When Pond Dye Makes Sense

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blue pond dyeThere are pond owners that love or hate the stuff but the fact is, pond dye can be pretty useful from time to time.

Years ago, about all one had to work with was a vibrant blue coloring that often made your natural pond look more like the colorful waters you see around a putt-putt golf course or amusement park.  And in truth, some people actually like this look, while others simply can’t stand it.  

These days though, there are other options…thankfully.

These include a black colored dye, and a black-blue combination which when either is applied to a pond, it will create a pretty natural appearance.  You’d be hard pressed to find a person that would even notice it compared the blue color alone.

But here’s the question that comes up now and then.

Is pond dye really helpful or necessary to improve a pond’s appearance?

I don’t want to give the impression that aquatic dye is an absolute necessity, because frankly it’s not.  But at times it has been extremely helpful.

In our work we usually use it in conjunction with other tools, such as good microbes and bacteria for ponds, barley straw, algaecides and so forth.  These are what we consider front line options that we would apply first before every using dye, and this water tinting approach works to support or assist these things, but it will rarely replace them.

Pond dyes really only do one thing and as the name implies, they color the water and make it much harder for sunlight to penetrate into the pond and create photosynthesis with the plants.  As you might guess, they grow better with sun exposure.  So if you limit or restrict that you can limit their growth and that’s all good.

All of the pond dye products are non-toxic and safe to use.

Don’t Overdo It

Some years ago, used to frequent a golf course where the superintendent would use dye in most of the ponds there.  He had an underwater weed problem and to combat this he used heavy doses of dye.  Now keep in mind, in one sense this was better than using herbicides in this wetland drainage area, but they dye really made the water look more like a greenish blue soup.  It was thick.  But no plants grew in it so mission accomplished!

But that’s generally not how we suggest using them.

For the most part, this type of product is meant to tint the water and by that it means you can still see through it somewhat.  It’s just a shade darker and when done right, is barely noticeable.  Normally this is all that will be required to restrict plant growth under the water, at least as far as a pond dye can do it.

When And Where To Use Pond Dye

So where is this pond tinting approach actually helpful?  Well first off, we would use it in shallow ponds more often than not.  If a pond of any size is something like 6 feet or less in depth, then pond dye could be very helpful.  If a pond has a lot more shallow areas compared to deep spots, then pond dye would probably be a good investment.

This is assuming of course that there’s not a strong inflow and outflow in the pond.  You want the dye to stay in place for at least a few weeks to a month, or longer if possible so a lot of turnover of the pond water isn’t good for this.

If you have  a lot of underwater weeds or algae growing on the bottom of the pond, and as long as they aren’t breaching the surface then dye may be helpful.  Anything that targets one of the key support legs of algae growth will be good to try.  This includes the good microbes for nutrient and muck reduction, light restriction and shading to limit photosynthesis, and other controls as needed.

Dyes come in packeted powder form or liquid concentrates and are pretty easy to apply.  Just follow the suggested dosing directions for the best effect.

Oh and one other little tidbit before we’re done here.  If you do decide to use a blue dye and at some point you see the water turning from a blue to green, don’t freak out too much and think that the algae is back stronger than before.  It may just be that the yellow color in the dye wore off early.  If you think about it, to get a blue color you mix yellow with green together.  Unfortunately if the yellow dissipates you might be left with some green tinted water, but not necessarily algae.

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