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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

Top Blog Posts of 2014

2014 brought lots of unusual weather, which caused some unique challenges and inquiries for pond owners. Thank you for all your questions and comments. Here are the top blogs for 2014, read by you! As always, if you have questions or comments, please feel free to send them our way! 

We wish you a safe and happy 2015.
From The Pond Guy® Staff

Top 5 Blog Posts in Pond & Lake

Top Blog Posts of 2014 - Pond & Lake

Q: We always have snakes around my pond, except in the winter. Where do they go?

Q: I added too much pond dye. What do I do?
Q: My pond is full of floating algae. How do I get rid of it?
Q: Do I need to cut the cattails before I spray them?
Q: When should I stock my pond?

Top 5 Blog Posts in Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens

Top Blog Posts of 2014 - Water Garden

Q: I bought bullfrog tadpoles for my pond. What do I need to know about them?

Q: Someone told me I need to do the Jar Test. What is that?

Q: I’m looking to cut back on energy costs. Can I shut off my waterfall at night?

Q: How do I know if it’s a leak or evaporation loss?

Q: If I run my waterfall pump for a few hours a day during winter, will my fish be ok?

Happy New Year from The Pond Guy(r)

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)

Should I turn off my UV light when adding water treatments, like Nature’s Defense®, to my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Should I turn off my UV light when adding water treatments, like Nature’s Defense®, to my pond?

Q: Should I turn off my UV light when adding water treatments, like Nature’s Defense®, to my pond?

Olivia – Blissfield, MI

A: Great question! The answer all depends on the kind of ultraviolet light you’re talking about – so let’s quickly go through the differences between a UV sterilizer and a UV clarifier.

UV Sterilizer: Cleans It All- Good and Bad

A UV sterilizer completely sterilizes the water – which means it kills anything and everything that floats past its path, including beneficial bacteria found in some water treatments. These units are effective at killing floating algae and harmful pathogens like parasites, but they kill the good stuff, too. We don’t recommend adding bacteria to your pond while using a UV sterilizer.

UV Clarifier: Targets the Green Stuff

A UV clarifier is different. It targets just algae and leaves the bacteria alone (as long as the unit is sized right for the pond). The clarifier uses ultraviolet light to destroy the reproductive ability of suspended green stuff. Dead algae then clumps together into particles large enough to be removed by mechanical filtration, leaving the pond cleaner and clearer. If pea soup water is a recurring problem for you, add a UV clarifier to your pond.

Optimize the Flow

If you use a UV clarifier, you can leave the light on while you use bacteria-based treatments, like those found in the DefensePAC® Pond Care Package. But just be sure the bulb and pump are sized correctly.

Bright Enough Bulb: For a UV clarifier to be most effective, the bulb needs to have a high enough wattage for your pond’s volume. All UV clarifiers are rated based on pond size. The larger the wattage, the larger the pond size the UV clarifier can handle.

Power to the Pump: The water needs to flow pass the UV bulb at the just right speed, so the pump size is important. If the water moves too quickly, it won’t kill the algae and it could cause the seals on the unit to malfunction; if it moves too slowly, it will kill the algae and beneficial bacteria. A great rule of thumb is to push the water approximately half of what the UV is rated per hour.

A convenient option is to try out an all-in-one unit, like the AllClear™ & SolidFlo™ Combo Kits. The mechanical and biological filter system comes with a built-in UV clarifier. When used with the SolidFlo pump, you’ll be well on your way to clear water.

One last tip: Keep the water well-circulated by running an aeration system, like one of the Airmax® Aeration Kits. Its diaphragm compressors and air stones keep the beneficial bacteria supplied with oxygen, as well as ensure every drop of water and every algae cell float past that UV bulb.

Pond Talk: When have you used an UV clarifier in your pond?

All-Natural Pond Care System - Pond Logic (r) DefensePAC 9r)

I thought I did a successful chemical treatment, but why are the weeds coming back? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I thought I did a successful chemical treatment, but why are the weeds coming back?

Q: I thought I did a successful chemical treatment, but why are the weeds coming back?

Barney – Andalusia, AL

A: Treating weeds is a tricky task. Despite dosing them with aquatic herbicides to clear your pond or lake of plant pests, they seem to grow back over and over again. It seems like a never-ending cycle!

Why does this happen?

Well, chemical treatments have their benefits and drawbacks: On one hand, they work great as a quick fix to decimate actively growing weeds. But once those plants die, they become a food source for future weeds and algae, acting as a fertilizer for the very things you’re trying to get rid of. The herbicides do nothing to prevent future growth, and so you’re left with yet another growth spurt of pond weeds, which you’ll then treat with chemical herbicides – and around you’ll go again.

So how do you break the cycle? Here’s a four-step approach that will help put an end to it.

  1. Remove the Dead Weeds: Once the weeds have browned, use a Pond & Beach Rake or PondSkim™ Debris Skimmer to remove as much dead material from the water as possible. This prevents dead plant material and muck from accumulating and fertilizing future weed growth.
  2. Be Proactive: Debris will still find its way into your pond, so add some beneficial bacteria to the water to manage the excess nutrients before they feed your weeds. The products found in the ClearPAC® PLUS Pond Care Packages – including PondClear™ and EcoBoost™ for suspended debris, and MuckAway™ for accumulated bottom-of-the-pond debris – naturally break down that organic material.
  3. Add Aeration: If you don’t have one already, install a Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration System that’s sized for your pond or lake. By circulating and adding oxygen to the water column, the beneficial bacteria will thrive. In turn, they’ll eat through even more debris and prevent weed and algae growth.
  4. Shade and Color: Also found in the ClearPAC® Plus package is Pond Dye, another offensive tactic in your battle against aquatic weeds. Pond dye shades the water blue or black, preventing ultraviolet light from reaching the plants.

