Algae forms in a pond when sunlight reacts with nutrients in the water. These nutrients are comprised of primarily Ammonia and Nitrate which you may recognize as the ingredients in fertilizer. These nutrients result from the breakdown of debris such as leaves, grass, and other windblown organic matter as well as from fish waste and uneaten fish food. As these items decompose the nutrients become the food for algae in many forms including string algae that covers rocks and clings to the surface of your pond as well as the usual green water also called pea soup effect.
There are several ways to control your pond water and keep it crystal clear. Each have benefits and certain drawbacks and are detailed below.
If you intend to use an algaecide please read the directions carefully as an overdose can quickly harm or kill your plants and fish. When using an algaecide you will also want to increase circulation in your pond with a waterfall, fountain or aerator. These will replace lost oxygen and hopefully prevent a fish kill.
Finally it should be noted that the dead algae will fall to the bottom of the pond and form the food for the next generation of algae.
Unfortunately UV filters only cover up the water quality problem. While they clear the green water the underlying problem that caused it to begin with remains. Often the algae will come back in another form such as string algae which clings to the surface area of your rocks and pond liner. This algae does not pass thru the UV filter so it is never treated and continues to thrive off the nutrients in the pond and the dead algae.
If you need to quickly clear the pond water a UV is great but it should be used in conjunction with other treatments to eliminate the nutrients in the water and establish a natural balance in your pond.
Use of the barley extract or barley bales is most effective before a pond has an algae problem. Both the bale and the liquid extract need to be retreated frequently so that the pond continues to have a new supply of degrading barely. Many people find this method very effective while others fail to achieve the results they hoped for. I believe this method is best used in conjunction with a pond bacteria product as part of a multi pronged approach to clear water.
Like the barley treatment, use of pond bacteria will require a bit of patience as the colonies take 2-6 weeks to grow and mature. This is a long term solution that should be considered as one of the best possible preventative measures to keeping a clean and healthy pond.
If you use a UV filter you will want to use the pond bacteria to help consume the dead algae and to reduce the nutrients in the water.
The bacteria will attach itself to any surface area in the pond and is invisible. However, if you add bio media such as bio balls into the waterfall filter of your pond that media will house large colonies of beneficial bacteria and will scrub the water as it passes over.
Pond bacteria comes in both liquid and powder and each method has its own following. The powered form is generally more potent and treats a larger area but the liquid is easier to apply. Look for a high concentration of bacteria colony forming units (1-5 billion) when making your purchase. These CFU numbers will tell you how potent the product is. Unlike an algaecide you can double treat, and dose frequently with bacteria without any worry of over treatment or harm to your plants and fish from this naturally occurring bacteria
Special winter note: During the falls leaves and other debris will accumulate on the bottom of your pond. Use a winter blend bacteria or a super concentrate and treat thru the winter. The bacteria will continue to consume debris thru the winter and will allow your spring startup to be more problem free.
Final note: Pond maintenance should be a simple quick routine done on a weekly or bi weekly basis. The use of the proper items to care for your pond will ensure a safe and happy home for your pond plants and fish and will give you more time to enjoy your pond instead of working on it.
Graystone Industries and its web sites offer many pond water care items which may be viewed at http://www.graystonecreations.com/ . At this time we do not offer any chemical algaecide products as we firmly believe that the harm to the fish and plants in the pond outweigh the benefit of killing the algae. We do carry UV lights, bacteria, barley extract and other effective and safe pond water treatments.
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