Problems with local wildlife.....

Joined
Jul 25, 2012
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I'm at my wits end, although it's proven to be a short trip. We have a nice little pond on our property, about four years ago it started growing a kind of floating algae. Not good for several reasons. So I bought a bunch of Koi fish, although they came with a stinging price tag. The little rascals are reputed to be great eaters of algae, which has proven to be true. And they seemed to be boys and girls because in due time there was a bunch of little Koi. Problem solved right? Nope.

This last winter gone by an otter blew in from somewhere. He was/is such a rollicking cheerful buccaneer you couldn't help liking him. The only problem was when he'd dive in the pond, he'd come up with a flash of orange in his paws and in a few quick bites there goes another Koi. Well, I thought, he's only getting the older fat ones, the youth will hide in the weeds and maybe they will be enough to keep the algae under control. About five weeks later he made a second visit, shorter than the first and then was on his way.

Here we are at the start of summer and guess what; no Koi at all. Not a one. And the algae is starting to grow like something out of a science fiction film. I really don't like the idea of putting some kind of chemicals in the water to kill the algae. I could shoot the otter but to tell you the truth I can't bring myself to do it. He's just doing what God intended otters to do. And he does it with such a flair!

Now, am I looking at the beginnings of my very own peat bog or is there some other option?

Best Wishes, Rob
 
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Location
Raymond, ME
At least it was an otter. If it were Maine it might be the police. Owning koi is illegal as they are alien too.

I don't know your algae but is there an Ag Cooperative Extension in your area?

Hope your next investment is not having to fund a dredge.
 
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I'm already late for work (which would account for my drinking coffee and visiting this place), so I'll try to be brief. I would thank my lucky stars for having an otter visit from time to time. Keeping it fed might be another matter. I'm not enthusiastic about introducing alien species into our environs, though I do it round my flower garden. I'd suggest employing Google to identify the algae and possible explanations for it's sudden appearance. YC's idea sounds a good one. Knowledgeable eyes and advice from an Ag Dept or University etc could be of great help. Your experience isn't an isolated one. These algal blooms are happening everywhere, are bad news, and seem hard to rectify. Good luck with this pond project. I'll tap some shoulders in our family for some advice. My chemist brother and his biologist wife are installing a country pond of their own. I wonder if they've considered this problem, and what their plans are. I'll get back to you Rob.
 
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OM, the first question might be what a balanced biotic community would contain. It would include both algae-producers and algae-consumers. So what eats algae? Probably not just koi. How about snails? They do a good job in aquaria. List all algae-eating organisms and then identify their predators. Maybe a conversation with a biologist (perhaps your local DNR ecologist?) about the life cycles of natural ponds might be of some use.

Good luck!
 
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Rob,

My guess is that you are probably looking at muscle or mechanical removal of the algae.

Koi are often illegal in pond settings (not sure regional restrictions on koi in back yard fountains and pools). So too are other many other biological controls (exotic snails, parasites and etc).

You don’t want to be the guy who caused the extinction of some freaking rare snail darter species that the Koi outcompeted.

And just think of the poor endemic snails, too slow to compete or relocate with their Asian Tiger cousins. As Kim suggested, talk to your local Ag Agent, if only to know where you stand on the legality of introducing exotic agents.

I’d avoid chemical treatments too. I don’t trust Monsanto or Du Pont’s honesty in the Material Safety Data Sheet.

Scooping that floating crud out with a fine mesh net may come to constitute part of your evening pond paddle.
 
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Well, friends who'd a thunk it, a desperado at my age by introducing foreign fishes. Although in fact they only saw the G.I. tract of the otter and after that exposure were the worse for wear. "Dem bones! Dem bones! Dem fish bones!"

So, anyways, Mike I think you're right; rather than getting tangled up with the powers that be, Ag agent or DNR I'll just scoop out the algae and call it good enough.

Thanks for your ideas and time everyone!
Rob

P.S. Now here is one place where it's better NOT to have one of those lovely w/c canoes!
 
