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Does the type of algae and where it’s growing determine what chemical is needed? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Does the type of algae and where it’s growing determine what chemical is needed?

Q: Does the type of algae and where it’s growing determine what chemical is needed?

Pete – Addison, AL

A: When battling algae, you have the upper hand if you understand the enemy. What type of algae is it? How does it behave? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Before we get in to how to treat the green menace, let’s discuss the different varieties and where they live in an aquatic ecosystem.

Algae Explained

In a large pond or lake planktonic algae, filamentous algae and chara, are the most common types of algae you’ll come across.

  • Planktonic algae, the source of algae blooms, are floating, microscopic plants that color pond water shades of green, blue-green, brown or variations in between. In controlled amounts, this type of algae can actually be beneficial. It can shade the pond’s bottom, preventing subsurface nuisance plants from growing.
  • Filamentous algae are single-celled plants that form long, visible chain, threads or filaments. These threads, which start growing along the bottom of the lake in shallow water or on rocks or other aquatic plants, intertwine and form mats that resemble wet wool. When these mats rise to the surface, they’re commonly referred to as pond scum.
  • Chara is a gray-green branched multicellular algae that has 6 to 16 leaf-like branchlets that grow in spirals around the stem. Though bottom-growing chara superficially resembles terrestrial plants, it lacks flowers, true leaves and roots. It has a skunky, musty, garlicky-type smell and has a crunchy- or grit-type texture, thanks to calcium carbonate deposits on its surface.

In general, algae will grow just about anywhere sun penetrates the pond. Surprisingly, algae has some benefits: The tiny plants feed fish and make great homes for micro- and macro-invertebrates like bugs and worms. But algae has its definite drawbacks. Besides being unsightly and odorous, uncontrolled blooms can cause oxygen depletions, affect fish health and, in extreme circumstances, cause fish to die.

Vanquishing the Menace

The key to successfully treating algae – whether planktonic, filamentous or chara – is to make the most contact between it and the algaecide. Rather than dumping the chemical into one place in the pond, which will only kill algae in that small area, it needs to be evenly dispersed.

Floating mats of filamentous algae and suspended planktonic algae are best treated with liquid mixtures, like Algae Defense® and Clipper™, that are sprayed directly over the area with a pond sprayer. To treat extra thick mats, stick the top of the sprayer into the mat itself to get the chemical to the deeper portion of the problem.

For bottom-growing algae, use granular algaecide, like Cutrine®-Plus Granular and Hydrothol, and distribute it with a granular spreader. It’s the preferred choice because the granules will sink over the algae bed and make maximum contact with it.

Follow up by raking out any decaying or dead debris with the Pond & Beach Rake, setting up an aeration system and adding natural bacteria, such as the types found in ClearPAC® PLUS Pond Care Package.

Pond Talk: How much time do you spend battling algae in your pond or lake?

Spray Directly Onto Algae Blooms - Pond Logic® Algae Defense®

The ice just melted and algae is already growing. Can I use an algaecide this early in the year? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: The ice just melted and algae is already growing. Can I use an algaecide this early in the year?

Q: The ice just melted and algae is already growing. Can I use an algaecide this early in the year?

Jeff – Avilla, IN

A: After a dreary, cold winter, growing greenery is a welcome sight – unless it’s algae in your pond. Bright sunshine, warmer temperatures, and an abundance of nutrients nurture the tiny organisms, and in no time they’ll turn your water into something resembling pea soup.

Algaecides are an effective solution, but they’ll only work if water temperatures are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. So what can you do if it’s still chilly?

    1. Lightly Rake the Algae: Raking live algae isn’t typically recommended as it may encourage algae growth if it’s not all removed. However, if you’re contending with an enthusiastic algae bloom that’s taking over your lake, pull out your Pond & Beach Rake and lightly rake out the overgrowth.
    2. Add EcoBoost™, Pond Dye: After you’ve raked the live algae, follow up by adding EcoBoost™ and Pond Dye, which have no temperature restrictions. The beneficial bacteria booster in EcoBoost will enhance the growth of muck-destroying natural bacteria, while binding phosphates and adding trace minerals for your fish. The pond dye will limit the amount of sunshine that’s reaching into the pond.
    3. Increase Circulation: If you’ve removed your aeration system for the winter, now’s the time to get it out of storage, give it a tune-up, put it back in your pond and start it up. Here’s a quick primer on how to do it.

