1996 - Volume #20, Issue #2, Page #29[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Weed-Eating Fish Clean Out Lakes,Ponds
Wherever they've been tried, amur carp fish, commonly called "grass carp", reportedly did an amazing job controlling all soft weeds, including milfoil.
For example, three years ago 3,200-acre Silver Lake in southwest Washington State was "lost" to weeds that had grown out of control, according to a recent article in "Backwoods Home Magazine". After trying both chemical and mechanical control without much success, local citizens stocked the lake with amurs. Today weeds are under control and bass fishing has never been better.
"We got our lake back thanks to amurs," says Martha Belding, a local resident. To use amurs you must first get a permit from your state's fish and game department. You have to be able to prove that the fish can't escape. Then you have to figure out your stocking rate. Twelve to 15 fish per vegetated acre is recommended for central Arkansas (where a lot of the fish come from) but that varies around the country according to climate.
You'll pay around $2.50 apiece for 6 to 8-in. long amurs, $3.50 for 8 to 10-in. amurs (like those used in Silver Lake), and $4 for 10 to 12-in. amurs. In addition, delivery of the fish by truck or air freight can easily double or even triple your cost per fish. "If it's a clean pond or lake you want, these weed-mowing śmachines' are just what you're after," says Bob Hopper of Hopper-Stephens Hatcheries (5205 Hwy. 31 S., Lonoke Ark. 72086; ph 501 676-2435). Hopper is one of at least eight U.S. suppliers of the fish.
"They're equally as effective on 1-acre ponds as they are on big lakes," Hopper says. Life expectancy is 12 to 15 years, and the fish will survive in Northern climes, he says. Only sterile amurs are allowed in most states, he adds.
There are 13 states where the fish are banned altogether. Although officials in these states acknowledge that the fish will devour problem weeds, their fear is that fertile fish will get loose and overpopulate ponds or lakes, eliminating vegetation and making them uninhabitable for game fish. Here's a list of the states that have banned amurs: Alaska, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin.
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