Easy and Effective Ways to Get Rid of Coontail in Your Pond

Easy and Effective Ways to Get Rid of Coontail in Your Pond

If you're a pond owner, you know the frustration of dealing with invasive aquatic plants like coontail (also known as hornwort). This rootless, submerged perennial can quickly form dense colonies, choking out other beneficial plants and disrupting the delicate ecosystem of your pond. 

Coontail can be unsightly, interfere with fishing and swimming, and even contribute to low oxygen levels as it decomposes. But don't despair – with the right approach, you can effectively control and eliminate coontail from your beloved pond.

At Living Water Aeration, we are committed to helping pond owners maintain a healthy and thriving aquatic environment. In this blog post, we'll explore several effective methods for getting rid of coontail, so you can reclaim your pond and enjoy its beauty once again.

What Is Coontail?

Before we dive into control strategies, let's take a closer look at this pesky aquatic plant. Coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum) is a dark olive-green, non-rooted plant that can grow entirely submerged or with parts floating on the water's surface. 

Its leaves are stiff, whorled, and forked with small teeth along the edges. Coontail can reproduce through seeds, plant fragments, or winter buds, making it highly resilient and challenging to eradicate completely.

Most coontail growth occurs in the spring and fall, with a peak during late summer. It can quickly overtake a pond, forming dense mats on the surface that can impede swimming, fishing, and other recreational activities. And while it may not be as visually striking as other aquatic plants, it can still pose a threat to the ecosystem and water quality.

Options for Controlling Coontail

Manual Removal 

For smaller ponds or localized coontail infestations, manual removal can be an effective short-term solution. This involves physically pulling out the plants by hand or with a rake or specialized tool. 

While labor-intensive, manual removal can provide immediate relief and is a chemical-free option. However, removing as much of the plant as possible, including any fragments, is essential to prevent regrowth.

Biological Control

Introducing certain herbivorous fish species, such as grass carp, can be an eco-friendly way to control coontail. These fish feed on the plant, effectively reducing its growth and spread. However, it's crucial to strike the right balance, as grass carp can also consume other desirable aquatic vegetation if not properly managed.

Herbicide Treatment

For more severe coontail infestations, herbicide treatment may be necessary. Several aquatic herbicides, such as endothall-based products (e.g., Aquathol) and diquat-based formulations, have proven effective against coontail. However, it's essential to follow label instructions carefully and consider any potential impacts on other aquatic life.

Aeration and Nutrient Management

Proper aeration and nutrient management can help create an environment less hospitable to coontail growth. By promoting healthy dissolved oxygen levels and limiting excess nutrients that fuel algae and aquatic plant growth, you can shift the balance in favor of a more balanced and desirable aquatic ecosystem.

Professional Assistance

While pond owners can implement some control methods, more extensive or persistent coontail problems may require the expertise of professional pond management services. 

These professionals can assess your specific situation, recommend the most appropriate course of action, and safely execute control measures to effectively rid your pond of coontail while minimizing potential harm to the ecosystem.

How To Keep CoonTail From Coming Back

Once you’ve removed coontail from your pond, it’s important to take preventative measures to keep it from coming back. Even the best treatment methods don’t stop these pesky plants from returning if the underlying conditions that allowed them to grow in the first place remain unchecked. Here are a few tips to help keep coontail at bay:

Maintain Proper Nutrient Levels

Coontail thrives in nutrient-rich environments, so it's crucial to manage the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in your pond. 

Excess nutrients can come from runoff, fertilizers, or decaying organic matter. Regular water testing and implementing nutrient reduction strategies (e.g., buffer strips, aeration) can help limit the food sources that fuel coontail growth.

Establish Beneficial Vegetation

Once you've removed coontail, consider introducing desirable native aquatic plants that can outcompete invasive species like coontail. 

A diverse and balanced aquatic plant community can create a more stable ecosystem less susceptible to coontail takeover. Consult with a local expert to determine suitable plant species for your region.

Perform Regular Maintenance

Coontail can quickly re-establish itself from even the smallest remaining fragments or winter buds. Regular monitoring and prompt removal of any new growth will be necessary to keep it at bay. Scheduling routine maintenance, such as raking or hand-pulling, can prevent coontail from gaining a foothold again.

Improve Water Circulation

Stagnant water conditions can favor coontail growth, so improving water circulation in your pond can help discourage its establishment. Consider installing a pond aeration system, which not only enhances water movement but also increases dissolved oxygen levels, creating an environment less hospitable for coontail.

Adjust Water Depth

In some cases, altering the depth of your pond can make it less conducive to coontail growth. Coontail tends to thrive in shallow, warm water, so deepening certain areas or creating varying depth zones can reduce its ability to proliferate.

Keep CoonTail Away For Good

Coontail can be a formidable foe for pond owners, but with the right knowledge and strategies, you can gain the upper hand. After all, you are the pond owner, so why let a pesky aquatic plant take over? Implementing these tips and staying vigilant with maintenance can help keep coontail at bay and maintain a healthy, balanced pond ecosystem:

  1. Act quickly and consistently. The earlier you address a coontail infestation, the easier it will be to control. Regular maintenance is crucial to preventing regrowth.
  2. Employ a multi-pronged approach. Combining methods like manual removal, biological control, herbicide treatment, aeration, and nutrient management will yield the best results.
  3. Consider professional assistance. For extensive or persistent coontail issues, consulting with pond management experts can provide customized solutions and long-term prevention strategies.

At Living Water Aeration, we're dedicated to helping you maintain a healthy, thriving pond ecosystem. Reach out to us for expert advice, top-quality aeration systems, and effective pond management products to keep coontail and other invasive species at bay. Your serene, beautiful pond is our top priority.


Is coontail harmful to fish or other aquatic life?

While coontail itself is not toxic, its dense growth can crowd out other beneficial plants and lead to low oxygen levels, negatively impacting fish and other aquatic organisms.

Can grass carp effectively control coontail?

Yes, grass carp are known to feed on coontail and can be an effective biological control method when introduced in the proper quantities based on the size of your pond.

How do I identify coontail in my pond?

Coontail is a dark olive-green, rootless plant with stiff, whorled, forked leaves and small teeth along the leaf edges. It can grow entirely submerged or with parts floating on the surface.

What herbicides are effective against coontail?

A: Endothall-based products like Aquathol and diquat-based formulations have proven successful in controlling coontail infestations when used according to label instructions.

How can aeration help prevent coontail growth?

A: Proper aeration promotes healthy dissolved oxygen levels and water circulation, creating an environment less hospitable for coontail and other invasive aquatic plants to thrive.

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