A Good Resource With Some Bad Advice

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I wanted to share a part of an email I received from a pond owner recently. He passed along some suggestions he received from an extension service in his area. Many of you probably know that overall I’m very fond of and highly recommend the use of your local extension since they often are a very good source of “local knowledge”.

In Steve’s case…uh, maybe not so much.

I had the Clemson U. Extension service here two years ago, they identified the type of Algae. We tested the water for effluent, non was found, that was not the N. source. I was told to stop feeding the fish, for the most part I have but my wife and I like to take a drink to the pond bench feed the fishes and watch the Catfish “Hoover” up all the goodies. My prescription from Clemson was to put in 5 lbs. of Copper Sulfate, that should do it, if it didn’t add more ’til it’s gone. I replied but won’t the Copper Sulfate deoxygenate the water, “well yes” they said. How will I know when to stop the treatment if the Algae is still there, I was told to stop when the fish started dying. I did, they did, lost about 40 1-2 pounders and until two days ago I haven’t done the Sulfate deal again. When I did I did about 3 lbs. it worked for two days and no fish died, today “IT (The Algae) IS BAAAAACCCCK”.

What do you notice that might be a little “off” in this advice?

A couple of things stand out for me…”add more until it’s gone” and “stop when the fish start dying”…huh!?!

And notice how quickly the algae returned after the application of the algaecide. Folks, this is not a good long term solution!

One of the common issues I’ve seen regarding extension service personnel is that not many of them know about the value and effectiveness of biological tools for controlling pond algae. Most will suggest some form of copper sulphate as the mainline defense on algae.

If you’ve read much on our site, you probably know by now that we don’t agree with this approach at all. It’s not that chemicals aren’t useful, it’s just that they shouldn’t be the first thing you turn to when algae shows up. There are better, more healthy methods of dealing with pond algae which also allow you to save chemicals as a “last resort”.

Slowly, things are changing in the world of pond care as more people come to recognize the common sense and truth when they see it. Even the extension services are evolving…it’s just not widespread yet.

To put it simply, they need educating just like we all do from time to time. So, if you’ve had success using biological tools, be sure to spread the word a bit. Not everyone believes in them to be sure, but the fact is, many, many people including ourselves have found them to work on algae issues very well.

Little by little we can change the nature of pond care, and help resources like the county extension service provide a consistent and helpful message to pond owners everywhere.

Our thanks go out to Steve Conrad for allowing us to share his information here.

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