Sylvan Lake town council is asking the provincial government for emergency approval to use the powder form of the Rotenone pesticide to control the infestation of goldfish in a storm pond.   

The town was first made aware of the goldfish invasion last May in the Lakeway Landing Central Storm Pond, and since, has been trying to figure out different ways to deal with the infestation.   

“You think goldfish are adorable and cute when they're in your fish tank, but they grow quite large in size when they're in a bigger environment, and they don't have a lot of other natural predators,” said Sylvan Lake Mayor Megan Hanson. “They would completely disrupt our ecosystem.”  

The goldfish are only in the storm pond currently, but the town is fearful they will end up in the lake.   

Throughout the last year, the town has taken proactive measures, including catching the fish, draining the pond, and lastly, using the liquid form of the Rotenone pesticide.  

Sylvan Lake Lakeway Landing Storm Pond.Last fall, the Town of Sylvan Lake and  Alberta Environment and Protected Areas drained the Lakeway Landing Storm Pond in an attempt to rid the pond of invasive species, such as goldfish.
Photo by Darin Clark. 

Hanson explained that Rotenone is the tried-and-true method, however, there is a shortage of the pesticide.  

“We've recently asked for approval to use potentially the powder form of the same liquid. That's not something that's currently approved,” Hanson said.   

The town did find additional Rotenone, solving the problem for the short term.   

“This is a problem that can creep up on you really, really quickly,” Hanson said. “It would be great to have some other options in terms of dealing with it in the future. Just because we got lucky once finding someone who had a little bit of the extra liquid form doesn't mean we'll be in that situation again, if in a year from now someone does the same thing, and we find more goldfish in our ponds.”  

Hanson added, that there is no concern about using the pesticide in the storm pond, as it has been proven to be fairly safe for other things living in the pond.   

“It's the tried and tested method used across Canada,” she said. “We want to be able to use it while it's contained within our storm pond right now, it certainly isn't something I'd like to see in our lake.”  

Going forward, Hanson urges residents to think before they buy a family pet, ensure they understand the pet’s life cycle, how they will take care of it, and if they are no longer able to care for the pet to adopt it out.   

“It truly does cost a substantial amount of money and time. We have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars trying to rectify this problem and still haven't had a successful result to this point,” Hanson said. “It's very costly on a municipality and we're doing everything we can to protect our lake, but we certainly need residents to also play a part in that and responsibly dispose of their goldfish if they're no longer able to keep them.”