Invasive Goldfish and Koi in the Sea to Sky – We need your help!

Invasive Goldfish and Koi in the Sea to Sky – We need your help!
Invasive Goldfish and Koi in the Sea to Sky – We need your help!

Goldfish and Koi have recently been spotted swimming around in local waterbodies, including Whistler’s Alta Lake, raising serious concerns for native fish populations in the Sea to Sky.

Though goldfish and koi are popular aquarium and garden pond pets, they’re highly invasive, and hard to get rid of once established in our local waterbodies. Since their size is only limited by their habitat, goldfish and koi can grow to be much larger in the wild, where they have more space, and an abundance of varied food sources which allows them to thrive. Goldfish can withstand very cold temperatures and low oxygen levels, meaning they will likely survive long-term in local waterbodies.

Invasive goldfish and koi are significant threats to our native fish, as they compete for both habitat and food.

Goldfish can be various colours – bright orange, cream, gold, green, grey and white. Wild populations are typically olive to gray tones.

Koi fish look similar to goldfish, however they can be distinguished by their barbels (the “whisker” on the sides of their mouths)

There are several lakes and ponds in BC that have recently become overrun by goldfish, such as this pond in the North Okanagan (photo by Pete Wise)

You can learn more about invasive goldfish on the Goldfish Species Profile Page, and take our free Aquatic Invasives 101 course for further education.

What can you do to help?

The Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council is actively working with provincial and municipal governments, to monitor invasive goldfish and koi fish in the Sea to Sky region, but we need your help to keep an eye on all our local waterways.

  • Keep an eye out: If you spot goldfish or koi in a public lake or pond, please take a photo, note the location, and report your sighting here. Knowing where these fish are will help the parties involved to apply for funding and formulate a long-term plan.
  • Don’t Let it Loose: Please do NOT release goldfish or pets of any kind into local waterways.
  • Spread the word: Share this post with your friends and neighbours.
  • Speak up: Report any incidents of illegal release of invasive animals to the Report all Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1-877-952-7277 or on their website.
  • Follow the rules:
    • The BC Freshwater Fishing Regulations outline when and how you are permitted to fish with a Recreational Fishing Licence. These regulations vary by region and waterbody and are in place to protect native fish populations and sensitive aquatic habitats. Any fishing or capture method beyond what is permitted by a Recreational Fishing Licence requires a provincial Scientific Collection Permit.
    • In waterbodies where a species quota is not specified the species may be retained, unless general regulations are in place that prevent retention (e.g. release all fish).
    • Also, please note under Section 10 of the federal Aquatic Invasive Species Regulation it is prohibited to introduce an aquatic species into a region or body of water frequented by fish where it is not indigenous unless authorized to do so under federal or provincial law. This includes moving aquatic species from one waterbody to another or dumping of aquatic species from the pet/aquarium or food trade into natural waters.
  • Get educated: Learn more about goldfish and other aquatic invasive species in our free Aquatic Invasives 101 course.
  • Share your concern: Write to your MLA and MP to express your concern over invasive fish like goldfish and koi in local lakes, requesting increased funding for invasive animal management.



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