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With the expansion of the range of zebra mussels, and the damage they cause, I began reading up on which native animals eat them. It is documented that red ear sunfish eat zebra mussels, along with blue catfish (and some type of foreign goby). Why haven't red ear sunfish habitats been improved in bodies of water that are most affected by zebra mussels (like rivers which power plants are located)?

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Probably because that sounds like a fairly logical solution and the government - some arm of which would likely have to make that decision - isn't always known for its logical decision making! Besides, it would take countless committees and studies to make that sort of recommendation prior to the implementation process and there probably just hasn't been enough time yet!


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Zebra Mussels dominate in areas that are too cool for redear like the great lakes and other northern bodies of water.

In the south where redear are abundant, Zebra mussels start to die out when the water temps. reach 85 which is not that hot.

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Freshwater drum also feed on zebra mussels... However, even with freshwater drum, blue cats, gobies and a pile of other things eating them, they cannot keep up with their reproduction rate. Chris hit it on the head, RES don't tolerate cooler water where Zebra mussels are most problematic.

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 Originally Posted By: CJBS2003
Freshwater drum also feed on zebra mussels... However, even with freshwater drum, blue cats, gobies and a pile of other things eating them, they cannot keep up with their reproduction rate. Chris hit it on the head, RES don't tolerate cooler water where Zebra mussels are most problematic.


That's interesting. So I'm jumping to the conclusion that RES wouldn't survive a WV winter, therefore, not an option for either of my ponds if I ever chose to incorporate them into a stocking plan?


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I think RES would survive a WV winter as long as you got northern stock. RES survive southern Michigan winters and southern PA winters just fine...

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CJ and Todd you need to take into consideration altitude and its effect on various WV locations. May work in some and not in others.
















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Thanks Travis and Eric, for the insights. I wasn't aware of different strains of RES so was assuming from the prior comments in this thread that they were primarily a warmer climate only fish. Here in North Central WV, our elevation is only around 1200 feet, so I'm assuming that wouldn't be much of an issue. We certainly have some areas that top 4000 feet and I guess that could be a different story.


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I'm about 30 miles South of the Michigan/Indiana border at 782' elevation and the RES survive just fine. In the local lake, the wild RES seem to get larger than the BG, but there is a MUCH larger population of BG than RES in the lake.


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Todd, unless your property is over 2000', elevation shouldn't be an issue. Over 2000', then you may have some affects. Not many people building ponds like you have at higher elevations so I never gave it a thought. Thanks for bringing up the point Eric.

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We're definitely under 2000'. The nearby regional airport has a runway elevation of 1216' feet and it's a couple of miles as the crow flies, tops. Our farm is definitely in that range, so it sounds like RES shouldn't be an issue if I go that route in the big pond when I renovate. Thanks for all the info on these babies. A very interesting alternative to BG possibly.


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Todd, what county are your ponds in again? I think you said before, but I am drawing a blank...

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I actually didn't mention it, I don't think, but we live in and the farm is also in Harrison County. We live in Clarksburg right now and the farm is between a little town called Shinnston and Bridgeport, where the airport is located. The easiest reference is probably that the farm is about 25 miles south of Morgantown, where WVU is located.


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marble country!

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That's the place! I don't know much about marbles, other than being aware I occasionally lack a few, but do know that a lot of people around here will go to the sites of some of the old factories and dig around the dirt at those places and find marbles that are worth a fair amount of money. Kind of interesting that it was such a big area for marble production and now none of that exists here any longer.


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My uncle lives in Thornton. I've flipped a little dirt searching for glass orbs at Akro & Master Made.

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Another reason why predators are generally not used to eradicate zebra mussels, besides the fact they simply can't eat fast enough, is that in that time you're waiting for the teeth to take hold, boats will still be in the water, possibly spreading them to other BOW. It's best to attempt to eradicate using copper sulfate. They did this successfully in a lake where I live.

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Could anyone expand on why Redear Sunfish don't tolerate cold water? Now they can survive down to freezing, as they do each year here in the lakes of Kentucky. I'm assuming in cold-water areas, either the water temperature never rises high enough for them to spawn, or the cold water keeps their metabolism (and thus appetite) in a suspended state.

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Each species of fish has a water temp range it does well in and grows. Each species also has a range of temps (high end and low end) called upper and lower lethal temps that causes stress and if extreme for a sufficient period then death (morts). The more stress a fish encounters the more likely it dies. No fish I know of (there probably are some) can survive a total ice out (no water just ice top to bottom). When ice occurs the warmest water 39 F is on the pond bottom. There is within in each species some local adaptation over time thus the suggestion to buy local adapted fish if you are pushing the species range limits. RES biology based on genetics have a warmer lower lethal temp limit than BG for example. I hope that was the question you asked. If you mean instead how does the cold kill them I can post that as well - it has to do with cellular metabolism and imbalance.

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If Red ears won't survive in your area maybe consider pumpkinseed's, they are reported to eat snails but I'm not sure about Zebra Mussels.



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One major thing that is a limiting factor for zebra mussels is water hardness. They don't do well in soft water as they need the hard water to grow their shells. So if a body of water has soft water it will probably never have a problem.

In Massachusetts where water tends to be soft, there is one lake that is the exception, which I believe is quite alkaline. It's known as Laurel lake and had zebra mussels show up in it. It created a panic as not to far away is a large reservoir that is the water supply to Boston via a very long aquaduct. The reservoir was closed off for fishing for several months while divers checked the aquaduct. The fear was if they got in the aquaduct they would clog it and cause problems. Turns out there were none. But the water in this reservoir is very soft so it's probably the zebras couldn't survive anyway.

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/07/possible_spread_of_zebra_musse.html

An interesting way to kill them all off is to add potassium chloride t a body of water, which is apparently harmless to all the other aquatic life. Here's a link to a treatment that was done in a quarry in Virginia:

http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/501029/zebra_mussels_eradicated_in_va_quarry/index.html

Last edited by Cecil Baird1; 11/27/09 06:35 PM.

If pigs could fly bacon would be harder to come by and there would be a lot of damaged trees.






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That reservoir is in the county between where I live and where I work. I remember when that hit the news a few years back...

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 Originally Posted By: CJBS2003
That reservoir is in the county between where I live and where I work. I remember when that hit the news a few years back...


You mean the quarry of course vs. the reservoir in Massachusetts. BTW the reservoir is 25,000 acres with no development around it whatsoever. Lots of high woods and completely forested around the reservoir. No tournaments, no jetskis, no power boats. I've fished it and it's a treat to fish. It's not unusual to see bald eagles too.


If pigs could fly bacon would be harder to come by and there would be a lot of damaged trees.






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Yes, the quarry pit. Is that the same reservoir you said has all those jumbo BG that the locals despise?

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 Originally Posted By: CJBS2003
Yes, the quarry pit. Is that the same reservoir you said has all those jumbo BG that the locals despise?


The locals don't consider "sunfish" worthy of their time pretty much anywhere in the state. A ten inch stocked trout gets more attention than a 10 inch bluegill. You have to see it to believe it.

Area three in Quabbin is the place to go for the bluegills. That arm of the reservoir is more fertile and shallower than the other parts of the reservoir that are known for lake trout and landlocked salmon.

One interesting thing though. I've caught bluegills up to 11 inches in Mass but they are not as thick as our fish here in Indiana. My theory is these are older slower growing fish in low fertility waters that are mostly unmolested.


If pigs could fly bacon would be harder to come by and there would be a lot of damaged trees.






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