SUMMARY 1. Silver carp, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix (Val.), feeds on both phyto- and zooplankton and has been used in lake biomanipulation studies to suppress algal biomass. Because reports on the effects of silver carp on lake food webs have been contradictory, we conducted an enclosure experiment to test how a moderate biomass of the fish (10 g wet weight m−3) affects phytoplankton and crustacean zooplankton in a mesotrophic temperate reservoir.
2. Phytoplankton biomass <30 μm and particulate organic carbon (POC) <30 μm were significantly higher in enclosures with silver carp than in enclosures without fish, whereas Secchi depth was lower. Total copepod biomass declined strongly in both treatments during the experiment, but it was significantly higher in fish-free enclosures. Daphnid biomass was also consistently higher in enclosures without fish, although this effect was not significant. However, the presence of fish led to a fast and significant decrease in the size at maturity of Daphnia galeata Sars. Thus, the moderate biomass of silver carp had a stronger negative effect on cladoceran zooplankton than on phytoplankton.
3. Based on these results and those of previous studies, we conclude that silver carp should be used for biomanipulation only if the primary aim is to reduce nuisance blooms of large phytoplankton species (e.g. cyanobacteria) that cannot be effectively controlled by large herbivorous zooplankton. Therefore, stocking of silver carp appears to be most appropriate in tropical lakes that are highly productive and naturally lack large cladoceran zooplankton.
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