Beautiful, but also potentially invasive

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Introduction of non-indigenous exotic species to new areas, where they may establish viable populations and become invasive, is a considerable problem in the protection of nature worldwide, as these species may alter the indigenous species population structure and potentially even decrease the biodiversity. The European fauna underwent through major negative changes on the continent and nowadays, it experiences another new treat, represented by the expanding aquarium pet trade, and with it, associated species (and disease) introductions. Exotic freshwater crustaceans are one of the taxa widely incorporated in the business, counting a remarkable number of species. Recent records of the exotic marbled crayfish or Marmorkrebs (Procambarus fallax f. virginalis) in German in open ecosystems in Slovakia pointed to human-mediated introductions associated with aquarium pet trade in the country. In this regard, a study of the aquarium pet trade both in expositions and shops and online was assessed. Several crustacean taxa are available both in pet trade exhibitions and online through the Internet. Altogether 26 different species were identified in the aquarium trade in Slovakia. These are Procambarus fallax f. virginalis, P. clarkii, P. alleni, Cherax quadricarinatus, C. destructor, C. holthuisi, C. peknyi, Cambarellus patzcuarensis and C. diminutus occurring in the aquarium pet trade in Slovakia (n = 9). Procambarus fallax f. virginalis, P. clarkii and C. patzuarensis are the most common in this regard. There is also a quantity of other related taxa in the aquarium pet trade in Slovakia, mainly Caridina spp. (n = 5), Neocaridina spp. (n = 4), Atyopsis moluccensis, Atya gabonensis, Arachnochium kulsiense and several taxa of exotic crabs (n = 5) belonging to three different genera (Cardiosoma, Geosesarma and Gecarinus) present. Neocaridina davidi is identified as the most frequent in this regard. As some of the species can become established and form viable populations in natural ecosystems in Europe, we alert the public to handle the animals responsibly and thus maintain and protect indigenous European fauna.

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