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Does the type of algae and where it’s growing determine what chemical is needed? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Does the type of algae and where it’s growing determine what chemical is needed?

Q: Does the type of algae and where it’s growing determine what chemical is needed?

Pete – Addison, AL

A: When battling algae, you have the upper hand if you understand the enemy. What type of algae is it? How does it behave? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Before we get in to how to treat the green menace, let’s discuss the different varieties and where they live in an aquatic ecosystem.

Algae Explained

In a large pond or lake planktonic algae, filamentous algae and chara, are the most common types of algae you’ll come across.

  • 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 can shade the pond’s bottom, preventing subsurface nuisance plants from growing.
  • Filamentous algae are 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.
  • Chara is a gray-green branched multicellular algae that has 6 to 16 leaf-like branchlets that grow in spirals around the stem. Though bottom-growing chara superficially resembles terrestrial plants, it lacks flowers, true leaves and roots. It has a skunky, musty, garlicky-type smell and has a crunchy- or grit-type texture, thanks to calcium carbonate deposits on its surface.

In general, algae will grow just about anywhere sun penetrates the pond. Surprisingly, algae has some benefits: The tiny plants feed fish and make great homes for micro- and macro-invertebrates like bugs and worms. But algae has its definite drawbacks. Besides being unsightly and odorous, uncontrolled blooms can cause oxygen depletions, affect fish health and, in extreme circumstances, cause fish to die.

Vanquishing the Menace

The key to successfully treating algae – whether planktonic, filamentous or chara – is to make the most contact between it and the algaecide. Rather than dumping the chemical into one place in the pond, which will only kill algae in that small area, it needs to be evenly dispersed.

Floating mats of filamentous algae and suspended planktonic algae are best treated with liquid mixtures, like Algae Defense® and Clipper™, that are sprayed directly over the area with a pond sprayer. To treat extra thick mats, stick the top of the sprayer into the mat itself to get the chemical to the deeper portion of the problem.

For bottom-growing algae, use granular algaecide, like Cutrine®-Plus Granular and Hydrothol, and distribute it with a granular spreader. It’s the preferred choice because the granules will sink over the algae bed and make maximum contact with it.

Follow up by raking out any decaying or dead debris with the Pond & Beach Rake, setting up an aeration system and adding natural bacteria, such as the types found in ClearPAC® PLUS Pond Care Package.

Pond Talk: How much time do you spend battling algae in your pond or lake?

Spray Directly Onto Algae Blooms - Pond Logic® Algae Defense®

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

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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