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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®

My Koi & Goldfish Were Gasping for Air After I Treated for Algae. What Went Wrong? – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of String Algae of a Water Garden.

Q: My water garden looked like pea soup so I treated it with AlgaeFix. The product worked great although it took its toll on my fish. My koi and goldfish began gasping at the surface. I immediately did a water change and only lost one small goldfish. I have used AlgaeFix for years and never had this problem. What went wrong? – Lisa of Georgia

A: Oxygen. Oxygen. Oxygen. You must be careful when treating for algae, especially pea green water or planktonic algae. AlgaeFix® along with most algaecides on the market work very quickly. When the algae die, they begin to decompose immediately, robbing oxygen from your fish.

How to reduce your chance of fish loss:

#1 – Proper Aeration:Make sure you have an abundance of aeration before you treat for algae. Waterfalls, spitters and fountains all provide aeration. Although, the best source of aeration is generally an aeration system.

#2 – If treating for string algae, remove as much by hand as possible before any treatments. In the case of Lisa’s pea green water, I would have recommend that she do a 10-20% water change approximately 24 hours before her application.

#3 – Get to the root of your problems: Generally ,excessive algae blooms are caused by one or more realistically, a combination of the following: poor filtration, TOO MANY FISH or not enough aquatic plants.

#4 – Use natural products to provide clear water: Although chemicals, when used properly, are a helpful tool they should not be your only solution. For a healthy eco-system and more consistent clear water, turn to a natural remedy such as the DefensePAC® and/ or Barley Straw Extract.

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