Friday, August 2, 2013

Lined topminnow for Successful Fisheries Management


By Bob Lusk, Editor
Pond Boss Magazine

It’s common to receive a phone call at Pond Boss world headquarters from a new pondmeister ready to stock a brand new pond. As the discussion unfolds, it’s not unusual to hear the following comment, “I don’t need minnows because I can see them everywhere.”

Minnows which are easy to see usually aren’t the same kind of minnows used to set the table for game fish. Fish seen moving, darting and swimming in shallow areas of ponds are usually some type of mosquitofish, topminnow or killifish. Rarely growing much larger than two inches, these fish serve a role where they live…even if it isn’t part of the food chain for bass.


Banded topminnow Pond Boss SOLitude Lake Management
“Banded topminnow.” Lined topminnow, captured
for a photo from a blackwater, stream-fed lake in North
Cackalacka…er North Carolina. (compliments of Bob
Lusk, Pond Boss)

The lined topminnow, Fundulus lineolatus, is a fish most people won’t even notice in a pond or surrounding watershed. It’s a native fish in its range, and like most topminnows, spends much of its life chasing and eating tiny insects. This species prefers shallow, soft and slightly acidic water, perfect for blackwater creeks, swamps and ponds. It’s found in these areas and backwater regions from Virginia, through the Carolinas to the Ocklocknee River drainage areas in Georgia and Florida and all the way down to Lake Okeechobee.

Lined topminnows thrive in warmer waters and prefer pH between 6.0 to 7.5.

This killifish scatter their eggs, and don’t guard them. The male has vertical stripes, the female’s are horizontal.

Even if you don’t have a Lined Topminnow, don’t be surprised to see some type of topwater fish gracing the shallow, vegetated areas of your pond, especially if there’s a creek or stream nearby.

Bob Lusk, editor of Pond Boss, has 30+ years of practical field experience in the art of lake and pond management.  Lusk is a fisheries biologist with a bachelor's degree from Texas A & M University in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, fisheries management. His talented writing skills, combined with many, many years of hands-on experience, makes him one of the best known lake management consultants in the world.   

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Aquatic Midge Flies Controlled with Vertex Aeration


Aerators Case Study
By Vertex Water Features, Lake and Pond Aeration
 
90% reduction in 16 months without pesticides
 

Hibbs Grove, a residential housing development located in Cooper City, Florida was experiencing an ongoing outbreak of swarming midge flies from their 6.5 acre lake preventing residents from enjoying their lake front property. Sampling indicated an extreme infestation of midge larvae averaging more than six times the recognized nuisance level.

In order to combat their swarming midge fly problem, the residents of  Hibbs Grove turned to Vertex Water Features for an environmentally safe solution.  Vertex Water Features surveyed the lake and proposed a CoActive Air 5 aeration system which was installed. The system is designed to raise the lake’s bottom dissolved oxygen levels and create an overall healthier body of water. The Vertex aeration system provided diffused air through five Vertex XL2 CoActive AirStations™ placed at the deepest points throughout the lake, effectively circulating the entire water column 0.76 times per day.


The Results Highlights:
After installation of the aeration system, oxygen levels increased and the accumulated organic muck on the bottom began to decompose thereby eliminating the habitat and food source that the midge larvae depended on, ultimately decreasing the number of larvae that emerged as adult flies.  The changing environment at the bottom allowed predators of the midge fly, such as fish and other aquatic insects to inhabit the area and compete with the midges for space and resources. Both the increased predation and competition contributed to the decrease in midge fly numbers. 

Within 16 months of the Vertex CoActive Air 5 system installation, the midge fly larvae population had been reduced by 90 percent, from 6,794 larvae to just 660 larvae per square meter. Throughout the 16 months, there had been a visible increase in dragonflies and water beetles both of which are natural predators of the midge fly larvae.

With continued aeration, the oxygen levels have remained elevated and continue to oxidize bottom muck and suppress the midge fly population.

