Grass carp were introduced into the United States about 60 years ago. Their immense consumption of aquatic vegetation made them ideal candidates for controlling plant growth in lakes and ponds. In this role, grass carp helped to protect ecosystems by balancing plant growth and the needs of fish and other aquatic life.
During the 1980's, fertile grass carp became an invasive species in Lake Erie and in other locations. Their enormous food intake and rapid reproduction negatively impacted fish populations and changed the ecological balance. The source of the invasive quantities of grass carp were likely escapes from waters near Lake Erie where pond and lake managers used them as a natural and non-chemical plant control system.
The unchecked population growth and high rates of plant consumption negatively impacted Lake Erie and other bodies of water. Depending on the goals of pond or lake management, the use of grass carp in well-controlled environments demonstrated their effectiveness and benefits in protecting aquatic ecosystems.
Responding to the impact of the invasive grass carp, states began regulating their use. The key was to require sterilization during the commercial breeding process. If all carp sold were unable to reproduce, then carp would not be able to overwhelm aquatic environments by population and over feeding.
Grass carp hatcheries were required to sterilize their crops by altering the egg development process. The resulting crops of sterile carp could not reproduce in the wild. The US Fish and Wildlife Service inspects hatcheries for compliance and tests carp for fertility. The sterilization process was effective in reducing unplanned reproduction but not completely capable of eliminating fertile carp.
Barriers Supplement Sterilization
Barriers play a key role in protecting ponds and lakes. Grass carp like salmon and some other species have an instinct to spawn and reproduce in flowing water. Barriers must be well designed to prevent escape from ponds and lakes into rivers and streams. Barriers also protect the breeders investment in stock and equipment by reducing loss of grass carp.
The State of Florida has strict rules to protect against release of grass carp. Pond and lake managers must secure a permit riot to obtaining grass carp. The permit conditions requires the managers and owners to keep the fish in the specific lake or pond and not allow them to escape by using barriers.
Barriers Must be Well-Designed
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission sets standards for fish barriers. The gaps between the sturdy bars must meet specific measurements to block the escape of fish. The design requirements must also contemplate rising waters during rains and heavy storms. The barrier openings must be small to prevent escape by fish capable of reproducing and large enough to let other materials pass through. The barriers must be able to function without undue clogging. Barrier designs must accommodate maintenance and cleaning and resist corrosion.
Effective Plant Control Solutions
Grass carp provide aquatic plant control as a natural part of a balanced ecosystem. Carp suppliers for pond and lake management companies in Florida must meet state and federal guidelines for safety. With effective low-maintenance barriers, grass carp can contribute to healthy aquatic environments that protect fish and other aquatic species. Effective barriers are an essential tool for protecting fish and aquatic habitat.
When the weather changes during the spring season, and again in the fall, algal blooms appear in many open bodies of water. Temperature changes and seasonal winds during these periods stir the water, in turn stirring up sediment from the floor. In doing so, this adds a fresh concentration of nutrients to the water. While this phenomenon, known as the turnover process, is completely normal, it can make your pond turn a green or brownish-green color when it occurs.
At the same time as this is occurring, additional nutrients are entering the water from outside the pond. If only a minimal amount of these outside nutrients are added to the water while the turnover process is also taking place, then it doesn’t take long, only about a few weeks, for the water to clear back up. If the nutrients coming from outside the body of water are too excessive however, then, combined with the turnover, the brownish-green tint to the water could linger.
Immediate Fix: Aquatic Dyes
Fortunately, there is a method you can use to get immediate relief from those algae explosions and the unsightly brown and green water they produce: aquatic dye.
There are non-toxic dyes you can buy from pond management companies in Florida that will help keep the excessive growth of algae in your pond under control. To always be safe, never use dyes not labeled non-toxic and made specifically for use in open bodies of water. Pond dyes are similar to food dyes in that they contain colorants not found harmful to wildlife. (That said, don’t try eating pond dye or substituting it for food dye in your next batch of holiday cookies.)
