When you hear that a state has said that something is banned from entering its borders, you take notice. 'Is it deadly?' you might ask. 'Is it drugs?' No and no.

When I saw the headline from CBSNews Channel 5 out of Wyoming about Marimo balls being 'quarantined' from the state, I had to dig deeper.

Apparently, these moss or algae balls are used in aquariums for several reasons, including to help keep aquariums free of excess algae growth and to provide 'good' bacteria for the tank.

I got that information from an article, '13 Benefits of the Marimo.' Which is weird, because one of the 13 benefits has to do with why Wyoming is banning them from coming into the state.

The benefit in question:

Does not bring hitchhikers with it into the tank.

Yet, both Wyoming and the U.S. have seen an influx of 'hitchhikers' on Marimo balls— zebra mussels. These mussels cause $1 billion in damage to natural resources and water systems across the nation every year.

According to the Wyoming Department of Agriculture:

Once they become established in reservoirs, lakes, or other water systems, they remove nutrients from water, clog pipes and waterways, and can damage property..


Zebra mussels are striped, less than 2-inches in size, attach to any hard surfaces, and are extremely resistant to cold temperatures and many chemicals.


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Once these zebra mussels get into an ecosystem, they are impossible to get rid of; and unfortunately, a few of these creatures were recently found in shipments to two pet stores within the Cowboy State.

Hence, the order from Wyoming:

...no person, firm, partnership, corporation, or any other entity shall import or transport Marimo balls into the State of Wyoming.

If a residence currently does have Marimo balls in use in their aquarium, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture has listed some very serious steps that need to be taken to get rid of them safely. In their order, the Department requests that residents

Do not flush the moss ball or pour aquarium water down any drains, toilets, or into nearby water sources like a local pond or creek. These actions could spread zebra mussels throughout the water system.

I could see Colorado issuing the same order at some point. These things sound like nasty trouble. Colorado's Department of Parks & Wildlife did recently urge pet supply stores to be on the lookout for zebra mussels.

For more on the zebra mussels issue with Marimo balls, visit the Wyoming Department of Agriculture HERE.

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