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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Aquatic Invasive Species Control

Retention of Potential Piscicide Oral Delivery Formulations (ODF) by Asian carps: Effect of Particle Size

Principal Investigator: Jim Luoma

Impact of UMESC Science

The results from this study will provide baseline data that may lead to the development of a targeted delivery system that reduces non-target species mortality when treating waters to control invasive carps. These types of technologies have the potential to be used by natural resource management agencies to control invasive carps throughout the United Sates.


Bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) and silver carp (H. molitrix), collectively known as Asian Carp, are native to eastern Asia and China and they were imported into the United States during the 1970’s for use as biological control organisms to control algae in aquaculture ponds and wastewater treatment lagoons. It is thought these animals escaped these facilities during flood events in the early 1980s (Pennsylvania Sea Grant 2009). Populations of these carps in parts of the Mississippi River basin appear to be increasing exponentially (Chick and Pegg 2001). Kolar et al. (2007) suggests that the bighead and silver carp will likely survive throughout much of the United States, Mexico and Canada based on climatic comparisons from the fishes native range.

The potential economic and ecological impacts that these fish could inflict on invaded systems has managers from state and federal agencies as well as private groups and citizens searching for ways to halt their further advancement. Hansen (2010) reported an estimated $7 billion annual sport and commercial fishery in the Great Lakes. Sampson et al. (2009) compared dietary overlap of Asian carps with three native planktivores, the gizzard shad, bigmouth buffalo and paddlefish. They found substantial dietary overlap with the gizzard shad, significant overlap with bigmouth buffalo and very little overlap with the paddlefish. Irons et al. (2007) examined pre and post Asian carp invasion Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) data and reported a corresponding decrease in body condition of -7% for gizzard shad and -5% for bigmouth buffalo in the La Grange Reach of the Illinois River after invasion. Biologists are also concerned with the potential adverse effects of these carps on populations of larval fish and mussels that rely on plankton as a food source.

Significant efforts have been implemented to prevent the spread of Asian carps from the Mississippi River basin into the Great Lakes basin through interconnections such as the Chicago Area Waterways System (CAWS). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) currently operates three electrical dispersal barriers in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) to prevent the advancement of Asian carp into the Great Lakes basin. Barrier I was activated in 2002 followed by barrier IIA in 2009 and barrier IIB in 2010. In addition to installation and operation costs associated with these barriers, there are continual maintenance costs. In December 2009 a $3 million rotenone application to the CSSC was required to allow the shutdown of the CSSC electrical barrier for maintenance to prevent the migration of Asian carp beyond the barrier.

The USACE, under the authority of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, is conducting the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS). This multi-million dollar study will explore the technologies and options available to prevent the transfer of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins (USACE 2010).

Currently there are only four registered compounds for piscicidal use, the general toxicants rotenone and antimycin A; and the lampricides TFM and niclosamide. TFM and niclosamide are almost exclusively used for controlling larval sea lamprey in the Great Lakes. Rotenone and antimycin A are generally used for total reclamation efforts in lakes and ponds where all fish in the treated water body are eradicated due to the lack of selective chemotoxicity. Aquatic resource managers have repeatedly expressed desires for selective toxicants for removal of certain species of fish.

The relatively recent threat of Asian carp reaching the Great Lakes basin has focused efforts on managing and controlling these species in an integrated approach. Fishery management chemicals are an essential part of a successful integrated pest management (IPM) approach for controlling undesirable species. New advances in molecular biology, micro particles and encapsulation technologies have increased the developmental possibilities for selective fish piscicides. Selectivity may be gained from altering the delivery methods for chemicals such as rotenone that are typically non-selective. The Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC) has a decades-long history of developing fisheries management tools including leading registration and technical assistance activities for the lampricides TFM and niclosamide. UMESC has successfully performed research to register new formulations for the lampricides including TFM bars, granular and liquid niclosamide. In addition to experience with piscicides, UMESC has also registered and evaluated the efficacy of therapeutic fishery chemicals for use in fish husbandry operations. The experience and facilities of UMESC make it an ideal facility to develop a new selective fish toxicant. UMESC is proposing to engineer a selective delivery mechanism that will deliver a registered general fish toxicant or a new toxicant to the Asian carp by incorporating the toxicant into an enzymatically releasable matrix. This technology could be an effective IPM tool for controlling Asian carp.


The objective of this study is to determine the filtering efficiency and particle size selection of bighead (BHC) and silver carp (SCP) exposed to an oral delivery formulation particle designed to carry a piscicide al chemical. This study is part of an incremental process to develop a targeted oral delivery formulation (ODF) containing piscicide agents for control of bighead and silver carp. Unique filter characteristic identified could potentially aid in the development of a species-specific toxicant or toxicant delivery system.

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