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My pond was a mess, so I drained and refilled it. Now I have algae. What do I do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My pond was a mess, so I drained and refilled it. Now I have algae. What do I do?

Q: My pond was a mess, so I drained and refilled it. Now I have algae. What do I do?

Beth – Benton, AR

A: Sometimes it’s just easier to start from scratch – particularly if you have a disaster in your pond.

A complete water change rids your water feature of excess organic waste, clears up murky water (briefly, as you’ve discovered) and gives you a chance to start over with a clean slate. Those are some worthy benefits!

The urge to purge, however, has its drawbacks. If you’ve completely drained the water from your pond and scrubbed everything clean, you’ve also stripped a lot of the beneficial bacteria that was working to help clean the pond in the first place! The algae that’s growing now is most likely due to fish waste and a lack of mature filtration.

To return your pond to its crystal-clear state, here’s what we recommend.

  1. Decide how bad it really is: Believe it or not, some algae in your pond is natural and beneficial as it helps filter the water. Make sure your expectations are in line with the reality of having a pond, and then let the pond take its natural course with a little help from you. But be patient! The Nitrogen Cycle will eventually help clear things up naturally – but it takes time. If your water quality begins to suffer a few weeks in, think about doing a partial water change and/or following these additional suggestions.
  2. Treat if necessary: If the algae is becoming excessive, treat the algae growth with an algaecide in the morning or evening when water temperatures are cooler. In addition, make sure you have adequate aeration to ensure oxygen levels stay high for your finned friends.
  3. Seed Your Filter Media: To kick-start the regrowth and reproduction of beneficial bacteria in your pond, add some DefensePAC® to your pond and filter. The package contains Nature’s Defense®, which instantly begins breaking down dead organics in the pond; Clarity Defense®, which helps clear debris suspended in the water column; and Muck Defense®, which attacks buildup on the liner, rocks and gravel.
  4. Condition the water: When you refill your pond with water, be sure to use Stress Reducer PLUS to condition the water and reduce fish stress. It helps your fish form a beneficial slime coat that’s lost from stress or handling, and it also makes tap water safe by working to remove chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals.
  5. Learn from the situation: Instead of letting your pond fall into its “mess” state again, figure out why it wound up in that situation in the first place. Are there too many fish living in your pond? Is your filter too small for your pond’s volume and fish load? Do you need more plants growing in and filtering the water? Does your pond receive too much sun or rain runoff? Dig down to the root cause of the problem and correct it!

In the future, if you find your pond’s water quality waning, consider doing a partial water change instead of a complete water change. A little fresh water will go far to clear things up without having to start completely over!

Pond Talk: Have you ever had to restart your pond from scratch?

Immediately Remove String Algae - CrystalClear® AlgaeOff®

What can I do to prevent string algae from growing in the winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: What can I do to prevent string algae from growing in the winter?

Q: What can I do to prevent string algae from growing in the winter?

Laura – Hattiesburg, MS

A: Even in the cold of winter, string algae can grow in your water garden. All that green nuisance needs to thrive is the right amount of nutrients and sunlight. So what can you do to prevent it? You have three options in your pond management toolbox: Seasonal Defense, barley straw extract, and a three-in-one pond tool.

Boost Your Bacteria

First of all, you’ll need to control the nutrients – or the food that the algae eat – in your pond. Because the beneficial bacteria that break down those nutrients go dormant in the winter, now’s the time to add some Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense® (as long as your pond isn’t frozen over, of course). It contains bacteria that prefer cooler temperatures. They’ll accelerate the decomposition of leaves, scum and sediment that feed algae, reducing its growth to a minimum.

Add Barley Straw

If you have a small water garden, like a koi pond that’s less than 10,000 gallons, Pond Logic® Barley Extract provides an all-natural solution for maintaining clean, clear water throughout the winter. Available in bales, pellets and as an extract, it works by releasing compounds that improve water clarity, leaving you a clean and healthy pond. Read more about how barley extract works here. The extract form is easy to use: Pour directly into the water and repeat every few weeks.

Manually Remove It

Should string algae form, you can manually remove it by wrapping it around an algae brush, like the one included in the The Pond Guy® 3-in-1 Interchangeable Pond Tool, and yanking it out of the water. The telescoping handle will add 5 feet to your reach, allowing you to reach those hard-to-access patches of weeds.

Unfortunately, if ice is covering your pond, there’s not much you can do to remove that string algae. Plan on removing it during your spring clean-out process. The sun will return soon enough!

Pond Talk: How do you prevent string algae from growing in the winter?

Naturally Clear Pond Water - Pond Logic® Barley Extract

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)

Are there different steps for treating a pondless waterfall versus a pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Are there different steps for treating a pondless waterfall versus a pond?

Q: Are there different steps for treating a pondless waterfall versus a pond?

Debbie – Johnston, RI

A: Easy care is one of the most attractive features of a pondless waterfall, particularly for those who have a penchant for ponds but no time to perform routine maintenance on them. You get all the benefits of a water feature—the sound of running water, the added aesthetics in your garden space, even the plants and wildlife that it attracts—but you don’t have to deal with those pesky seasonal chores.

