Skip to comments.Meat-Eating Fish From China Introduced to Maryland Waters by Pet Owner
Posted on 07/12/2002 9:24:09 AM PDT by aculeus
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Nearly 100 meat-eating fish native to China have been found in a Maryland pond where a pet owner dumped two of them in 2000, state officials said Friday amid concern that the fish will become a major threat to native species.
The northern snakehead can grow to be 3 feet long and has a voracious appetite.
The situation is of special concern to authorities because the Little Patuxent River is about 75 yards from the pond, and northern snakeheads can live three days out of water and even walk short distances on their fins in search of food.
"They can gain a foothold here and begin to proliferate in ways that would displace native organisms," said Eric Schwaab, director of the Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service.
On Thursday, agency officials caught 99 young northern snakeheads by using an electroshock method that stuns them, causing them to float to the surface of the water.
"We've said all along that if there are juveniles in there, there would be hundreds or thousands of them," agency spokesman John Surrick said Friday.
Two adult fish were released into the Crofton pond two years ago, police said Thursday. State officials discovered the presence of the species in May, when an angler caught a suspicious fish and provided a photo for identification. Since then, biologists have caught several young fish.
State officials are setting up a scientific panel to investigate the problem and come up with recommendations to remove the snakeheads from the pond.
No charges were filed against the owner of the two original fish, whom police would not identify, because the statute of limitations has expired.
"They outgrew the capability of his care, so the individual chose to release them into what he felt was a safe environment," said Capt. Mark Sanders of the Maryland Natural Resources police.
I wonder what this study will cost. Wouldn't dynamite solve this problem?
Why not flush'em down the toilet?
It would be a very bad and wrong thing if someone released these fish in a water body closed of to commerce due to "endangered" junkfish.
Hmmm. And not identified? A Dept. of Natural Resources employee?
That's somewhat disturbing.
Dang. That's the way I fish, too.
It tastes great! In China it's called "black fish", priced higher than any other fresh water fish. It doesn't have small bones and the meat is high in protein. Women eat balck fish to produce more milk after they give birth to new babies.
I'll certainly stop skinny-dippin. Got to wear a bathing suit from now on. Ha Ha
I like the "cookie sheet used as a shield" part.
Asian carp, a humongous plankton-gobbling fish that has been dubbed the underwater lawn mower, is getting so close to Lake Michigan that scientists worry it could wipe out sport fish in the Great Lakes.
Nervous authorities are hoping an electric barrier on a canal near Chicago will prevent the fish from dipping a fin in the Great Lakes.
The Asian carp, which made its way into the Mississippi River from Arkansas fish farms in the 1970s, steadily has swum upstream for years at a pace of 40 to 50 miles a year. It's now near the Quad Cities on the Mississippi and may be only 25 miles from Lake Michigan on the Illinois River.
It can grow so big - more than 100 pounds and four feet long - that it quickly out-muscles any predators. It can jump as high as 15 feet and has broken the nose of at least one commercial angler. It snacks on plankton - the base of the aquatic food chain - at a pace of two to three times its weight each day. That doesn't leave much for other creatures to eat.
While scientists have no idea if Asian carp could survive in the Great Lakes, they don't want to find out.
"The worst case is that they would find it very suitable and very much to their liking, and they would grow to huge population numbers and compete with sport fish like yellow perch, walleye and smallmouth bass," said John Rogner, field supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Chicago.
On Thursday, a Canadian-American organization that regulates border waters urged officials in both countries to take action to prevent Asian carp from swimming into the Great Lakes. The International Joint Commission called on authorities to make permanent the electric barrier, which was installed in April to prevent another non-native species from traveling from Lake Michigan into the Illinois River.
The temporary barrier near Romeoville, Ill., on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, which is scheduled to be removed after 18 months, sends electric signals into the water and produces a tingling sensation that fish find uncomfortable.
To humans, it's similar to the feeling you get when bumping your funny bone, explained Pam Thiel, project leader at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's fishery resource office in La Crosse. The hope is that Asian carp that make it as far as the barrier will turn around.
The commission also recommended installing a second barrier of electricity, bubbles or sound waves on the Illinois River to act as a second fire break to keep out Asian carp. The second barrier could be located near the present one.
