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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 species of algae and where you are likely to find them 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®

We want to swim in our pond, but as soon as we step in, it is muck and smells. Help! | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We want to swim in our pond, but as soon as we step in, it is muck and smells. Help!

Q: We want to swim in our pond, but as soon as we step in, it is muck and smells. Help!

Steve – McDermott, OH

A: Yuck. In some luxe-minded circles, mud baths are all the rage – but muck baths aren’t, particularly when they’re paired with putrid, off-putting odors. What causes all that slimy, stinky stuff, and how can you get it under control before swimsuit season?

Making Muck

Muck, and its associated smell, is an all-natural byproduct of the breakdown of organic debris, like leaves, dead algae and disintegrating plants, in your pond. Chances are, your pond has been unused for a long period of time, or you get a lot of stuff floating or falling into your pond. All that material eventually builds up, breaks down and begins to decompose, forming muck and gases.

When you tiptoe into your pond and all that slimy muck squishes between your toes, you’re feeling the accumulation of this decaying material – and smelling the now-released stinky gases that were trapped in the debris. Not a fun experience.

Dealing with Detritus

Unless you want to launch your own luxury muck bath spa (it could be next big thing, after all!), you should definitely plan to get rid of all that detritus and its resulting odor. Here’s a three-step solution that can help:

  1. Add Natural Bacteria: If the water temperatures in your pond are above 50°F, add some Pond Logic® MuckAway™. The formula’s beneficial bacteria will help break down the decaying muck on the pond bottom. When used as directed, MuckAway™ can eat through 2 inches of muck per month!
  2. Add Aeration: When the weather allows, install an aeration system and crank it on. The Airmax® Aeration System product line includes aerators suited for any size pond – from shallow water bodies to ponds up to 6 acres. They each include diffusers, a compressor, cabinet, airline and free mapping service that takes the guesswork out of diffuser placement.
  3. Add Pond Maintenance: Don’t forget to add some pond maintenance chores to you to-do list. Regularly rake out dead and dying organic material. Keep plants trimmed and pond weeds managed. Do what you can to prevent leaves and debris from blowing into the water.

By using beneficial bacteria, adding aeration and preventing decomposing debris, you’ll be well on your way to a sludge-free pond that’s perfect for swimming and summer fun.

Pond Talk: Have you de-mucked your pond? Tell us your success stories!

Eliminate Noxious Pond Odors - Pond Logic® MuckAway™

When I start my aeration system up do I need to turn it on for only a few hours a day like when it was installed? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: When I start my aeration system up do I need to turn it on for only a few hours a day like when it was installed?

Q: When I start my aeration system up do I need to turn it on for only a few hours a day like when it was installed?

Chris – Alpena, MI

A: Yes, gradually starting up your system for the season will avoid any quick turnover in your pond. Ideally, your aeration system should run all year long. By running it all year long, this will prevent possible winter fish kills. But if you shut your aeration system down in the winter for recreational purposes, you will want to start it back up when the ice starts melting off your pond. In addition to gradual start-up follow the steps below to prepare your system.

  1. Re-level Your Cabinet: Take your cabinet and system back outside and get it on level ground again.
  2. Change Your Air Filter: Your air filter, which prevents debris from entering your air compressor, can be cleaned periodically to remove light debris – but it should be replaced every three to six months for maximum system performance and longevity.
  3. Check and Clean Side Intake Air Filters: Take a look at your side intake air filters on your cabinet, and make sure they’re clean and unobstructed.
  4. Ensure Cabinet Fan Works: To make sure fresh air will tunnel evenly through your cabinet, flip on your fan and verify that it’s working properly.
  5. Clean Membrane Diffuser Sticks: Though they’re virtually maintenance-free, these diffuser sticks, which deliver the air bubbles to the water, should be cleaned and inspected or replaced before they are turned on for the season. View your owner’s manual for more information.
  6. Start Your Compressor – Gradually: To prevent shocking your pond, follow your aeration system’s initial seven-day startup procedure. On Day 1, run the system for 30 minutes and then turn it off for the rest of the day. On each day following, double the time: Day 2, run for one hour; Day 3, run for two hours; Day 4, run for four hours; and so on. On Day 7, begin running it for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  7. Pressure Check: Once your system is up and running, make sure that its pressure gauge stays within the normal range of 5 to 10 psi. An easy way to do this to mark the gauge upon initial start up and check it regularly to verify pressure has not significantly risen above or dropped below your initial reading. Please note, this does not apply to Shallow Water Series™ Aeration Systems. It is also recommended to install a maintenance kit every 6-12 months, so if you find that your compressor is not producing as much airflow as it has in the past it may be time to perform some additional maintenance.