As ideal as they are, pondless water features do require some attention. Here are three simple steps to keep your waterfall looking its best:

1. Keep Your Water Clean and Clear

With no body of water, your pondless feature may not require you to remove muck, fish waste, decomposing leaves or other collected pollutants, but you still should keep the water looking clean and clear. Plan to periodically add some beneficial bacteria, like those found in Liquid Clear™, to gobble through any fine debris that may discolor your water or feed algae blooms.

2. Remove Buildup from Your Rocks

Rocks and other surfaces in your pondless waterfall will no doubt become breeding grounds for string algae and other debris, so take time to remove any buildup with an algaecide, like Algae-Off® String Algae Remover or Oxy-Lift™ Defense®. These fast-acting solutions use the power of oxygen to lift and wash away accumulated algae and muck. For best results, plan to turn off your system’s pump to ensure the powder contacts every surface, restarting it after the product has time to work.

3. Check Your Water Levels

Because the water basin is hidden, you can’t always see how much water there actually is in your pondless waterfall. To prevent your pump from drying up, make sure you periodically check the reservoir — or, better yet, add an auto-fill valve, like the PondBuilder™ Automatic Water Fill Kit, that will refill any water lost to splashing or evaporation. It’s easy to install and can be adapted to any garden hose, ½-inch irrigation line or vinyl tubing.

If things have really headed south, try performing a partial or complete water change along with using some beneficial bacteria. They will get you—and your pondless waterfall—back on track and ready for summer enjoyment.

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite thing about your pondless waterfall or water feature?

Quickly Eliminate String Algae - CrystalClear® Algae-Off®

My stream is already accumulating algae! Is there anything I can use to help clean it up? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My stream is already accumulating algae! Is there anything I can use to help clean it up?

Q: My stream is already accumulating algae! Is there anything I can use to help clean it up?

Kate – Grove City, OH

A: Yep: It’s algae time! As the spring sunshine melts away ice and snow, the sun’s warmth and light reach underwater to give algae growth a little nudge along. When combined with all the extra leaves (also known as algae food!) that have blown in on windy days and a filtration system that isn’t up to snuff with bacteria, they create a perfect environment for algae accumulation.

So how do you get rid of it when water temps are too cold for bacteria and traditional algaecides?

Step 1: Spring Cleaning

If you haven’t already, consider doing a spring cleanout and starting fresh. Check out this blog post for step-by-step instructions for preparing for and giving your pond a thorough spring cleaning. If you’ve already gotten dirty this season, however, and have found that the algae is unwilling to give up its happy home, move on to step 2.

Step 2: Oxy-Lift™ Defense® to the Rescue

For controlling stubborn algae, pull out your Oxy-Lift™ Defense® pond cleaner. The product’s ingredients have no temperature restrictions, so you don’t have to wait for warmer weather to treat the green nuisance. Simply turn off your stream and, while the algae-covered rocks are still wet, sprinkle on the Oxy-Lift™ powder. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Before long, you’ll see the algae bubble and break free from the rock. Then turn the stream back on, and use a hand net to scoop out the debris or allow your filter to catch it.

Of course, don’t forget to stick to the basics—particularly as pond season kicks off! Keep your filter running and add the natural bacteria once temperatures are suitable to keep algae growth under control.

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite spring cleaning tool to use in the water garden?

Lift Debris Away In Seconds - Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense®

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?

Does Having Too Many Koi Cause String Algae? – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of String Algae.

 

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: I have a bad case of string algae in my water garden and someone told me it was because I had too many fish. I have an approximately 1,000 gallon water garden and around 40 koi 6″ long in it. Is that really too many? If so, how many should I have? – Marco of Texas

A: You can ask anyone here at The Pond Guy; usually the first question we ask when someone says they have a bad algae problem is, “How many fish do you have?”, followed by, “What size water garden do you have?”. 9 out 10 times, there are way too many fish in the water garden. So why does having that many fish cause algae? Let me explain.

Sunlight + Food Source = Algae: Algae really only needs two things to grow, sunlight and a food source. The food source can come from many sources but fish waste is a major contributor. This means the more fish you have, the more waste, the more algae. Make sense?

Finding a Balance: When you put fish into your water garden always consider the future. Small fish become big fish and fish are very romantic creatures. Let’s say you purchased 20 koi at around 3″ each. Your pond may be able
to handle the fish load for a few seasons then all things start to change. As time went by, your fish have grown and maybe even started a family. As nature takes its course, your pond starts to pay the price and water quality becomes an issue. Take into consideration that 40 1″ fish produce the waste of just one 12″ fish. So even though you pond may have been able to handle the fish load in the past, you must consider that your fish load or fish waste grows expotentially every year.

Koi vs. Goldfish: I know that when you’re shopping for fish koi are more expensive and sometimes the goldfish look really nice too. I feel the same way myself at times. Just keep in mind that goldfish can reproduce up to 6 times a year where koi only reproduce once a year.

Fish Tips: Goldfish can grow up to 18” long and live up to 20 years, where as a koi can grow up to 36” long and live over 200 years! One famous scarlet koi, named “Hanako” (c. 1751 – July 7, 1977) was owned by several individuals, the last of which was Dr. Komei Koshihara. Hanako was reportedly 226 years old upon her death. Her age was determined by removing one of her scales and  examining it extensively in 1966. She is (to date) the longest-lived koi fish ever recorded (wikipedia).

POND TALK: How many fish do you have in your water garden?

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