Non-Herbicide Management Options
1. Physical Management Options
Nitella can be removed by raking or seining.
Fertilization to produce a phytoplankton or algal “bloom” prevents the establishment of most bottom rooted aquatic weeds and produces a strong food chain to the pond fish.
Non-toxic dyes or colorants prevent or reduce aquatic plant growth by limiting sunlight penetration, similar to fertilization. However, dyes do not enhance the natural food chain and will suppress the natural food chain of the pond.
Some examples of non-toxic dyes and other products include but are not limited to:
Physical barriers are also used to eliminate plants by shading the bottom. These work well for swimming areas, docks, etc. but must be kept clean of any buildup of sediment and debris.
Some examples of companies that make these mats are:
2. Biological Management Options
Grass carp will seldom control aquatic vegetation the first year they are stocked. Grass carp stocking rates to control Nitella are usually in the range of 7 to 15 per surface acre. In Texas, only triploid grass carp are legal and a permit from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is required before they can be purchased from a certified dealer.
Tilapia will consume Nitella but are a warm water species that cannot survive in temperatures below 55 F. Therefore, tilapia usually cannot be stocked before mid-April or May and will die in November or December. Recommended stocking rates are 15 to 20 pounds of mixed sex adult Mozambique Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) per surface area. Tilapia are often not effective for vegetation control if the pond has a large bass population due to intense predation. In Texas, stocking Mozambique Tilapia requires approval from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department if the pond is in the designated “conservation zone” to ensure tilapia cannot escape and negatively impact imperiled native fishes. Tilapia must be purchased from a permitted seller regardless of zone. In other states, check with your County Extension Agent for the legality of stocking tilapia.
Herbicide Control Options
Always read the product label for directions and precautions, as the label is the law. Click on the name of the product to see the label. Read the label for specific water use restrictions.
The active ingredients that have been successful in treating nitella include:
- Copper Based Compounds (Rated: Excellent)
- Alkylamine salts of Endothall (Rated: Good)
These ratings are based upon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers aquatic herbicide trials.
1) Copper Based Compounds:
Copper Sulfate or “blue stone” is probably the most commonly used algal treatments because of its availability and low cost. Copper sulfate comes in several forms depending on how finely it is ground. Smaller crystals will dissolve easier than larger crystals. In very hard water it is difficult to use copper sulfate because it binds with the calcium, precipitates out of solution, and renders the copper ineffective as an algaecide.
All copper compounds can be toxic to fish if used above labeled rates and can be toxic in soft or acidic waters even at label rates. Before using copper, it is best to test the pond water’s alkalinity and adjust copper treatments to alkalinity concentrations. For additional information on using copper sulfate, see the SRAC #410 Calculating Treatments for Ponds and Tanks.
Common trade or product names include but are not limited to:
2) Alkyl amine salts of Endothall:
Alkyl amine salts of endothall come in both liquid and granular forms. It is a contact herbicide.
Common trade and product names include but are not limited to:
Hydrothol can be toxic to fish.
One danger with any chemical control method is the chance of an oxygen depletion after the treatment caused by the decomposition of the dead plant material. Oxygen depletion can kill fish in the pond. If the pond is heavily infested with weeds, it may be possible (depending on the herbicide chosen) to treat the pond in sections and let each section decompose for about two weeks before treating another section. Aeration, particularly at night, for several days after treatment may help control the oxygen depletion.
One common problem in using aquatic herbicides is determining area and/or volume of the pond or area to be treated. To assist you with these determinations see SRAC #103 Calculating Area and Volume of Ponds and Tanks.
Many aquatically registered herbicides have water use restrictions (See General Water Use Restrictions).
To see the labels for these products click on the name. Always read and follow all label directions. Check label for specific water use restrictions.
Nitella can be propagated by collecting and transplanting whole plants into areas of shallow, clear water.
If you need assistance, contact the Ag & Natural Resources agent in your county or hire a professional.