Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Question of the Week – Bryozoans

Posted by romeethredge on April 3, 2015

Last week I had a photo of some Bryozoans in a pond. The pond had few bream in it as they eat these tiny animals, that clump together to make these balls in the water. Usually its a sign of good water quality.

This pond was spring fed with good clear water. When I held one glob it broke apart and here it is.

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County Agent Laura Griffith said my photo last week reminded her of this painting.Fullscreen capture 3272015 30240 PM

 

Here’s an excerpt from a UGA article about these creatures.

“If you see what look like jellyfish floating in Georgia ponds, don’t be alarmed. These are actually harmless moss animals called bryozoa.“I get a lot of calls from pond owners who want me to come out and look at the ‘thing,’ ‘glob’ or ‘weird creature’ that’s under the surface of their ponds,” said Jim Crawford, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension coordinator in Jefferson County.Bryozoa are colonies of aquatic animals belonging to the phylum Ectoprocta. Most live in saltwater, but one class, Phylactolaemata, lives exclusively in fresh water.“Pectinatella magnifica is the type seen most often in our county ponds, and it consists of a mass of animals living on the surface of a gelatinous mass that is 99 percent water,” Crawford said. “There could easily be millions of interconnected animals forming this one colony.”These colonies are firm and slimy to the touch and are most often attached to underwater limbs, pipes, logs, posts or even boat docks, he said.UGA aquaculture specialist Gary Burtle has seen bryoza as large as baseballs, footballs and even basketballs.“They are a food source for panfish such as bream and crappie,” he said. “They’re microscopic animals, and they form colonies for protection. When they’re football size, the bream can’t eat them.”There are three ways to control bryoza populations, he said: physical removal, chemical control and fish control.“If they’re large enough, you can scoop them out and take them to shore,” he said. “You can also add more panfish.”Treating algae with herbicides containing copper sulfate will subsequently control bryoza, Burtle said.“These bryoza have actually been in ponds for a while,” Crawford said. “But as the weather cools and the algae population recedes, the water becomes clear and they become highly visible. One pond had so many (bryozoa) they had attached themselves to the inside of the drainpipe. It actually became stopped up, and the water flow was down to a trickle.”Saltwater species are known to grow on the bottoms of ships, causing drag and reducing the efficiency and maneuverability of the fouled ships.“To me, they resemble a human brain. And that’s how I describe them to people on the phone,” he said. “If you take them out of the water and put them in the sun, the animals will dry out and die, leaving just the gelatinous material that looks like clear jelly.”Bryozoa are a sign of a healthy pond. “Pond owners should be fascinated that their pond is clean enough to support these prehistoric animal colonies,” he said. Burtle agrees.“They’re one of those anomalies that people just don’t understand,” Burtle said. “They’re on the same evolutionary scale as jellyfish, and they can’t hurt you.”“These freshwater bryozoa are completely harmless in and of themselves, except when they occasionally clog water pipes,” Crawford said. “If you have some close to your boat dock, they probably make interesting conversation pieces.”

This week’s question is this: What is this tree I have a branch of in my hand and what does it have to do with what day today is??

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