at PetSmart this morning.