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zebra mussels

 
steward
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what's a permaculture approach to the arrival of zebra and quagga mussels in new bodies of water? they do a real number on freshwater ecosystems and built environments. they exacerbate harmful algal blooms by selecting for Microcystis aeruginosa.

they can also increase the clarity of water, which increases the amount of light penetrating the water column in turn increasing the number of epiphytes and the depth at which they can live. that can be good or bad, depending on the situation and one's perspective.

they're probably edible, but they tend to concentrate pollutants. they're also small enough that it would be an awful lot of work to make a meal. plenty of critters eat them, but further concentration of toxins is still an issue for critters.

what do you think?
 
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I have no idea about controlling them, but if you have to scrape them off a boat or something, I'm sure you can compost them. I guess you'd make sure they're well covered inside a compost heap. Sure you'll get shells in the finished compost, but I don't mind having seashells in my garden soil. Kind of like it, actually.
 
gardener
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Composting seems counter-indicated due how they concentrate toxins.
How about pressing them for fuel oil?
Drying them for solid fuel? Maybe pyrolysis them?
You would still have toxins in the ash,but at least it's concentrated.
Hmm,maybe purposefully use them to collect heavy metals,perhaps even precious metals...
 
gardener
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After the first few generations, how many toxins are left for them to accumulate? Could the early generations be used to detoxify water and the later generations eaten? Even if it's too small to be worth obtaining the meat there is still this approach http://www.eattheweeds.com/coquina-tasty-tiny-clam/ to make a broth. Of course, this all depends on them not being toxic.

I love that looking into this lead to this page http://eattheinvaders.org/faq/ Defending our ecosystem with our teeth. Makes me feel carnivorous.
 
William Bronson
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Well, we continue to pump toxins into the environment,so I imagine there are plenty.
Could be great for controlling algae bloom in a small contained body if water,or as a bio filter before sending water back into the environment.
If you did not plan on eating a pig(?),they probably would thrive on  mussels.
Draft pig anyone?


Looked into the mussel oil idea.
Yes,mussel oil is a thing,much like shellfish oil,or fish oil.
The toxins can be filtered via activated charcoal.Resulting oils command high prices.
Alternatively,burning the unfiltered oil as biodiesel will lead to the toxins being reintroduced to the environment.
Niche unfiltered use is funky oil for the animal trapping industry.

I wonder how the squishy bits of mussels would work as part of an aggregate in concrete? Poorly I imagine.
 
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Being on the coast and having a severe issue with acid rain (due to the topography here, the jet stream, pollution from the mid-west, etc), the Soil and Water Conservation District did some preliminary testing with mussels and had staggering results. The goal was in the recovering of the endangered Atlantic Salmon, and while the crushed shells were not solely from the Zebra-Mussel, in brought the PH level of the fresh water body up quite quickly. Just as with soil where the PH levels binds the minerals and oxygen, it causes the Atlantic Salmon to just go lethargic if it is too low.  A few truck loads of shells dumped into the streams really changed all that. Normally that would scare me, but the PH levels were originally higher and closer to neutral.

I honestly think the Atlantic Salmon issue is a PH issue based on the results I saw, BUT for many it was deemed inconclusive. Maybe; but considering the funding and remediation levels of the Atlantic Salmon, I am wondering if they just missed the low hanging fruit...the obvious answer...and having invested so much, want their theories to prove out, even though over time they have yet to really make any headway on the salmon population. I am not sure.

I am not sure of how truly effective mussel shells would work. This is Maine, and we are known for our crustaceans so we have plenty of the shell-fish-offal, but trucking the volume needed to make an impact, and where to put it might be expensive. The results were staggering though. We are not talking lethargic fish recovering in a few days time; we are talking about fish invigorated within an hour.
 
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You can controll them by introducing the asian black carp wich feeds on them and its also a high quality fish to eat .
But its not necesarrely to catch the mussel eating carps and they can die of old age in the lake and still have a major role in preventing the zebra mussels infestations.
How?
Because these mussels feed on algae wich grow from phosphorus. The phosphorus never leaves the lake.
Zebra mussels eat the algae and grow biomass that traps the phosphorus for a while until they die.
After they die they release all the P back into the water .
The mussel eating carp stores the P in its skeleton and after it dies of old age ,his bones sediment and they trap the P as calcium phosphate.
Mussels shells are calcium carbonate so they are not a phosphate sink.
Only these amazing asian carps can save the lakes and the enviroment but its too early for USA to know this and its 100 years earlyer.For Australia its 150 years earlyer ( these guys killed the Great Barrier Reef with their sewage because they dont like carps that could have saved the Barrier reef and ...i dont go further 😂).
 
