Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Glade Sun

May 14, 2014

Tilapia are coming to most Glade lakes

CROSSVILLE — Multitasking means being able to do more than one thing at a time. Tilapia is a tropical fish that is able to do four lake management tasks at once. Because of the multiple benefits that the tilapia bring to the table, they may be the only lake management tool that all lake stake holders can agree on. This year, the Community Club plans to stock most of our lakes with tilapia. Lake Malvern will be the one exception.

Task 1: Eat filamentous algae

Filamentous algae is an undesirable algae that begins growing on the bottom of the lake and ends up as an ugly, slimy mass floating on the surface. As nasty as this stuff appears to us, it is a favorite food of the tilapia. This is particularly important because the grass carp in the lakes will not eat filamentous algae, so the tilapia is the best available “natural” solution to this unsightly problem.

Task 2: Eat submerged vascular plants

Submerged vascular plants are rooted to the lake sediments and grow in the water column. Several of our lakes are troubled by excessive plant growth. The primary method of suppressing the growth of these plants is the stocking of grass carp. The carp can be effective, but present some management challenges. If the carp are understocked, they are ineffective at suppressing the plants. If they are overstocked, they damage the lake habitat, which results in reduced game fish populations. Also, carp are selective grazers and will resist eating some varieties of plant. The tilapia also graze on vascular plants, thereby helping the carp in suppressing these plants.

Task 3: Eating dead organic matter from the lake bottom

Lakes accumulate dead organic matter from many sources. This material has a generally negative impact on the lake. It adds to the accumulation of sediment in the lakes which then need to be removed to maintain the health of the lake. As the organic material decays, it releases nutrients into the lake environment which encourages plant and algae growth. The organisms that cause the decay of the organic matter are very tasty to the tilapia. In order to get these tasty organisms, the tilapia eat the organic material, cleaning up the lake bottom.

Task 4: Grow and reproduce at an amazing rate

Tilapia are 4 to 6 ounces in size when stocked in the lakes in May. By the end of the summer they will weigh 1.5 – 2 pounds (and will be very tasty). Beginning at the time of stocking, the tilapia will spawn about every three weeks, producing large numbers of hungry little tilapia. Besides eating the undesirable things in the lake, these small fish provide an additional food source for the sport fish in the lakes, hopefully resulting in more and larger sport fish. At the end of the summer, the tilapia need to be harvested because they will die when the water temperature dips into the 50s.

The Community Club has tested the effectiveness of tilapia in several of our lakes for the three previous summers, and the results have been very encouraging. This year’s tilapia are being stocked in most of our lakes. Please resist the temptation to harvest the stocked fish until August or September. At that time, please invite a tilapia home for dinner; they are easy to catch and are very tasty. If you enjoy the many positive lake management advantages the tilapia bring to the lake near you, let the board of directors know so that they can continue to fund this multitasking lake management tool.

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