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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®

What is the difference between algae and Chara and how should I treat them? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

What is the difference between algae and Chara and how should I treat them?

What is the difference between algae and Chara and how should I treat them?
Veronica – Savannah, GA

To an entomologist, the differences between a cockroach and a termite may be a subject of profound fascination. However, to a homeowner, they’re both insect problems. If you have them, you sure as heck want to get rid of them – and the sooner the better.

Likewise, when the seasoned water biologist sees filamentous algae floating on the surface of a pond, he can probably identify the strain — Spirogyra, Oscillatoria, Pithophora, Anabaena or perhaps some combination thereof. Just beneath the surface, he might point out the gray-green, cylindrical branches of Chara, another form of algae that is often mistaken for a submerged flowering plant, except it has no flower and no defined root system.

Most of you would probably find this at least mildly interesting, unless, of course, the biologist is talking about your pond. Where he sees variations of filamentous algae, you see ‘pond scum’:what he identifies as Chara, you know as ‘skunkweed’ or ‘muskgrass.’ Suddenly, what it is, matters a whole lot less to you than how to get rid of it.

Well, fortunately, we’ve got some great options for you. One gallon of Algae Defense®, mixed with water and Treatment Booster™ PLUS , can treat up to 8,000 square feet of pond surface. It’s best applied with an pond sprayer. It should come as no surprise that the sooner you address an algae issue with Algae Defense®, the quicker and more effective the results. Algae Defense® is best used to eliminate algae on or just below the surface of your pond. For bottom forming algae, like Chara, we suggest Cutrine®-Plus Granular – 12 pounds can treat 8,700 square feet.

If you find that the algae in your pond has graduated from ‘issue’ to ‘problem,’ you may find that multiple applications of Algae Defense® and Cutrine®-Plus Granular are necessary. Make sure you treat your pond in small sections waiting a week between treatments, and have sufficient aeration when treating during the hot summer months. We also recommend following up treatments with the use of PondLogic® PondClear™ and PondLogic® MuckAway™, which use environmentally friendly bacteria to break down the dead algae.

When it comes to the health of your pond, knowing what goes on is important, but knowing how to deal with it is essential.

Pond Talk: Have you learned any tips or tricks to treating algae in you pond?

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do?

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do?
Kandy – Portland, OR

Phragmites are the worst kind of uninvited guest: once it makes its appearance, it’s too late to give it the slip. For those who have experienced phragmites, they’ll attest to its tenacity. They’ll also attest to its heartiness. Unlike the plants you’re actually trying to grow in your pond, phragmites requires no care and feeding at all – and it’s remarkably adept at withstanding any effort to slow it down. .

Characterized by a green stalk with purple/tan plumes in late July, the majority of each phragmites plant is underground. As a result, by the time you actually see a phragmites plant in your pond, its root system is well established – laying the groundwork to take over the entire body of water. In fact, phragmites plants continue to spread throughout their life, sending stalks skyward at a blistering pace. And once the stalks reach maturity – typically from early to late summer – the plants double their efforts at pond domination by distributing seeds throughout the watershed. Phragmites, it seems, is quite capable at taking care of itself.

When taken alone, phragmites might actually be considered attractive. Unfortunately, it has no interest in sharing its turf. Through its aggressive growth, phragmites chokes out native plant species in short order, and can transform an entire pond’s flora over the course of a single season. And while it’s nearly impossible to eliminate phragmites once it’s established, our Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS Combo – carefully and regularly applied with our Specialty Pond Sprayer– can significantly impair root system growth, while leaving room for the plants you’d like to keep around.

After herbicides are applied, many pond owners are eager to eliminate both existing growth and dead stalks left over from the previous season. Our Aquactic Weed Cutter makes short work of offending plants. Once the cutting is done, our Pond & Beach Rake helps to remove mess. In some instances, pond users also use controlled burns – after herbicide application – to remove standing plants. While this can be effective, it should never be practiced apart from herbicide use. Some evidence suggests that burning alone – without the use of herbicides – can actually increase the density of phragmites plants.

Good luck with your battle against phragmites. Stay vigilant, stay focused, and act quickly to curb new growth. The fight may last a long time – but the results will be worth the effort.

Pond Talk: Have you battled phragmites in your pond?

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