Following these simple steps will guarantee a smooth start to aerating your pond this spring. If you’re ever in doubt, check out your owner’s manual or contact us at 866-766-3435.

Pond Talk: Do you have a regular maintenance routine you follow for your aeration system?

Maximize the Life of Your System - Airmax® SilentAir™ Compressor Air Filter

I spend a lot of time trying to kill algae, and sometimes it doesn’t work. Do you have any tips? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I spend a lot of time trying to kill algae, and sometimes it doesn’t work. Do you have any tips?

Q: I spend a lot of time trying to kill algae, and sometimes it doesn’t work. Do you have any tips?

Vince – Columbia City, IN

A: Frustrating, isn’t it? You spend hours upon hours pondside, dosing the water with algaecides and raking out algae-feeding plant matter and detritus, only to see the green menace return weeks – if not days – later. Is there a way to control the nuisance algae that’s turning your pond into pea soup?

You bet. Below are our top recommendations for battling the algae. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll have that green menace under control in no time.

#1 – Treat Only Actively Growing Algae
When using algae control products in your pond or lake, the algae must be present and actively growing. Why? Because the chemicals need to make direct contact with the tiny organisms and absorb into their cells for them to be effective; if there’s no living algae, the chemicals will land in the water and become diluted, and therefore ineffective when the green stuff blooms.

#2 – Treat When Weather Is Favorable
Algae can grow in cold temperatures – even frigid, depending on the species – but algaecides aren’t so tolerant. The pond water must be warmer than 60°F for the chemicals in them to work. Apply your algae treatment on a sunny, mild day when rain is not expected in the immediate forecast. This will allow the chemicals to adequately absorb into the algae. As always, read the product label for instructions and specific temperature requirements.

#3 – Treat Only a Third at a Time
When temperatures heat up and the algae dies off, that combination of warm water and decaying plant matter reduces the amount of oxygen available to fish and other living critters in the pond. Keep them in an oxygen-rich environment by treating the pond in small sections and wait 7-10 days before moving to the next section. In addition, keep your aeration system or fountains running during treatment to continue circulating and oxygenating the water.

#4 – Read the Product Label
Different algaecides have different active ingredients, inert ingredients and specifications, so always read your product’s label for appropriate protective equipment and application rates. Pay special attention to warnings concerning water use and restrictions in ponds used for irrigation, drinking and swimming, as well as in ponds that house certain types of fish. If you have trout, which are sensitive to copper-based treatments, test the carbonate hardness levels and ensure they are above 50 ppm prior to treatment. If they’re above that, use another treatment, like Hydrothol®, that contains no copper.

#5 – Follow Up with Airmax® Ecosystem Pond Management Program
Algaecides are a great tool that can temporarily clear up pea soup water, but they do little address the actual problem causing the algae – which is excessive nutrients and organics. By following your treatment up with proactive pond management practices, such as aeration and natural water treatments like MuckAway™, you will reduce the accumulation of dead organic material, which will help to keep your water clear season after season. Check out the Airmax® Ecosystem™ – Proactive Pond & Lake Management video below for more information or view the article here.

Pond Talk: Do you have any additional tips for successful algae management?

Eliminate Algae and Chara Fast - Pond Logic Algae Defense

Why did I lose my fish? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Why did I lose my fish?

Q: Why did I lose my fish?

James – Willmar, MN

A: After a long, roller coaster winter, there’s nothing more disappointing than returning to your pond to find your fish floating and bloated in the water. This winter fish kill, or “winterkill,” can happen when the ice sheet on your pond prevents gas exchange and reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, ultimately causing your fish to suffocate. Shallow lakes, ponds and streams are particularly vulnerable to winterkill.

What causes it, and how can it be prevented? Read on to learn more.

Starved for Oxygen

Winterkill occurs when ice and snow cover your pond or lake for long periods of time. That solid sheet of cold stuff seals off the water, stopping oxygenation and gas exchange at the surface, but that’s not all it does. The ice and snow cover also prevent sunlight from reaching pond plants, which normally produce sub-surface oxygen via photosynthesis. Add to that a lake full of decomposing organic matter releasing toxic gases that are trapped under the ice, and your poor fish do not have enough oxygen to survive.

The ones that do survive are not finned superheroes, but they are more tolerant of a low-oxygen environment than their dearly departed cousins. The species type and size makes a difference, too, in their ability to deal with less-than-optimal living conditions.

