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Countryway

Carp eat away lake problems

The fish were brought in to reduce excess vegetation found in lakes after the summer's heavy rains.

By JACKIE RIPLEY
Published September 19, 2003

COUNTRYWAY - This summer's heavy rainfall might have been a blessing for anyone new to Florida and longing for the green grass of home. But it played havoc with some of the area's man-made lakes, especially in Countryway.

Excess rainfall led to overgrown vegetation in some of the neighborhood's retention ponds - so much so that the homeowners association brought in more carp to eat it all.

"A couple of lakes seem to get the worst of the vegetation," said Bill Christie, president of the Countryway Homeowners Association.

Grass carp, introduced into the United States in 1963 to control weed problems, are herbivorous fish from the minnow family. Their voracious appetites make them ideal for controlling overgrown vegetation in ponds.

Carp, though, are nothing new to Countryway. The homeowners association first stocked the community's small lakes with the weed-eating fish about four years ago.

But time and natural predators, such as alligators, have taken their toll, diminishing the carp population.

Christie said homeowners already are seeing results from the carp, which were added to the ponds about two months ago.

"The fish are small, but as they grow, they start eating more of their body weight" worth of plants, he said.

The association spent about $500 to restock the neighborhood's 12 retention ponds. Christie said the cost included chemical treatment in some of the ponds.

Plans call for a monthly survey of the lakes and addition of more chemicals if necessary. But it should be about five years before more carp are needed.

"Every once in a while, you have to replace them," Christie said.

- Jackie Ripley can be reached at 813 269-5308 or ripley@sptimes.com

[Last modified September 18, 2003, 10:36:32]

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