There are few things more frustrating for landowners than getting their pond or lake just the way they want it, only to have a new a pest come in and take over in a big way.

“There are a variety of plants, animals and diseases that you really do not want in your pond or favorite lake,” said Marley Beem, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension aquaculture specialist.

Things like watermeal and giant salvinia, which are intrusive plants that can quickly cover a pond. Zebra mussels are a thumbnail-sized, exotic clam that can blanket boat hulls and docks and clog water intakes. Also, golden alga is a microscopic plant that has been responsible for a number of large fish kills in the south-central and western parts of Oklahoma.

Beem said there are two basic problems that cause some plants and animals to be a real threat to ponds, lakes and rivers.

“First, they are excellent at hitching rides and moving from one part of the state or world to another thanks to their small or even microscopic size,” he said. “Second, when they make it to a new water body, conditions are often ideal to grow and multiply thanks to the absence of any natural predators or competitors.”

The good news is that these nightmares can be avoided if you make a habit of doing a few simple things. All equipment and tanks should be drained after leaving a lake, and everything should be allowed to air dry for five days, rinsed with a 10 percent bleach solution or power-washed with 140-degree Fahrenheit water.

Also, all weeds from boat trailers should be removed and the surface of the boats should be closely inspected for attached critters. Bass from public lakes may be carrying largemouth bass virus, which should be considered before moving them into your pond.

Finally, live bait should not be dumped into ponds and lakes. They may carry parasites.

“We all tend to take many things for granted but protecting our ponds and lakes from these harmful invaders is something we need to learn to do before the problem occurs,” Beem said.