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How do I control algae in my decorative pond, both long term and short term? – Water Garden & Features Q & A

All Rest, No Algae.

Water Garden & Features Q & A

Q: How do I control algae in my decorative pond, both long term and short term?
- Stefanie in Michigan

A: Algae blooms are the bane of most pond owners. All summer, they rear their green heads and turn a beautiful pond or water feature into a soupy or stringy mess. But with some planning, both the floating (pea-soup algae) and filamentous (string algae) species can be controlled in the short term and prevented in the long term. Here’s how:

Short-Term Solution

To get your decorative pond looking clean and clear right away, you’ll need to knock down the algae population by using a chemical herbicide, like AlgaeFix or TetraPond’s Algae Control. These algae-busters are safe for use in ponds with fish, but because they destroy algae so quickly, they can cause a drop in oxygen levels in your pond, especially during the warm summer months. Be sure that your pond is adequately aerated with a fountain, waterfall or underwater air diffuser.

Long-Term Prevention

To prevent that green goo from surfacing again, you need to limit its food source: Nutrients. Algae thrive on nutrients, which are the end product of the nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen cycle begins with ammonia released from fish waste and detritus. Nitrifying bacteria turn the ammonia into nitrites and then into nitrates (nutrients). The algae grow, the fish eat it and excrete it, and the cycle begins again.

So, how do you control the algae’s food source?
Try these approaches:

  • Keep your fish load to a minimum. Most pond owners love their fish, but if they plan to have 60 12-inch koi in a 1,000-gallon pond, they’re going to have an algae problem – which can be expensive to manage. So, when calculating your fish load, think of it in pounds of fish or total inches per gallon. Remember that your fish are growing and possibly multiplying, so plan for the future and remember: Less is best. Be careful not to overstock your decorative pond.
  • Increase the number of aquatic plants. Whether they’re submerged plants like hornwort, marginals like dwarf bamboo, or floating plants like water lilies and water hyacinth, aquatic plants consume the same food that algae does – nutrients. The more plants, the more the algae have to compete for those nutrients. Floating plants also shade the pond, which filters the sunlight and can slow the growth of sun-loving algae. You should try to cover 40 to 60 percent of your pond’s surface with floaters.
  • Check the filtration. The size and type of filtration system on a pond will depend on the fish load. If the filter is not properly sized for maximum potential, the fish will outgrow the filter and produce unhealthy amounts of ammonia, which could prove lethal to the fish. An inappropriately sized filter can also cause an algae bloom from the copious amounts of nutrients in the water. In most cases, filters on the market are rated for ponds containing no fish or a minimal fish load, so you should consider a filter that is rated for at least two times the water volume of your pond.
  • Toss in some beneficial bacteria. In addition to ensuring the proper mechanical filtration, you may also consider adding some additional biological filtration – beneficial bacteria – to your pond. These hungry creatures gobble through nutrients, breaking down fish waste, leaves and other organics that accumulate in the pond. One product to try is called DefensePAC® by Pond Logic®. It’s a combination of five products that provide beneficial bacteria, trace minerals, and a fish and plant-safe pond cleaner.
  • No pond will ever be completely algae-free, but the key to keeping the green stuff under control is to limit its food supply. Like any other living thing, if it can’t eat, it can’t survive!

    POND TALK: When was your worst algae bloom, and how did you correct it?

    Why do I need to test for carbonate hardness in my lake or pond? – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Testing for Carbonate Hardness

    Pond & Lake Q & A

    Q: Why do I need to test for carbonate hardness in my lake or pond? – Jose in Michigan

    A: A number of pond treatments, including some algae-control formulas and other herbicides, contain copper. In certain conditions, the copper chelate may break down and release copper ions, which could cause your pond or lake’s alkalinity to rise.

    If you use these treatments in a pond or lake stocked with trout, koi or goldfish that are sensitive to high alkalinity levels, you need to test your hardness regularly to ensure the health of your fish population.

    What is Carbonate Hardness?

    Carbonate hardness, or alkalinity, is the measure of carbonate and bicarbonate concentrations in your pond or lake’s water. Alkalinity is a measure of the ability of a solution to neutralize acid without changing the pH. It both controls and maintains water pH.

    Alkalinity is related to the amount of dissolved calcium, magnesium and other compounds in the water, so alkalinity tends to be higher in harder water. It naturally decreases over time through bacterial action that produces acidic compounds that combine with and reduce the alkalinity components.

    In a pond or lake, the alkalinity of the water is critical to the health of the fish – especially for trout, koi and goldfish. For these fish, the carbonate hardness of your pond or lake must exceed 50 ppm for the fish to survive, ideally falling between 50 ppm and 200 ppm.

