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I don’t know if I have chara or another weed. How do I tell? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I don’t know if I have chara or another weed. How do I tell?

Q: I don’t know if I have chara or another weed. How do I tell?

Dan – W Jefferson, OH

A: Though it resembles a pond weed, chara—also called muskgrass or skunkweed—is actually a type of bottom-growing algae that can efficiently take over your pond or lake.

Can’t tell the difference between the two? Here are some tips to help identify and treat the chara.

IDing Chara

Pull out some of the plant in question and take a close look at it. Does it have these characteristics?

  • No Roots: Unlike pond weeds with traditional leaves and well-established root systems, chara is a gray-green branched multicellular algae that lacks flowers, true leaves and roots. Instead, it has six to 16 leaf-like branchlets that grow in spirals around the stem.
  • Distinct Odor: Next, smell it. Does it have a skunky, musty, garlicky-type smell? If so, it’s probably chara. Simply walking close to or around your pond will tell you right away if you have a chara problem, particularly late in the pond season.
  • Crunchy Texture: When you rub the plant between your fingers, what does it feel like? Chara has a crunchy or gritty-type texture that’s different than pond weeds.
  • Quickly Disintegrates: Finally, when you leave it on the dock, what happens to it after a few hours? If it almost disintegrates after a few hours, you’ve got chara.

Treating Chara

Once you determine it’s chara and not a pond weed, you’ll need to treat it with an algaecide rather than an herbicide. We prefer to use Pond Logic® Algae Defense® Algaecide, a fast-acting liquid formula, but use Cutrine®-Plus Granular as for chara growing in water deeper than 3 feet.

About two weeks after treating the chara, we suggest to use a Pond Rake to rake out as much as you can Doing this will help you gain control relatively quickly. (Important tip: Do not rake out chara before treating it because it will spread).

Pond Talk: What kinds of problems do you have with pond weeds or algae?

Eliminate Bottom Growing Chara - Cutrine®-Plus Granular

Is it too cold to treat my algae blooms? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Is it too cold to treat my algae blooms?

Q: Is it too cold to treat my algae blooms?

Ashley – Cross Junction, VA

A: The bane of pond keepers, algae—be it planktonic pea soup, filamentous pond scum or bottom-dwelling chara—can be treated any time of year, as long as the water temperature in your pond or lake is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

But what’s so special about the magical 60-degree temp?

Though algae will grow at temperatures lower than that, the chemicals in both Pond Logic® Algae Defense & Cide-Kick Combo and Applied Biochemists Cutrine®-Plus Granular Algaecide that are used to control suspended, floating and bottom-of-the-pond algae require warmer water temperatures to work properly.

If you’re unsure of your lake’s water temperature, use a pond thermometer, like the Pond Logic® Floating Pond Thermometer, to get a fast and accurate reading.

Here are three more tips for treating fall algae blooms:

1. Heavier doses may be required: When treating well-established algae or algae that has grown later in the season, you may need to up your dosage rates to get the same effect as when treating fresh algae or algae that has sprung up in the spring. Read the product’s label for safe usage guidelines.

2. Use the right product: Pond Logic® Algae Defense & Cide-Kick Combo will take a serious toll on planktonic, filamentous and chara growth, but Applied Biochemists Cutrine®-Plus Granular Algaecide works especially well on chara. Well-established chara will build up a chalky deposit, which gives it super powers against chemical treatments. But the Cutrine-Plus granules sink to the bottom of the pond and dissipate right where that nuisance algae resides.

3. Watch the weather: The best time to apply Algae Defense and Cutrine-Plus Granular is in the morning on a calm, sunny day. For the Algae Defense, simply mix with water and spray with a pressurized sprayer; for the Cutrine-Plus Granular, broadcast the granules in the area that needs to be treated.

Once the water temperature dips below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re out of luck when it comes to treating algae blooms. But you can revel in the fact that they will slow down when the water reaches 50 degrees or so—only to emerge again come spring!

Pond Talk: What do you do to treat fall algae blooms in your pond or lake?

Pond Logic® Algae Defense® - Quickly Eliminate Pond Algae

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 Pond Logic® 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?

