Algae and invasive Aquatic plants
Florida ponds, lakes, and wetlands are different than most areas in the United States often being eutrophic or hypereutrophic which means they have high levels of nutrients. States such as New York, Michigan, or Colorado have stone lined water bodies with little organic matter called oligotrophic areas. Since oligotrophic waters have very few nutrients people often have to add fertilizer to ponds in northern areas to grow plants. Florida has the opposite problem. We have such high nutrient loads from: natural sources, agriculture, fertilizers, and runoff that ponds can become overgrown with plants and algae. Traditional lake management has focused on using herbicides to kill off the plants and algae but this has become less effective over time for the following reasons:
- Herbicides kill plants but they grow back resistant to the herbicides requiring more or stronger herbicides.
- Dying plants release nutrients upon death which can flow downstream causing other blooms, dead zones, or aggravating Red Tide.
- Too many plants dying at once can cause fish kills as the decaying plants remove oxygen from the water.
- Herbicides can kill fish, invertebrates, and beneficial plants.
- Herbicides have a wide range of human health concerns from carcinogenic, burning, or respiratory effects often affecting applicators the most.
- Herbicides need to be reapplied regularly.
- When plants are killed, algae will come in to use the nutrients causing an ecosystem shift from macrophytes to algae. The same happens when algae is killed, either more algae grows to replace it or macrophytes become problematic.
INVASIVE fish and native fishing
Florida has over 500 non-native exotic species with ones actively harming native ecosystems being labeled as invasive. Stocking Savvy does not use any invasive species for building our ecosystems. We may temporarily encourage using biological controls such as Triploid Grass Carp which are sterile for removing aquatic vegetation. We do not stock Tilapia as they have such variable diets and don't focus on any plant in particular, are vulnerable to fish kills, and have been known to out compete native fish and fisheries. Stocking Savvy will help identify invasive species in your ponds and lakes and help provide remedies to them. We offer free Tilapia removal and can assess other invasive fish species on a case by case basis. We have experience mitigating damage caused by Tilapia, Plecostomus (Sailfin Catfish), Various Cichlids, Clown Knifefish, and Lionfish.
Once we can control invasive fishes Stocking Savvy will help introduce native species back into your waterways. We prefer to start with new ponds and build them from the ground up but can help rejuvenate older lakes and ponds as well. We start by planting beneficial plants that provide habitat and filter the water and are the only stocking company that adds filter feeding microorganisms and herbivores into your ponds. Then over time we add larger fish, invertebrates and even turtles to your pond! Many people assume fish, invertebrates, and microbes will just find the water or come in on birds feet. This is a very rare circumstance and many larger native species will never find your pond this way. Stocking Savvy uses a science based succession scheme based upon various animals reproductive patterns to build an ecosystem that will improve water quality, improve fishing, and support birds, reptiles, and native fish species. For more information on what we stock and do visit our services page.
Climate Change, red tide, and large scale issues
No single person, group, community, or country can fight these large scale issues on their own. Climate Change is caused by CO2 pollution through fossil fuels, heavy industry, and deforestation. This is currently causing sea level rise, harmful algal blooms, increased hurricane strength, and other massive issues across the United States of America and the world. It's not if, it's not when, it's now. Even on the ground scientists at Stocking Savvy have noticed drops in local animal populations, fish, insects, and birds, while more southern warm water fish are being found in Sarasota waters. Nuisance plant and insect outbreaks are more common and fish stocks are struggling with catch sizes being smaller and more vulnerable every year. Red Tide is fed by warm nutrient rich water and Climate Change will bring more warm hot weather, and more hurricanes and heavy rains which will wash nutrients offshore. Even Mote Marine and other prestigious marine institutes have acknowledged that while Red Tide is naturally occurring humans are having a major impact on it. Habitat loss and animals that can help filter and reduce nutrient runoff or store carbon pollution are disappearing and invasive species which are generally less efficient or increasing problems are taking their place. So how does an individual help fight back against these massive issues?
Red Tide event at Lido Key in Bradenton Florida 2018. This massive multiyear bloom killed millions of sharks, fish, birds, turtles, and marine mammals. Large Scale events like this are becoming more common and in addition to health and environmental concerns cost millions for local economies. Photo by Elizabeth McCatherin 2018
Every community and individual in Florida can help against these Red Tide, Climate Change and habitat loss. Below we go into how Stocking Savvy helps individuals and communities design plans around each problem but generally if you're working on one, the other two go hand in hand.
- Red Tide - The most pressing issue in Florida is currently Red Tide and this stems from poor water quality and Climate Change. While Climate Change has its own section below Red Tide can be fought by drastically reducing phosphorous, nitrogen, and other fertilizing agents from entering the water. This is Stocking Savvy's specialty! We help design plant and animal based treatments for removing algae and plants in eutrophied ponds and controlling high levels of nutrients in a biological and natural way. We also restore native animal communities at the same time ensuring there are many ecological niches for nutrients to go and multiple different organisms to eat algae, filter out nutrients and particulates, and improve water quality. We also help improve wetlands, remove invasive species, build bioswales to control runoff, and improve backyard and community grounds to improve water drainage and habitat.
- Climate Change - Renewable energy such as solar, wind, and biogas are the best ways to fight Climate Change as reducing reliance on fossil fuels is essential. Secondary ways of fighting climate change include reducing carbon already present in the atmosphere such as by planting large carbon absorbing structures, trees. Longer lived, larger trees absorb more than smaller trees or shrubs. Mitigating the effects of climate change are essential to. Planning for droughts, severe weather, sea level rise, and changing weather patterns are all issues that should be taken into account for your area when planting or building. Stocking Savvy can help design gardens that will resist or thrive in a changing climate focusing on native species.
- Habitat Loss - Our bread and butter at Stocking Savvy is helping restore habitats in a way that encourages native animals to return and improves air, water, and soil quality. Butterfly gardens, bioswales, native trees, florida friendly food crops, littoral shelf plantings, submerged pond vegetation, business front plantings, and more are all under our scope. We work with local companies and all native plants and animals for our restoration efforts to meet local needs and improve habitat.