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Tel,

I know of only one method that may fall within Permies boundaries.  It does not trap, poison or in any way directly harm the zebra muscles.  It does not work immediately, needing a long term management program.

The technique is the sterile male approach.  The short version is that a number of males are captured and made sterile through a variety of methods.  Other than sterilization, the muscles are unharmed.  The muscles are then released back into the wild and when they mate, all of the eggs released are unfertilized.  These are eggs that won’t hatch.  No critter is harmed, at least not directly.  The numbers can go down dramatically, but never eliminated entirely.  This technique has been used to dramatically reduce the numbers of lamprey eels.

I think this would fall under acceptable Permies standards, but if not, please feel free to inform me otherwise.

Eric
 
Mihai Ilie
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If asian carps,especially the smaller jumping carp would enter the Great Lakes then it would be a blessing for the Great Lakes and that will trigger the biggest enviromental restoration in North America.
Lake Erie its the most poluted lake in the world .Soo much poluted that it ceashed from eutrophisation,was declared dead and it led to people protests and the establishment of the EPA( usa enviromenral protection agency) and the clean water act.
Now a days that lake its a time bomb and has acumulated so much more phosphates in it that its 3 times the level it had when it died.
Nobody,nothing on Earth can restore that lake ,except the much hated jumping carp but as i said in the previous comment USA will probably realise this in 100 years from now.
Asian carps are the most eco friendly and usefull fish in USA at protecting the enviroment and native ecosystems.
Such fish should be respected like dolphins.
 
pollinator
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This thread mentions making roman concrete out of zebra mussel shells. I don't know how viable that would be as a control method, but at least it would give you something to do with them.
 
pollinator
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Mihai Ilie wrote:If asian carps,especially the smaller jumping carp would enter the Great Lakes then it would be a blessing for the Great Lakes and that will trigger the biggest enviromental restoration in North America.
Lake Erie its the most poluted lake in the world .Soo much poluted that it ceashed from eutrophisation,was declared dead and it led to people protests and the establishment of the EPA( usa enviromenral protection agency) and the clean water act.
Now a days that lake its a time bomb and has acumulated so much more phosphates in it that its 3 times the level it had when it died.
Nobody,nothing on Earth can restore that lake ,except the much hated jumping carp but as i said in the previous comment USA will probably realise this in 100 years from now.
Asian carps are the most eco friendly and usefull fish in USA at protecting the enviroment and native ecosystems.
Such fish should be respected like dolphins.



The Great Lakes system and the freshwater systems connected to them extend halfway up to James Bay. The whole system isn't anywhere near as dead as you seem to think.

Allowing asian carp into the system would destroy it from the ground up. We would have no regeneration. We would have asian carp. How are the waterways currently infested with them in the untied states doing? Because I heard that it's an ecological nightmare for the negative effect on biodiversity.

I quite like the idea of releasing black carp engineered to yield sterile offspring. That should solve things nicely, allowing native species some chance at return.

And as zebra mussels are fast-growing filters that take excesses and toxins out of polluted water, I like the idea of a management approach that turns them back into soil.

-CK
 
pollinator
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it could be that we're talking about different Carp - the US has several invasive species, all with their own different feeding habits.

Black Carp
Silver Carp
Grass Carp

also, these common names are not always the same in each locality, and are often times not even phenotypically accurate (black carp are not automatically black colored, Grass carp eat more than just aquatic plants, etc.)
 
Mihai Ilie
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Dustin Rhodes wrote:it could be that we're talking about different Carp - the US has several invasive species, all with their own different feeding habits.

Black Carp
Silver Carp
Grass Carp

also, these common names are not always the same in each locality, and are often times not even phenotypically accurate (black carp are not automatically black colored, Grass carp eat more than just aquatic plants, etc.)


Im talking about the most usefull of them,the silver carp( its the one that jumps when skared by noize).
It is the most ecologically important fish in the world.
It could have saved lake Erie,Florida red tides and in Australia it could have saved The Great Barrier Reef wich died because of the phosphates from the sewage( stony corals are verry sensitive to phosphorus and they didnt need much of it to die).
If the silver carps woyld hace saced the Great Barrier Reef ,then it would have had a huge impact on global warming because corals trap CO2 as carbonate to build their calcium carbonate skeletons.
Having a dead Great Barrier Reef its like having a dead Amazonian forest.
 
pollinator
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Mihai Ilie wrote:
Im talking about the most usefull of them,the silver carp( its the one that jumps when skared by noize).
It is the most ecologically important fish in the world.



