The Canadian Association of Aquarium Veterinarians says that the number of cases of fish poisoning has nearly tripled since the advent of the plastic water filter in Canada.
“The number of reported cases has tripled,” said Dr. Susan Hannon, a spokesperson for the association.
The numbers are even more dramatic in the U.S., where the American Aquarium Society has reported a jump in the number and severity of cases over the past year.
Hannon told CBC News that in the first half of 2018, there were nearly 200,000 cases of suspected aquarium fish poisoning reported in the United States, more than double the number from the same time last year.
While the majority of cases involve a single, non-aggressive fish, a few species can also be aggressive.
Hanna says that in many cases, the culprit is simply a lack of proper care and a lack-of-experience in aquarium care.
“When you get to a situation where the fish is not getting a lot of food, the bacteria will just eat itself,” Hannon said.
“You’ll see the fish get more aggressive, and the fish will grow in size and become aggressive, because they can’t get enough food.”
Hannon says that sometimes the aggressive fish will even eat the fish that the aquarium has taken into the water.
She said it is important to know what to look for.
“We want to know if the fish was in the water, was exposed to water, or was in contact with the water in any way,” Hanna said.
If a person has symptoms of fish toxicity, she said, they should seek medical attention.
The association also recommends that owners wash their fish with a diluted bleach solution to kill any potentially harmful bacteria.
But that isn’t always necessary.
“I’m not sure what the standard is,” Hannan said.
When it comes to cleaning up after an aquarium accident, there are several things that you can do.
“Some of the things you can really do, is to get out your hand towel and do a clean up on your hands,” she said.
Hannans advice is to always wear gloves, especially for water.
“That’s where we tend to see the most aggressive fish,” Hahnan said, “because they can get into the food and the water.”
Another tip: Don’t get into a situation and swim in the open, as the water can be too contaminated with bacteria and toxins.
Hanni says that you should also wear eye protection, even if you’re not swimming.
She also recommends using a disposable filter when cleaning your aquarium, and to keep a few drops of bleach in the tank.
If you’re concerned about your fish getting into your water, there’s a solution: just go to the aquarium and give it a shot.
“There are a lot more effective ways to get your fish to go away,” Hanni said.
You can also call the Aquarium Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.
With files from The Associated Press