Fisherman discovers Clown knifefish in US lake

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The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is warning people not to release aquarium fish into the state's waterways following the discovery of a dead knifefish last week.

A fisherman discovered the 43cm/17"-long fish at North Montpelier Pond in Vermont. The fish was dead when he found it and he contacted the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife where its identity was confirmed.

Department spokesman Shawn Good said: "This was likely someone’s pet. The Clown knifefish is a popular species when they are young and small, but they can often outgrow the confinement of hobby aquariums."

Clown knifefish (Chitala chitala) can reach 120cm/48", although in captivity they rarely reach more than 60cm/24". They're native to Southeast Asia and require tropical temperatures, which is presumably why this one died.

"If this introduction had been a fish species that is able to survive Vermont’s cold water temperatures such as a snakehead, we may have had to take drastic measures to reclaim the water body," Good continued. "When this happens, we are forced to eliminate all of the fish in the pond and then rebuild the pond’s fish stock with native species."

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