Do you have the scientific species name? It would help to find the info.
 
Michael Cox
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_carp
 
Mihai Ilie
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Michael Cox wrote:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_carp


Yea,thats the silver carp and i call it the jumping carp because its the only one that jumps.
You also have the big head carp in North America wich looks similar to the silver carp just that it grows much bigger and that eats also small zooplancton not just phytoplancton but its still a filter feeder( doesnt harm any fish ,frog,worm etc).
 
Chris Kott
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What about the silver carp is so unique that it would be acceptable to displace native organisms with them?

As to your assertions that the silver carp don't impact native fisheries, I think that population studies of local species would disagree.

There is lots of literature about what happens when you introduce invasives that lack predators in the new environment. It's destabilising, and often we don't learn about the unintended consequences until we're forced to clean them up, too.

Absolutely nothing that has been said about any asian carp species leads me to believe that their introduction outside of their natural environment is a good idea. Nothing that has been claimed couldn't be achieved in a more complete way by rebuilding and nurturing the existing native biology.

Back to zebra mussels, I think they could be used in a bioreactor setting, or could be farmed for their biomass and composted on-shore, closing that nutrient loop.

-CK
 
steward
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Introduced species is a tricky topic. It is hard to know for sure how ecosystems evolve; we only have a snapshot in time and there are so many factors at play. Regardless of whether an introduced specie is good or bad, once it is present in an ecosystem, I like Samuel Thayer's approach to using it for food. The nice aspect of the non-native is that if you over-harvest it, in some cases you have solved the problem. I remember reading an article of a chef using the asian carp in his restaurant, that is cool.

One last comment. I would like to remind people to stay civil and not attack others' opinions.
 
master steward
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I think Mother Nature is under enough stress trying to adapt and adjust to myriad changes already.  Deliberately introducing more species for her to deal with seems like it would just cause more stress.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially if that pound of cure involves toxic crap.

I love the idea of eating garlic mustard, silver carp, zebra mussels and emerald ash borers, it just might not be possible.  Unless a species is particularly easy to catch and particularly tasty (dodo birds?) I don't think eating is likely to do much control.

Slaughtering and using for fertilizer or animal feed is fine and might work to control some species but it could require some real investment.  Zebra scouring submarines that pump the mussels to shore and to a catfish farm?  Seems like this is a real opportunity for the carp...

Smaller things like bugs and seeds of plants are more worrisome to me because once they're out they're very hard to stop.

Maybe an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure...
 
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It depends on the size of water body we're talking about.  For smaller ponds and lakes, there's been some success treating zebra mussel infestations (especially when detected early) with copper sulfate and other copper-based compounds.  As far as biological controls, that's tougher to say.  There are native fish, particularly redear sunfish, freshwater drum, and blue catfish, that will eat zebra mussels.  If it is a pond or a reservoir and water levels can be manipulated, reducing the water level a couple feet can help kill millions of zebra mussels.

Asian carp have done an incredible amount of ecological damage in the United States.  They can filter smaller particles out of the water column than native planktivores, and they wind up eating the eggs and larvae of native fish in the process.  Illinois has been at the forefront of documenting tremendous declines in abundance and diversity of native fish communities after the introduction of asian carp (mostly silver and bighead carp) to the central US.  Their introduction to North American waters has transformed diverse, robust, stable aquatic communities into systems dominated by only one or two species- monocultures.  Advocating their spread throughout the US is not only irresponsible IMO, it's diametrically opposed to some of the most foundational concepts of permaculture.  While places like the Great Lakes do suffer from chemical pollution, I'd argue introducing non-native species doesn't solve the problem. You've just turned a chemical pollutant into a biological pollutant.  More importantly, we have much more control of how much N or P we put into a system.  We haven't found a way to control asian carp once they're reproducing in the wild.  

The situation with black carp is similar.  They eat molluscs like zebra mussels, but they don't discriminate between invasive and native species.  Three-quarters of North America's freshwater mussels are already at risk of extinction, far exceeding imperilment rates of mammals, birds, fish, and other taxa.  As tough a time as they're having, they don't need another stressor.  

 
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This thread has gone seriously downhill. I don't know anything about the subject, but I am locking the thread because while I know nothing about fish, I do know that the way ideas have been presented is not nice.

Here on permies, we leave room for other people's options. We do not call names or insult other people's intelligence. We do not ask for citations. I have seen all of this in this thread. This thread is a mess for us moderators. We're locking it. Maybe if we can untangle it, we'll unlock it.
 
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