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Algae, Pollen or Both? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Algae, Pollen or Both?

Ah, spring. As the days get longer and the temperatures get warmer, trees and plants start flowering – which mean two things to pond and lake owners: algae blooms and pollen spores.

When those sneeze-triggering spores start flying and land on your lake’s surface, giving it a bright green, yellow or white oil slick-like appearance, it can be hard to tell whether you’re dealing with a troublesome algae bloom, a layer of pollen or a combo of them both.

A case like this calls for a little detective work, starting with a primer on algae types.

Know Your Algae

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’s considered the start of the pond food chain as the tiny plants feed fish inhabitants, and it can also shade the pond’s bottom, preventing subsurface nuisance plants from growing. In uncontrolled amounts, however, planktonic algae can cause oxygen depletions and fish kill.

Filamentous Algae – 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. These mats make great homes for micro- and macro-invertebrates, like bugs and worms, but they’re also unsightly and can affect the oxygen levels and fish health in your lake.

Pollen Versus Algae

Unlike planktonic or filamentous algae, pollen simply settles on the water surface, creating an oil slick-like appearance on the lake or pond. When you run your fingers over a pollen-covered body of water, the green, yellow or white material will break apart. That doesn’t happen with algae. Instead, the tiny planktonic algae remains suspended in the water, while the filamentous algae can actually be grabbed and pulled out.

Clearing Things Up

The good news is that water circulation with a decorative fountain, such as Kasco’s 1/4HP Decorative Fountain, and subsurface aeration, such as an Airmax® Aeration System, will help remedy both the algae and pollen situations. The movement of the water breaks up the pollen layer and it will eventually go away. If your lake or pond has a significant algae bloom, you may need to treat the water with an algaecide, like Pond Logic® Algae Defense®.

Pond Talk: What have you found to be the best way to manage algae in your lake or pond?

Kasco Decorative Fountains - Sound, Beauty & Aeration

Why Does Algae Keep Growing In My Pond, Even After I Treat With Algaecides? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Why does algae keep growing in my pond, even after I treat with algaecides?

Cathy – Bagley, WI

A: Algae seems to take on a life of its own sometimes, doesn’t it? Once that green slimy, stringy or seaweed-looking stuff crops up, it keeps growing and growing until you wind up with a messy situation in your pond or lake. Even if you treat it with algaecides, it still grows back.

Turns out that all these tiny plants need to grow is sunlight and food source – both of which are abundant during certain sunny times of year and when there’s a healthy mix of detritus built up along the bottom of the lake. To make things worse (or better for the algae!), when a pond is treated with chemicals, the process just adds dead algae to the pond, which is actually a food source for the growing algae.

Rather than battle this green monster after it has a foothold, it’s best to take a proactive approach. After you verify that you’re dealing with algae and not weeds (read here for a quick lesson on chara and other types of algae), we recommend you follow these four all-natural steps for preventing algae attacks:

1. Use Aeration: Aeration systems, like Airmax Aeration®, circulates debris that has accumulated in the lake or pond so it doesn’t settle at the bottom and become algae food. Aeration also spreads the debris throughout the water column, making it more accessible to beneficial bacteria that break it down.

2. Use Natural Bacteria: Natural beneficial bacteria, such as Pond Logic® PondClear™ Beneficial Bacteria, power through nitrates, breaking down fish waste, leaves and other organics that accumulate in the pond. This naturally improves the water clarity as the bacteria devour the sediment.

3. Use EcoBoost™: Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ Bacteria Enhancer is an innovative product that binds algae-feeding phosphates in ponds and stimulates the growth of essential beneficial bacteria, which are essential when controlling algae in your lake or pond.

4. Use Pond Dye: Because algae thrive in sunlight, Pond Dye filters those rays and stops them from reaching below the surface, thereby preventing algae from growing. Plus, the cool colors mask the soupy green hue of the algae.

We can’t guarantee your algae problem will disappear, but if you follow these steps you’ll be creating a pond that’s inhospitable to algae invaders.

Pond Talk: How have your algae blooms been this spring and summer compared to last year?

Airmax® Aeration Systems - Even Ponds Need To Breathe

How Do I Tell Chara & Naiad Apart? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How Do I Tell Chara & Naiad Apart?

Thomas – Williamston, MI

It’s very important to be able to tell Chara and Naiad apart. Why? Because Chara is actually a form of algae and you must use an algaecide, like Algae Defense® or Cutrine®-Plus, to treat it. Naiad, which looks similar to Chara, is an aquatic weed and you should use an herbicide, like Ultra PondWeed Defense® , to treat it.
A couple of things to look for to help you differentiate between the two pond nuisances:

• Chara lacks true leaves because it is algae. Instead, it has 6 to 16 leaf-like branchlets that grow in spirals (whorls) around the stem. These branchlets often have tiny, thorn-like projections.
• Naiad has dark-green to greenish-purple, ribbon-like leaves. Naiad leaves are arranged oppositely on the stem, or sometimes in whorls of 3.
• Chara has no defined root system
• Naiad has a well-established root system
• Chara gets a foul, musky, almost garlic-like odor late in the season

If you are still unsure what type of plant you are dealing with, consider applying Hydrothol 191. A granular algaecide/herbicide, Hydrotol 191 is proven to treat both algae AND aquatic weeds but carries a 25 day irrigation & 3 day fish consumption restriction.

Pond Talk: Have you battled Chara or Naiad in your pond? How did you treat it?

Why Does My Pond Water Turn Green? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Why Does My Pond Water Turn Green? Why Does My Pond Water Turn Green? 

Joanne – Evans City, PA

Green water is a form of algae called planktonic algae and there are quite a few factors causing your water to be clear during the winter and green as the weather warms up. The main reason is the interruption of the nitrogen cycle.

