Pond Algae Treatments And Combined Chaos

When pond algae starts to prosper in your watergarden, most of us will try anything to get rid of it. We pull out our arsenal of algae fighting tools, get busy with the rakes, add whatever we have in the shed to the water, or start scanning the online world for solutions. In other words, the race is on!

I relate to the desperation and urgency.

No one want’s to see their pond turn green overnight, yet many times it can and does when conditions are right.

I’m sad to say though that the “silver bullet” of algae control just doesn’t exist. There are many ways and means to deal with an algae problem, and nearly every option has merit. Even chemicals, which as many of our readers know, is our last resort solution, have their place in pond care from time to time.

Over the years however, I’ve witnessed a condition that I term, “treatment chaos”. What this basically means is, that a pond owner, in their mad scramble to kill or end their algae problem, tries a number of things…all at once.

A common example might go something like this. Let’s say a small pond owner starts seeing algae issues and decides to add a beneficia bacteria to the pond. Now many of these products and providers of this product may or may not disclose that bacteria may not be a quick fix. Certainly in some ponds it can work quickly, but in most it may take weeks to see any improvement. Patience pays in times like this.

Yet, after a few weeks, the desire to have the algae gone pushes the owner to apply a quicker acting solution like an algaecide. Now this just might do the trick and the algae will disappear for awhile. But the chemical has just killed all the beneficial bacteria that had been building up in the pond in order to balance it. This is usually not a good thing. Since in a few weeks, or whenever the chemical runs it’s course, algae will start growing back again.

So if you had a desire to treat naturally, it’s likely you’d need to start all over again with bacteria supplementation, and wait for the time it takes to build this all back up again after the chemical addition. In simple terms, it’s generally safe to say that natural solutions like bacteria and chemical algaecides, and particularly those that contain copper sulphate, just don’t mix well.

You can see confusing combinations in natural solutions too. Take the aforementioned bacteria and barley straw. These two options can work on controlling algae quite often. And while they don’t interfere with one another in the pond, it makes little sense to continue to buy them both just because the pond is clearing up.

It would make sense if nothing more than just extending your budget a bit, to try the bacteria first, since it does so much more than just cut down algae growth. Then, if clearing didn’t occur as well as one would hope, or if conditions like pH can’t be managed easily it would make sense to try something less dependent on such things like a barley based product.

Mechanical options are also included here. For example, ultraviolet filtration can work very well on green water most of the time. But it will never be an effective solution to string algae. Many retailers don’t tell you that up front…algae is algae afterall, but not with UV. If the algae can’t pass through the filter it won’t be affected at all. So folks think maybe adding normal bacteria (like the powders you add about once a week) to the pond will work just fine with UV. The only problem is UV filters can knock out some of this bacteria as it passes through it. UV is meant to kill things like viruses and algae cells, so it would be safe to assume bacteria could be affected too. The two things just might not work great together.

With that said, some products do combine nicely to get the job done. Aeration works with almost anything and benefits a pond greatly. Bacteria and specially targeted algaecides like Green Clean can work together well. And aquatic dyes can work with other natural or chemical solutions quite readily. These complimentary combinations can be powerful tools in algae control when used wisely.

So the lesson in this article is this. First and foremost to keep costs in line and truly find a workable solution to an algae problem, it would be best to try one product at a time. Try to resist the urge to add different types of bacteria brands, or other natural solutions and in particular, chemical combinations, all at one time. Give each product a fair trial and see how things go.

Do a bit of research and ask questions about whether this or that product will work well or compliment something you’re already using. There are so many single solutions and varied combinations that truly do provide good results if you can find the recipe that suits your pond the best.

In the end, it’s best to look at this battle and race with algae as something more than a sprint. It doesn’t have to become a marathon by any means, but taking the time to test and get a clear cut solution will save you time and money in the long run.

As a pond owner, do you have algae solutions that work well either alone or in combination with other treatments? Feel free to share your experiences below

17 Responses to Pond Algae Treatments And Combined Chaos

  1. gravelgoose June 5, 2008 at 11:15 pm #

    what is the best way to treat algae

  2. Mary June 6, 2008 at 12:48 am #

    I have terrible pond algae in my small pond. My husband has cleaned out the filter three times this week because it keeps clogging up. A friend mentioned that he uses salt in his pond. He says he buys the salt from Home Depot. I am afraid to use salt because although I do have algae, my fish seem healthy.

    Thanks,
    Mary

  3. jay sorenson June 6, 2008 at 2:45 am #

    My pond is about as F___Up as a home made radio and the more I read how to control it the more confused I become. My liquor cabinet at this time is running low. Any Help! I dug it out it 1991 at 10′. It’s probably .7 acres. Anyway bisides algae it has started a new regime for me…A weed that grows from the bottom up and has leaves that catch the algae so it won’t flow out of the pond and the algae will start attaching itself to the bottom of the pond..I put a bale of barley straw..excuse me two bales and the algae thought it was there mother. this is the worse year yet. I have a slough that feeds the pond and than runs back into the slough. Anyway now I feel better just saying that so i will have a glass of wine,,without the scum.. thanks for listening

    jay

  4. lisap June 6, 2008 at 2:55 am #

    Is there anything that is all natural to get rid of the Algae. I have a small pond it was a kit from Walmart and since all the rain that we have had in the last 2 weeks my pond looks real bad. I would like to be able to use something that is all natural if possible.