Stayin’ Alive

Unfortunately, you cannot bring your fish back to life, but you can prevent winterkill from happening in the future. We recommend a simple, two-pronged approach:

  1. Aeration: Aerate your pond year-round with an Aeration System to circulate the water, increase dissolved oxygen and keep oxygen levels more consistent throughout the pond. It will also keep a hole open in the ice, allowing for gas exchange.
  2. Muck Removal: Using natural bacteria, like MuckAway™, or a dredge in extreme cases, remove as much muck and decomposing debris as possible before the ice forms. This will prevent the pond from naturally filling in, and it will reduce the amount of gas produced from the decomposition process.

Winterkill is a disappointment, but it can be prevented with some planning and preparation in the fall. In the meantime, restock your pond and enjoy!

Pond Talk: Have you even experienced winterkill in your pond? What did you do to remedy the situation?

Reduce Muck and Organic Debris Build-Up - Pond Logic® MuckAway™

Why is my pond cloudy in the summer and clear in the winter? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Why is my pond cloudy in the summer and clear in the winter?

Q: Why is my pond cloudy in the summer and clear in the winter?

Mike – Baldwin, WI

A: Frustrating, isn’t it? During the summer when it’s warm and inviting outside by the pond, the water looks cloudy; when it’s too cold to enjoy the outdoor scenery, the water appears crystal clear. What’s the deal? Let’s look below the water’s surface to see what happens during the two seasons.

Murky Summer

A lot happens in your pond during the warmer months. Fish are actively feeding and creating waste. Pond critters, like turtles and frogs, are digging around in the mud and stirring up muck at the bottom of the pond. Rainstorms wash sediment into the pond along with fertilizer residue – which provides fuel to algae and pond weeds growing prolifically in the summer sun. With all that activity, it’s no wonder the water looks cloudy!

Clear Winter

During the winter, however, activity slows. As your fishes’ metabolism decreases, they fast and hibernate through the cold season. Turtles, frogs and other pond residents reduce their movement, too, which allows the muck and sediment to settle at the bottom. Ice and snow cover the pond, limiting water movement and blocking sunlight. Algae still grows, but at a much slower rate. As everything settles and slows down, the water clears.

Extending Winter

If you want that crystal clear water all year long, follow this three-step formula, particularly as the days get longer and spring warmth thaws the ice:

  1. Feed Your Bacteria: First, be sure to add some bacteria enhancer, like EcoBoost™, to the water. It binds suspended organics, provides trace minerals to fish and other pond dwellers, and helps break down fertilizers from rain runoff. It has no temperature restrictions, so you can use it throughout the seasons.
  2. Shield the Sun’s Rays: Next, pour some Pond Dye in the water. The color reduces the amount of rays that into the pond. Like EcoBoost, Pond Dye has no temperature restrictions, so you can use it throughout the season.
  3. Add Oxygen: Aeration is the final – and most important – step in maintaining clean, clear water. By aerating your pond from the bottom up, you will circulate the water, improve the dissolved oxygen levels in your water column, and allow for increased levels of beneficial bacteria to accumulate in your pond.

Pond Talk: How do you keep your pond clean and clear all year long?

Create Clearer Water in any Pond - Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ Bacteria Enhancer

I occasionally have power outages during the snowfall. Will it cause a problem for my aeration system? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I occasionally have power outages during the snowfall. Will it cause a problem for my aeration system?

Q: I occasionally have power outages during the snowfall. Will it cause a problem for my aeration system?

Pete – Traverse City, MI

A: Power outages during heavy snowfall or ice storms aren’t uncommon – and when they happen, your aeration system will need some attention. Here’s what we recommend to prevent problems from occurring:

  1. Relieve Air Pressure: Built-up air pressure in the air compressor could potentially stop the aerator from turning back on when the power is restored, so it’s important to get rid of that pressure via the release valve.
  2. Check for Moisture, Condensation: If the power is out for an extended period of time, keep an eye on the cabinet for moisture and condensation. It could indicate reduced air flow, and all that wetness could freeze if temperatures are low enough.
  3. Clear Off Snow: To allow for proper air flow and to minimize moisture from melting snow around the unit, shovel or dust accumulating snow from around the cabinet.
  4. Melt Ice Blockages: Long power outages could cause your diffuser’s air lines to freeze. To melt them and open the air flow back up, pour 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol through each line (or the line you believe is blocked or frozen).

As for your fish, they should be just fine if your aerator shuts down for a few hours. Cold water holds more oxygen than warm water, so they’ll have plenty of oxygen during short-term interruptions.

Pond Talk: How do you protect your aeration system from frigid temperatures?

Oxygenate Your Pond All Winter - Airmax(r) Aeration Systems