Utah Lake: Nonnative Fish Community

 

>   Recovery Program researchers collaborate with local fishermen to study Utah Lake's carp population. Intentionally introduced in 1886, today carp dominate the Utah Lake fish community and are a threat to June sucker recovery.

Photo courtesy of the Daily Herald

n the past 100 years, 24 species have been mixed with the native fish of Utah Lake. These new species include the common carp, largemouth bass, black bullhead, channel catfish, walleye, white bass and others.

In the 1880s carp were introduced to Utah Lake to replace the dwindling number of native fish including Bonneville cutthroat trout and to provide locals with a hardy fish that was a popular food in other areas of the world. The carp had long-lasting, negative impacts on the lake and its native fish community because they destroyed cover that provided protection for small fish from their predators. The carp's aggressive foraging habits eventually destroyed the pondweed on the surface and the plant life on the lake floor. This directly impacted the native fish population. Carp also reproduce and grow faster than June sucker. Because June sucker grow slower, they remain vulnerable to predators longer. Carp currently comprise more than 90 percent of the biomass (weight) of fish in the lake.

 

>   This Salt Lake Tribune article dated August 24, 1901, tells the story of how trout and other native fish of Utah Lake suffered because of destructive carp.

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