Controlling the Movement of Invasive Fish Species

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2010 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
University of Minnesota
Recipient Type
Public College/University
Start Date
July 2009
End Date
June 2013
Activity Type
Counties Affected
Project Overview

Common carp, introduced from eastern Europe over a century ago, are an invasive species in Minnesota that adversely affect water quality and aquatic communities, particularly in shallow lakes and wetlands. While solutions for suppressing common carp reproduction and abundance are emerging, controlling the movement of common carp, and therefore preventing reinfestation, has so far proved difficult. However, initial tests of a class of barriers that uses sonics and air bubble "curtains" has shown initial promise and they have the advantage of being inexpensive, portable, and safer than other barrier technologies that might also be used for this purpose. The University of Minnesota's St. Anthony Falls Laboratory is using this appropriation to develop and test the effectiveness of these sonics and air bubble based barrier technologies for preventing and controlling the movement of common carp. If a method proves effective it may also have application with control of Asian carp, another invasive species that is currently moving up through the Mississippi River toward Minnesota.

Overall Project Outcome and Results
The abundance of common carp in lakes has a negative impact on water quality. Hence, great ecological benefit for many Minnesota lakes will be gained if effective barriers can be constructed to control carp movements. The aims of this project were to construct, implement, and test common carp barriers based on air bubble curtain technologies. This work comprised three main results. In result 1 the construction and engineering of bubble curtain barriers was investigated. Focus was placed on generating, measuring, and controlling the sound and flow fields generated by bubble curtains. This work has led to engineering bubble barrier designs that can reliability produce stimuli (sound level and frequency) in the ranges that would deter carp movement. Result 2 focused on the laboratory testing of the barriers of Result 1. This work, representing the first known rigorous and detailed testing of bubble barriers, showed that the barriers are 75-80% effective in reducing fish passage through a control section. In addition, a model capturing fish behavior in the vicinity of the barriers was build and tested. The emphasis of Result 3 was field implementation and testing of bubble barriers. The main work here, in cooperation with Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District, was the design and implementation of a test barrier in Kohlman Creek, Maplewood. This barrier construction cost was $5,000 and operating cost was $300 per month when operating continuously. Data collected from this site has shown that the barriers are effective in stopping 60% of downstream carp movements, thereby corroborating the laboratory results. Upstream movements of motivated spawning adult carp, however, while deterred by the bubbles were not stopped. The overall results from this work have clearly indicated when bubble curtain barrier technologies for controlling carp movement will and will not work. Thereby providing critical information for land managers to more wisely implement and use this low cost and environmentally friendly barrier technology.

Project Results Use and Dissemination
The engineering design and testing of the bubble barriers has been documented in the MS thesis by Dan Zielinski:
Zielinski, D.P. (2011) Bubble barrier technologies for common carp, University of Minnesota, MS Thesis

The laboratory and field testing, modeling and data analyses is reported in a the PhD Thesis of Dan Zielinski
Zielinski, D.P. (2013) An engineering perspective on invasive fish control: A study of bubble curtain deterrent systems to control carp movement, University of Minnesota, Ph.D. Thesis.

This work also reports the behavioral modeling of fish in the vicinity of the barrier along with the development of the necessary theory to support this model.

A detailed reporting of the laboratory effectiveness is found in the paper:
Zielinski, D.P., Voller, V.R., Svendsen, J.C., Hondzo, M., Mensinger, A.F., Sorensen, P., (2013) Laboratory experiments demonstrate that bubble curtains can effectively inhibit movement of common carp. Submitted to Ecological Engineering.

A detailed reporting of behavioral model is found in the paper
Zielinski, D.P., Hondzo, M., Voller, V.R. (2013a) Mathematical evaluation of behavioral deterrent systems to disrupt fish movement. Submitted to Ecological Modeling.

Elements of all of these works was presented at a number of conferences:

  • Zielinski, D.P., Sorensen, P. (2013), Field study of an air bubble curtain to inhibit Common Carp movement, Minnesota Chapter of American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, St. Cloud, MN, USA.
  • Zielinski, D.P., Voller, V.R., Svenden, J., Hondzo, M. Mensinger, A., Sorensen, P. (2012), Inhibiting Common Carp Movement with a Bubble Curtain, 142nd Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, St. Paul, MN, USA.
  • Zielinski, D.P., Voller, V.R., Svenden, J., Hondzo, M. Mensinger, A., Sorensen, P. (2011), Controlling the Movement of Invasive Species, 2nd Annual Upper Midwest Stream Restoration Symposium, Oconomowoc, WI, USA.
  • Zielinski, D.P., Voller, V.R., Svenden, J., Hondzo, M. Mensinger, A., Sorensen, P. (2011), Bubble Barrier Technologies for Common Carp, Minnesota Chapter of American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Sandstone, MN, USA.
Project Details
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2009, Chp. 143, Sec. 2, Subd. 06d
Appropriation Language

$300,000 is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to develop and test sonic barriers that could be effective in preventing and controlling the movement of invasive carp in Minnesota's waterways. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2012, at which time the project must be completed and final products delivered, unless an earlier date is specified in the work program.

2010 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
U of MN
Street Address
2 Third Ave SE
Zip Code
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