Water chestnut grows in the floating-leaf and submersed plant community. It thrives in the soft sediments of quiet, nutrient rich waters in lakes, ponds, and streams. The plants can survive on mudflats. Uncontrolled, water chestnut creates vast, nearly impenetrable mats of vegetation. Floating mats of water chestnut create hazards for boaters and render previously productive fishing grounds inaccessible. The barbs on the nuts can penetrate shoe leather and pose a hazard to swimmers and beachcombers when the nuts drift to shore. Light penetration and dissolved oxygen, critical elements of a well-functioning ecosystem, are severely reduced in infested areas. Water chestnut out-competes native vegetation and is of little value to wildfowl.
Water chestnut is not known to occur in Indiana.