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Pond for unwanted pet fish built to protect San Marcos River

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) - Conservationists in San Marcos are asking locals to stop dumping their pet fish in the San Marcos River and instead surrender them to the San Marcos Discovery Center's fish pond.  

The center has created a fish pond for any fish that owners can no longer take care of. "We have some goldfish and I think we have one betta fish," said habitat conservation specialist Eric Weeks.

He says people have also surrendered a few algae-eaters to the center. Weeks says the center is able to separate the fish if needed and will adopt them out to new homes for free. 

But not everyone has been surrendering their fish to the center. Weeks says there are thousands of non-native fish living in the San Marcos River and hurting the natural habitat.  

"A lot of the times the fish grows too large for the tank, they don't want to kill it or flush it in the toilet, so they think letting it in the river is the humane way to get rid of their fish," said Weeks.

"They don't know that it causes a lot of issues in the river. They out-compete for space for food and they also burrow which is detrimental to the habitat of the river and the endangered and threatened species that are in the San Marcos River." 

The city contracts out with local fishermen to help catch the non-native fish. "The best day I've ever got was 55 and I think that was in 2013 or 2014," said fisherman Nick Manchaca.  

Manchaca spearfishes the algae-eating fish daily. Since he started spearing fish six years ago he says his team has caught around 6,500 and expect to hit around 7,000 by the end of the year. 

"We're just trying to bring back the native species, encourage the native species to re-spawn and rebuild the population," said Manchaca.  

If you have a fish you can no longer care for, you can drop it off at the San Marcos Discovery Center at 430 Riverside Dr.

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