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Invasive Pond Plants and Animals

Algreen Professional Pond Kit
Algreen Professional Pond Kit


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As with any form of gardening, there are sometimes results from introducing rare and exotic items to your environment that can be disastrous. Certain plants and wildlife sometimes takes over the environment they have been introduced into, leaving the native plants and animals to starve in unsuitable water.

There are plenty of invasive species for every region, so before you create your preformed pond or water garden, try looking into what plants are invasive in your regional area, and confirm that there are no laws against planting those plants which you would like to introduce into your water garden. If you are unsure about what are invasive species in your area, try sticking with just the native plants. Also, when you create your water garden, make sure it isn't too close to any natural lakes or ponds where your plants could get transfered to.

If you ever need to get rid of plants or wildlife, don't release it into natural lakes or ponds - especially if it is an invasive species. Don't throw it in the composter - the seeds can still be transferred elsewhere. The best way to dispose of any invasive species of plants is to dry them completely and then throw them into the garbage.


Common Reed

  • Known to create monocultures in various areas, causing the habitat of wetlands to diminish, as well as effecting the nutrient cycle in areas
  • Dead stems take a few years to decompose, keeping nutrients out of reach of other plants
Common Reed


  • Can be distinguished by its small yellow-centered white flower, small floating leaves and fan-shaped leaves that are submerged underwater
  • Can be found in ponds, lakes, streams, even ditches, but needs good light and warm water to grow
  • Can have a large impact on native plants, and has the potential to eliminate these plants from their native environment.

Flowering Rush

  • Long, sword-like leaves and its pink flower with three petals and sepals
  • Can survive in almost any environment
  • Spreads easily and displaces any native plants that may have previously been there.
Flowering Rush
Christian Fischer

Eurasian Watermilfoil

  • Native to Europe, Asia and North Africa
  • Can thrive in almost any environment
  • Submerged plant with slender stems that are up to 3m long
  • Can grow in various depths of water, ranging from 0.5m to around 10m deep
  • Grows very quickly and creates a thick mat on the water surface, blocking sunlight that any other submerged plant may need
  • Raises both the pH and temperature of the water, while decreasing oxygen levels.
Eurasian Watermilfoil Illustration
André Karwath

European Frog-bit

  • Resembling the waterlily, the plant has small white flowers, with small kidney-shaped leaves (approximately 1" wide)
  • Roots are submerged in the water butnever actually anchor at the bottom of the water garden or pond
  • Formes a dense mass on the surface of the water, blocking sunlight for other plants.
European Frog-bit


  • Could spread anywhere quite easily due to the accidental release from aquariums and water gardens into the wild
  • One of the most serious invasive species due to the fact that it is so adaptive and can survive in almost any environment
  • Stems grow up to 2 meters long, with whorls of leaves around the stem
  • Infestations of this plant can restrict water flow and cause flooding in extreme cases.

Purple Loosestrife

  • Distinguished by its flower stalk that is make up of many small five or six-petaled flowers
  • Has a rootstalk that can send out up to 50 shoots of flower stalks
  • Creates a monoculture in areas where it is abundant, making wetlands less biologically diverse, and less likely to shelter any fish or wildlife.
Purple Loosestrife

Water Caltrop

  • Can grow in water up to 5 meters deep
  • Anchored to the ground by fine roots
  • Two types of leaves - fine feathery ones under water, and large floating leaves that float on top of the water
  • White flowers and a fruit the shape of a bull head
  • Creates a thick mat over the surface of the water that prevents sunlight from reaching submerged plants and reduces oxygen levels in water

Yellow Floating Heart

  • Similar to a waterlily, only with a yellow flower with fringed petals and heart-shaped leaves
  • Each flower less than 2" in diameter
  • Takes over slow-moving bodies of water, including lakes and wetlands, and reduces the growth of plants native to that area.
Yellow Floating Heart

Yellow Iris

  • 1m-2m tall
  • Has been used for many years as everything from a decorative flower to erosion control
  • Can rival natural plants in the environment
  • Due to the ability to survive submersed in water, as well as in drier environments, this invasive species takes over the specific environment.
Yellow Iris Illustration



  • A very popular fish for aquariums and water gardens
  • Can have a bad effect on natural environments when let loose (either by accidental escapes or intentional release)
  • Can survive in almost any type and temperature of water
  • Like to eat live plants
  • Threaten native fish species by competing for food

Grass Carp

  • Can survive in a variety of water temperatures
  • Threatens native fish species by providing competition for food
  • Feed heavily on aquatic vegetation
  • Recommended that they are not used for water gardens as the accidental release into any natural body of water could have an effect on the native fish.
Grass Carp

Mosquito Fish

  • Can grow up to 3.5 cm in length
  • Do not help control mosquito populations more than most native species of fish
  • Like to harass other fish and compete for food and habitat.
Mosquito Fish
U.S. Geological Survey

Northern Snakehead

  • Introduced into waters by intentional release by people who purchased them live for consumption or aquariums
  • Can live out of water for days and can travel from one body of water to another on its own
  • As well as consuming vegetation, these fish eat other fish and small reptiles, mammals, birds, amphibians, and the like
  • No natural enemies in North America

Round Goby

  • Introduced into North American waters from the ballast of boats coming from Europe
  • Small fish that lives near the water bottom where it is rocky or sandy
  • Feed on small organisms that can be found there
  • Feed on zebra mussels, which, although helping to control the zebra mussel population, can pass on high contaminant levels from the zebra mussels higher up on the food chain
  • Eat the eggs and fry of various larger fish
  • Have their own defense mechanism from being eaten themselves - their gills can expand and protrude sharp, spiny gill plates, causing a fish to choke on the Round Goby.
Round Goby


  • Believed to have been introduced to North American waters through bait-bucket dumping
  • Can grow up to 35cm long
  • Inhabits quiet water and feeds on both vegetation and insects
  • Does not process vegetation well and releases many nutrients in the water, causing an increase in algae and lower oxygen levels
  • The vegetation that they consume comes from around the shoreline, disrupting spawning and nursery habitats for other fish