In order for algae to grow, it needs a food source (nutrients) and sunlight. During the colder winter months of the year, nutrients within the water are less likely to increase due to the fact that the digestive systems of fish have slowed to a point where little, if any, nutrients (fish waste) are being added. Also, during the colder months, algae and aquatic plants are not as active at consuming nutrients.

As the weather warms up, fish become active, digestive systems kick back in and nutrients begin pouring in and if not held in check using aquatic plants, natural bacteria and filtration, green water will develop.

If you have chronic green water and still can’t keep it in check, consider a UV or Ion clarifier.

Aquascape IonGen Electronic Clarifier

When Should I Start Treating Floating Algae In My Pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

When Should I Start Treating Floating Algae In My Pond?

When Should I Start Treating Floating Algae In My Pond?

Jacquelyn – Pottsville, PA


Spring is just around the corner and in some areas, algae is already growing. But the question we hear quite often around this time is, “When can I start?” or, “Is it too early to treat?” The answer really depends on what the weather is like at your pond.

Getting a jump start on algae early in the season can help control growth as the season progresses. Fortunately, treating floating algae and preventing its build up is rather easy and really only one factor may stop you…temperature.

Is your pond above or below 50 degrees? This is important because aquatic algicides become less effective when temperatures fall below 60° Fahrenheit. However, understand that treatments will still work, just not as well. If you have an abundance of algae growing when the water temperatures are below 60° Fahrenheit, it’s worth a quick treatment to get it under control early. If the water temperature is too low, wait to use any treatment and instead use a lake rake to remove excessive algae if you are not able to chemically treat it. Another up-and-coming product that works very well to skim floating debris is the PondSkim™ Debris Skimmer. The PondSkim™ is a tool that contains a float and debris catcher. Simply drag across the surface of the water to collect debris.

If you have algae already growing in your pond we suggest that you get a jump start on it and you’ll be happy you did.

The Pond Guy Pond & Beach Rake

Is there an ideal temperature to treat algae? | Pond & Lake Q&A

Is there an ideal temperature to treat algae?

Is there an ideal temperature to treat algae?

Crystal – New Baltimore, MI

It depends what you mean by the word “treat.” If you’re looking to throw a party in its honor, pretty much any temperature will do – because algae grows all year ‘round, even during the winter months. But if you’re hoping to give it the kind of treatment that makes it feel extremely unwelcome, you’ll see the best results when water temperatures are at 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. When water is warmer, algae tends to thrive. Because it’s thriving, it’s feeding – making it much more susceptible to algaecides.

Because very few of our customers express interest in enhancing algae growth, we’ll assume most readers are in the latter category. And if you are, we have a variety of highly effective options to accomplish your objectives. Algae Defense® with Treatment Booster™ PLUS is among our safest, most effective weapons in the battle against algae. Algae Defense® is a fast-acting aquatic algaecide, and it’s highly effective at eliminating a broad spectrum of pond algae. By including Treatment Booster™ PLUS, which breaks down algae’s natural defenses, this combination packs a particularly effective double-whammy, and makes short work of offending algae blooms.

For spot-treatment of algae growth, we also recommend Cutrine®-Plus Granular . Formulated to make quick work of both surface and bottom-forming algae, this safe, powerful algaecide does double-duty by both killing existing algae, and inhibiting its future growth.

While some pond owners prefer to eschew algaecide and rake algae out manually, the raking-only approach requires much more maintenance and attention. Algae are extremely hearty, and raking leaves trace amounts in the pond, allowing for recurrent blooms. For longer-lasting impact, the ideal treatment includes the use of algaecides, followed by cutting with our weed cutter, raking with our Pond & Beach Rake, and follow-up treatment with natural bacteria to break down any remaining muck.

Give your algae the treatment they deserve before temperatures start to fall – and start next season with a leg up on their plans for next year’s invasion.

Pond Talk: What method of treatment have you used to maintain algae?

I have a pondless water with some algae on the rocks, do I need a filter to clean it or is there something else I can use? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I have a pondless water with some algae on the rocks..do I need a filter to clean it or is there something else I can use?

I have a pondless water with some algae on the rocks, do I need a filter to clean it or is there something else I can use?

Matt – Howell, MI

For pond enthusiasts who are short on free time, we’re big fans of pondless waterfalls. Since they typically don’t have fish and don’t involve open bodies of water, there’s very little to maintain. Without fish waste, debris or muck to contend with, these beautiful features can add a lot to your yard – and require very little in return.

Occasionally, though, algae can form on rocks in in a waterfall. And unless you have a fondness for the green stuff, you’ll want to dispatch with it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

For some, biological filtration is a viable option. Since most pondless waterfalls rely on a basin for circulation, the installation of an appropriately-sized filter – and some filter media – will generally resolve any algae issues. But under the circumstances, filtration is rarely the simplest solution. At the Pond Guy®, we strongly recommend the use of PondLogic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® Pond Debris Remover. Oxy Lift™ is designed to break debris off rocks quickly and easily – without a lot of effort.

In fact, process couldn’t be much easier. Simply turn off the waterfall, sprinkle on Oxy-Lift™ (be sure to avoid direct contact with any plants), and let it sit for ten minutes. If the algae are particularly well-established, light brushing can help to loosen things up. Once those steps are complete, simply turn the waterfall back on – and get the instant gratification of immediate results.

As an added measure to prevent recurrence of algae, a partial water change and an occasional basin cleaning goes a long way. So enjoy the limited free time you have. Your waterfall is waiting.

Pond Talk: How do you limit algae and debris build up on your waterfall?

Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® Pond Debris Remover


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