  5. Mark June 6, 2008 at 3:01 am #

    For most pond algae problems I have a protocol I like to follow and it goes something like this. Hopefully this may help ease some of the frustration for a few folks.

    My first choice to treat algae has always been to try a beneficial bacteria product. These are safe and work to address the root causes of algae such has high nutrient loads or organic material in the pond. Algaecides only treat the symptom of algae, but they sometimes serve as an option if other things have been tried and are not successful. My take has always been to use those as a last resort.

    So first, try a bacteria product and apply it correctly…most often one application is not enough and consistency is the key. Give it time to work, usually 30 to 60 days if necessary.

    Barley is another option, in bales or concentrates, and this can work sometimes too, although university studies show that it’s not always effective.

    In addition to these things, in smaller ponds I look to add more plants and usually surface plants help with increased shading and protection. For larger ponds with depths of 8 feet or more, I add aeration to help stimulate the natural pond elements than can help balance things out.

    If plants aren’t an option, such as for larger shallower ponds, I may add a dye product to cut down on sunlight penetration.

    I’ll try to some extent to address causes of high nutrient loads in ponds. In small ponds, many times this is an issue of fish overstock or overfeeding. In large ponds environmental elements are often the cause such as run off or tree leaves building up in a pond.

    I also recommend researching mechanical options of various kinds, whether it be UV filters or a better option to address a wider range of algae types is ultrasonic systems.

    Only after trying or researching a number of these options, would I then possibly resort to using a chemical of some kind. They come with their own costs and risks, so when I use them I try to make as minimal of an impact on the pond system as I can and still control the algae.

    All in all, there really are a number of options to algae control. What works for one pond and person, may not work for another, and so it’s as much an issue of really working to understand your pond and what’s affecting it as well as sound pond management practices to help get the best results. It’s not always easy or quick but it’s the best way I know to get results in the long run.

    So keep asking questions and keep learning as best you can. It all adds up.

  6. melvyn metcalf June 6, 2008 at 10:04 am #

    my pond is just over 1 thousand gallons, and i did hve an algea bloom resulting in green water. spring cleaning of my filter,element only, so that beneficial bacteria was not all removed,,, t hen i added more plants, as many water hysianths as i could sqeese in, and i installed a black light in my filter, just above water level. i was told that algea die when exposed to black light. (?????) anyway, my water is less green and is still clearing a little every day. thanks for art icles and concern, mel

  7. Larry N. June 6, 2008 at 12:34 pm #

    I am currently using beneficial bacteria -I believe Green Clean Pro(cant remember name) an am staying away from algaecide. Right now Im not sure whether its working or the conditions armt right for a bloom. In any case, my question is in the above articles you mentioned ph. Is there an ideal level that the pond should be at and does the level of ph determine how effective the bacterial treatment will work and how do you change the ph level is say a 2-3 acre pond that averages I’ll guess 6-8 feet average.

  8. rantle June 6, 2008 at 12:46 pm #

    I know the quicker you react to the algae growth the better.
    As soon as I kick up the pumps after a long winter here in the great white north,In goes the barley pellets.
    The key and success to using barley pellets
    is to make sure it’s put in an area where the water is running over it all the time.
    I use this and this alone.NO CHEMICALS…..
    Then when the warmer weather get’s here
    in go the plants and lot’s of them.
    It has taken me about 4 years to get this down
    to an art but I did it.
    Algae problem no more in my pond.
    Good luck folks and you can trust me when i say this.”help Mother nature don’t fight her”….
    She always wins so work with her…LOL
    Ron

  9. Carlos June 6, 2008 at 1:20 pm #

    My pond is only about two years old,it may be considered small to most. (a little over 2,000 gallons) I have always had aquariums,and presently have a 250 gallon inside my home. I am new to the pond game but I think I’ve done good so far. First I had my pond done early in the year to try to get ahead of the algae problem. I use eco system dry bacteria,along with a ultrasonic algae control system,and several water lillies. I have about a dozen koi that range in size from 6-8 inches. I get an algae spike very seldom and when I do I simply and bacteria. I planted three 6′ Magnolia Jane trees beside my pond in March on the West side of my pond to give it some shade, because there were no trees at all in my yard. I’ll send pics next time, everone I hope you enjoy your pond as much as I enjoy mine!!!! LOS

  10. John Swonger June 6, 2008 at 2:11 pm #

    I have string algae my pond is 10 years old and i have never had a problem like this. my water is crystal clear but the string algae keeps taking over. I remove it almost everyday as good as i can. I`ve treated it with algaeside twice but nothing seems to help any suggestions would be much appreached

    Thanks
    John

  11. Mark June 6, 2008 at 2:14 pm #

    Mel, thanks for suggestion on trying the black light…I haven’t tried that but if you’re getting great results, that’s terrific.

