Understanding Aquatic Herbicides

Fish Feeder

Are Aquatic Herbicides Safe For Your Fish?

Most people want to know if the products being administered to their pond pose any danger to them, their families, their pets, nearby wildlife, or the environment in general. They have good reason to be nervous because unlike landscape applications and home pest control, aquatic herbicide knowledge is relatively foreign to most people and is being applied directly to the water.

Aquatic herbicides are chemicals specifically formulated for use in water to kill or control aquatic plants. Herbicides registered and approved for aquatic use by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been reviewed and are considered compatible with the aquatic environment when used according to label directions. Some individual states however impose additional constraints and their use must also be approved on the state level.

Aquatic herbicides are sprayed directly onto floating or emergent aquatic plants or are applied to the water in either a liquid or pellet form and can be either systemic, contact, selective, or non-selective types. Systemic herbicides are capable of killing the entire plant and are translocated through the plant, either from foliar application down to the roots, or from soil application up to the leaves. Contact herbicides cause the parts of the plant in contact with the herbicide to die back, leaving the roots alive and able to regrow. Non-selective, broad-spectrum herbicides will generally affect all plants that they come in contact with while selective herbicides will affect only some plants such as dicots which are broadleaf plants, whereas monocots may not be affected.

Largemouth Bass

Improperly performed treatments utilizing herbicides could lead to low oxygen conditions in the lake or pond as a result of too many plants dying and decomposing simultaneously, which utilizes available oxygen in the water, especially in very warm weather. If this occurs, there is a risk of a fish kill. One of our licensed and experienced applicators will consider all factors including temperature, treatment timing, herbicidal mode of action, utilizing protocols, and treatment methodology to greatly minimize any such risk. Adding supplemental oxygen aeration may be recommended.

Properly performed herbicide treatments will typically provide good long-term control of target species and are much more effective, safe, and less expensive than many other available options. No product can be labeled for aquatic use if it poses more than a one in a million chance of causing significant damage to human health, the environment, or wildlife resources. In addition, it may not show evidence of biomagnification, bioavailability, or persistence in the environment.

Bottom line: Is it safe to fish? The answer is always “yes”. In short, when aquatic herbicides are applied according to their label, they pose no threat to people, their pets, fish, birds, or any other wildlife, short or long term. In the case that there is a one-day swimming restriction, or any other restriction, a licensed herbicide applicator will always communicate this to anyone with access to the water, as well as posting any relevant signs.

Contact the experts at 888-480-5253 for your lake, pond and fisheries management needs. 

SOLitude Lake Management is an environmental firm committed to providing full-service solutions that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Our services include lake, pond, wetland and fisheries management programs, algae and aquatic weed control, mechanical harvesting, hydro-raking, installation and maintenance of fountains and aeration systems, water quality testing and restoration, bathymetry, lake vegetation studies, biological assessments, habitat assessments, invasive species management and nuisance wildlife management. Services, consulting and aquatic products are available to clients nationwide, including homeowners associations, multi-family and apartment communities, golf courses, commercial developments, ranches, private landowners, reservoirs, recreational and public lakes, municipalities, parks, and state and federal agencies. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com

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