 
Vertex Water Features, based out of Pompano, FL, is a customer-focused lake aeration and floating fountain manufacturer and trusted partner of SOLitude Lake Management.


Since 1998, SOLitudeLake Management has been committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Services are available in VA, NC, SC, MD, DE, PA, WV, NJ and NY. Fisheries management consulting and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase aquatic products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Recommended Measures to Treat the Invasive Aquatic Weed, Hydrilla


racked up invasive aquatic weed hydrilla solitude lake management sepro corporationIn response to the recent news about the $500,000 per year cost to manage the 900 acre infestation of the invasive and dangerous aquatic weed, hydrilla, in Lake Waccamaw in North Carolina, and the potential risk that the plant spreads to other lakes, rivers and streams, SOLitude Lake Management recommends the following to lake owners and users to prevent the introduction and spread of hydrilla and to proactively identify this invasive aquatic weed:

-Boats and other recreational vehicles should be carefully inspected before introducing them to any lake after being in another body of water. Any remnant vegetation should be removed from the bottom of the boat and propellers before putting them in another lake or waterbody.

invasive aquatic weed hydrilla from boat solitude lake management sepro corporation-Recreational users of any lake for fishing, boating, or swimming, should know what the hydrilla plant looks like. Any sighting should be reported to the lake's management organization, the community association, appropriate local government officials, the state's Division of Water Resources, Department of Agriculture, or local extension office.

Once introduced to a waterbody, hydrilla can reproduce and spread very rapidly. It is imperative that upon early detection, a treatment plan be implemented. SOLitude Lake Management recommends the following treatment options depending on the lake or waterbody's overall goals:

-Treat the hydrilla with a systemic aquatic herbicide. To maintain aquatic balance, a slow acting, systemic herbicide can be applied in successive treatments over many seasons to control the hydrilla, while not affecting other vegetation.
 
-Stock sterile grass carp. Sterile grass carp have been proven to effectively consume hydrilla. However, they can also consume other beneficial vegetation, so their introduction to the waterbody should only be considered as one part of a multi-faceted approach to the overall Integrated Pest Management program for that waterbody. Grass carp stocking should also only be performed by professional fisheries biologists with the knowledge and experience to understand the proper stocking rates and obtain the appropriate state permits.
 
invasive aquatic weed hydrilla solitude lake management sepro corporation“While there are effective ways to treat and control hydrilla, treatments can be costly and take many years to achieve success,” said Kevin Tucker, owner of SOLitude Lake Management. “Awareness and prevention are the best ways to maintain a hydrilla-free lake or waterbody.”

Hydrilla should be managed quickly and effectively to mitigate the damage and danger it poses. It can crowd out native vegetation, interfere with drainage and irrigation canals, reduce the use of boat docks, launches and marinas, and interfere with public water supplies. Also, recreational activities such as fishing, boating, and swimming can become dangerous and sometimes prohibited if the hydrilla overwhelms a body of water.
 
 
Since 1998 SOLitude Lake Management has been committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Our services include lake, pond and fisheries management programs, algae and aquatic weed control, installation of fountains and aeration systems, water quality testing and restoration, bathymetry, lake vegetation studies, habitat assessments and nuisance wildlife management. We are the second largest distributor of AquaMaster fountains and aerators internationally and in the U.S. Lake and pond management services are available in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey & New York. Fisheries consulting and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.
# # #
 
PHOTO CREDITS: Sarah Miller, from SePRO Corporation, shows Hydrilla, an invasive aquatic weed, that has infested this water body to dangerous levels. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Goose Chase: Methods for Effective Goose Control

 
By Greg Blackham, Aquatic Specialist

goose control
Resident Canada geese populations in North America are estimated at 4 million. Chances are that they have found your community pond. Even more likely is that the residents of your community consider them to be a nuisance — they can be aggressive, cause unsanitary conditions, and destroy property at a rapid rate. Their numbers have grown at an incredible pace over the last few decades and they are becoming a widespread problem in urban and suburban areas. Don’t get me wrong… I love geese, but they are not a great fit for ponds in developed areas.

