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Management of Aquatic Invasive Species in Indiana

Getting Control of Aquatic Nuisance Species in Indiana

Gwen White, Ph.D.
IDNR Division of Fish & Wildlife

Table of Contents

  1. Pathways and Regulations
  2. When Pets Get Too Big to Flush
  3. Aquarium Fish in Indiana Waters
  4. Piranha and Pacu (2000-2002)
  5. Snails in Backyard Ponds and Aquariums
  6. Other Aquarium Pets
  7. "Old" Illegal Animal Possession List
  8. Snakehead Fish - 28 Species
  9. Snakehead Fish - Continued
  10. Aquaculture and Bait
  11. Range of Eurasian Species
  12. Bighead Carp
  13. Silver Carp
  14. Black Carp
  15. Controlled Species - Grass Carp
  16. Anglers, Divers, and Boaters
  17. White Perch
  18. White Perch - Continued
  19. Imported Fish Diseases and Parasites
  20. Genetic Engineering Another Kind of "Exotic"
  21. Weedy Exotic Plants
  22. Prevent Transport Between Lake Michigan and the Ohio River Basins
  23. Indiana State Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Management Plan
  24. Indiana ANS Management Plan - Continued
  25. ANS Plan Components
  26. First Meeting of the ANS Management Plan

Pathways and Regulations

Anglers move and release fish 

  • fishing regulations.

Aquaculture and bait industry 

  • commercial regulations

Biocontrol agents 

  • plant control regulations

Pet owners release aquarium species 

  • pet trade exemption

Landscaped ponds 

  • private waters exemption

Rerouting waterway connections spread species 

  • construction permits

When Pets Get Too Big to Flush

Wells Catfish from Europe
Wells Catfish from Europe

Aquarium Fish in Indiana Waters

  • 9.9-inch tinfoil barb
  • 10-inch tiger oscar
  • 5.9-inch bala shark
  • two Oriental weatherfish loaches
  • 20-inch Aruana from Lake Hobart (below)

20-inch Aruana from Lake Hobart

Piranha and Pacu (2000-2002)

  • 15 inch pacu, from Lake Shafer, White Co.
  • 15 inch pacu, gravel pit, Johnson Co.
  • 14 inch pacu, Griffy Lake, Monroe Co.
  • 2.7 lbs pacu, from St Joseph River, St Joseph Co.
  • 8.75 inch pacu, private pond, Delaware Co.
  • two 10 inch piranhas, White River, Delaware Co.
  • seven piranha, city park pond, Boone Co.
  • piranha, Cedar Lake, Lake Co.
  • unconfirmed piranha, private ponds, Clay Co.

Snails in Backyard Ponds and Aquariums

Chinese Mystery Snail

Chinese Mystery Snail

Stout and Perry K electric generating plants on White River


Photo Credit: IPALCO

Prefers enriched, calm waters… The conical shape makes it really good at clogging cooling water condenser tubes.  It is an operculated species, thus, it can simply "slam the door" and wait for an intermittent biocide to pass by.”

– Terry Hogan, IPALCO

Other Aquarium Pets

  • Three Allgators, Wabash River, Huntington
  • 48-inch Caiman, private pond, Marion Co.

Baby Alligator

"Old" Illegal Animal Possession List


  • Walking Catfish (Clariidae)
  • Tuenose & Round Gobies
  • Rudd
  • Ruffe


  • Zebra and Quagga Mussels
  • Asiatic Clam

Walking Catfish

Snakehead Fish - 28 Species

  • From Africa (tropical) and Asia (northern).
  • Imported as seafood and aquarium pets.
  • Voracious predator; can crawl on land for up to 3 days.
  • Found in waters of seven states, incl. Maine and Florida.
  • Prevent introduction to Indiana waters!

Snakehead Fish

Snakehead Fish - Continued

Exotic Snakehead

Exotic Snakehead (top) has a very long anal fin.
Native Bowfin (bottom) has a short anal fin.

Native Bowfin

Aquaculture and Bait

  • Agri/aqua culture – humans move species around for social uses
  • Asian carps have potential use as food fish and biocontrols (snails, plants)
  • Bait fish may be raised or wild-caught
  • Self imposed protocols to monitor contamination with exotics

Range of Eurasian Species

Range of Eurasian Species

Image Credit: MICRA

Bighead Carp

Bighead Carp



From large rivers and lakes of eastern China and Siberia. Up to 90 pounds. Filter feeder, tearing nets. Competes for food with native fish fry, paddlefish, buffalo, salmon, walleye, perch, mussels. In Indiana – Wabash, Tippecanoe, White, and Ohio Rivers. Prevent spread to Lake Michigan basin!






