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