Archive for the 'Habitat' Category

Releasing Aquarium Fish Not Humane

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Aquarium in TV. Image: Furnish Burnish

This is Passport to Texas

How far would you travel to ensure the future of your favorite exotic aquarium fish?

We had some folks telling us that they would go as far as 50 miles to find an appropriate body of water.

Releasing pet fish into Texas waters when you no longer want them, is not a humane act. Exotic aquaria species disrupt natural ecosystems.

When we spoke, Priscilla Weeks was a research scientist at the Houston Advanced Research Center. At the time, her team used a TPWD grant to research why people release their fish into Texas waters.

I think there might be a stereotype where folks think that it is easy, emotionally, just to release a fish. But actually what we’re finding is folks are very attached to their pets.

According to research, whether a person gives up their fish depends on personal preference like its behavior or physical attributes.

And what we’re finding is that different individuals prefer different attributes of a fish. So, it’s not necessarily that it grows too big in my tank, because I may like a big fish.

If those attributes change, sometimes so does the owners’ interest in the animal.

Releasing a fish is not the only option when you no longer want it. Weeks says you can euthanize it, but less drastic is taking it back to the pet store.

The Sport fish restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Don’t Dump Your Fish Tank in Texas Waters

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

What happens when well meaning citizens release the “sucker fish” (Plecostomus) from their aquarium into the wild?…they grow and multiply! Picture from Lake Dunlap, TX.

This is Passport to Texas

Remember this?

He’s gonna get out of here. He’s going to get flushed. What a smart little guy!

We love how in the Pixar animation, Finding Nemo, the aquarium fish escape into the wild. The problem is most fish in Texas aquariums aren’t from here.

Luci Cook-Hildreth is a fisheries biologist, formerly with Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Inland Fisheries Division.

Even really smart people sometimes don’t understand that a fish is not just a fish and water is not just water. They go, “I have a creek in my backyard, and I have a fish that’s too big for my tank. Well, why don’t I just set him free?” And they don’t understand that there’s a lot of biological and ecological ramifications to that decision.

When these fish thrive in Texas waters, they out-compete native fish populations.

Moreover, it’s nearly impossible to control what species of fish people own because of the Internet. Despite state laws, there seems to be a constant supply—and demand—for illegal species. For good reason.

Folks that are interested in selling illegal fish have the potential to make thousands of dollars on these fish. And we can slap a fine on them, for 200 or 300 dollars, and it’s really just the cost of doing business for these folks.

Releasing one fish into the wild might endanger many more.

The Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW TV — Hands on Habitat

Friday, May 25th, 2018

TPW TV Preview — Hands on Habitat

This is Passport to Texas

Healthy aquatic habitat means good fishing.

We are at Lake Cypress Springs to construct some artificial fish habitat structures.

Fisheries biologist Tim Bister works to enhance declining aquatic habitat.

There is not a lot of structure for fish like largemouth bass or sunfish to relate to underneath the water. And fish need habitat structure in general. Even in reservoirs that left timber standing, over time that timber in the water breaks down and the habitat for fish declines, so we’re at a point where we really need to start doing something with these reservoirs to improve fish habitat.

With supervision from Texas Parks and Wildlife, anglers Kody Corrin and Calvin Lamont, installed artificial habitat of PVC pipes in the lake.

We love fishing, but we both understand that without conservation of the lakes, we are not going to be able to do that. So it is on our part to make sure we help take care of that, take care of the resource that provides our recreation.

Structure is important, but so is food. Rick Ott manages a native aquatic plant nursery at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.

The vegetation is producing food that invertebrates consume, small fish consume the invertebrates, bigger fish eat the smaller fish, and we eat the bigger fish.

Learn about artificial fish habitat next week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS.

Check your local listings.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, Cecilia Nasti.

Arundo: Donax, do Tell

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018
Arundo Control Man

Arundo Control Man

This is Passport to Texas

A tall, non-native invasive grass, Arundo donax grows along creek and river beds and spreads quickly. It impairs native ecology, destabilizes and impedes bank access and increases flood and fire risks.

We’re really seeing that the source of this plant getting into our waterways seems to be construction activities, fill dirt placement, and mowing that pulls it down into our creeks.

Monica McGarrity is aquatic invasive species team leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife. Angela England also works on this team as a biologist. She says the agency’s launched a new Arundo awareness and prevention campaign developed in partnership with the Nueces River Authority, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and the Texas Department of Transportation.

[In] this new program, we’ve geared a lot of the materials to folks in the construction industry and vegetation management. So, mowers, and folks running dozers, and so forth.

England says prevention and management begins with knowing the enemy.

We want everybody that’s in these industries to have a feel for what the plant is. We’ve got a training video; we’ve got materials that we can get to you on how to identify it. We want you to sound the alarm if you see it—and let your boss know: “Hey, it looks like there’s fragments of this bad stuff in the fill dirt that we just got. Maybe we should send it back.” And start hitting it before it gets into new places.

More on the Arundo donax campaign tomorrow.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, Cecilia Nasti.

Arundo Donax–an Invasive Cane

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018
Arundo donax, also called Giant Reed.

Arundo donax, also called Giant Reed.

This is Passport to Texas

Have you seen thickets of plants along roadsides that look like a cross between corn and bamboo? It’s called Arundo donax.

It’s a tall, tall, tall grass. It grows up to 30 feet tall.

Angela England is an aquatic invasive species biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. This giant grass thrives along creek and river beds. Growing up to two inches per day, Arundo outcompetes native plant communities.

After the Arundo moves in and forms a real thick area, we see almost no native plants growing there. And we really depend on those native plants to preserve the soil of those stream banks.

Arundo is also a glutton for water.

Arundo is so thirsty, it takes up a lot of water and evaporates it out to the sky. And so, downstream of thick infestations, we actually see less water in the river. And that’s really a problem for fish and other animals that require that water.

A growing partnership to fight infestations of Arundo in Texas. That’s tomorrow.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, Cecilia Nasti.