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Can you help me with planting native aquatic vegetation? #169203 - Ask Extension


Can you help me with planting native aquatic vegetation? #169203

Asked March 07, 2014, 4:08 PM EST

I'm trying to convince our HOA to stop dying the neighborhood lakes in our community here in NE Houston (Summerwood- BW8 & W. Lake Houston) and instead plant native aquatic vegetation to help filter sediment out of the water.

Can you recommend educational materials and plant species which would be beneficial for this purpose?

Harris County Texas

Expert Response

I do not have a specific resource that I can point you to on this problem. However, I can tell you that pond dyes can result in a dysfunctional food chain for your fish. In addition to blocking the sunlight to aquatic plants, it also blocks the sunlight to the planktonic algae that is the basis for your pond's food chain. These algae are eaten by zooplankton, small crustacean like animals, that are in turn eaten by baitfish, and young bluegill, catfish, and largemouth bass. These in turn feed your larger fish. If you inhibit the planktonic algae with a dye, there is less food for your small fish to eat, leading to less population recruitment, and in turn can cause your large fish not to grow and thrive because food is also limited to them. It takes roughly 1000 lbs of algae to feed the zooplankton, worms, insects, crayfish, and small fish required to produce a 1 pound bass. So if you want ten 1 pound bass or a single 10 pound bass, it takes 10,000 pounds of algae to grow them.

I should note, aquatic dyes do have their place. They are in fact a preventative measure that can be taken to prevent excess plant growth and beautify the water. They are especially useful in small waters where fish are not present or fish production is not a consideration. They can be successfully used to prevent weed growth in ponds with fish. In order to overcome some of the problems mentioned above, a supplemental food source such as a commercial diet is used to 'jump start' the food chain.

As far as good aquatic plants, American pondweed is a good choice. It is a Texas native, grows well in your environment, and is a good fish cover. Other good choices are eelgrass, Illinois pondweed, variable-leaf pondweed, sago pondweed,  and widgeon grass. These are all Texas natives. I must caution that even with Texas natives, sometimes they can become a nuisance due to excess nutrient input, such as run-off from lawn fertilizers, and grow thick mats. Proper watershed management is a must to regulate nutrient inputs.
Todd Sink Replied March 10, 2014, 2:36 PM EDT
Thanks for the info Dr. Sink.

If we were to try and establish these natives, is there a source from which we can purchase them?
The Question Asker Replied March 10, 2014, 5:38 PM EDT
Joe Snow Aquatic Plants -
Todd Sink Replied March 17, 2014, 3:32 PM EDT

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