Algae Control For Small Ponds
Algae control for ponds less than 50' x 50' in size.
Answers to the infamous question...
How Do I Get Rid of My Pond Algae?
First of all, there's primarily 2 types of algae that plagues most people's ornamental ponds; string algae and the notorious plankton algae that makes your pond water green like a "lovely" bowl of split pea soup (yuck). Both types of algae grow by somewhat different methods, so I will explain each one of them to you individually.
String algae is pretty simple. It usually grows along the bottom or edges of your pond where there isn't a lot of water circulation. It looks like a bunch of green hair and looks pretty awful, too. To kill string algae you need to remove the water from your pond or waterfall (ideal time to do that is during spring cleaning) and liberally sprinkle Kosher Salt on it. ( It must be Kosher Salt or non-iodized salt and NOT table salt). Let it sit for at least 3 days and then brush off and rinse and clean the pond thoroughly. There CANNOT be any fish in the pond during this time, so the choice is yours and if you are set up to remove your fish and if it's worth the hassle. You can also use our Green Clean to kill the string algae without emptying the pond.
Plankton, our lovely "pea soup" algae is probably the most common type of algae in ponds and lakes. It's the stuff that makes the water look green and causes you to not be able to see your wonderful fish. The best way to explain how to get rid of planktonic algae is to first understand what causes it to grow.
Plankton requires primarily 2 things to grow: sunlight and nutrition. The sunlight obviously comes from the sun and the nutrition comes from byproducts from fish waste, dead and decaying leaves, decomposed fish food (make sure you don't over feed your fish) decaying aquatic plants and weeds, and nearby chemicals and fertilizers that filter into the pond. (Particularly if your pond sits in a lower part of your yard). Most ponds I've seen have at least some, if not all of the above nutrients in their pond. (And have green water, too!) The way to get rid of or reduce the amount of algae in your pond is by reducing the amount of sunlight and nutrients available to it.
Sunlight can be reduced by providing shade to your pond either above or by adding aquatic plants such as water lilies or other floating plants including water hyacinths. The leaves of these plants help to cover the surface area of your pond and also make the pond look pretty. You can also use an aquatic "sun blocker" such as Aquashade, Cynet Plus, etc.. Nutrients on the other hand, can be reduced in a couple of different ways.
To reduce the nutrients in your pond which is causing your algae to thrive, you first need to clean your pond. Get rid of any dead and decaying leaves on the bottom or along the sides of the pond. Once you have that done, get a skimmer so you can have leaves and debris that may blow into your pond get sucked up before they ever settle and start to decompose. If you don't want to get a skimmer, get a Pond Net (you also can keep out predators such as raccoons, blue herons, cats, etc. with a net) or make it a practice to clean the debris off the pond every day or so.
The next way to get rid of the nutrients in your pond is by adding beneficial bacteria to your pond. You see, there are 2 types of bacteria; the "bad" kind of bacteria and the good kind! Bad types of bacteria can cause a lot of problems to your fish's health and can be pretty involved to explain. To keep it simple, these bad types of bacteria can eat away at their skin, their gills, and cause them to be sick and die. Needless to say, you don't want the "bad" type of bacteria. The good, or "beneficial" bacteria is a type of bacteria that is required to not only break down toxic ammonia from fish wastes into harmless nitrates (referred to as the Nitrogen Cycle - which is something you want in your pond) but they also consume the same nutrients as algae does! So, when you add more beneficial bacteria, you starve out the algae, thus resulting in a clearer pond! Beneficial bacteria also breaks down sludge build up, "muck" on the bottom of koi ponds and fish ponds and much more. It is absolutely vital to having any healthy pond. So what do you need to do to establish some beneficial bacteria in your pond? Provide them a place to grow such as a biological filter, rocks, plants, and filter media. Establishing a nice colony of beneficial bacteria can take 3-8 weeks but you can actually get a "jump start" on things by adding some beneficial bacteria to you pond. The best product we've used is an all-natural product called Microbe Lift. It works great (we use it on our own small ponds and water gardens) and it can be used throughout the season as a good maintenance plan to keep your pond clear. We also recommend our PlanktoniX Pond Bacteria beneficial for large fish ponds over 50' x 50' in size all the way up to lakes several acres in size!
I do have to mention some other products that are out on the market (and yes, even on our website) that will "destroy" algae, but these products will only work for a short time. They are a temporary solution. How they are supposed to work is by killing the algae and then the dead algae is supposed to be filtered through your filter. What essentially happens is that the dead algae builds up on the bottom of the pond and creates an organic "compost pile". This provides tons of nutrients and causes more algae to bloom in a couple of weeks. People who continually use these products are actually making the algae situation worse. You're continually providing more and more food the very algae that you're trying to get rid of! It creates a vicious cycle and you need to stop the cycle. By continually adding these chemicals & algaecides to your pond, you're changing the pond's chemistry and ecological system. You need to add beneficial bacteria to the pond to reduce the nutrients available to the algae. This will eventually starve out the algae and stop the cycle and result in a clearer, healthier pond.