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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 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 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?

Quickly Clear Discolored Water - The Pond Guy® PowerUV™

My UV bulb was still working when I pulled it out for the winter. Do I still need to replace it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My UV bulb was still working when I pulled it out for the winter. Do I still need to replace it?

Q: My UV bulb was still working when I pulled it out for the winter. Do I still need to replace it?

Richard – Avon, IN

A:  A UV bulb is one of your best weapons in the battle against discolored water. When those ultra-fine particles are exposed to the bulb’s ultraviolet rays the tiny particles clump together, and those clumps are then removed by your mechanical filtration system.

What’s left behind is clean, clear water – as long as the bulb is working efficiently.

For your UV clarifier to work its best, it will need a new ultraviolet bulb every year. Even though the bulb still illuminates and appears to be working, its effectiveness decreases over time. Your best bet is to replace it when you do your annual spring cleanout, and plan to do so again year after year.

Spring Cleaning

In addition to switching out the bulb, take some time to check the quartz sleeve or glass tube that’s housing the bulb. Does it need a good cleaning? Debris can build up on the glass, preventing those powerful UV rays from penetrating the water as it passes through the filter. Use as soft cloth and a descaler (if needed) to scrub off the buildup.

Filter Check

While you’re at it, check your biological filter media and mechanical filter components, like the skimmer, pump sock and prefilters. Do they need to be cleaned or replaced? Even though your ultraviolet clarifier is tackling most of the discolored water, your filtration system is still responsible for removing the debris. Make sure they’re in good working order before the algae blooms in the spring.

Maintain a Balanced Pond

UV clarifiers do a great job at clearing water, but an even better solution is to maintain a balanced pond the first place. Reduce excessive nutrients 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.

Pond Talk: How often do you replace your UV bulb?

Eliminate Discolored Water - The Pond Guy® PowerUV™

Why does my water garden turn green and can I prevent it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Why does my water garden turn green and can I prevent it?

Q: Why does my water garden turn green and can I prevent it?

Laurie- Bardstown, KY

A: Green water in fish ponds and water features are a common conundrum faced by hobbyists. What causes it, and how can it be fixed?

Algae Explosion
Green water is the result of an imbalance in your pond’s ecosystem. When too many nutrients – also known as decomposing plant material, fish waste and other debris – build up in your water garden, algae flourish because the nutrients act like fertilizer to those tiny plants. That thriving planktonic algae is what causes your water to resemble pea soup.

Finding Balance:
To achieve balance in your pond, you need to evaluate and correct the underlying problems that are causing your green water. Here’s a guide that can help you identify the problem and work toward a solution:

  • Problem: Too many fish.
    Solution: If your water garden is brimming with fish, it may be time to relocate some of them. Overcrowding is a common source for green water because your filtration system may not be large enough to handle the amount of waste being produced. A simple rule of thumb to ensure room for your fish is one fish (5 inches long) for every 10 square feet of surface area.
  • Problem: debris buildup.
    Solution: After a long winter, waste and debris may have built up in your pond. A good spring cleanout will remove those excess nutrients that are feeding the algae. Here’s an easy step-by-step spring cleaning guide to follow that will help you through the process.
  • Problem: Inadequate mechanical filtration.
    Solution: Mechanical filtration helps to remove the excess nutrients from the water column. As the water passes through the filtration system, debris is removed and collected in the filter box or skimmer. Check to be sure your filtration system is adequate for your pond’s size and fish population. If it’s not, consider giving it a boost.
  • Problem: Lack of beneficial bacteria.
    Solution: Beneficial bacteria, like those found in DefensePAC®, are microorganisms that eat through detritus and other algae-feeding nutrients. With little or no nutrients to feed the algae, the green stuff will eventually die off. Learn more about DefensePAC’s® components and how to use them here.
  • Problem: Inadequate aeration.
    Solution: Those beneficial bacteria – as well as your pond’s fish – need life-giving oxygen to thrive, and that’s where aeration comes into play. Air being pumped into the water via a diffuser or air stone will circulate the water column and infuse the water with oxygen. Learn more about the importance of aeration here.
  • Problem: Too much sunlight and not enough plants.
    Solution: Because algae are plants, sunlight is essential for growth. You can block that sunlight by covering your water’s surface with floating plants. We recommend shading 40 to 60 percent of your pond with water lilies or other floating plants.

Going Ultraviolet
Once you’ve cleaned out your pond, checked your filtration and aeration systems, added some beneficial bacteria, adjusted your fish load and added some plants, you should be well on your way to clearing up that pesky algae. A final remedy to try is an ultraviolet clarifier, like The Pond Guy’s® PowerUV™ Clarifier. It’s designed to clear water. As a result, the tiny particles of debris clump together and are removed by your mechanical filtration system.

Good luck keeping that green water at bay!

Pond Talk: What do you do to clear up algae in your koi pond or water garden?

Eliminate Discolored Water - Pond Logic (r) PowerUV (t)

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