Ask The County Agent: What are these in my pond?

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By STEPHANIE BUTCHER, UGA Coweta County Extension Agent

QUESTION: I found these in my pond. What are they and how can I get rid of them?

Bryozoans

AGENT: Wait! Don’t get rid of them just yet. These are freshwater bryozoans. They may look strange, but these globs are actually large, gelatinous colonies made up of hundreds or thousands of microscopic animals called zooids that are prehistoric animals dating back to the Cambrian period. Their name, bryozoan, means “moss animal” in Latin.

Bryozoans are firm and slimy to the touch and are most often found attached to underwater limbs, pipes, logs or boat docks. They can be many different colors including clear, green, brown, and reddish brown. They are found as far west as Texas and as far north as Ontario, but their growth is temperature dependent. When waters warm up in the spring bryozoans will grow quickly, but they disintegrate when water temperatures cool and will remain in sediment until the following year when waters begin warming again.

Since bryozoans are a source of food for fish, they form colonies for protection because as they get larger, bream cannot eat them. This is when you may start to notice them. Some can even get as large as basketballs. These interesting creatures filter water as they feed by consuming algae and removing sediment. They are an indicator of good water quality and overall pond health, but they can sometimes cause problems by clogging pipes and water filters if they grow in the wrong place. They are not usually a problem though and can be physically removed if needed. They will not hurt you.

For more information about pond management, contact UGA Cooperative Extension in Coweta County at 770-254-2620 or [email protected].

“The University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, Veteran, Disability Institution.”

Photo Credit: Bryozoans, Stephanie Butcher, UGA Coweta County Extension

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