    Larry, usually for natural products the pH should be somewhere between 6.5 to 8.5 for most biological treatments. For the Healthy Ponds products its more like 6.0 to 9.0.

    Ron and Carlos…well done! I like Ron’s last comment in that it’s really best to work with what mother nature gives you. Whether my optimism proves out every time I don’t know but I’ve always believed that there is a solution to every pond, it’s just a matter of discoving what it will be.
    Mark

  12. John Eversoll June 6, 2008 at 10:34 pm #

    Hi guys!! Well, it is that time of year our ponds are turning greeeeen. $#@!*^&)+_?/:”{!!
    Yes thaT LOVELY SHADE OF money down the drain.
    I have almost got to the point of draining the darned thing filling it up with water and bleach then add some plastic fish.
    The last of my gold fish has kicked the bucket
    so I am not worried about fish any more
    Until I can get things in order, I am not going to worrie about it any more. So if the pond clears up on its own that is great
    Enjoy your pond.
    John

  13. Tony Mininno June 25, 2008 at 6:09 pm #

    I have a large 1/4 acre pond; rubber liner, no flat bottom; sloped sides to a depth of 12 feet.

    This is the third summer. I began using beneficial bacteria from day 1, I color the water and it has two large submerged airators.

    It has some moasquito fish which seem to multiply OK.

    This February I began seeing string algae and it it now evident along the perimeter and below the surface on the sloping sides. I skim off what I can reach.

    There is no oder and the water is fairly clear.

    What can I do to keep the string algae from progressing. I hear that nothing really works; just slows the process down.

    Any suggestions welcome. Thank you.

  14. Mark June 25, 2008 at 7:58 pm #

    Hi Tony,

    I disagree with those that say nothing really works on string algae. I have ample evidence and folks that would say otherwise.

    For bacteria to work right, and by the way, this is my preferred method of algae control, certain conditions have to be right in the pond.

    Ideally the pH should be around 7.5 with a working range of 6.5 to 8.5 for most bacteria to be optimal.

    Oxygen content must be good and with aeration you should have that. So your use of aeration is a very good thing.

    Also, be sure you’re using enough bacteria for the job. You would start with the overall pond size as a minimum dosage but you also have to take into account whatever may be helping the algae along. If the pond has a lot of trees around it and therefore leaf debris in the pond or just a lot of organic material in general at the bottom of the pond this must be taken into account.

    There have been some ponds where we’ve had to use twice as much bacteria as one would estimate to get clearing because of this issue.

    And finally make sure you’re applying it often enough. While some ponds can respond to a single treatment and show very good response, other’s may take very consistent treatments to clear up.

    These as well as other factors may influence the response of the bacteria but I would start by checking the pH of the water, make sure you’re using enough bacteria supplementation to do the job and experiment with this amount and the frequency of application and see if that improves things a bit.

  15. Gayle July 5, 2008 at 1:17 pm #

    I came across a lady who raises fish and has a very large pond. I started haveing proublems with string algie and called her she suggested the use of peroxide. yes peroxide. I poured three bottles of the cheep peroxide in to the pond around my filter. a few days later all the string algie was GONE. !!!!!! does not hurt fish or snails ,sucker fishes Etc. all is well. You can use this as often as once every two months..Depending on the sixe of your pond. Ours was around 5,ooo gallons of water.

  16. EDDIE EVANS September 11, 2008 at 2:40 pm #

    After years of frustration I found that certain bacteria doses did help control the algae, but required repetitive doses and of course expense. Our pond is about 3 acres averaging 7-10 ft deep. Fed only by surface water and developing springs (pond is 18 years old)we feared disaster in the making. But for whatever reason, the installation of 3 deep aerators has resulted in miracles. Installed in late spring of this year, we have seen an almost non-existent crop of algae. Add to that the fact that the fish are happier, the water clearing, the beginning of sludge cleaning–and we are simply amazed! QWe are located in upstate central NY State.

  17. Connie September 15, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    there are so many useful hints on this site, We had one of those plastic ponds like the ones you get at the Depot or Walmart ,maintained it pretty well, Of course when the algae appeared we would take out the fish and drain it clean it and fill it back up. This year we expanded we took out the plastic pond and dug out and made it bigger and lined it, We have a good filter and a water fall filter, a few plants, that the fish like,a few big rocks that we ran into while digging out the pond, we placed them on top the liner made like a underwater cave the fish huddle in. Have some tall grass plants that shade in the morning and a little into the afternoon,now the algea is a problem, dosent seem to have an oder and the water is not cloudy ,until i stir up the bottom and try to get some of the muck into the filter its full of gold fish mainly feeder fish that is eating the algae on the walls(not eating fast enough) we have a few frogs that took up residence,No one seems to be in distress (just the owners) was looking for a way that is natural to help control the algae, I m going to increase aeration, and try the barley hay , any other advice I would be grateful, Im located in Maryland near the Susquehanna

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