Killing Algae – Liquid v.s. Granular – Pond & Lake Q & A

Killing Algae - Liquid v.s. Granular

Killing Algae – Liquid v.s. Granular

Those of you with at least a couple years of ponding under your belt know that beautiful summer sunshine comes as a package deal with algae and green water. While it can be painful to look at for even a couple days, when your pond is being properly maintained it can be a quick and simple process to whip your pond back into shape.

Before you select which type of algaecide you want to use you will want to identify what type of algae you have. Algae typically come in 3 great flavors, Planktonic (green water), Filamentous (floating mats or string algae), and Chara (a smelly bottom growing plant-like algae). If you are not too sure on which type you have or you think you may have a submerged weed instead, take a look at our Weed ID Guide.

It is important to know what type of algae you are dealing with because it will help you select the proper algaecide for the job. Liquid algaecides like Algae Defense are best used to contact spray floating algae mats, planktonic algae outbreaks, or to treat algae submerged in relatively shallow water usually 3 feet deep or shallower. Liquid algaecides are mixed with water and a Surfactant which is then applied using a Tank Sprayer. When dealing with bottom growing algae in greater depths you will want to use a granular algaecide like Cutrine Plus Granular or Hydrothol 191 Granular. Granular applications are great for getting rid of Chara and, by using a Hand Spreader, are very easy to apply. If you have Koi, Trout, or Goldfish in your pond or lake you will want to use Hydrothol 191 as it is not copper based. You can also benefit from the fact that Hydrothol works not only on weeds by on a variety of submerged weeds as well.

While both liquid and granular algaecides are great for killing existing algae, they will not prevent future growth. Properly maintaining your pond using Dye, Beneficial Bacteria, or Subsurface Aeration will help keep your pond healthy and reduce the chances of algae in the first place. Remember to always read product labels before doing any treatment.

Pond Talk: How successful has your fight with algae been?

Kill Algae Fast!

How do I control floating and bottom-growing algae in my lake? – Pond & Lake Q & A

No Algae Here!

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: How do I control floating and bottom-growing algae in my lake? – Tom in New York

A: Whether it’s floating or submerged, algae can turn a lake into a green mess in no time. It’s unsightly, it’s sometimes stinky and in extreme cases, it can cause a fish kill. The good news is that algae can be controlled no matter what time of year. It starts with controlling the population and ends with a long-term management plan.

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand the difference between algae and weeds. The term “algae” refers to a wide range of single and multi-celled organisms that live in the water and metabolize carbon dioxide into oxygen via photosynthesis, just like plants. They differ from plants or weeds in that they don’t have true leaves, roots or stems.

In lakes and ponds, the most common varieties of algae include: Green floating algae that creates a “pea soup” appearance; Chara or Stonewort, which are a bottom-growing, seaweed-looking type that can be mistaken for weeds, and string or filamentous algae, which are actually long strings of algae connected together.

Sometimes, pond and lake owners may mistake duckweed for floating algae, but if you look very closely, you’ll find that it’s actually duckweed or watermeal. Check out this blog entry to learn more about controlling this invasive weed.

Population Check

If your pond is coated in pea soup or the bottom is carpeted in Chara or string algae, you can knock back the population with a chemical herbicide like Algae Defense®. It provides quick results and it’s formulated to get a pond under control – especially during the hot summer months. Do not use if your pond or lake is stocked with koi or goldfish. If your pond has trout, check your carbonate hardness with a water hardness test kit, like the Laguna® Quick Dip Multi-Test Strips, and make sure the carbonate hardness is above 50 parts per million (ppm) before using Algae Defense®.

Long-Term Strategy

Algae Defense® by Pond Logic® will solve a crisis, but to keep your pond or lake looking clean and clear, you’ll need to be proactive and develop a plan to manage the algae. The most successful approach centers on cutting off the algae’s food supply – nutrients.

Nutrients can come from a wide variety of sources, like grass clippings, twigs, trees, fish waste, yard and farm fertilizers and runoff. As these nutrients break down, they produce ammonia, which triggers the nitrogen cycle. Nitrifying bacteria surround the ammonia, turning it into nitrites and then into nitrates (nutrients) – which then feed the algae.

