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Algae, the good, the bad & the ugly

This page was put together from the many suggestions of ponders who post at the newsgroup rec.ponds   To achieve clear water, instead of pea soup green water, in your pond you should:  Realize that algae is tough! It exists in extreme conditions, like ice, just  fine. It has many, many different  forms.


Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

And, finally, without algae we wouldn't  be here so we should treat it with a little respect ;-)  ~ Learn as much as you can about the natural balance of a pond and realizing  that new ponds must go through  a growth period which usually means green water before balance occurs.  ~ Mother Nature designs pond to have few fish, many plants and subtraction and  addition of new water from time to time.  She lets the fish find food on their own, lets the fish fertilize the plants,  encourages predators and lets the plants run rampant.  She never cleans her ponds out unless she sends a flood. If things really get  out of control she throws up her hands and lets the chips fall where they may -  lets the pond fill in, turn emerald green, flood it out, earthquakes,  hurricanes, record snowfall, elections too close to call - whatever...  ~We pondkeepers stuff in lots of pretty fish, spoil them rotten with tasty fish  chow, over fertilize our plants and do everything possible to discourage  predators.  ~Plan on 20 gallons of water per goldfish and 100 gallons of water per koi and  as many plants as you can stuff in.  ~ Do not use chemicals, killing algae just makes lots of suddenly dead algae,  rotting algae robs the pond of oxygen and makes more stuff for the new algae to  feed on (unless you have a bottom drain to get it out).  ~ Do not worry about green fuzzy algae on the side of the pond, that is good  algae and helps balance your pond.  ~ Ignore a little string algae.  ~ Install bottom drains and skimmers for ease of removing sludge and debris.  ~ Net the pond during the fall to keep leaves out of the pond.  ~ Trim dead growth from the plants and removing floating tropicals if you live  in colder climates.  ~ Lower your fish stocking, not over feeding fish - algae loves fish waste  (lots of yummy phosphorous)  ~ Add lots plants of any type, marginal plants such as reeds, cattails, iris,  pickerel weed, arrowhead, floaters such as water hyacinth, water lettuce and  lots of underwater plants such as anacharis uses the nutrients up that the  algae would like.  ~ Shade - lilies, the floaters (water hyacinth and water lettuce) and  artificial shade - shade cloth, umbrella, arch or trellis planted with vines,  No sun for the algae.  ~ Clean up debris from the bottom of the pond and  stock snails to chew up the debris - less decaying stuff for algae food.  ~ Cut back or stop fertilizing plants - same principle.  ~ Plant in fine gravel and top with larger rocks if you have koi.  ~ Mechanical filtration of the fish waste - usually a settling chamber in your  filter, or the first row of brushes, filter media.  ~ Biological filtration - more than you think you need as your fish are going  to grow and you will probably add more fish to your pond via purchase or your  fish breeding in the pond. (This does not help with the algae problem but  contributes to the overall health of your fish and any critters.  ~ Construct a veggie filter - an area, 10% to 20%, of the size of your pond  surface area. A couple of inches deeper than the plant baskets (the rigid black  mesh baskets made specifically for water plants) you are going to use to plant  in. Plant the baskets with marginal plants with fine gravel. Pump the pond  water through at a turnover rate per hour 1/2 to 1/4 of the pond volume. Veggie  filter uses up many of the nutrients and provides a good place for bacteria to  grow. Build it with a bottom drain (or two) for ease of cleaning - very  important or you'll end up with backups and leaking over the edge.  A veggie filter can be as simple as floating water hyacinth at the top of your  stock tank filter. Mine get to be almost three feet tall with leaves as big as  my hand.  ~ Purchase sludge eating product - concentrated bacteria culture.  ~ Some folks love their UV sterilizer. Does cost some $. And you have to change  the bulb every year.  ~ Add a bale of barley straw to your pond for string algae. Read this webpage  BARLEY STRAW FOR ALGAE CONTROL  ~Phosphate Remover - It comes in a large clear container (maybe about gallon  sized) but it's also available in a smaller quart sized carton. It's usually  near the aquatic plant fertilizers and different chemicals available such as  ammonia remover and such.  You measure out the amount suitable for your pond size, place it in a mesh  bag, and first soak it in a pail before you put it in your filter. You need to  soak it because it gives off heat when it first gets wet.  ~ Make sacrifices to the Pond Goddess.  Run to your nearest garden center and buy a gazing ball,  a dragonfly garden stake and bullfrog spitter.  Place around your pond and ask humbly for clear water.  ~ Patience, patience and eternal optimism.  k30a