Do Fish Love Floating Heart?

By Sebastian Audet
Elementary Category (Grades 4-6)
Study | Environment

BCVSF Note: This project was conducted under careful supervision of accredited scientists with consideration of project ethics. For future fairs, such a project would require ethics pre-approval from your local regional fair.

Floating Heart is an invasive plant species that is spreading over Seymour Lake. The Seymour Lake Society sees that Floating Heart as something that is destroying the lake environment, making it hard to swim or canoe close to shore. This made me wonder how the floating heart affects the fish community. If the floating heart is a good environment for fish, then the Seymour Lake Society should consider that before they cut every weed in sight.

My science fair project results will help them to make choices that are good for fish – not just people. I chose 4 sites on Seymour Lake. Two were shallow sites; one was in the floating heart and the other was in the horsetails and lily pads. I chose two deeper sites, with one in the floating heart and the other in the lily pads and elodea. My independent variable was the absence or presence of floating heart. The dependent variables were fish type, fish length, water temperature, and level of dissolved oxygen. Over 15 days, I trapped 112 minnows, but only 3 different types of fish: red shiners, sculpins, and northern pike minnows.

The red shiners and northern pike minnows showed a preference for being in the horsetails and lilypads in the shallows. The sculpins showed a strong preference for the slightly deeper water of Site #4, which was in the floating heart. None of the fish types showed a preference for being Site #3, where the floating heart makes a very dense mat and the dissolved oxygen is lowest. Floating heart is not a good habitat for fish because it has the potential to lower the dissolved oxygen levels to a dangerous point for fish. My project is going to help people understand how the floating heart affects fish because I have shared my results with the head of BC Fisheries and Wildlife and I am going to present my findings at a meeting of the Seymour Lake Society.

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