If you’ve ever noticed how fresh, clear, blue and, above all, algae-free the water looks at golf courses and recreational parks, in decorative fountains and ornamental ponds, it’s because the tenders of those water bodies add an aquatic blue or blue-green dye to the water.
Benefits of Aquatic Dyes
In addition to providing that familiar, healthy tint to the water, aquatic dyes also reduce the penetration of sunlight into the water. This acts as a form of shade that helps to impede photosynthesis, thereby reducing algal growth.
Aquatic dyes are most effective for controlling blue-green algae and filamentous algae. They are not herbicides, however, and cannot be used to kill off algae that has already proliferated.
Aquatic Dye Colors
You can get pond dyes in a range of colors:
Pond management companies in Florida can help you determine the best aquatic dye for your needs to make your pond look its purest and cleanest while keeping the life it sustains healthy and safe.
With summer fast approaching, now is the ideal time to have your pond or lake checked out by a professional management company. Early preventive measures are important when it comes to keeping things clean and clear. That's why you'll want to be sure to have your water body inspected, cleaned and maintained in the spring. Waiting too long could result in issues that are challenging to control and expensive to manage.
By the time summer arrives in full force, pond and lake management companies in Florida start to come across troublesome and preventable issues. Any professional will advise you to address maintenance now in order to plan for success in the future. Ultimately, timely preparation and foresight can allow you and your guests to enjoy your summer water activities without interruption. Here are the maintenance tips you'll need to have a successful summer.
Check Your Equipment
Hopefully, you're checking on equipment such as aerators, fountains, lights, cables and control panels at regular intervals throughout the year. However, if you want to have full use of your water body when the weather gets warm, you'll definitely want to have these items checked before summer.
Develop a Management Plan
When determining what actions to take toward lake management, you can actually get a good idea of what needs to be done by looking back on previous seasons. What sorts of problems were you facing last year at this time? Issues like algae bloom, plant overgrowth and invasive plant life can typically become a recurring problem. Professional lake management companies in Florida have the knowledge to tackle these problems and to develop a plan to proactively manage them.
Be Aware of Neighborhood Development
Any large construction projects or development in your close geographic area can impact the health of your water body, resulting in problems like increased sedimentation. Failed best management practices (BMP) can occur on or around construction sites, causing upheaval to your water system. These include sediment traps and basins, seeding and mulching, silt fencing and earth dikes.
Check Water Quality
Checking the quality of your water now can provide insight into any issues that may develop with the warmer weather. A pond management professional can help you to better understand potential impacts of your quality readings so that proper adjustments can be made. Taking preventative measures now can ensure a healthy ecosystem and clear water body all summer long.
Arrange Meetings with Governing Bodies
If organizations such as lake or homeowners' associations are responsible for upkeep of a water body, it's crucial that these stakeholders meet regularly to discuss maintenance plans for the waters in their care. Working in combination with a reputable pond and lake management company aid in determining the budget needed for proper maintenance. This type of collaboration is essential to keep your pond clean and beautiful.
Follow these suggestions to get a handle on your pond's health. Taking action now toward proper maintenance can ensure you enjoy a hassle-free summer.
With their prehistoric protection shells and reptilian extremities, turtles are fun and fascinating animals. But can they harm your backyard pond?
Generally speaking, turtles should be seen as welcome additions to most aquatic ecosystems. If a small bale takes up residency in your property’s water feature, you probably have little to worry about. In fact, turtles can be helpful. But in certain situations, they may cause a few problems.
So today, we’re breaking down the pros and cons of having turtles in your property’s pond.
First a Crash Course on TurtlesTurtles are cold-blooded reptiles that can be found on every continent except Antarctica, and there are currently about 350 species on the planet. Highly adaptable and relatively easygoing about their diets, turtles will eat whatever is available and can digest both plants and meat.
Fun Fact: A turtle's outer shell is made of bone, and it's called a carapace.
Benefits of Pond Turtles
Turtles are like pond vacuum cleaners. Their omnivorous palates aren’t discerning, and they’ll munch on just about anything in front of them. Folks assume that turtles will eat up all the fresh, healthy fish in a pond. And they may occasionally catch a sushi-grade swimmer. But they usually opt for the path of least resistance — the slow, sick, and dead ones — which helps prevent unwanted bacteria from building up.
Turtles also chow on underwater plant life, keeping pond weeds under control. Conveniently, they’re particularly fond of issue-causing strains. In a way, having a few turtles around is like medicine for your pond.
However, you shouldn’t rely on turtles to keep all of your weeds under control. Instead, enlist the services of a certified pond landscaping expert to help keep your underwater ecosystem healthy and thriving.
Potential Drawback of Pond Turtles
Problems with pond turtles arise when they overtake an ecosystem — and certain species reproduce at rabbit-like rates. When they become the dominant species, turtles compete for food and other resources and may eventually starve out the fish.
Having too many turtles can also obscure problems that are causing fish to die. After all, if they’re gobbling up all the dead swimmers, you may not notice their carcasses and miss a fatal bacteria problem metastasizing in your pond.
Turtles are fun to observe and make a great visual addition to landscaped water features. So long as you keep their populations in check, they’re more helpful than harmful. The key is maintaining a healthy balance. Crosscreek Environmental is one of the premier pond management companies in Florida. So if you’re in the Sunshine State, and need a landscaper with expert knowledge of Florida pond maintenance, give us a call.
The summer sun beckons you to get outside and have some fun. Yet, every year seems to bring new stories about people getting sick after they go swimming in a natural body of water. While lakes aren’t chlorinated like your community pool might be, you don’t have to opt out of enjoying a dip in your favorite local swimming hole. Being smart about how and when you swim is all it takes to stay as safe as possible during your aquatic activities this summer.
Watch For the Signs of Unsafe Lake Water
Lake water is exposed to runoff from storms along with temperature changes that can all impact the delicate ecosystem in and around the water. Pollutants, toxic algae and hazardous bacteria are a few of the potential things that could be lurking in the water that might make you sick.
Sometimes, you can tell if the lake water is unsafe just by giving it a good look. Toxic algae blooms can cause discoloration and murkiness in the water. You might also see a large amount of algae growing in the water or along the shoreline. When algae levels are high, you can experience stomach or respiratory distress. Waiting until the water clears up is best in this instance.
You’ll also want to watch out for water that is hotter than normal. While a warm lake won’t necessarily cause you harm, it can increase the amount of bacteria that exists in the water. Swallowing the bacteria as you swim could also make you sick.
The final thing to check is the overall health of the fish in the lake. Seeing a large amount of fish die-off is a major warning sign. If the fish can’t survive in the water, then you have to wonder if there is something in the water that could also affect your health.
Take Extra Precautions As You Swim
Even when the water looks great, you’ll want to follow a few basic safety practices. For example, you’ll need to avoid swimming when you have an open wound that could allow bacteria to enter your body and cause an infection. It is also best to keep your eyes closed when you swim and avoid getting water in your nose and mouth.
After you go swimming, make sure to shower and monitor yourself for symptoms. If you feel sick within a few days after swimming, then visit the doctor and let them know you recently enjoyed a day at the lake.
Clear Up Potential Lake Water Hazards
For the safest swimming experience, you’ll want to have a professional monitor the lake water. Lake management companies in Florida have the know-how that is necessary to identify potential hazards to human health that could exist in the water. If a problem is found, then they can recommend a solution for helping to ensure that everyone who swims in the lake stays safe.
The allure of a sparkling lake is hard to resist, and there is no reason why anyone should have to opt out of a refreshing dip. While the health of lake water can change within a short period of time, it is also possible to treat the issue quickly when you identify its source. Making lake management a priority means that you’ll be able to feel comfortable as you swim with your friends and family this summer.
