These invasive aquatic species take a bite out of the ecosystem by removing plankton and other organic material that is crucial for native species to thrive. These invasive aquatic species will have no natural predators in most cases and breed like crazy. Once they get into the system it is almost impossible to get them out. As the numbers multiply and the impact sinks in, the system reacts as if a bite has been taken out. How large this bite is will depend on a lot of factors but aquatic biologists, water management officials and even most anglers agree…invasive species like the New Zealand Mud Snail and Zebra mussel are not good for North American waters.
Now one little bite doesn’t seem like a lot and if that was all that fish had to contend with it might not be such a damaging and invasive problem. But when you add all of the other things that can happen in the fishing world there isn’t much left for the fish.
The graphics are not meant to show a specific percentage for any particular place. These factors vary greatly depending on the body of water. The extra graphics are meant to spruce up my poindexter yada yada.
What is a NZ Mudsnail?
The New Zealand Mudsnail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) was first discovered in North America in 1987 in Idaho’s Snake River. The snail has since then spread to other wateries all over the west. Concentrations of snails can reach over 500,000 per square meter literally choking the lower end of the food chain for many species. If fish consume the snail they merely pass them through with virtually zero nutritional value. The snail generally survives this process to continue to reproduce.
A trematode parasite that exists in New Zealand keeps this invasive snail in check by sterilizing a major portion of the population. The total affects of this parasite are not known so introducing these tremotodes into Colorado waters would not be prudent at this time and my cause even more irrepable damage.
What is a Zebra mussel?
The life span of a zebra mussel is about five years and the females may produce at a staggering rate after merely two years. One female may generate anywhere from 30,000 to one million eggs in a single year. These eggs do provide a nutritional value and some species have seen some benefit in regards to this invasive species.
The zebra mussel filters its food from the water and adheres itself to any structure possible. It only takes a few years of solid reproduction before the hard shelled creatures cover just about anything that touches the water literally clogging waterways. Filters, valves, pumps and others systems are just as prone to difficulty in regards to the zebra mussel as boats, docks and other water facilities.
The front line is your gear. Everyone needs to check their gear and be conscious of anything that touches or could carry water. The New Zealand mudsnail is very small but zebra mussel eggs are very difficult to see by the human eye. Ducks and other waterfoul may transmit invasive species as well but anglers own the responsibility not to aid in the spread through their activity. My boots, belly boat, pontoon boat and even fishing poles get a visual inspection and then a spray wipe with 409 before taking to a new water which equates to once a week or more.
This may be one of my more poindexter posts but every facet of the water creature world fascinates me. Each layer of the ecosystem gets more amazing once you start digging in. Some of these layers are not so good and it is just as important that we learn about these elements along with the sport fish that dwell in our water systems. Our water systems and fisheries will be better off as a result.
Good luck and good fishing.
Sources and more information on these invasive species threatening Colorado waters: