Let’s fight back…
For all these types of pond algae that we have to deal with there are solutions. Some solutions are very general and will help work on all 3 pond algae types, while other issues may require a very targeted solution to the issue. There are not many treatments or types of equipment that will eliminate algae growth in your koi pond or water garden; and those that can eliminate algae growth may not be very healthy for your fish or desirable aquatic plants. A naturally balanced pond through proper filtration and management will have clear water on its own.
Some simple treatments for any type of pond algae discussed that any pond owner can easily apply are: increased aeration by installing an air pump and diffusers, increased circulation by adding a small pump or a decorative spitter/fountain, addition of aquatic plants, the use of beneficial bacteria treatments, and liquid barley extract. These are chemical free solutions that are widely available and reasonably economical. A good pond cleanout works wonders, and an honest look at how the pond is being cared for is critical. For tougher pond algae problems there are very targeted solutions as well.
Persistent green water, generally caused by nitrogen related issues with the pond water, will require a bit more than a shot or two of bacteria. A filter system upgrade and/or UltraViolet lighting should be a serious consideration. UV lighting really works, and will eliminate green water rapidly with the correctly sized unit. The upsides to UV filtration is that it is relatively inexpensive compared to filter upgrades. UV can be easily installed as an “add-on” to existing filter systems. And UV does not have a detrimental effect on livestock that chemical treatments can have. The down sides is that UltraViolet lighting hides the issue of the under filtered pond and does not address it. This may require the pond owner to deal with green water again down the road a ways. UV lighting does NOTHING for the other types of algae. For minor green water issues the use of beneficial bacteria can go a long way.
Difficult string/hair algae is caused more by phosphate than nitrogen issues. It should be manually removed and then treated with directly with the powdered treatments that are on the market. Beneficial bacteria treatments can help clear string algae, but only to a minor degree. A great remedy from back in early Europe is to use barley straw. Today, liquid barley extract is readily available and convenient to use. A weak hydrogen peroxide (H202) solution can be applied pretty effectively, but measure carefully! Equipment such as the IonGen by Aquascape Inc, targets a wider range of algae issues but is very effective at targeting string algae issues. The IonGen is reasonable priced and has installation options that do not require professional install, however, professional installation will yield the best results. The IonGen is extremely low maintenance as well and easy to control.
Control of floating algae in natural ponds and farm ponds is similar to how we treat our koi ponds and water gardens. Typical protocol would be increase aeration and circulation, removal of excess debris and sludge, and strong beneficial bacteria treatments. Barley treatments work on floating algae too. Some natural pond owners may resort to chemical treatments. Sometimes with minor adjustments floating algae clears easily, especially when it is not accompanied by string algae and green water conditions. A strong aerator placed on the bottom of the pond during warmer months will help floating algae issues and create many other benefits for the quality of your pond as well as the inhabitants!
Algae is everywhere, really everywhere. It is crucial to our lives. It is the most basic and yet perhaps the most fascinating plant on this planet. But like all things good and bad; moderation is the key; and excess algae growth should be addressed. As you leave this ALGAE TRILOGY, take a better understanding and appreciation of algae with you. With this new found information maybe when algae makes it’s presence known your approach to it’s management will be less frustrating, confusing, time consuming…and less expensive!
Special thanks to Valerie McF for requesting this topic!
All copyrights to this material is solely owned by Mike Gannon.
Mike thanks so much for the algae information. What I love about you already without even meeting you is that you are sincere about your love of ponds and so willing to share information will us. Your radio show and articles are testimony to your dedication to ask things aquatic. I thank you and salute you. !
Hey Jeannine, thank you for those very kind words! -Mike