If you have a lake on your property, you may be familiar with golden algae. It's possible you have questions about it. Golden algae is a single-celled organism that can be found in all sorts of water bodies around the world. Typically, you'll see it in coastal areas, but it also lives in lakes and rivers.
Often, this algae is quite harmless. However, it can become a problem if it's able to bloom. Blooming is a phase in which the algae grows and reproduces rapidly. When this occurs, the levels of toxins produced by the golden algae can actually kill aquatic life. Anything with gills can be affected. This includes fish, clams and mussels, as well as amphibians in the gill-breathing stage such as frogs.
The discovery of golden algae occurred in 2005. It was found in an Arizona man-made lake, and its origin remains unknown. What is known is that it is able to spread rapidly, much like other invasive aquatic species. Because it contains chlorophyll, it is able to produce its own food through sunlight and other nutrients. In order to feed, it must release chemical compounds in combination with minerals. This emission creates the toxins that kill fish.
There remains some mystery around the formation of golden algae. A means of controlling it has not yet been developed for rivers and large reservoirs. Fortunately, there are some effective treatments for ponds and small reservoirs.
Qualified pond and lake management companies in Florida can help you to test for golden algae and to treat blooms. The key to rapid management is to detect it early so that treatment can begin as soon as possible. You may need to remain vigilant, as previously treated waters can become reinfected.
Golden algae can attack gill-breathing aquatic life for varying periods, sometimes even lasting months. The location being affected can change over time; an entire water body may not experience growth. You'll often see golden algae in the cooler months. In warmer temperatures, it may be controlled as other types of algae begin to grow.
It is not possible to completely remove golden algae growth, but the spread can be prevented by treating the water body with an algecide. Copper sulfate is often effective. Another way spread can be prevented is with the assistance of those who fish for recreation. It's essential to make sure fishing equipment is completely dry before using it in a different body of water.
Golden algae can be a real problem. While it does spread, this doesn't necessarily mean you will see harmful results such as fish kills. It's a good idea to contact one of the pond and lake management companies in Florida to help you determine if you have golden algae and, if so, how to best manage it.
The warm weather in Florida can cause un-aerated ponds and lakes to hold less dissolved oxygen. This can create an environment that is difficult for fish to survive in, so you should be extra careful when treating aquatic vegetation and algae when it's hot outside.
The chemicals involved in the treatment of aquatic vegetation and algae can make the oxygen levels in the water drop even lower than they already are in the summer. The chemicals themselves are not harmful to fish, but the waste they tend to leave behind can be because the decomposition process takes away even more oxygen necessary for fish to thrive. As a result, doing these types of treatments during the warmest months of the year can create a very toxic environment for fish.
High Water Temperatures Can Be Life Threatening
Some species of fish, like largemouth bass, can start to die in water that has exceeded 90 degrees. Other species will begin to die at 95 degrees. Fish succumbing to heat can be pretty common in Florida's warm climate. Most often, this occurs in shallow bodies of water, like ponds, that tend to experience quite a lot of evaporation during the summer months. This type of environment doesn't allow fish to escape to deeper, cooler water at the bottom. Bodies of water that are 8 feet or more deep in at least 25% of the area they cover are less likely to experience the extreme temperatures that can cause fish to die.
Oxygen Levels are Key to Fish Survival
The dissolved oxygen levels in bodies of water are influenced by a variety of things, like temperature, sunlight, waves, water clarity, and even the time of day. When the sun is out, plenty of light gets into the water, which can be beneficial to aquatic plants and algae because it allows them to create more oxygen. Unfortunately, overcast days that are very warm can cause dissolved oxygen levels to fall. Because of this, dissolved oxygen levels usually vary on a regular basis. They are the highest in the afternoon after the sun is at its strongest. Conversely, they are at their lowest just before the sun rises because plants and algae in the water consume a lot of oxygen at night. Ponds that have a lot of algae or weed growth and are not maintained usually see the most substantial changes in oxygen levels. In severe cases, fish can die because of this even if no other dangerous factors are present.
