An invasive species is making its way into a popular ornamental plant commonly used with betta fish.

Zebra mussels are prohibited in Manitoba as they are an aquatic invasive species. The province is cautioning aquarium and water garden owners that the species may have been sold in individual or in packages of moss balls. This same species has been found in moss balls in Canada and the United States.

"Zebra mussels have been found at all life stages, including some that are extremely small (size of a grain of sand), and are often found inside the moss or algal ball itself," the province says in a statement.

They say zebra mussels are difficult to see during a visual inspection.

Those who purchased a moss ball after January 1 are being asked to treat and dispose of the plant in a specific way. They are asking people not to dispose of the untreated water into the drain or any other body of water.

"Thanks to a well co-ordinated effort across Western Canada between the department and its partners in neighbouring jurisdictions, and swift action and collaboration from retailers across Western Canada, moss or algal balls are being removed from the supply chain, ensuring that potentially contaminated products are no longer available for distribution or purchase."

The province is asking people to treat the plant by:
• Step 1: Treat the moss or algal balls:
 - place into a plastic bag, seal and freeze (preferably in a deep freezer) for at least 24 hours; or
 - place in boiling water for at least one minute and then let cool.
• Step 2: Dispose of moss or algal balls:
 - place it and any of its packaging in a sealed plastic bag and dispose in household garbage. 

They are asking people who may have seen a zebra muscle to call 1-877-867-2470 or email (