Our primary goal was to determine whether rotenone would be a useful control against introduced populations of Asian swamp eels (family Synbranchidae, genus Monopterus). We report the results of a laboratory experiment comparing the efficacy of various rotenone concentrations (1, 2, 4, and 8 mg of 5% liquid rotenone/L of water) in killing nonindigenous swamp eels of various sizes (1-350 g) from the three known Florida populations. Although most small swamp eels were killed at concentrations of 2 and 4 mg/L. 100% mortality of adult swamp eels was achieved only at 8 mg/L. We conclude that the effective use of rotenone to control established Florida swamp eel populations would be difficult, based on the relatively high concentration of rotenone needed to kill swamp eels; the complexity of the swamp eel's habitat; and our observations of the species' habitat use and behavior, including its widespread distribution and life history characteristics (e.g., burrowing and overland movement) that enhance its invasion and survival in multiple environments. Nevertheless, control of swamp eels may be achieved in certain situations. A combination of rotenone and electroshocking may be an effective way to eradicate swamp eels from small water bodies and to control populations in larger habitats. However, we are cautious in this recommendation and provide details related to the technical aspects of this type of strategy and caveats related to the toxicity of the chemical.
Additional publication details
Toxicity of 5% rotenone to nonindigenous Asian swamp eels