Continuously checking water is an important part of maintaining a healthy pond or lake environment. Pond management companies in Florida recommend avoiding treatment for algae and aquatic weeds until the weather is cool enough. Although warmer temperatures can often exacerbate algae and weed growth and cause water to look unsightly, the alternative is much worse in this case.
Too often, when people hear the word bacteria, they imagine something that you need to get rid of. While it is true that some bacteria can make you sick, there are many types that are beneficial, or even necessary. When you have a pond or other large body of water, bacteria help keep the water healthy.
What You Should Know About Bacteria in Ponds
A pond, like any ecosystem, is constantly changing. The cycle of birth and death, for both plants and animals, is an important part of the lifecycle of the pond. Bacteria are vital for this process. They play a key role in breaking down organic matter. Without bacteria's help, the decomposition period would be much slower, which would have an adverse effect on water quality.
Working with pond management companies in Florida is a good way to ensure your pond has the correct balance of bacteria.
What can you expect from a healthy pond?
Fewer algae blooms- Algae blooms are, unfortunately, part of living in Florida. Algae blooms pull oxygen from the water and block out sunlight. Both of these factors lead to the death of aquatic life.
Slower plant growth- Not only do the correct bacteria levels in your pond keep algae levels low, but it also slows the growth of underwater plants. While some vegetation is nice, the growth can easily get out of hand if the soil is too rich in nutrients. Good bacteria work to digest sediment and lower the nutrient load of your pond.
Healthier soil- The bacteria work hard to convert decaying matter, fallen leaves, and other organic materials, into nutrients.
Clear water- Good bacteria keep the oxygen levels in the water at a healthy level, which in turn keeps the water clear.
Sweet, odor-free water- Nobody likes the smell of stagnant water. Keeping bacteria levels at a healthy level helps balance the ecosystem in your pond. This allows the water to remain odor-free throughout the year.
Maintaining Your Pond
Keeping your pond healthy doesn't have to be complicated. Pond management companies in Florida are experts at balancing the bacteria levels as well as providing other maintenance services.
While many landowners hope to perform maintenance on their ponds on their own, the process is complicated and best left to the experts. Adding beneficial bacteria to your pond requires that you know what is currently lacking in the water and how to bring the levels up to where they should be for clear, clean water.
Working with a professional allows you to apply the right amount of product when it is needed. Each pond has different requirements, depending on the inflow rate, size, and time of year.
Other considerations, such as whether the pond has an aeration system, are also important. Adding an aeration system, such as a floating fountain, can help the bacteria work more economically.
If you are struggling with your pond, or have in the past, the addition of beneficial bacteria may be just what you need.
Native plants are a vital part of a pond’s ecosystem. They provide nutrients to the fish, aquatic insects, and other animals that live around the water source. Aquatic plants can also act as a filter to help remove impurities and keep the water clean. Unfortunately, invasive aquatic weeds can harm the natural beauty and health of a pond, lake, or waterway.
Invasive aquatic weeds in Florida’s ponds can destroy the ecosystem and be an unsightly nuisance. Fortunately, there are several ways to remove and control these damaging aquatic plants to maintain the beauty of these bodies of water for the community. Below, we will describe the different types of invasive aquatic plants that are common in Florida and how to treat these damaging plants in various bodies of water.
Floating Aquatic Weeds
Floating aquatic weeds are hard to control. They do not have a root system, they multiply rapidly, and move around the pond with the water current and wind. Some types of floating aquatic weeds common in Florida include Duckmeal, Watermeal, and Water Hyacinth.
American Pondweed, Hydrilla, Elodea, and Coontail are types of submerged plants that are common in Florida. Submerged plants grow and live underwater and have a root system that extends into the pond floor. These plants grow where they can get plenty of light, consistent temperatures, and nutrients. The problem is that submerged plants are dense and cause fish to avoid areas where they grow. These invasive plants also restrict water flow, remove oxygen, and create dangerous water conditions.
