09/21/2015 10:53 EDT | Updated 09/21/2016 05:12 EDT

Alberta Town Hopes To Rid Ponds Of Invasive Goldfish

They have no natural predators in Alberta.

DOBphoto via Getty Images
Prussian carp

HIGH RIVER, Alta. — There's something fishy about the storm water ponds in a town in southern Alberta.

The town of High River says anywhere between 35 and 100 domestic goldfish have been spotted in the forebays of the storm pond system of Highwood Lake.

It's asking people who can't care for their fish anymore to contact pet shops or veterinarians.

Senior fish biologist Craig Mushens, who's working with the town to fix the problem, says the fish are an invasive species.

The goldfish are also known as Prussian carp, and Mushens says they out-compete native species for food and habitat and spread diseases, as well as spread from one body of water to another.

Releasing live fish into Alberta water bodies is illegal and the fines can be as high as $100,000.

"It is extremely costly and difficult to try and manage, contain and destroy them once they have become established," Mushens said on the town's website.

High River, in partnership with a contractor, is working with the provincial invasive species specialist and has screened off the forebays to stop the goldfish from getting into larger ponds or the Highwood River.

In June, Alberta Environment and Parks announced a campaign asking people to stop flushing live fish down the toilet.

An aquatic invasive species specialist with the department said they're seeing more and more cases of non-native species of fish in Alberta bodies of water because people are dumping live fish from their aquariums into stormwater ponds, lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams.

Alberta Environment's website says koi and goldfish can survive the province's climate and can grow to be very large.

They have no natural predators in Alberta, the website says.

"If you catch a Prussian carp while angling, please kill it and either take it home to eat or properly dispose of the carcass," the department advises.