Free goldfish - please help yourself!

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Experts at a nature reserve in Highbury are offering free goldfish to anyone who wants to collect them.

Gillespie Park Nature Reserve has had so many unwanted goldfish dumped into its pond that they are threatening rare toads and newts, along with insects, such as dragonflies and beetles.

The fish are eating the spawn of the native amphibians in the pond and have been breeding rapidly. Experts at the reserve's ecology centre are becoming so concerned that they're asking anyone who would like a goldfish to come and help themselves in an effort to try and clear the pond.

A sign next to the pond reads: "While we currently allow fishing for goldfish using nets, please inform the Ecology Centre first."

A council spokesman added: "Any children taking goldfish should be supervised by an adult."

In the past experts have tried removing the goldfish using electro-fishing, but things have got so bad that the council’s nature conservation team is even considering draining the pond completely in an effort to solve the problem.

And it's not just goldfish that are being dumped there – a piranha has also been discovered dead in the pond, where it had presumably been released by an aquarist.

Neil Winter, a fisheries officer for the Environment Agency, reminded the public that: "...it is an offence to move non-native fish to any waters apart from ornamental water areas such as garden ponds and fish tanks.

"Non-native species can have a detrimental effect on the ecology of a water body, such as rivers and lakes, and there is also the risk of disease being spread to other fish."

So if you live in the Highbury area and you're looking for some goldfish for your garden pond this coming season, it may be worth paying the nature reserve a visit – you'd be helping out the local wildlife and getting some free fish into the bargain!

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