"We have a historic opportunity here," said Jim Houston, environmental adviser for the commission.
It's possible people who catch bait in the Mississippi or Illinois rivers could mistakenly introduce Asian carp when they're small by using the bait while fishing in the Great Lakes, Thiel said.
If Asian carp sneak into the Great Lakes, it could be just as devastating as the zebra mussel, another non-native species, Houston said in a phone interview from Ottawa, Canada.
Millions of dollars have been spent to clean up after billions of quarter-sized zebra mussels that attach themselves to ships, docks and other mussels. Houston said any money spent on preventing Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan will end up being much less than the costs of carp decimating native fish populations.
With a face only an Asian carp mother could love, the fish was brought from China to Arkansas fish farms in the early 1970s to improve water quality and control algae blooms. The fish escaped when aquaculture ponds adjacent to the Mississippi River flooded about a decade ago.
Of the four species of Asian carp, two - bighead and silver - are the ones that are the problem in America. They dine on the plankton food supply of paddlefish, gizzard shad, big-mouth buffalo and other filter feeders. They also compete with larval and juvenile fish, and mussels.
Even though they're members of the minnow family, bighead and silver carp grow fast, and as they get bigger, need more to eat.
"Because they are very large, they have to consume large amounts (of plankton), so they're basically swimming around all day with their mouths open," Thiel said.
Between 1988 and 1992, the combined commercial harvest of bighead and silver carp by Illinois anglers in the Illinois and Mississippi rivers was less than 1,300 pounds, Thiel said. By 1994, the yearly catch was more than 51/2 tons, and since 1997 the annual catch has exceeded 55 tons.
Thiel ate Asian carp while visiting China. She said it tastes good, but she had difficulty comparing it to fish commonly consumed in America.
One thing different about the Asian carp here is its leaping ability. Asian carp in Asia aren't known for jumping high in the air like a tarpon.
They seem to be affected by the sound or vibration of motorboats, Rogner said.
Scientists have documented instances, and have the video to prove it, of Asian carp leaping into boats. Thiel heard of a commercial fisherman who got smacked in the face by a carp. A researcher has been hit four times by the carp he was researching, and the last time his injuries landed him on workman's disability.
Some commercial fishermen use cookie sheets as shields from the big flying fish, she said.
Thiel, who does research on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, figures she'll have to come up with a sturdier shield.
"I think if they get as far as La Crosse, I'll use a garbage can lid because it has handles," she said.
But in China it never grows that big, usuallly 1-foot long.
I assume the stupid fool didn't bother to look under their tails first?
...is an ugly fish!
black fish: 1,
winter bamboo shoot: 50 grams,
dried winter-picked mushroom: 50 grams,
tender vegetable heart: right amount,
wine, salt, onion, ginger block, fragrant vinegar: right amount
The real fault here lies with the owner. It's not like the snakehead is an unknown fish. There is a wealth of information, both print and online, that stresses at the outset the monstrous size this aggressive predator grows to. The owner obviously decided that somehow their desire to have this sort of monster would overrule biology and bought them anyway.
I can't even tell you how many times I had to deal with idiots like this when I worked in the tropical fish biz. People are TOTALLY CLUELESS about fish. They look at them as toys or ornaments, not as living things that, well, LIVE. Then one day a year later they wake up and the "cute lil' snake-fish" is two feet long, flopping water on the floor, eating everything in sight and viciously attacking anything put in the tank. Do yourself a favor and READ UP ON ANY ANIMAL BEFORE YOU DECIDE TO BUY IT. Once it's yours it's your responsibility forever.
Unless, of course, you're a typical American. Then you'll need a dictionary to look that "r-word" up.
No, I'm in the aquarium business, and I can say with certainty that this owner knew exactly what he was doing. By the time he released two adult snakeheads, he'd already fed them thousands of feeder goldfish. Snakeheads can be so mean they'll bite your hand if you put it in the tank. Most fish, including piranhas, won't.
Regulations for the importation of tropical fish vary, as is appropriate, from state to state, based on determinations of whether or not those fish might be a pest if released into the wild. There are a number of temperate and tropical species of snakehead, and I believe these specimens are among the former. Not sure if they are legal in Maryland or not.
Of course what would I know? I am only a carpio.