So, how do you reduce the nutrients in your pond?
Try these tips:

  • Buffer before fertilizing: To prevent inadvertently fertilizing the algae, leave a buffer area around the pond. You can also try using organic or low-phosphorus fertilizers.
  • Aerate, aerate, aerate: Because that muck at the bottom of the pond feeds the algae, you should prevent the buildup with proper aeration.
  • Reduce the muck: Use natural bacteria like MuckAway™ by Pond Logic® to breakdown up to 5-inches of organic muck per year. You can also rake your pond using a Pond & Beach Rake to remove dead vegetation, leaves and other organics that will eventually decompose on the bottom.
  • Reduce sunlight: Like all photosynthetic organisms, algae requires sunlight to thrive. Adding pond dye can help provide shade. If possible, consider adding some non-invasive aquatic plants to your pond. The plants, which also consume nitrates, will also be a source of competition for food.
  • Add beneficial bacteria: You may also consider adding some additional beneficial bacteria, like PondClear™ by Pond Logic®, to your pond or lake. The bacteria gobble through nitrates, breaking down fish waste, leaves and other organics that accumulate in the pond, naturally improving the water clarity.
  • That green gunk can be controlled in your pond or lake. It just takes a little planning and some proactive management. When you see the results, it’ll be worth it!

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

    Aquatic Weed ID: Chara Versus Pondweeds – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Picture of Chara, a Form of Algae.

    Pond & Lake Q & A

    Q: I have mats of pondweeds in the bottom of my pond. I used Pondweed Defense to treat it, but it seems to be unharmed by it? What am I doing wrong? If there another herbicide I am supposed to use? – Ted of Michigan

    A: I remember when I first began treating ponds the importance of being able to identify what I was treating was vital. For example, after talking with Ted we discovered that what he had in his pond wasn’t a pondweed at all , it was actually a form of algae called chara. Chara, (refer to picture on the left), mimics true plants with its shape and form. At times, its hard to tell the difference between chara and pondweeds by just their physical appearances.

    Aquatic Weed Identification: Chara Vs. Pondweeds
    Even though there are times when it may be difficult to tell the difference between chara and pondweeds there are a few distinct qualities that chara has that will help you set them apart from pondweeds.

    1. Skunky Smell: Chara has an awful musky smell. Simply walking close to or around your pond will tell you right away if you have a chara problem or not.
    2. Easy to Remove: Chara is not as rooted into the pond as pondweeds are and is extremely easy to pull out from the water.
    3. Gritty Texture: Diagnose chara by pulling some out and rubbing it in between your fingers. Chara has a gritty feel to the touch.

    Treating for Chara: When treating for chara, since it is a form of algae, you need to use an algaecide. We prefer to use Algae Defense Algaecide, but you can also use Cutrine-Plus Granular as well. Approximately two weeks after treating the chara we sugget to use a Pond & Beach Rake to rake out as much as you can (Note: DO NOT rake out chara before treating it, it will spread). Doing this will help you gain control relatively quickly.

    WE CAN INDENTIFY WEEDS/ALGAE FOR YOU!: If you are ever unsure of what you have, just go ahead and send us a sample and we can diagnose it for you. Its FREE. You can either e-mail us a picture of mail the sample to us. See below for instructions.

    E-mail: E-mail us pictures at mrwig@thepondguy.com

    Or

    Mail: Mail weed samples to: The Pond Guy, ATTN: Weed Sample, 6135 King Road, Marine City, MI 48039. When mailing just be sure to ship priority or exprss shipping to ensure the sample arrives quickly and fresh. Also, please wrap samples with a DRY paper towel and place in a plastic bag.

    POND TALK: Have any of you had trouble identifying pondweeds or algae? Please comment and let us know how we can help.

    How Do I Treat for Chara/Algae? – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Picture of a bed of chara/algae

    Pond & Lake Q & A

    Q: How do I get rid of a chara infestation?
    – Dave of Ohio

    A: During the early beginnings of spring have you ever took that first stroll around the pond and discovered an awful musky smell that filled the air? That smell is chara, and it seems to take off like a wildfire during the early spring. Did you know that if you rake it out before treating it, you risk spreading it even more! So what do you do? The proper way to get rid of chara is the following:

    First: Treat the chara using an algaecide
    Since chara is a form of algae, using an algaecide such as Algae Defense or Hydrothol is a great way to treat for the chara. Algae Defense is best used
    when there are no koi, goldfish or trout in the pond. All other fish are fine. Also there are no water use restrictions with Algae Defense. If your pond does contain koi, goldfish or trout then using Hydrothol is the way to go. The only downside with Hydrothol are its water use restrictions. Read
    more about those restrictions here
    .

