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Posted on: March 18, 2021

Zebra Mussel Alert

Zebra mussel in Marimo moss ball

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, along with wildlife agencies across the country, is urging pet and aquarium stores as well as aquarium owners to remove and safely dispose of any moss ball plant designed for aquariums. Invasive zebra mussels were discovered inside the products labeled as “Marimo Moss Ball Plant Grab & Go” and “Mini Marimo Moss Balls.” These products have been recalled nationally.

As a member of the Yadkin-Pee Dee Water Management Group, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities is joining the effort to educate the public about these contaminated moss ball plants to prevent zebra mussels from entering our shared water supply. Why? In addition to being illegal to possess in North Carolina, zebra mussels clog pipelines used for water filtration, render beaches unusable and damage boats. They also negatively impact aquatic ecosystems by harming native organisms.

Zebra mussels have been confirmed in moss balls sold at retailers in North Carolina, including PetSmart and Petco. If you have purchased moss balls since the beginning of the year, please follow the instructions below about how to properly destroy them and clean your aquariums. There are likely more brands that contain the mussels and an overabundance of caution is suggested if you've purchased ANY moss balls recently. Any aquarium owner who has purchased moss balls should dispose of them immediately and carefully by:

  • Placing them in a plastic bag and freezing them overnight; or,
  • Boiling them or soaking them overnight in a bleach solution (one cup bleach per gallon of water).

 After freezing or boiling, moss balls should be bagged and disposed of in the trash. Living moss balls or untreated water should not be disposed of in any location where they can reach sewage systems, streams or lakes.

To treat your aquarium:

  • Remove fish and apply the bleach solution and let it sit for at least one hour before disposing the water down the sink or toilet.
  • Disinfect filters, gravels and structure as described above and dispose of water down the sink or toilet.

 Learn more by reading the Wildlife Commission's Frequently Asked Questions about Zebra Mussels. If you have questions, call the NCWRC at 919-707-0220 and visit

Zebra Mussel Alert video
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