Before I discuss mitigation strategies I want to stress the first and most important rule in geese control. DO NOT LET PEOPLE FEED THEM! Feeding them creates an unhealthy relationship with humans, causes a slew of health hazards for the birds, and encourages them to return to a dysfunctional setting.

You may not realize you have a geese problem until it is too late. Often, complete goose control can never be achieved, but a happy medium can be found by repelling the majority of the birds and discouraging further mating at your pond. Adult Canada geese can live more than 20 years and they mate every year, usually at the same pond. Their young generally return to their birthplace to reproduce as well. If, for example, four geese from every clutch survive to be mating adults, it does not take complicated mathematics to see how exponential population growth occurs. Controlling nesting habits is much less costly than controlling already large populations.
Sketch by Greg Blackham's talented
11 year old daughter, Lilyana 
According to the non-profit organization, GeesePeace, the mating season occurs from February to early April and nesting starts in late March and goes through mid-May. Gosling maturing and foraging occurs between mid-May and early July, while molting, or the flightless period when geese shed their outer wing feathers and regrow new ones, occurs in the span from mid-June through early August. Pond hopping and foraging occurs the rest of the year from August through February.

There are limited goose control methods that can be started in the summer months, but now is the best time to plan out your overall goose control management program to start up in January or February. If you can successfully repel the mating couples from choosing your pond as a suitable nesting area, this will save you the most money. Discouraging geese from choosing your pond is dependent on the local environment. The couple needs to feel safe from predators before they will be comfortable building a nest. The following methods are, in my experience, the best ways of discouraging nesting and overall desirability for geese residency in general. Keep in mind that there is no silver bullet to discourage geese. Geese are highly intelligent and adaptive, so it is incredibly difficult to fool them for a long time. And to really expel them, you may need a professional management company or state agency to help out.

The most effective and natural goose repellant is:
Tall, thick, vegetated buffer around the pond. I am not talking about a little strip of scraggly vegetation. You need a buffer at least 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide for this to be really effective.

Some less natural but also effective goose repellents are:
Monofilament line completely enclosing the perimeter of the pond or area you are trying to repel. The line should be set at about 12 inches high. Even better than one line, is two lines staggered about 6 inches vertically.

Monofilament line in a grid over the surface of the pond. The closer the lines in the grid, the more success you will probably have. The line should be about 12 inches above the surface. Unfortunately this is unattractive and less effective than buffers.

The least effective repellants are:
Noise emitting devices: horns or cannon blasts, balloons, flashy tape or lights.

Predator decoys: dog, wolf, or coyote models, owls or alligator heads. There are many products being sold that tout high success rates but I have seen very few with much long term success. When using scaring techniques, like the wolf or owl decoys, the scaring device needs to be moved every couple of days. If they see the same “predator” in the same spot for about a week, it will not be effective once they determine it is not a threat.

The most effective way to expel and repel Canada geese from your pond is through the use of trained border collies. These dogs, under direct supervision of a trained professional, can completely scare away the birds. The process is very rigorous and intense at first as the dogs need to completely convince the geese that this pond is dangerous. Border collies possess a rare talent of being able to perfectly simulate a wolf or other predator by crouching down and staring at the geese as if to attack. As the birds flock to the pond for sanctuary, the dog is then boarded into a boat convincing the geese that the water is not safe either. The dogs need to do this 2-3 times a day for a few weeks until the geese leave and then periodically after that when geese try to return.
Sketch by Greg Blackham's creative
9 year old daughter, Violette 
Repelling geese should not be done during their molting phase. Geese molt their feathers in late June and for approximately six weeks are flightless. It would be inhumane and ineffective to try and scare them off during this time because they have nowhere to go. You may need to herd them away from sensitive areas during this time, but you should seek guidance from the state or a professional before doing so.

