Local News

Wilson Tackles Slimy Problem in a Fishy Way

Posted July 1, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— An unwelcome visitor has slithered its way into the waste treatment center of a small Pitt County community. Now the town of Fountain is using its own slimy creature to fight back.

The culprit in question is duckweed-- the light green sludge often seen atop ponds. What better way to do away with the problem than with one of the scum's natural enemies.

Rick Matthews is used to wildlife making its home in his town's sewage treatment pond. Bugs, bees, and even the occasional beaver seen to like the town fountain. But a pale green plant is an unwelcome intruder.

Matthews says duckweed is a real nightmare for lagoons that depend on sunlight and bacteria to function. So he's calling in a scaly predator to do away with it for good-- 40 grass carp that like nothing more than to make a good dinner out of duckweed.

Matthews says the carp will eat between two and three times their own body weight in duckweed, and that hopefully they can get rid of the slim infesting the pond. The idea raised more than a few questions from town commissioners. But after hearing of other success stories, they agreed to shell out about $8 per fish.

Fountain Mayor James Mercer says he and town leaders have a lot of confidence in Matthews, so their decision to buy the carp was an easy one.

They don't expect to see results immediately. But if the 40 fish and their appetites continue to grow, the town expects to see long-term results. As long as the fish are alive, the pond should stay clean. That means about 15 years of duckweed control.

Each carp weighs about eight to 10 ounces right now, and is expected to grow to more than two feet long and weight up to 50 pounds.