People, Environment

DOE: Don't Release Goldfish in Nature

Iranian families decorate their "Haft Seen" table with goldfish to mark Norouz.Iranian families decorate their "Haft Seen" table with goldfish to mark Norouz.

Releasing domestic goldfish in nature—such as wetlands and rivers—can harm endemic species and must be avoided, according to an official of the Department of Environment.

Iranian families decorate their "Haft Seen" table with goldfish to mark Norouz (the advent of the Iranian New Year) that coincided with March 21 this year.

Because the fish does not live long in a bowl or tank, many tend to release them into open waters after the two-week holiday, where they believe the goldfish can live a much longer life.

However, Asghar Mobaraki, director of the Office for Museums of Natural History and Genetic Resources at DOE, says because goldfish are considered an invasive species, they can disrupt the native ecosystems, ISNA reported.

"By leaving goldfish in lakes and lagoons, we are in most cases releasing a non-native species into a new habitat, which can cause trouble for the endemic fauna," he said.

The official explained that goldfish, despite what people think, are quite resilient and able to withstand tough conditions as they naturally live in a variety of habitats and feed on a wide range of resources.

"Therefore, they can rapidly adapt to the new environment, reproduce and rival the species living in that habitat," he said.

Mobaraki suggested that the goldfish be set free in manmade urban structures such as artificial ponds and lakes in parks.

These fish are only found in certain Iranian habitats. The goldfish traded in Norouz are not caught from natural environments and are normally bred artificially to be sold at around Norouz. Goldfish farming is a common practice in Iran.

Haft Seen is the arrangement of seven symbolic items all starting with the Persian letter 'S' on a tabletop but includes a number of other items, including candles, a mirror, colored eggs and goldfish.

Some experts argue that the extra items have been borrowed from other cultures. Goldfish is thought by some to have been inspired from a Chinese custom.   

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