If you cannot discourage mating couples from residing on your pond late winter through early spring, then your next step is to consider nest and egg control. Canada geese nests and eggs are protected by federal and state regulations and you will need to get a permit before destroying or tampering with any eggs or the nest. The permit is very simple and can be done online at https://epermits.fws.gov/eRCGR/geSI.aspx. Before registering, you should train the person who will actually be addling the eggs and familiarize yourself with the proper procedures. The only accepted methods of addling the eggs are shaking, puncturing and oiling. Oiling is the most effective and humane method and is done with 100% food grade corn oil. A good resource for these procedures can be found at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/downloads/canada_goose.pdf. By addling eggs and correctly destroying nests, the mating couple no longer has any particular attachment to your pond for the duration of the season. Using border collies during this time (but before summer molting) is highly efficient and should be done if the community is serious about controlling their resident geese.

As with all successful programs, Canada geese control begins with proper community planning. To be done right, the community needs to be well-educated and armed with the right tools for long term success. There are many state agencies and professionals that can help you develop a management strategy. Contact your State Wildlife Service Agency or local pond management professionals to learn more about local regulations, effective strategies, and helpful tips on geese control.
 
 
Since 1998, SOLitude Lake Management has been committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Our services include lake, pond and fisheries management programs, algae and aquatic weed control, installation of fountains and aeration systems, water quality testing and restoration, bathymetry, lake vegetation studies, habitat assessments and nuisance wildlife management. We are the second largest distributor of AquaMaster fountains and aerators internationally and in the U.S. Lake and pond management services are available in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey & New York. Fisheries management consulting and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fish Kill, How Vulnerable is My Pond?


By David Beasley, Lead Fisheries Biologist


Proper pond management will greatly reduce the chances of a fish kill due to low dissolved oxygen levels, but in some cases, it does not eliminate the scenario.  Keeping aquatic vegetation, algae and microscopic plants (phytoplankton) within acceptable densities while properly aerating is the best way to reduce the chances of having a fish kill.  Many stormwater ponds require management due to the high level of nutrients that accumulate from surface run off.  These nutrients feed algae and plants that grow at a very rapid rate when water temperatures are warm.  These vulnerable ponds require different management tools and techniques to control plant matter and limit the chances of having a fish kill.  

The oxygen requirement in ponds is highest when water temperatures reach the 80’s. During these warm temperatures, the water’s ability to hold oxygen is at its lowest.  These two factors team together to reduce the stability of the pond, making the scenario of a fish kill more probable.  When a pond’s water quality becomes unbalanced, something as simple as a few cloudy days are enough to induce a fish kill.  It may come as an interesting fact to most, but fish kills almost always occur after several days of cloudy weather.  The reason for this is because when sunlight is not present, plants actually use oxygen (respire).  This scenario is natural and more common than many realize.  One thing that many don’t realize is that when a fish kill is occurring or is about to occur, it will often happen over a series of days.  When oxygen levels are low the fish in the pond will hang out near the surface of the pond.  The fish will be very skittish and stressed out.  One big give away is when dozens of fish all get startled at once as you approach the pond.  Once oxygen levels reach into the lethal range it will likely take several days to kill the entire fish population.  This gives pond owners a chance to aerate with surface pond aerators and add water from a neighboring pond using a siphon or a pump.  Although it is not always practical, sometimes with enough notice the severity of a fish kill can be reduced by notifying a pond expert and taking the corrective actions necessary.   

Avoiding the situation where a fish kill is possible is the best approach to preventing a fish kill.  The two best practices that will keep the water in your pond healthy and your fish safe are to properly aerate while maintaining an acceptable level of vegetation. 

