Carp released into Kent Pond to manage invasive plants

Kendra Baker photos
In an effort to manage growing and floating invasive plant material, 168 triploid grass carp were released into Kent Pond on Friday, Sept. 29.

“The key thing of grass carp is its biological control, and the number of grass carp is a function of wheat type, wheat density and vegetative acres. It’s a mathematical formula, but the reality is that that mathematical formula is a best-guess for a typical scenario,” explained Rowledge Pond Aquaculture hatcher Todd Bobowick, who released the carp.

“There are 168 going in, which is somewhat funny because 166 was nowhere near enough and 170 was way too many.”

Kent Pond might be fine with 150 carp, said Bobowick, or it might need 250 to do the job — “every pond is going to be different.”

Bobowick said the fish will “easily double in size” within a year.

“Typically what happens is the fish go in, you don’t ever see them, you’re convinced they’re all dead,” he said, “and then two or three years later, realize there are three-pound fish in the pond.”

The vegetarian fish will acclimate to the pond conditions over the winter and are expected to begin eating the pond’s plant material by next spring or summer.

The plant material’s lush growth prevents the native aquatic plants from growing in the pond. Not only will the fish begin eating the material, but will also grow from their original size of around 10 inches to about 40 pounds and three feet in length in about five years.

If the pond is not getting enough vegetative control the following year, Bobowick said, that means “you simply don’t have the density that you need.”

“You may need an additional 50 after a year or two, but the pond may be fine,” he said. “Again, that’s typical scenario.”

Bobowick said the state of Connecticut is “fairly conservative” when it comes to its numbers of carp.

“You’re definitely not in an overstock situation,” he said, “but you very well may be in an understock situation, so you’d just have to give it time.”

The stocking of Kent Pond was overseen by the Wilton Conservation Commission, working through the Environmental Affairs Department and Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Friends of Kent Pond, a neighborhood group founded about a year ago to explore methods to restore the pond to its former ecologically sound condition, helped fund the fish. Group members have also been donating their time and money to enable renovating not only the water, but the buffer along Ridgefield and Linden Tree roads.

To donate to Kent Pond restoration efforts, checks can be made out to Town of Wilton, earmarked for Kent Pond.

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