    Testing 1, 2, 3

    When you’re treating your pond with a product like Pond Logic Algae Defense, be sure to use a water hardness test kit, like Laguna Quick Dip Multi-Test Strips.

    Carbonate hardness is measured in degrees (KH) or in parts per million (ppm). Because the water hardness test kit will give its results in degrees, you’ll need to convert your findings from KH to ppm to determine whether the levels in your lake are safe for your fish. Use this formula to figure it out: 1 KH = 17.848 ppm. So if your test kit reads 5 KH, you would multiply 5 times 17.848, which equals 89.24 ppm.

    POND TALK: How often do you test your pond or lake’s carbonate hardness level?

    Season-Long Control with the DefensePAC – Water Garden Q & A

    DefensePAC - Treats up to a 2,000 gallon water garden for 6 months

    Q: There are so many different products on the market and I don’t know what to use. The other day I tried something new for green water and had some of my fish die. I don’t even know if what I am using is fish safe? I want my pond clear although I have plants and do not want to harm any more fish. Is this possible? – William of Ohio

    A: We know exactly how you feel. It seems whenever you look on store shelves or search online there is an overwhelming selection of water garden products that can confuse even the most seasoned pond guy or gal. Well, I think I have your answer with one easy-to-use product called the DefensePAC by PondLogic. The DefensePAC is not only a customer favorite but it has won the Green Thumb Award and was awarded the Member Tested Seal of Approval from the National Gardening Association. The DefensePAC consist of the following:

    Oxy-Lift Defense – The Pond Cleaner: Sprinkle over areas affected with debris and this pond cleaner will simply”lift” and detach these debris from rocks, streams and waterfalls. Use as needed to make cleaning a breeze.

    Nature’s Defense – The Pond Balancer: This natural bacteria is designed to go to work to break down organics in your water garden. These organics, if left alone, are a food resource for algae. Comes in an easy-to-use water soluble packet that you just toss in. We suggest using Nature’s Defense every two weeks throughout the season when water temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Clarity Defense – The Pond Clarifier: This product is very unique and will do quite a bit to help your pond along. Clarity Defense will lock up excess nutrients making them unavailable as a food source for algae as well as settle suspended particulates out of the water column to clear the water. It will also stimulate natural bacteria growth and buffer pH levels.

    Muck Defense – The Muck Reducer: This natural bacteria accelerates the decomposition of organic matter caused from rotting leaves, algae and fish waste. This is great for water gardens that were constructed
    with rocks and gravel that are difficult to vacuum. Comes in a tablet that sinks to the water garden’s bottom to go to work immediately. We suggest using once every 4 weeks throughout the season when water temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Seasonal Defense – The Autumn, Winter & Spring Prep: For the cooler months of the year, this cool temperature natural bacteria will work to decompose leaves, scum and other sediment that accumulate during the fall and winter months. It is best when used during late fall and early Spring. In the Spring, Seasonal Defense will replenish winter bacteria loss to help jump start your filters. Comes in an easy-to-use water soluble packet. Use Seasonal Defense every week for 4 weeks in late fall and in the early Spring.

    The DefensePAC is a great way to keep your water garden, clean, clear and healthy. Its safe for people, pets, fish & wildlife. It is very easy to use and is satisfaction guaranteed. This package will treat a 2,000 gallon water garden for up to 6 months. Don’t forget all Pond Logic products are satisfaction guaranteed.

    Controlling Algae in a Pond Containing Trout – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Q: How do you control algae growth in a small pond that will not affect the fish (trout) in it?
    -Jerry of Harrisburg, PA

    A: We always suggest to customers with a pond of any size to use an aeration system along with natural bacteria to help eliminate muck and prevent stagnant water. Using these products together will make pond management easier and in time will reduce the need for chemicals. As far as the algae you currently have, there are a couple options to get rid of it. They are Algae
    Defense Algaecide
    and Hydrothol 191 Granular. If you use the Algae Defense, you will need to test your water hardness to ensure the carbonate hardess is above 50 ppm (parts per million) which is safe level for trout when treating with Algae Defense. If you do not wish to go that route or if your pond contains koi or goldfish, use Hydrothol 191 instead. Hydrothol 191 is a granular that will work both on algae and weeds.

    Just remember, using only chemicals to control algae is a “reactive”, short-term approach. If you really want to gain control over the long-haul, then you need to be “proactive” and follow the 4-Easy Steps to the Perfect Ecosystem. Watch our 4-step video online to learn more.

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