Stop the Spread of Spiny Water Fleas

Spiny water fleas are an aquatic invasive species that, though tiny (roughly the size of a grain of rice), can cause big problems for Minnesota lakes. These invasive zooplankton eat the microscopic food young, native fish need to survive and grow.

Previous MAISRC research conducted by Dr. Gretchen Hansen has shown that walleye in lakes invaded by spiny water fleas are smaller and less abundant than walleye in uninvaded lakes. Stopping the spread of spiny water fleas is a crucial step in protecting our lakes; however, until recently, there was little information available on what recreational equipment was likely to collect spiny water fleas on it during use. 

To fill the knowledge gap, MAISRC researchers, Drs. Valerie Brady and Donn Branstrator outfitted two research vessels with fishing equipment to run real-world simulations on spiny water flea-infested lakes in Minnesota. The findings showed that fishing lines were most likely to entangle spiny water fleas, but they also get caught on downrigger cables, bait buckets, and livewells. 

How you can help

Start by draining all water from your boat and gear, including the bilge, livewell, and bait buckets.

After draining, use a dry dishcloth or towel to:

  • Wipe fishing lines and reels
  • Wipe drained livewells
  • Wipe drained bait buckets 

To learn more about how recreational angling gear can contribute to the spread of spiny water flea, visit the research project page.

Support for this project has been provided by St. Louis County and the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.