When water temperatures top 60 degrees F, you can destroy the algae with an algaecide like Algae Defense®. The fast-acting liquid combats floating filamentous algae, bottom-growing chara and planktonic algae that turn water green. Once the algae turns brown and dies, rake out the debris, and then add some natural bacteria, EcoBoost™ and pond dye – all of which are found in our all-in-one ClearPAC® PLUS Pond Care Package. It’s an easy way to manage your growing spring problem!

Pond Talk: What improvements are you planning on doing to your pond or lake this year?

Keep Your Pond Clean & Clear - Pond Logic® ClearPAC® PLUS

Are there any concerns using our pond if I fertilize the lawn? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Are there any concerns using our pond if I fertilize the lawn?

Q: Are there any concerns using our pond if I fertilize the lawn?

James – Augusta, GA

A: Lawn fertilizers can do beautiful things to your terrestrial landscape. They infuse the soil with nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. They make the grass green and lush. They’re sometimes mixed with pesticides and selective herbicides, creating a bug and weed-free lawn. When used as directed, fertilizers give you an easy way to feed your meadows.

They do, however, have their down side – particularly if they find their way into your pond or lake.

The phosphorous found in lawn fertilizers can help feed algae growth in your pond. That algae growth, when left unchecked, can create pea-soup colored water, deplete its life-sustaining oxygen and harm your fish. That’s not all. Some lawn fertilizers contain other chemicals that may not be friendly to humans and your aquatic environment.

So how can you limit or prevent fertilizers from entering your pond?

  1. Divert storm water away from your pond: Some runoff will inevitably flow into your pond but, if possible, fashion trenches and canals that steer that storm water into the sewer system or an unused field.
  2. Find a fertilizer with low or no phosphorous: Fertilizer labels include three numbers that refer to their nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) levels. In a 5-3-4 fertilizer analysis, for instance, the “3” represents the amount of phosphorous; the higher the number, the more phosphorous in the mix. When shopping for a lawn fertilizer, choose one with the least amount of phosphorous.
  3. When fertilizing, stay at least 25 feet away from the pond’s edge: This will create a fertilizer-free barrier around your pond, thereby preventing the chemicals from leeching into the water.
  4. Use natural products that help cleanse organics from pond water: If algae blooms do happen in your pond, use natural products that contain nutrient-eating beneficial bacteria. The microorganisms found in products like Pond Logic® PondClear™ will break down the suspended debris and muck, while Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ Bacteria Enhancer binds and eliminates phosphates and other toxins.

If the chemicals found in lawn fertilizers concern you, consider using a more natural approach. You can keep your lawn lush and green with grass clippings, aged compost and organic fertilizers. Treat weeds with vinegar/water/soap mixture or corn gluten. Think “green” when feeding your lawn – your pond and its residents will thank you for it!

Pond Talk: How do you fertilize the grass surrounding your pond or lake?

Bind Phosphates & Other Toxins - Pond Logic® EcoBoost™

How are algae able to grow in the winter when everything else is dormant? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q:How are algae able to grow in the winter when everything else is dormant?

Q: How are algae able to grow in the winter when everything else is dormant?

Patrick – Vandalia, IL

A: Algae can be tough little buggers. An estimated 72,500 algal species exist worldwide, and some of them can thrive in inhospitable conditions, including areas with ice and snow. With a handful of nutrients and a little bit of light, they’re able to grow – even in the 39 degree water under the ice in your lake.

But if your lake’s water is clean and clear during the spring and summer, how can it explode with algae in the winter?

Food Aplenty

Algae feed on byproducts of decomposing organic debris, like phosphorous and nitrogen, in the water. During the warmer months, natural bacteria would typically break down these nutrients, leaving little food for the organisms. But in the cooler months, those bacteria go dormant. That means the algae enjoy a feast – and a population explosion.

