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.
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.
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.
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 Species||Year Identified in Lake Minnetonka||Native Look-Alike||Appearance||Photo|
|Common Carp||Introduced 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.|
|Curly-Leaf Pondweed||Broad-leaf Pondweeds||Submerged, wavy leaves with serrated edges and olive-green and red-brown coloring.|
|Eurasian Watermilfoil||1987||Northern Watermilfoil||Feathery with four leaves per whorl, 12 to 20 leaflet pairs per leaf.|
|Flowering Rush||2009||Bulrushes||Reed-like wetland plant with clusters of pink flowers.|
|Purple Loosestrife||Blue Vervain||Wetland plant with pink-purple flower spikes, square-shaped stem, and lance-shaped leaves in pairs.|
|Zebra Mussels||2010||Mussels native to Minnesota||One-quarter inch to one-half inch, D-shaped mussel with alternating yellow and brown stripes.|
Invasive Species Threats to Lake Minnetonka
|Invasive Species Threat||Year Identified in Minnesota Water Body||Native Look-Alike||Appearance||Photo|
|Starry Stonewort||Confirmed in nearby Medicine Lake in 2018.||Sago Pondweed||Green branchlets extending in whorls of 5 to 8 from a center stem with white, star-shaped bulbils at the plant’s base.|
|Spiny Waterflea||Confirmed in 50+ lakes and water bodies in nothern Minnesota, including Lake of the Woods, Vermilion, and Superior. Confirmed in Mille Lacs in 2009.||Leptodora||One-quarter to five-eighths inches long, opaque color, with a single long tail (one to four spines), and one black eye-spot.|
|Rusty Crayfish||Confirmed in Pamela Lake (Edina, MN) in 2020. First established population was in Lake Superior in the late 1990s.||Calico Crayfish||3 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).|