I'll tell you my part of this story. I keep, as pets, some tiny creatures called Dwarf African Frogs. They're small, funny and seemingly easy pets who live their entire lives underwater. However, due to a word-wide epidemic of a fungus called Chytrid, many of these little fellows are doomed to die within three months--or less--of arriving at a pet store.
So what has been happening is that people buy three or four of these and a couple of them die. They find out at the pet store treatment to save this one remaining, four-dollar frog may run into 30 dollars or more, so they dump the aquarium in the local pond or lake, spreading this fungus--which is fatal to ALL reptiles and amphibians--all over the world. In the past few years, it's literally devastated entire species of amphibians. Zoos now keep newly acquired reptiles in quarantine until sure they're not infected. Pet shops--well, they're out to make a sell, and frogs sell for 4 bucks, so if one dies who's going to bring it back? They usually flush it (also spreading this fungus and other nasty diseases into the local water supply) and write it off.
I have a great love for these tiny little scraps of life and have kept them as pets for years. How could you not love that face?
My frogs came down with this fungus recently, and almost died. I watched them get sicker and sicker and didn't know what to as there was no effective treatment for them. However, I found a treatment recently discovered by a reptile expert (an over the counter athlete's foot spray, believe it or not) and saved them, just barely. This entailed quarantining them, sterilizing their tank(and if you've ever had to "cycle" an aquarium you know what a pain it is to restart an aquarium) and treat each frog daily with athlete's foot spray for 10 days. The spectacle of me trying to spray a swimming frog with a pump spray is a sight I could put on Youtube and get a million hits.
They recovered and are back in their tank. They are weak and not eating well, but their color is good and may pull through yet.
Bottom line: For decades people have been dumping their aquariums into ponds and lakes, along with assorted plantlife, bacteria, fungi, and wildlife. Pet stores should be required to provide information about the responsibility of maintaining an aquarium, but of course if they did, they would lose all the impulse-buy. It takes a full month to cycle an aquarium to make it habitable for aquatic life, and who wants to wait that long to see pretty fishies (or froggies) swim about?
The proper way to dispose of a dead aquatic pet is to pour bleach on it (and this is hard to do if you've formed affection for it, but in the long run it's better for the ecosystem) let it soak for a few minutes while you wish your late friend a more fortunate rebirth, then bury him somewhere. Flushing is not recommended.
That's all I have to say about that.