    Second: Wait 10 to 14 Days
    The important step here is the wait the 10 to 14 days to make sure the chara has died from the algaecide treatment. Like I mentioned eariler, if you rake while the chara is still alive, it can spread.

    Third & Final: Rake out the chara
    Use the Airmax Pond & Beach Rake to rake out the chara from the pond. The Pond & Beach Rake includes a 25′ rope so you can throw the rake out into the pond and tug it in. I would rake the same area 2 or 3 times to make sure you removed all of the chara. Chara, fortunately is very easy to rake off of the bottom.

    The other hidden benefit of raking chara, is the removal of the black muck on the bottom of the pond. This muck is a nutrient source for weeds and algae so removing it will help you that much more at maintaining the pond. Once finished with the raking, using MuckAway Pellets will help breakdown any future muck that may accumulate.

    Properly Getting Rid of Chara (Algae) – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Picture of chara, an erected form of algae.

    Q: I have been treating for Algae/Chara about every two months throughout the summer although with fall approaching (and cooler temperatures) should I still be treating it or should I wait until spring? – Paul of Michigan

    A: In general we suggest that you wait until water temperatures are above 50°F: Although the real answer is that you can treat Algae/Chara anytime it is actively growing. In most cases (in the Midwest) you can start treating algae as early as March or April and continue treatment through the month of October.

    Treating for Algae/Chara: Chara, although it looks like a plant is actually just an erect from of Algae.

    When treating for Chara and/or floating algae always take in to consideration the following:

    • Benefits of Chara: Chara unlike planktonic and floating algae is not always an eyesore and can benefit your pond in many ways such as: naturally filtering the water, providing fish habitat, and preventing more aggressive plant grow. Chara can be selectively treated in swimming and fishing areas in larger bodies of water.
    • Treatment Area: Only treat 1/3 of your pond at a time, waiting 7-10 days between treatments to minimize oxygen depletion caused by rotting vegetation.
    • What Product Works Best: In almost every case we would suggest using liquid Algae Defense due to its cost and effectiveness. Although if your pond contains Trout, Koi or Goldfish you must test for hardness before any treatments. If the water hardness is not above 50ppm then Hydrothol 191 should be used to reduce the chance of a fish kill.
    • The Best Time of Day For Treatment: Treat early on a calm sunny day; this will give you optimal conditions for your treatments to work.

    Preventive Tips:

    • Removing and/or raking dead Algae and Chara after a treatment (wait 5-7 days) can help prevent it from coming back in the future by removing excess nutrients.
    • Always consider a proactive solution over a reactive one when possible consider aeration, natural bacteria and other alternatives for a long-term solution to your problems.

    Weed ID – The Difference Between Naiad & Chara (Algae) – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Picture of Chara, a form of algae.

    Q: I have a weed growing off the bottom of my pond. After looking at your catalog I think it is naiad. I treated my pond with WhiteCap and nothing seems to happen. I have followed the instructions on the label. What am I doing wrong? – Barbara of Indiana

    A: This isn’t the first time I have had this question. To answer this we must first be sure what you are treating is naiad. After reviewing the pictures you have sent me I can see why the WhiteCap is not working…

    The plant you are trying to treat is not naiad it actually is Chara which is an algae. WhiteCap is excellent for pondweeds although it will not touch chara. To your defense many people mistake naiad for chara. The good news is chara is much less expensive to get rid of! Algae Defense is very effective on chara or any species of algae.

    For those of you identifying pondweeds and think you may have chara too. Chara is sometimes also referred to musk grass due to its distinctive musky odor. Chara also has a gritty feel and can become almost crispy due to calcium buildup, especially when growing in hard water. Chara also does not have a true root system allowing it to me removed fairly easily in clumps.

    Indentifying Naiad:
    Naiad is very leafy. Leafs are arranged oppositely of one another or in whorls of three on the plant’s stem. If you determine you have Naiad use
    PondWeed Defense or WhiteCap.

    Please Note: If your pond contains koi or trout with a hardness level less then 50 (hardness test kit link) we highly suggest using Hydrothol 191 instead of Algae Defense or Pondweed Defense. Koi and trout are very sensitive to any copper based products.

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