 
 
David Beasley is the Lead Fisheries Biologist with SOLitude Lake Management. Serving VA, NC, SC, MD, DE, PA, WV, NJ & NY, SOLitude Lake Management is a full service lake, pond and fisheries management company offering a full array of aquatic services and products. www.solitudelakemanagement.com

Monday, June 24, 2013

Minnows For Natural and Effective Mosquito Control



Are pesky mosquitoes ruining your summer fun? There are several ways to control mosquito populations in your pond and community this year.

One of the most natural and cost effective methods for mosquito control in and around your lakes and ponds is to simply maintain a healthy population of fish, to include minnows and other fish like mosquitofish, bass and bluegill that eat mosquito larvae in order to support their own growth and development. A regular program of minnow stocking to supplement the natural reproduction of these fish in the pond can yield very good results with respect to mosquito control.

Minnows are specifically recommended for mosquito control in ditches, stagnant pools of very warm water in summer, ornamental ponds, and temporary ponds near your home, but when proper numbers are stocked, minnows can be effectively used in larger ponds and lakes as well. Minnows should be stocked in the early spring to control mosquitoes and they will reproduce through mid-summer which will help control mosquitoes as fish populations expand.
 
If you are currently having mosquito control issues, you should still consider minnow stocking in combination with other effective methods such as pond aeration, proper buffer management and larvicides to help control these pests. Control mosquitoes and enjoy your summer, more, knowing you won't get eaten alive!


For a lake or pond consultation to learn about natural and effective mosquito control techniques and methods or to set up an appointment for minnow stocking, contact the experts at SOLitude Lake Management today. 888-480-LAKE (5253) or visit www.solitudelakemanagement.com. Serving VA, NC, SC, MD, DE, PA, NJ & NY. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Getting To Know Your Aquatic Weeds: Hydrilla


  
nuisance aquatic weed hydrilla solitude lake managementOf the number of aquatic weeds that are found in your pond there are many that can cause more issues that others. One of these plants is Hydrilla. Released in the United States in Florida waterways in the 1960’s, hydrilla has now established in many states. The eradication of this invasive weed is costing millions of dollars each year. This aquatic weed spreads very quickly, clogging waterways, wrapping around boat propellers, and even getting tangled around the legs of unsuspecting swimmers, resulting in drowning. It is a submersed plant that can grow to the surface and form dense mats. It may be found in all types of water bodies from stagnant ponds to flowing mountain streams. 

Hydrilla stems are slender, branched and up to 25 feet long. Hydrilla's small leaves are strap-like and pointed.They grow in whorls of four to eight around the stem.The leaf margins are distinctly saw-toothed. Hydrilla often has one or more sharp teeth along the length of the leaf mid-rib. Hydrilla produces tiny white flowers on long stalks. It also produces 1/4 inch turions at the leaf axils and potato-like tubers attached to the roots in the mud. The tubers can lay dormant for several years making control of these plants difficult. 

nuisance aquatic weed hydrilla eradication solitude lake managementHydrilla can be controlled in a number of ways. The most popular way of controlling this plant is through the use of aquatic herbicides, but these only result in temporary control. Lake drawdowns (lowering the water level) are another method of control which exposes the plants causing them to die and decompose. Grass carp will consume hydrilla making the addition of grass carp to your pond also an effective aquatic weed control method that is more natural than the use of herbicides.

Due to the invasiveness of this plant, measures need to be taken for control at first sight.  This plant can grow up to an inch a day and the more that it spreads, the harder it can be to control. Contact your aquatic specialists for the best method to control and eliminate hydrilla and any other nuisance aquatic weeds.
 
 
Since 1998, SOLitude Lake Management has been committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Our services include lake, pond and fisheries management programs, algae and aquatic weed control, installation of fountains and aeration systems, water quality testing and restoration, bathymetry, lake vegetation studies, habitat assessments and nuisance wildlife management. We are the second largest distributor of AquaMaster fountains and aerators internationally and in the U.S. Lake and pond management services are available in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey & New York. Fisheries management consulting and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.