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I’m tired of fighting algae. Will a UV take care of all the algae growth? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I’m tired of fighting algae. Will a UV take care of all the algae growth?

Q: I’m tired of fighting algae. Will a UV take care of all the algae growth?

Cherice – Everett, GA

A: Who isn’t tired of battling algae!

Caused by excess fish waste and dead organics from leaves or previous algae blooms combined with excessive spring- and summertime sunlight, all that garish green growth looks horrible, ruins your water quality, and creates a headache for you and your fish.

Is an ultraviolet clarifier, like The Pond Guy® PowerUV™ Clarifiers or the AllClear™ PLUS Pressurized Filter the answer? It depends on the type of algae you’re trying to destroy.

Know Your Algae

The algae that forms in your pond comes in two basic flavors: planktonic and filamentous.

  • Planktonic algae, the source of pea soup 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 (string) algae are single-celled plants that form long, visible chain, threads or filaments. These threads, which start growing along the bottom of the pond 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.

UV clarifiers work by destroying the ultrafine planktonic algae – but, unfortunately, they do nothing to combat the filamentous algae. You’ll need a different strategy for the stringy stuff.

Battling Planktonic Algae

So how does ultraviolet light fight planktonic algae? When the algae cells are exposed to the bulb’s ultraviolet rays, radiation destroys the plants’ cellular walls. As a result, the tiny particles of dead algae clump together, and those clumps are then removed by your mechanical filtration system.

For the UV clarifier to work properly, however, follow these guidelines:

  • Replace bulbs yearly. Worn-out bulbs – even if they still light up – may not be as effective at controlling green water.
  • Watch your flow rate. Pushing water past the UV too fast can damage the unit and not allow enough contact time with the UV bulb for it to be effective.
  • Don’t flow too slow. Running a UV at too slow of a flow will act as a sterilizer and may also have a negative affect on natural bacteria meant to help decompose dead organics and fish waste.

Finding Balance

If you have an algae problem, be it planktonic or filamentous, it indicates your pond is out of balance. An ultraviolet clarifier should actually be one of your last tactics! Add some beneficial bacteria from the Pond Logic® DefensePAC® Pond Care Package to help reduce the amount of organics in your pond. Start aerating the water. Consider using pond dye. If you have a thriving fish population, think about finding a new home for them (but don’t release them into the wild!). Manage the nutrients, sunlight and oxygen levels, and your algae proliferation should naturally level out on its own.

Pond Talk: How dependent are you on your ultraviolet clarifier?

Eliminate Green Water - The Pond Guy® PowerUV™

How often should I be changing my UV bulb? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How often should I be changing my UV bulb?

Q: How often should I be changing my UV bulb?

Deborah – Providence Forge, VA

A: Your UV bulb is an important component of your pond’s filtration system. The bulb’s ultraviolet rays destroy the ultra-fine planktonic algae that cause green water by destroying the plant’s cellular walls. The tiny dead algae particles are then removed by your mechanical filtration system, leaving behind clean, clear water.

UV Ready

For maximum effectiveness, you should change your UV bulb at least once a year, such as when you perform your pond’s annual spring cleanout. If you’ve recently changed your bulb and your water is still turning pea soup green, you might need to simply clean off debris that has built up on the bulb itself.

Whether you have a standalone UV clarifier, like the PowerUV™ or one that’s part of a filtration system, like our ClearSolution™, use a soft cloth when cleaning or changing the bulb rather than using your bare hands. The oils on your skin can actually shorten the lifespan of your bulb.

Unfortunately, a UV clarifier does not affect string algae at all, so you’ll need to use AlgaeOff™ or AlgaeFix® to rid your pond of it. But if your pond turns green from planktonic algae every year from full sun exposure or too many fish, a UV clarifier is an excellent solution.

Preventing Algae Growth

Though UV bulbs do a great job with green water, an even better solution is to prevent algae growth in the first place. Planktonic algae flourishes in ponds that have nutrient-rich water—meaning water that has lots of fish waste, leftover fish food, decomposing plant material and even fertilizer from your lawn.

You can tamp that green growth down by reducing the number of fish in your pond, minimizing the amount of food you feed them and cleaning up the waste they produce, as well as regularly removing the built-up detritus.

Consider using the Pond Logic® DefensePAC®, which uses beneficial bacteria to improve water quality throughout your water column, eliminate muck and built-up debris, and enhance fish health. With quick and easy application, you’ll see noticeable results in no time.

Pond Talk: Besides using a UV bulb, what do you do to reduce or eliminate planktonic algae in your pond?

Replace Your UV Bulb Yearly - Replacement UV Bulbs

When should I stop treating algae? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: When should I stop treating algae?

Q: When should I stop treating algae?

Rich – Bartlesville, OK

A: It’s not so much a matter of when as it is what temperature your water is.

In theory, with the right equipment, algae can be managed all year-long. But if you want to treat it with chemicals, the water temperature in your lake needs to above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The active ingredients in Pond Logic® Algae Defense® that are used to control suspended, floating and bottom-of-the-pond algae require warmer water temperatures to work properly.

So when your water temperature is below 60°F, you’re out of luck for using chemical treatments.

Before cooler temperatures chill your water this fall, give any planktonic algae, filamentous algae or chara growing in your pond a dose of Algae Defense®. The best time to apply the fast-acting formula is in the morning on a calm, sunny day. Simply mix with water and spray directly onto algae with a pressurized sprayer. Once the green stuff is dead, don’t forget to remove it with the Pond & Beach Rake to prevent an accumulation of dead algae and muck.

So what do you do if you’re hosting a Halloween party but the water temperature in your pond—filled with spooky, pea green masses—is lower than 60°F? Try clearing things up with The Pond Guy® PondSkim™. Measuring 5 feet wide and constructed with a super tough screen, the skimmer floats on the water surface and collects floating algae as you pull it along with your boat. Problem solved!

Pond Talk: How do you manage late-season algae blooms in your pond or lake?

Quickly Kill Late Season Algae - Pond Logic(r) Algae Defense(r)

Controlling Pea-Green Algae – Water Garden Q & A

Q: I have a pea-green algae problem. What is the quickest, safest way to overcome this problem? -Ruth of Starkville, MS

A: When dealing with planktonic algae or “pea-green algae”, it cannot be simply eliminated using a product like AlgaeFix®. AlgaeFix works great on string algae or other patches of free-floating algae, but with planktonic algae, there is so much that you run the risk of depleting oxygen levels to a point that is unsafe for fish. One of the best ways to get rid of this type of algae is through the use of a UV Filter. As the planktonic algae passes throught the ultraviolet light, it will die. UV lights work so well that within just a few days your water will be crystal clear.

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