All healthy aquatic ecosystems have algae. Algae provide food and other nutrients to aquatic organisms that thrive in lakes and ponds. Yet, too many algae can be a problem because it can cause harmful algae blooms. Algae bloom releases harmful toxins in the air and is dangerous to humans and animals.
Torpedograss, Napier grass, and Paragrass are harmful emergent plants that grow in wetlands and along the shoreline. Some emergent plants are beneficial to the health and beauty of an aquatic ecosystem. Yet, the harmful emergent plants can spread quickly and cause similar problems as submerged plants.
Controlling Aquatic Weeds
There are many ways pond management companies in Florida can control the weeds in your pond. These include:
• Aeration – This method uses devices to keep the water circulating and oxygenated to prevent the excessive growth of algae and aquatic weeds.
• Native Fish – Certain fish can disrupt the growth of algae and aquatic weeds to keep these invasive plants under control.
• Mechanical Harvesting and Hydro-Raking – Mechanical aquatic weed harvesting removes large amounts of damaging plants.
• Nutrient Remediation and Bacteria Augmentation – This method is a natural way to eliminate the nutrients that aquatic weeds and algae need to thrive.
Ponds and other water sources add beauty to the surrounding area and be a habitat for local wildlife. Contact one of the many pond management companies in Florida if you need maintenance services in your community.
A pond adds a beautiful aesthetic to any property, but it requires maintenance to keep the water healthy and the pond looking its best. Water quality is a crucial component of maintaining a healthy pond habitat, but achieving or maintaining water quality can sometimes prove challenging. If you've been wondering how to keep your pond water clean, follow these easy tips that can help you keep your pond water as healthy as possible.
Have a Healthy Fish Population
Pay close attention to the fish population in your pond. If you have too many fish, it can negatively affect the quality of the pond water. There will be too much fish waste to handle, and the fish won't be happy without sufficient space. Your pond is considered over-populated if you have more than 10 inches of fish for every 100 gallons of water. Consider rehoming the excess fish to a reputable pond retailer or contact your local pond management companies in Florida.
Avoid Overfeeding Your Fish
Always keep track of how much food you're giving your fish each day. If you overfeed your fish, the uneaten food will decay over time in your pond. Try to feed your fish only once a day and never provide your fish with more food than they can eat in two to three minutes. Choose a quality fish food that doesn't quickly sink to the bottom of the pond, and remove excess food in the pond frequently.
Find the Right Size Pump
Look for a pump that circulates the water in your pond at least once an hour. Make sure the pump's flow isn't restricted by debris in the pond. Avoid pumping water in your pond beyond its flow limitations.
Create a Healthy Balance of Plants
Avoid overcrowding your pond with too many plants. An overabundance of plants can create oxygen deficiencies at night and prevent sunlight from entering your pond during the day. To achieve a healthy balance of aquatic plants, aim for having 40% to 60% of your pond's surface area shaded or covered by plants.
Keep Your Pond Cool During the Summer
Keep a close eye on the water temperature of your pond, especially during the warmer summer months. Never let the temperature of your pond exceed 75 degrees. This makes it difficult to maintain an appropriate level of dissolved oxygen, which is essential for the health of your fish. Creating the appropriate balance of aquatic plants during the hot summer months can keep your pond cool during the hot summer months and help your fish breathe.
Clean Your Pond Regularly
Uneaten fish food, fish waste, and decaying debris can quickly accumulate in your pond and increase the water's ammonia levels if it's not cleaned regularly. Use a pond skimmer to remove debris from your pond's surface and a pond net to remove waste before it has a chance to reach the bottom of your pond.
By following these tips, it's possible to keep your pond clean, healthy, and suitable for aquatic life.
At Crosscreek Environmental, we believe in providing a comprehensive, environmentally friendly approach in creating solutions to maintain the beauty and health of Florida's ponds, lakes, wetlands, and shorelines. We use the B.E.S.T.™ geo-tube solution and are one of the best geo-tube solution providers in the state of Florida.