If you keep a hole in your lake’s ice, you can help control the nutrient density with a product like Pond Logic® EcoBoost™. This bacteria enhancer, which has no temperature restrictions, binds suspended organics while providing trace minerals to fish. Simply mix it with water and pour it into the lake.

Let There Be Light

Algae also require sunlight to thrive – but not much. Even through a clear, solid sheet of ice, algae can get enough light to use for photosynthesis. When that light is impeded, however, the algae won’t grow as quickly.

A layer of thick snow cover is Mother Nature’s way of preventing light from penetrating the water, but you can also use pond dye, to block those rays. The blue or black dye comes water soluble packets that are simple to use: Just toss two packets per acre into the lake, and the shade will inhibit algae growth.

Algae’s Benefits

Believe it or not, algae growth in the winter does have its benefits. It helps to filter the water, and on warmer days it’s a great snack for your fish. Plus, when the algae photosynthesize, they give off oxygen as a byproduct – which is then available for your fish (and other aquatic critters) to breathe.

Don’t worry: The algae won’t take over your pond like it does in the summer. It can grow, but the cold temperatures aren’t ideal for explosive outbreaks. If you’re concerned, however, try some EcoBoost and Pond Dye. They’re safe for your fish, and they’ll keep that algae under control until spring.

Pond Talk: Have you seen algae growing beneath the ice in your pond or lake?

Shade & Protect Your Pond - Pond Logic® Pond Dye Packets

My water quality is good now, but what do I need to do over the winter to keep it that way? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: My water quality is good now, but what do I need to do over the winter to keep it that way?

Q: My water quality is good now, but what do I need to do over the winter to keep it that way?

Quintin – Pine Bluff, AR

A: When it comes to doing chores at the pond, it is easy to let your guard down this fall. Thanks to your hard-working bacteria, the water is clean and clear with minimal algae, and your fish are happy. You have nothing to do but coast into winter and hibernate until spring.

Not so fast.

As water temperatures drop, those bacteria and algaecides stop fighting off excess nutrients and cold-temperature plant growth. They are no longer effective at their jobs, and so you need to step in and help. Here’s what you can do to maintain pristine water quality over the winter.

  • Add Some EcoBoost™: Formulated to bind organic debris suspended in the water, Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ helps to clear water and enhance beneficial bacteria. It also provides more than 80 trace minerals to fish, keeping them healthy over the winter. EcoBoost™ has no temperature restrictions, so you can use it all year round. Simply mix the powder with some water in a pail and pour it in the pond.
  • Tint with Pond Dye: During the cold temperatures and even iced-over conditions, algae and plants can grow along the bottom since they are still exposed to sunlight. Pond Dye can be used year-round – winter included – to control algae growth by shading the plants from the sun’s UV rays. The dye also imparts a dramatic hue to the water, giving it a great look when it ices over.
  • Aerate and Oxygenate: You can also improve water quality through the winter by keeping the oxygen levels up and water circulating. If you are not going to use the pond for ice-skating or hockey, we recommend you use a subsurface aerator, like the Airmax® Aeration Systems. The system will keep the air bubbles flowing throughout the water column while maintaining a hole in the ice for gas exchange. If you have a fountain running, remove it and store it for the winter. Ice can damage the motor in the pump.

Before you hibernate for the winter, spend a few hours out at the pond to prepare it for winter. When you look out on a crystal clear pond in January, you’ll be happy you did!

Pond Talk: How do you keep your pond clean and clear during the winter months?

Sink Suspended Organic Debris - Pond Logic(r) EcoBoost(t) Bacteria Enhancer

Why does it seem harder to kill algae in the fall than in the spring? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Why does it seem harder to kill algae in the fall than in the spring?

Q: Why does it seem harder to kill algae in the fall than in the spring?

Dwayne- Charlottesville, VA

A: Fall algae is tough stuff to control. Once the weather starts to change, it’s almost as if this green nuisance develops super powers and becomes resistant to every weapon in your algaecide arsenal. Why does this happen, and what can be done?

