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Florida has many types of aquatic plants and vegetation including both native and non-native species. Aquatic vegetation can play an important role in an aquatic ecosystem in some of the following ways.
- Aquatic plants and vegetation can provide much needed oxygen through photosynthesis.
- Vegetation provides cover and shade for juvenile fish to escape predators.
- Aquatic plants and their flowers attract insects to the water to lay their eggs which in turn provides a food source for the fish.
- Aquatic plants that have a root system help stabilize and hold together the bottom of a water body with their roots preventing erosion that can cause a lake or pond's water to be murky . Murky water can block sunlight from penetrating into the water which can slow biological production and photosynthesis.
- Aquatic plants and vegetation remove excess nutrients from the water by utilizing them for food for growth.
As you can see, aquatic plants and other vegetation play a vital role in sustaining life in a lake or pond but a balance must be kept with the plant growth itself or it can have the opposite effect.
Sometimes conditions (usually caused by man) can throw things out of balance. When nutrients from nearby runoff full of pesticides, fertilizers, dead leaves, grass, animal waste and yes sometimes even human waste wash into the water, the nutrient levels rise considerably. This is when the growth of aquatic vegetation shifts into high gear and can harm the ecosystem in some of the following ways.
- Excessive plant growth can block sunlight too much and halt both biological filtration and production.
- Vegetation can cover too much of the water body and block wind action from aerating the surface water.
- Vegetation like algae and duckweed thrive and can take over when the water is stagnant and nutrients are abundant.
- Too much submerged vegetation can cause starvation of predator fish (bass) by making it too hard for them to chase and catch their food.
- Oxygen levels in a lake or pond naturally fluctuate. When sunlight is present, vegetation produces oxygen through photosynthesis but at night, early in the morning and even on overcast days the same vegetation consumes oxygen through respiration. If there is an over abundance of vegetation, dissolved oxygen levels can become dangerously low at these times. These are the times when most fish kills occur.
- Last but not least too much vegetation also makes it difficult to enjoy fishing, swimming, or boating.
If you have more than a 30 to 50 percent coverage of either submerged or floating vegetation you might have a problem that could lead to a fish kill.
If you have a problem, the first thing we recommend you should try to do is identify the aquatic plants in your water body. It is easiest to manage your problem if you know what kinds of plants you have.
Click on the following printable
We have found it to be very helpful with identifying some of the most common aquatic plants found in Florida.