When most people think about a goldfish they picture a bright little fish in a plastic bag full of water that will likely be flushed down the toilet in a few weeks. It turns out that if you keep them healthy and give them room to grow, a goldfish can become a giant in no time.
Researchers from Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia found a pet goldfish that has grown to the size of a football after being released into a local river. It may not seem like much of a big deal, but goldfish like this are technically an invasive species that can potentially cause harm to local ecosystems.
A spokesman from RSPCA told the BBC that their small size and short lifespan are really just common misconceptions. “The fact is they’re known to live for up to 25 years and some can reach over 40cm (15.7in),” he said.
The scientists who found the giant goldfish pictured below believe it escaped into the local river after someone dumped their aquarium.
Dr. Stephen Beatty from the Centre of Fish and Fisheries told the BBC that he’s seen these former house pets grow as larges as 4 lbs. He and his group of researchers are tracking the activities of these invasive fish. “Our research discovered the fish displayed a significant seasonal shift in habitats during breeding season, with one fish moving over 230km (142 miles) during the year,” he said. “Once established, self-sustaining populations of alien freshwater fishes often thrive and can spread into new regions, which is having a fundamental ecological impact and are major drivers of the decline of aquatic fauna.”
— BBC Newsbeat (@BBCNewsbeat) August 17, 2016