ESSEX, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is warning people not to release tropical fish or plants into the wild because they can be harmful to native species and it is prohibited by state law.

Many of the common tropical fishes and aquatic plants kept in home aquariums originate from Central and South America, Africa and southeast Asia, although many are raised in the United States.

Aquarium fish that are released in the wild and survive can become difficult, if not impossible to control or eradicate.

They can cause changes in the environment by competing with native fish and introducing exotic parasites and diseases.

Vermont's cold prevents most tropical fish from becoming established, but for example, goldfish, a native to China, is now established in most U.S. states, including Vermont.