Throughout the spring and summer, weeds will grow. But with some pond management practices, you can keep those pesky plants to a minimum.

Pond Talk: How often do you treat your pond or lake for weeds?

Remove Floating Debris Quickly - The Pond Guy(r) PondSkim(t) Debris Skimmer

The string algae seems to grow in just a few hours in my stream. What can I do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: The string algae seems to grow in just a few hours in my stream. What can I do?

Q: The string algae seems to grow in just a few hours in my stream. What can I do?

Edith – Marion, IN

A: String algae. It seems to just grow and grow, leaving a tangled mess of green slimy stuff in your stream and water garden. Like other types of algae, string algae thrives on sunlight and excess nutrients like fish waste and decomposing organic matter in the water. If you want to get rid of it, check out this five-step plan designed to get your string algae problem under control.

  • Add Plants: Water lilies, water hyacinth, water lettuce and other floating aquatic plants look much nicer than algae, right? These ornamental plants will compete for the food source algae uses for growth, so plant away! A simple rule of thumb is to have 60 percent of your pond covered with submerged, floating and marginal plants.
  • Ration Fish Food: Those pellets and sticks are necessary to feed your finned friends, but keep in mind that fish food adds nutrients to the water in two ways: as wasted food that the fish don’t eat, and as waste after the fish digest it. Monitor how much your fish actually eat and cut back if possible.
  • Pump Up Filtration: If your filtration system isn’t powerful enough to handle your pond’s total fish load, you’ll wind up with burgeoning algae growth and, in worst-case scenarios, lethal levels of ammonia – neither of which you want. Many filters on the market are rated for ponds containing no fish or minimal fish, so get a filter that is rated for at least two times the water volume of your pond.
  • Turn Up Aeration: Beneficial bacteria, like those found in the DefensePAC®, naturally break down fish waste, but they need oxygen to thrive and reproduce. By adding a PondAir™ Aeration System, you’ll boost the oxygen in the water, increase your bacteria levels and reduce the nutrient load, thereby reducing algae growth.
  • Use Oxy-Lift™ Defense®: As needed throughout the season, use Oxy-Lift™ Defense® to lift string algae from waterfalls, streams and rocks. Simply shut down your waterfall, sprinkle the powder directly onto debris-covered areas and watch it instantly start foaming. In 24 hours, it will have removed the algae. Be sure to pull out any debris with a pond net.

String algae may seem like a never-ending battle, but you can manage it with these tried-and-true methods. Good luck!

Pond Talk: How often do you need to scrub string algae from your waterfall or stream?

Lift Debris From Waterfalls Instantly - Pond Logic (r) Oxy-Lift(t) Defense (r)

My pond is full of floating algae. How do I get rid of it? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: My pond is full of floating algae. How do I get rid of it?

Q: My pond is full of floating algae. How do I get rid of it?

C.J.- Dumas, AR

A: With summer temperatures settling in, algae blooms are coming out swinging. Bright sunshine and warm temperatures trigger green growth, so it’s critical to keep floating and submerged algae in check before it grows out of control.

For the health of your pond and its inhabitants, keeping algae blooms to a minimum is necessary. Here’s an approach that works to eliminate the green stuff and prevent it from taking over:

Treat the Growth
First, use an algaecide to great rid of the algae bloom. You can treat floating algae with a fast-acting liquid spray like Algae Defense® Algaecide with Treatment Booster™ PLUS, which treats floating algae and chara that’s less than 3’ deep. Simply spray it on with a pressurized sprayer to combat floating and bottom-growing algae.

Submerged algae can be treated with sinking granular products, such as Cutrine®-Plus. It works well for algae submerged deep in your pond or lake, such as Chara. It’s best distributed on a calm day via a granular spreader in the morning before mats form.

Remove the Dead Algae
Once the algae is dead, you should remove it. Why? By leaving the dead foliage in the lake, it will start to break down and become nutrients—or algae food—for new blooms. It’s a vicious cycle!

Use a pond skimmer, like the PondSkim™, or a rake, like the Pond & Beach Rake, to prevent that muck from accumulating.

Add Beneficial Bacteria
Three days after you’ve used algaecides, treat your pond with PondClear™. It contains beneficial bacteria that gobbles through the organic material that’s suspended in the water column. The result is a lake filled with clean, clear, odor-free water—and a healthy ecosystem for your game fish and other pond inhabitants.

Shade Water with Pond Dye
Finally, be sure to add blue or black pond dye to your pond throughout the spring and summer. By reducing the amount of sunlight that shines through the water and stimulates plant growth, you will ultimately reduce the amount of algae.

Pond Talk: How do you keep your algae blooms in check?

Fast Acting Liquid Formula, Eliminate Algae - Pond Logic(r) Algae Defense(r) Algaecide

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