The Magic Number

Don’t worry: The algae in your pond is not morphing into a super villain. The problem lies with the effectiveness of your algaecides in cooler weather. When water temperatures start to fall below 60° Fahrenheit, all those chemicals in your arsenal actually become less able to do their job. It’s like asking Batman to fight crime without his utility belt – he can do it, but it’s not pretty.

Fighting Fall Algae

Though your tactics may be limited, the war against fall algae can be won with a three-pronged approach.

  1. Go Heavy If Necessary: First of all, if you have denser or more well-established algae blooms in one area of your pond or lake that have sprung up later in the season, you may need to use heavier doses of algaecide to combat them. Read the product’s label for safe usage guidelines.
  2. Be Ready for Resistance: Algaecides work well, but algae can become resistant to them if they’re applied throughout the season. Remember that as more algae grows and dies, more nutrients are added to the ecosystem – and those nutrients will fuel algae blooms, even in the fall. Control decomposing biomass with a pond skimmer or rake that will remove those fertilizing nutrients.
  3. Use the Right Product: Finally, make sure you’re using the right algaecide for the job. Cutrine®- PLUS Granular Algaecide is designed to control bottom-dwelling chara or algae blooms deeper than three feet from your pond’s or lake’s surface. Algae Defense® Algae Control – with a boost from some Treatment Booster™ PLUS surfactant – is best suited for algae that is three feet or less from the surface.

Algae can be a frustrating problem to deal with, especially in the cooler fall months, but it can be controlled with some patience and diligence. Good luck!

Pond Talk: Have you experienced fall algae blooms in your pond or lake this year? How have you controlled them?

Quickly Eliminate Pond Algae - Pond Logic(r) Algae Defense (r)

I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds?

Q: I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds?

Wayne- Ocean Shores, WA

A: Some states – like California, Washington, Maine, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, among others – regulate the use of chemicals more so than others. If you live in one of these places, and need to control weeds or algae growth around your lake or pond, your choices are limited if you want to avoid fines and protect your local ecosystem.

But don’t worry. You still have options! Here are some ways you can manage pesky weeds and algae while keeping the regulators (and the environment) happy.

  • Mechanical Removal: Use a variety of pond tools to control the growth in your pond or lake. Cut down weeds with a Weed Cutter or Razer™ and rake them out with a weed rake, like the Jenlis Weed Raker™. If you have floating algae, you can also skim it away with a pond skimmer. This mechanical removal will take some work, but they are chemical-free ways to manage weeds and algae.
  • Limit Sunlight: Weeds and algae use sunlight to flourish, so another chemical-free way to tamp down growth is to add pond dye to the water. Available in liquid concentrate and in convenient packet formulas, Pond Dye shades your pond, preventing foliage from thriving.
  • Limit Nutrients: Plants need nutrients to grow, so adding some all natural beneficial bacteria can help. The microorganisms will eat through decomposing organics, fish waste and other plant-feeding fodder. We recommend using ClearPAC® PLUS without Algae Defense®, which contains which contains PondClear™, MuckAway™ and EcoBoost™, along with some pond dye.
  • Aerate 24/7: If you don’t already, keep your Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration System up and running 24/7. Doing so will circulate the water column and deliver oxygen to the beneficial bacteria as they gobble through the nutrients. Aeration will also promote the growth and reproduction of those beneficial microorganisms.
  • Hire a Professional: If you’ve tried the non-chemical methods and aren’t satisfied with the result, a final option is to hire a licensed applicator in your area that has the proper permits to purchase, transport and apply chemical herbicides and algaecides.

Like them or not, rules and regulations controlling the use of chemicals are in place for a reason. Use common sense and obey the federal, state and local edicts. You have non-chemical options available, so try them out. You have nothing to lose – except a hefty fine!

Pond Talk: What are some other ways to control weeds and algae naturally?

Remove Unwanted Weeds & Muck Build Up  - The Pond Guy(r) Pond and Beach Rake

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