Silver Carp

  • Silver CarpFrom Asian lowland rivers.
  • Up to 3 ft long, 60 pounds.
  • Filter feeder, “flying” fish.
  • Dominates Mississippi River pools, consisting of up to 90 percent of fish caught in some areas.
  • In Indiana –Wabash and Ohio Rivers.
  • Prevent spread to Lake Michigan basin

Black Carp

Black Carp Teeth

  • From large rivers in China and far eastern Russia.
  • Weighs up to 70 pounds.
  • Feeding on crayfish and 26 species of rare native mussels, including 10 federally listed species.
  • Looks like legal triploid grass carp – dissect “throat teeth” for identification.
  • Prevent spread to Indiana!

Grass Carp

Grass Carp

  • Certified genetically sterile fish (triploid).
  • Must be stocked by professional hauler.
  • No stocking in public waters.
  • Biological control for 5-8 years.
  • Can tear out beneficial plants and stir up muddy water.

Anglers, Divers, and Boaters

  • Clean live wells; don’t dump bait buckets.
  • No live carp as bait; live gizzard shad only at Brookville. Live goldfish allowed.
  • Don’t release wild caught fish into other waters, including your pond.
  • Clean diving gear - zebra mussel in gravel pits near Muncie, used for SCUBA diving.

White Perch

  • Native to Atlantic coast, spread into Great Lakes in 1940s.
  • Eats eggs of walleye and white bass; feed on minnows; competes with native yellow perch.
  • In Wolf and Cedar Lakes (Lake Co.), Koontz Lk (Marshall).
  • Rapidly dominates fishery 88% by number 67% by weight in Cedar Lk.
  • Prevent spread to other inland lakes in Indiana!

White Perch - U.S. Map of drainages

White Perch / Native White Bass

White Perch


Exotic White perch (top) no distinct lines or stripes on sides.





White Bass


Native White bass (bottom) has lines on sides.

Imported fish diseases and parasites


  • Trout and salmon (whirling disease)
  • Bass (largemouth bass virus)
  • Carp, goldfish, and minnows (spring viremia)
  • Yellow perch (heterosporis)
  • Unknown others!

Sea Lamprey

Sea lamprey control: $8 million / yr
Lake trout restoration: $12 million / yr

Sea Lamprey

Genetic engineering another kind of “exotic”

  • Atlantic Salmon in net pens off the coast:
     - Grows faster on less feed.
     - Disease resistance (difficult to treat sick fish).
  • Research on 30 species - carp, crayfish, shrimp…
  • Risk management tools:
     - research on mating preference
     - viability of young (sterility)
     - competition with natives
     - modification of native fish behavior

Weedy exotic plants

  • Weedy Exotic Plants IllustrationEurasian watermilfoil found in 173 lakes in northern Indiana (56 percent of surface area)
  • Lake associations spend $800,000 per year on chemical control of exotic plants like Eurasian watermilfoil.
  • 200 permits per year for lake plant control.
  • Plants spreads by rooting of fragments.

Prevent Transport

Prevent transport between Lake Michigan (a fishery worth $4 billion per year) and the Ohio River basins

U.S. Map of Ecosystem

Indiana State Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Management Plan!

ANS Management Plan

Indiana ANS Management Plan

  • A comprehensive statewide plan for education, prevention, early detection, regulations, and control measures.
  • Three professionally facilitated stakeholder workgroup meetings over nine months.
  • State eligibility for federal cost-share funding upon approval of the plan by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Adjacent states are receiving up to $100,000 per year for exotic species management programs.

ANS Plan Components

  • Exotic ANS background – agency roles
  • Policy background
     - Statutory authority and regulations
     - Programs in agencies and organizations
  • Management actions (goals, strategies, tasks)
     - Prevent new introductions
     - Limit spread of established species
     - Reduce ecological / economic impacts
  • Program monitoring and evaluation.

First meeting of the ANS Management Plan

Tuesday, April 15, 2004, 10am-3pm
Garrison, Ft Harrison State Park, Indianapolis

 bait shops
 fishing clubs
 fish producers  
 university researchers
 plant nurseries  
 regulatory agencies
 pet store dealers
 conservation organizations

 Develop steering committee and project reviewers.
 Identify issues and solutions.