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Crocker carp could eat algae without eating a hole in city's tight budget
CROCKER, Mo. (July 21, 2009) — Crocker has at least two problems: a town lake full of algae and a city budget that isn’t full of money.

Last week, city leaders tried a new tactic to solve their algae problem without making their budget woes even worse: they bought six carp, which cost Crocker only $40.

The carp were placed into the lake Wednesday afternoon by Crocker resident Toni Nichols and three children, Gabbie Singleton, Megan Kite and Austin Rogers.

According to Nichols, grass carp are a type of fish used to help control algae growth in ponds.

“They’re there to eat and clean the algae out of the pond. We have a lot of people who use that pond out there to fish, and they said the algae has been getting really bad out there,” said Mayor Linda Wilson. “A lot of farmers in this area use these grass carp to keep the algae in their pool down, so we think it will work well for us, too.”

The lake in the Crocker Community Park has a walking trail around it and there isn’t an easy water exit so the fish shouldn’t be able to escape. Wilson said city leaders hope the six grass carp will become a stable population to keep the algae down on a regular basis.

While people regularly fish in the lake, Wilson said there’s little risk that the grass carp will be caught by fishermen by mistake.

“The grass carp only eat vegetation, so the kind of bait they will be using should not attract them,” Wilson said.

There’s another reason for the carp besides Crocker’s cash-strapped budget.

“I’m really anti-poison if I can help it,” Wilson said. “We thought this would be very ecology-friendly.”

Nichols said she helped the children put a plastic bag with the six carp at the shallow edge of the lake and the three children scooped pond water into the bag so the temperature change wouldn’t shock the fish.

“A few minutes later they tipped the bag and the fish were on their way to begin their work; they watched the fish for a while and then left to finish fishing for their catch of the day,” Nichols said.

The carp already seem to be helping, Wilson said.

“One lady told me that as soon as they put one carp in there they must have been really hungry, because they started eating right away,” Wilson said.

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