A local resident found a dead pleco in the Animas River near Durango. The pleco catfish was someone's pet that they released in the river illegally.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Durango has shared a picture that looks oddly familiar. The reason why it looks familiar to me is because I have a fish that looks just like it in my aquarium. A local resident shared this picture of a pleco with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and CPW is letting everyone know why this is illegal.

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Plecos are suckerfish and are great for cleaning up your fish tank. They're not great for living in a river though. Someone clearly took this pleco out of their fish tank and released it into the Animas River. Plecos are not native to Colorado and can cause harm to the river.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Durango:

Luckily, this species is unable to withstand cold water temperatures and was unable to survive and cause harm to the river. We would like to remind everyone that the unauthorized transporting or stocking of fish into any body of water is illegal.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife goes on to say that this includes live bait as well as aquarium fish. You don't know what effect these fish will have on the ecosystem, they could have diseases and disrupt the natural food chain.

In the comments on Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Facebook post, someone added that this is a brutal way for an aquarium fish to die, which is true. Just because a fish can survive in the water in your fish tank, does not mean that they can survive the water in a nearby river or other bodies of water.

If you can't care for your animals anymore, please find someone who can. And if you can't find a friend or a neighbor who will, fish stores will often accept unwanted fish.