500 fish released to clean water in Cape Coral lake

Fish that environmental managers call aquatic lawnmowers may be the solution to overgrown grass in a local body of water. We were on scene when hundreds of fish were given the mission to clean the water for improved quality.

Lee County Hyacinth Control District released 500 triploid grass carp into into a Cape Coral canal that connects to Lake Kennedy Friday. These fish will control an overabundance of tape grass in the water.

“This is an exotic fish from china that we have brought here,” said Jason Cull with LCHCD. “The fish are eating every day, but the plants are growing every day as well. So it has to keep up with the plant growth with the fish.”

LCHCD chose to release the fish into a connecting canal rather than directly to the lake because it had a boat ramp with an easy access point for crews to let the fish go.

People living along the lake said the excess grass keeps them from using their boats or going out on the water.

“There’s been more activity on the lake,” Jimmy Prata said. “A bunch of Jet Skis, they used to stop 60 to 70 feet away from our seawall, but now they come right up to the wall again.”

Prata said the control district put a solution in the water about a week ago, and it’s already looking a lot better.

“Gotta be some big fish because there’s a lot of grass to eat,” Prata said.

Cull hopes people living along Lake Kennedy will see a difference in a matter of months with the help of these fish.

There is no concern for overpopulation of the carp themselves because this species is unable to reproduce.

LCHCD told us it plans to release another 500 carp into the lake next month. The control district can measure the vegetation in November and figure out next steps to control the tape grass.

“We know this is gonna work,” Cull said. “It’s just gonna take time. So just give us six months, 10 months, 12 months. Give these fish a chance to eat the vegetation, and we will get it back under control.”

Reporter:Brooke Shafer
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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