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Joined
Jun 10, 2013
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Clearwater, FL
In our area they use a barge mounted machine to harvest the invasive plants. It is approximately 8 feet wide and 20 feet long. It gathers and bales the plants and algae. They use the bales for fertilize.
Maybe you can utilize what you scoop out. Cronje
 
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Nov 7, 2013
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Hi OM,

The worst thing you could do is introduce koi to a waterbody. Its illegal in almost every jurisdiction. This is how invasives escape and destroy ecosystems, including entire watersheds. Asian carp (silver and big head) are crossing watersheds and have already invaded the Great Lakes, and we are all holding our breath to see if the first individuals in will reproduce, because if they do, they will migrate throughout the Great lakes watershed, and likely up through the beaver pond headwaters that flow both ways, and into the arctic watershed. North America aquatic ecosystems destroyed. Have you not seen the Asian carp videos of the invasion of the Mississippi watershed?

Unfortunately the other Asian carp Cyprinus carpio, long ago invaded and has destroyed forever our native floral and faunal communities in lacustrine wetlands throughout the Great lakes and many other watersheds. Now they are muddy, murky, silty, species-poor and low productivity shadows of their former selves, never ever to recover. Carp removal programs cost millions and only put a dent in the crisis.

If you could see native species deep water wetland ecosystems that have not been carp infested, you would not believe your eyes. The water is clear, lush with native plants (that carp destroy), and robust with native invertebrates of several tropic levels that control the populations, and provide abundant food for waterfowl and other birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and mammals. Carp scoop substrate and chew it with pharyngeal teeth, filter it, and spit out the debris, constantly destroying the natural bottom substrate condition, and causing high suspended particle loads which vastly reduce photosynthesis. The destruction of submerged aquatic macropyte communities reduces shade and increases sunlight heating, causing a heating up of the water, degrading it further and sometimes causing axoxia, which causes aquatic species die offs. As carp cause all this devastation they also spew out feces and pollute the system.

There is a reason you have algal blooms. Its either a newly dug pond and you don't have enough native species in it, like snails, in which case you need to be patient - they will arrive eventually. Meanwhile many other aquatic invertebrates will arrive naturally on the wing, and attached to waterfowl, as will aquatic plant propagules. Or its excess phosphorus and nitrogen, which is far more likley the case. You likley have too much phosphorus and nitrogen in your system. That is what produces algae - don't blame critters. You likely don’t have the through flow necessary to dilute and flush it, and you may have a plume of polluted surface water or ground water entering your system. No amount of algae eating critters will help you at all. Anything eating the algae will poop out the phosphorus and nitrogen right back into the system. Its likley your water quality!

Go otters go - kill all the koi please!
 
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Whatever you do, don't rely on us. Get an expert in there, an ecologist who understands how pond systems work.
 
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Saranac Lake, NY
OM, you may want to consider finding out why there is algae. HOOP has a good point regarding the possibility of having high phoshorus which may come from waste water in addition to natural sources. A water analysis lab can collect samples for about $35 each. Once some testing is done, then maybe someone at the cooperative extension can interpret the results and point you in the right direction.
 
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I can certainly appreciate the concern that Hoop spoke about above. However a little situational background will perhaps make it just a tad less worrisome. We are on an island with no stream/river connection. The only drainage from the pond that's at all possible is via a road side ditch which has water only during the winter storms and then for a day or two. The water from the ditch describes a wandering path 600 yards (?) downhill to the sea, which as you know is salt water.
After my little friend the otter left, he took with him all the fishes on hand and there won't be any more.

Tomorrow, I'll see about coming up with a algae scoop.

Rob
 
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Well, woke up very early this morning from a dream where my Koi got me sent to the penitentiary; two man cell with a three hundred pound, weight lifting, fellow resident who wanted to play house. Uggg!!

The dogs all wondered what the heck I was doing up so early, and after I made coffee I fired up the computer and it turns out that Koi are not illegal in Washington ponds and in fact are recommended by several governmental agencies as a method of mosquito control.

For me, the moral to the story is to pause a good long while before posting anything that might have boomerang qualities to it.

