Goldfish reaching as much as 1’6” in length have been found by California researchers in Lake Tahoe, according to NBC affiliate KCRA-TV.

Researchers were originally seeking another species, largemouth bass, but happened across goldfish that were just as large.

Christie Ngai–a researcher for the University of Nevada–told KCRA of her reaction to the discovery: “You just see this bright golden orange thing starting to float up, and you’re like, what is that? And then you take a net and you scoop it up and you’re like, it’s a goldfish.”

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Ngai had heard stories about giant goldfish before, but she and her fellow researchers were the first to actually document them.

The goldfish–categorized as an invasive species–were most likely dumped by aquarium owners. Researchers are concerned about how the goldfish could impact the Lake Tahoe ecosystem.

“We know that we have a giant goldfish,” University of Nevada associate professor Dr. Sudeep Chandra stated in an interview with KCRA. “The question now becomes how long has it been there and how many others are there in the lake?”

Dumping aquarium fish can have severe repercussions. According to a 2006 report by Tim Bonner in Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine, “people have fish in their aquariums they don’t want to kill, so they dump them into a pond, river or spring. They may save the life of one fish, but in doing so they could wipe out a whole population of native fishes.”

Aquarium dumping is a growing problem worldwide. According to The Huffington Post, “the aquarium trade has contributed a third of the world’s worst aquatic species.”

Image from KCRA video from DailyMail2U

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