Lake Minnetonka Conservation District

AIS & Aquatics


Native and Aquatic Invasive Species

The ecology and enjoyment of Lake Minnetonka depends on the balance of native aquatic species, management of current AIS, and prevention of new AIS threats. The following is a highlight of important vegetation and aquatic animal species. Information was last updated 4/1/2020 and may be updated periodically to reflect environmental changes.

Native Fish Species

The following fish species are native to Lake Minnetonka: black bullhead, black crappie, bluegill, brown bullhead, green sunfish, hybrid sunfish, largemouth bass, muskellunge, northern pike, pumpkinseed, rock bass, smallmouth bass, tiger muskellunge, walleye, white crappie, yellow bullhead, yellow perch, bowfin (dogfish), white sucker, central mudminnow, common shiner, golden shiner.

Native Vegetation Species

The following vegetation can be found in Lake Minnetonka: northern watermilfoil, coontail, bladderworts, lily pads, water marigold, sago pondweed, native stonewort, water stargrass, clasping-leaf pondweed, wild celery, sagittaria, and bulrush.

Invasive Species

Existing AIS and a highlight of certain potential threats to Lake Minnetonka are provided below. Known invasive species includes curly-leaf pondweed, eurasian watermilfoil, flowering rush, zebra mussels, common carp, and purple loosestrife (past).

For more details, refer to an invasive species identification guide produced by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center available for download HERE.

Hint: Underlined items in Invasive Species and Native Look-Alike columns are direct links to more information.

Invasive Species in Lake Minnetonka

Invasive SpeciesYear Identified in Lake MinnetonkaNative Look-AlikeAppearancePhoto
Common CarpIntroduced as a game fish in the Midwest during the 1880s.Large scales, long dorsal fin base, and two pairs of long barbels in the upper jaw.
Common Carp

Photo: MN DNR

Curly-Leaf PondweedBroad-leaf PondweedsSubmerged, wavy leaves with serrated edges and olive-green and red-brown coloring.
Curly-leaf Pondweed Photo

Photo: MAISRC Identification Guide

Eurasian Watermilfoil1987Northern WatermilfoilFeathery with four leaves per whorl, 12 to 20 leaflet pairs per leaf.
Eurasian Watermilfoil Photo

Photo: MAISRC Identification Guide

Flowering Rush2009BulrushesReed-like wetland plant with clusters of pink flowers.
Flowering Rush Photo

Photo: MN DNR

Purple LoosestrifeBlue VervainWetland plant with pink-purple flower spikes, square-shaped stem, and lance-shaped leaves in pairs.
Purple Loosestrife Photo

Photo: MN DNR

Zebra Mussels2010Mussels native to MinnesotaOne-quarter inch to one-half inch, D-shaped mussel with alternating yellow and brown stripes.
Zebra Mussels Photo

Photo: MAISRC Identification Guide

Invasive Species Threats to Lake Minnetonka

Invasive Species ThreatYear Identified in Minnesota Water BodyNative Look-AlikeAppearancePhoto
Starry StonewortConfirmed in nearby Medicine Lake in 2018.Sago PondweedGreen branchlets extending in whorls of 5 to 8 from a center stem with white, star-shaped bulbils at the plant’s base.
Starry Stonewort Photo

Photo: MAISRC Identification Guide

Spiny WaterfleaConfirmed in 50+ lakes and water bodies in nothern Minnesota, including Lake of the Woods, Vermilion, and Superior. Confirmed in Mille Lacs in 2009.LeptodoraOne-quarter to five-eighths inches long, opaque color, with a single long tail (one to four spines), and one black eye-spot.
Spiny Waterflea Photo

Photo: MAISRC Identification Guide

Rusty CrayfishConfirmed in Pamela Lake (Edina, MN) in 2020. First established population was in Lake Superior in the late 1990s.Calico Crayfish3 to 5 inches long from nose to tail; large claws with black tips and an oval gap when closed; pair of rust colored spots may be found on either side of the carapace (hard upper shell).
Rusty Crayfish photo

Photo: MN DNR