The question isn't are you paranoid but are you paranoid enough?

Rob
 
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Well, my brother got right back to me, but wanted to talk hockey instead of pond water quality. Oh well.
Jeeze, I thought I had freaky dreams. Was your cell mate a tattooed 300 lb Koi?
Anyway. I didn't see any boomerangs here, only some advice. Maybe I wasn't looking in the right direction. Your pond problem though, could turn into an ongoing project of discovery. It sounds interesting. Your post has been timely, as just this past weekend I proposed an idea to my Mrs. What could be nicer after a bike ride, or hot day working in the yard, than taking a dip. Rather than installing a hot tub (which we can't afford, and not fond of bromine and stuff), why not a folksy fun plunge pool? I was envisioning an old reclaimed claw foot tub or XXL horse trough. Dipping amongst our very own lily pads intrigued my wife, until I got to the part about frogs and damselflies. Daydream funtub went down in flames. I wish you more success Rob.
 
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Dec 7, 2011
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Maryland, USA
:::::::The question isn't are you paranoid but are you paranoid enough?:::::::

OM,
Another saying I am fond of : "Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean you aren't being followed!"
 
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Whatever you do, don't rely on us. Get an expert in there, an ecologist who understands how pond systems work.

You have already one here. Not me though I majored in ecology. Many of us are not only canoe centric

Thanks for the nod YC! ;)

From Ontario’s Government MNR Website:
(as an example of a jurisdiction that bans any movement or unauthorized planting of fish)
http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/LetsFish/2ColumnSubPage/STEL02_165638.html

Laws to Help Stop the Spread of Exotics

Harmful exotic species are often spread unknowingly. As an angler or boater, you should always take precautions to help stop the spread of exotic species. The following laws are in place to prevent unauthorized introductions.

Possessing Live Fish

It is illegal to possess live invasive fish including: round goby, tubenose goby, grass carp, bighead carp, black carp, silver carp, rudd, ruffe and any species of snakehead.

If any of these species are caught they should be destroyed and not released back into any waters.

Moving Live Fish
Many new populations of fish have been established through unauthorized stocking. This practice is illegal and can cause great harm to existing fisheries and aquatic ecosystems.

A licence is required for all fish (including live spawn) transfers and stocking into Ontario waters, and a licence is required to ship or transport live fish, other than baitfish, taken from Ontario waters.

Also, take care when cleaning smelt. Do not rinse equipment or dump entrails into a lake or river. Fertilized smelt eggs can easily invade new waters.


Aquarium Fish
Never release or flush pets, plants or water from aquaria, backyard ponds or water gardens. It is illegal and can harm the environment. If you have an unwanted aquarium pet, you can return it to a local pet store, donate it to a school or contact the Fish Rescue Program at 1-800-563-7711.


Crayfish
Crayfish can only be used for bait in the waterbody in which they were caught and they cannot be transported overland.

Round Goby
The round goby is frequently caught by anglers. It is just one of the many serious threats to North American waters. Since its discovery in the St. Clair River in 1990, this bottom-dwelling fish has rapidly spread to many areas of the Great Lakes and inland waters.

The round goby can displace native fish from optimal habitat, eat their eggs and young and spawn multiple times a season. Anglers should know how to identify the round goby - these aggressive fish are easily caught by hook and line.

What you can do

* Report new sightings.

* If you catch a round goby it should be destroyed and not released back into any waters! Never use gobies as bait – remember it is against the law to use them as bait or have live gobies in your possession.

* Always dispose of your unwanted bait and the contents of your bait bucket or bait bucket water on land or in the trash – it is illegal to dump the contents of a bait bucket into any waters or within 30 m of any waters.

(My Note: Unfortunately Ontario is one of the few Canadian jurisdictions left that allows live bait on private and crown land. Its banned in many provincial parks, but not all. Parks ban it because science has shown inevitable invasions and ecosystem destruction. Yet its still allowed on crown and private land. Its anti-scientific. Many Provinces and Territories in Canada have banned live bait due to the risk of exotic invasion, which has been well proven throughout history).
 
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