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Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS)

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It’s the law: Persons must remove all aquatic plants and clean zebra mussels and / or quagga mussels off of boats or trailers and other gear prior to launching boats into Oklahoma waters.

Mussel Prop One side.psd

What are ANS?

Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) are invasive, non-native species that threaten the ecological integrity of aquatic ecosystems in Oklahoma. ANS are brought into the state unknowingly by anglers and boaters who move their boats and equipment from one body of water to another without cleaning them. The species often have no natural predators and can expand their range and population size unchecked, damaging native species and harming lakes, streams, and rivers.

ANS can cause harm to fish populations and other aquatic organisms and can cause damwater intake structures and clog up waterways. Hydrilla plants can grow thickly in an area, to the point that recreation is limited. Anglers and boaters are vital partners in preventing ANS from spreading.

As soon as you pull your boat out of the water, follow these steps:

  • Check: Inspect your boat, trailer and equipment for zebra mussels, mud, plant fragments, seeds, and any other organisms from the water. Remove them.
  • Drain: Drain water from your boat, motor, bilge, live wells, bait containers, coolers, and ballast.
  • Clean or Dry: Pressure wash the boat, trailer and equipment with hot water (140º F). If pressure wash is not available, allow the boat, trailer and equipment to dry thoroughly for at least five days before visiting a new water body.

Types of ANS

bighead carp.psd
silver carp.psd

Asian Carp

Bighead and Silver Carp, shown above with bighead on the left and silver carp on the right, are competing for food with native species. Bighead Carp are found in the Neosho and Grand Rivers, Grand Lake, the Red River, and both species have inhabited the Kiamichi River below Hugo Reservoir.

Alga Bloom.psd

Golden Alga

Golden alga is a micro-scopic organism that under certain conditions releases a toxin that can kill fish. Golden alga has caused relatively minor fish kills at Lake Texoma and Altus City Lake.

white perch.psd

White Perch

White Perch were accidentally introduced into Kansas, and have moved downstream into Kaw, Keystone and Sooner reservoirs. Anglers must be careful not to transplant these fish, because they can appear similar to native species such as white bass or shad.


Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels are the most widespread ANS in Oklahoma. Quagga mussels are another species of invasive mussels that cause great harm to aquatic ecosystems. They are a close relative of the zebra mussel and are similar in appearance. Even though these mussels have not been found in our state, they have infested neighboring states to our west.



Hydrilla plants are present in Arbuckle Lake, Lake Murray, and Sooner Lake. Hydrilla is possibly the most damaging aquatic plant in the United States. Even a fragment of the plant can start a widespread infestation.



Didymo is an invasive algae that attaches to plants and rocks in stream beds. It is in the Lower Mountain Fork River. Didymo, also known as rock snot, can foul streams and rivers, so anglers are encouraged to take precautions after fishing.

Distinguishing between White Perch and White Bass

DIST-White Bass.psdWhite bass

  • Has 6 to 10 horizontal, black lines on its back and side.
  • The deepest part of the body is from the back of the spiny dorsal fin to the belly.
  • When the spiny dorsal fin is pulled upright (erect), the soft dorsal fin behind it does not become erect.
  • The anal fin has three short spiny rays, with the second spine distinctly shorter than the third spine. Behind the spiny rays are 11 to 12 soft rays.

DIST-White Perch.psdWhite perch

  • Has no horizontal, black lines along back or side.
  • The deepest part of the body is from the front of the spiny dorsal fin to the belly.
  • When the spiny dorsal fin is pulled upright (erect), the soft dorsal fin behind it also becomes erect.
  • The anal fin has three short spiny rays, with the second and third spines equal in length and much longer than the first spine. Behind the spiny rays are eight to ten soft rays.

Zebra Mussels Invade Oklahoma

Zebra mussels are a serious threat to Oklahoma sport fish populations. Zebra mussels accumulate on the shells of native mussels and crayfish, smothering their hosts.

Zebra mussels potentially pose a multi-billion-dollar threat to industrial and public water supplies. Through both downstream movement and transport by uninformed boaters, zebra mussels have infested several lakes in Oklahoma. Zebra mussels compete with forage fish like minnows and shad for nutrients, and the Wildlife Department has already observed a decline in forage fish in affected waters. Zebra mussels can also be transported in their larval form through the movement of water from one lake to another. It is vital that each boater takes responsibility to prevent the spread of zebra mussels.

They can be found at Sooner Lake, Kaw Lake, Keystone Lake, Oologah Lake, Skiatook Lake, Ft. Gibson Lake, Eufaula Lake, Texoma Lake, Hudson Lake, Grand Lake, W.R. Holway Lake, Ponca City Lake, Lake Carl Blackwell, Robert S. Kerr Reservoir, Red River, McClellan – Kerr Navigation System, Bluestem Lake, Eucha Lake, Claremore Lake, Arkansas River system and Webbers Falls.


What your Wildlife Department is doing about the ANS threat

The Wildlife Department’s ANS program takes several steps to keep the waters clean in Oklahoma. ODWC proposes and enforces regulations which inhibit the transport and possession of aquatic nuisance species. The department works cooperatively with other state and federal agencies on early detection programs for invasive mussels and fish. The ANS program also secures federal funding for universities to research invasive species and the risk they pose to our state’s resources.

Outreach and education make up the forefront of the ANS program. ODWC uses publications such as brochures, species watch cards, and this fishing guide to educate Oklahoma’s boaters and anglers about aquatic nuisance species. The fisheries division has also posted “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers” signs at boats ramps throughout the state. These signs create awareness about how to properly clean your boat and equipment to ensure invasive species don’t hitch a ride to another lake.


Want more info? Visit

Think you found ANS? Contact biologist Curtis Tackett at (405) 521-3721.


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