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.
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.