Algal Blooms


joesandy1822

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I have run into so many conflicting opinions on algal blooms, even here on GPF, and I'm not wishing to start a huge debate here. But in case I am missing something OBVIOUS, I am going to take the chance and ask.

What causes algal blooms in a cycled pond when nothing obvious (related to algae anyway) has changed? My pond was perfectly clear 3 days ago after having gone through the pea soup stage of a new pond. Now there is what looks like suspended algae again, and I can't see further than about a foot below the surface. It did rain a little, and I've noticed that after a rain, it sometimes will do this. I do not fertilize the lawn. I have not fertilized the plants. I have not fed the fish more than twice since we filled the pond (6ish weeks ago), and then it was 6 or 7 pellets of floating food since the fish don't know what to do with it yet.

I still have not taken time to test the water's KH. I know my pH usually runs 8.4-8.6. Can a low KH with a high pH cause algal blooms? Or are pH and KH unrelated to algal blooms? This has happened a couple times where the water will be crystal clear one day, and slightly green the next for no apparent reason. It usually takes 3-5 days to clear up again. Of course, I know there IS a reason, I just can't put my finger on anything obvious.

Fish are all doing fine. I noticed a large hunk of string algae yesterday (a first), which I pulled out last night. Then this morning the pond was murky again.

The only thing that changed is that on Friday, we installed 1.5 ton of large cobblestone around the perimeter of the pond. Maybe the dust from the rocks got in the pond? But it looks like suspended algae, not dirt. And around the cobblestone, we put cedar mulch. But NONE of it got into the pond.

Thanks for any insight.

Sandy
 
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crsublette

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Howdy Sandy,


Honestly, I don't think anybody knows beyond theories and gossip and I think this is why it can be a heated discussion, that is since nobody, including me, really knows much of anything to pinpoint an easy answer that works in our context of an outdoor pond.

Now, there are common best practices implemented to control algae, but these practices do not flat out prevent algae from happening all together. These practices simply just attempts to control the algae by encouraging other species to grow, which might be tougher to see or more pleasing to the eye or helps to reduce the growth of other algae species.

As ya might know already, so sharing for other folk, here is my version on a remedy and prevention program for algae, which requires a multi-facet approach of spot killing, spore eradication, and a healthy pond including plants amongst other variables.

Just so to be clear, when you're saying "algae blooms", I am assuming this referrs to the green pea soup, floating, single cell algae, which seems to be the common slang for this type of algae. Although, in general, I believe KH and pH having nothing to do with algal blooms since there are many many species out there that can survive and thrive in our context of a freshwater outdoor pond. Why do I say this? Welp, nutrients are much more plentiful and plant soluble at lower pHs, which rain does help to lower pH, so I assume this means it would help algae as well. Also, algae is a prehistoric plant so there are species that can exist and thrive in environments with a very minor presence of nutrients, that can not be measured by the tools accessible to a typical hobbyist. When pH is high, within the range in our context, then the algae will simply reduce the small amount of existing bicarbonates as their carbon dioxide resource.

I also believe only particular algae species are experienced in ponds due to the accumulation of algae allelopathic controls. This is one particular argument point of how folk well suggest water changes encourages algae blooms, of various species, due to the dilution of these allelopathic chemicals.

There are even practices of significantly increasing heavy metal concentration residuals in the water, that are toxic to fish when not maintained correctly, involving zinc and copper to suppress algae.

For a more natural control of various algal species, in our context of a freshwater outdoor pond, there is the theory of barley, polymers, and microorganisms. Barley essentially release, depending on who you read, phenols or a diluted hydrogen peroxide compound. Polymers, such as the pond zinger, attempts to a time release of organically created polymers to make particular nutrients insoluble. Microorganisms, such as infusoria, can be cultured, in a jar from a combination of yeast and potatoe & fruit peelings, to feed on the algae spores and algae plant. Now, just as with any natural solution, the effiicacy of these solutions will vary greatly and are very sensitive to environmental conditions. This is another particular argument point of how folk well suggest UV devices encourages algae blooms, of various species, due to killing of microorganisms.


Outside of our context, depending on the owner's objective, algae is a vital component of ecosystems. Dr. Ron Shimek, who is a coral reef enthusiast, gives a good explanation on algae's involvement in this nebulous ecosystem. Coral reef enthusiasts rely quite heavy on culturing particular algae species to create a healthy environment for their aquariums.


Also, the particular algae species it self must be introduced to the water through birds, rain, dirt, wind, rocks, pond plants, fish, you name it. :)

This is why I consider algae as a noxious weed. All you can do is increase residuals in the water so to prevent or control algae.

The ponding, aquarium, or any aquatic hobby would just be too easy and we would get lazy from enjoying the fish too much... that is if we did not have algae in this world. Algae provides good times. :cheerful: Staying positive here. :claphands:
 

crsublette

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I apologize for all of the late editing. I just need to keep my message in the "preview" stage for a while before I post. Welp, I tried my best to put all my thoughts into that one post. I'll reply if I can think of more.
 

crsublette

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Just reminiscing here a bit. Beginners to this hobby sure can learn some bad information, which then is sometimes difficult to "unlearn". ;)

This thread reminded me of another thread I create a little over a year ago. For anyone curious, Does a 7.5pH help control, not stop, string algae? Way to lower pH below 8pH? This thread feels like 10 years old due to everything I have been taught while being involved with my pond and continuing to listen to others. Now, I am doing all sorts of craziness, that back just over a year ago I was convinced not to do. Ugh, I am reading some of these extremely old threads of mine and just shake my head at my self.

It is amazing how folk can have an impression on others and ya don't realize it until ya find that one particular counseler or mentor or teacher or buddy and then look at your self in the past and where you are now and in the future. :beerchug:
 

joesandy1822

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I guess maybe some of the "bad" information I've learned is to not feed the fish?

The couple times I've tried, I ended up sitting by the skimmer and scooping it out before it got sucked in because the fish are oblivious as to what it is. They seem very happy eating algae and bugs though.

Thanks for all the good info. I will check out the links and maybe try out some of the ideas. One thing I won't do is UV clarifiers or sterilizers. Just my own personal thing; not knocking anybody who chooses to use them. A good friend of mine has a number of them on his ponds, and his water is always crystal clear. Simpler is better, at least for me.

Sandy
 
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crsublette

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Oh, in regards to feeding, that's a judgement call.

If the food only ends up in the skimmer, then maybe try something else like a flake or a sinking pellet food. So this way, if they still do not eat it, then it is tougher to scoop out of the water. ;)

To feed... Or... Not to feed... That is the question!! :bdaybiggrin:
 

crsublette

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Don't just give up yet on feeding the fish.

I forget, since it is not what I do, that is getting all "foo foo" fancy with fish food. There are many tricks and different manufactured foods and even homemade foods for fish. :fish2:

I know they're in my bookmark library... Here are a few I could find:

A look at alternate foods for your koi and goldfish

A good growth and colour food home made

Duckweed is a big favorite.

Also, I am told you can roll the pellet food in some garlic extract. Apparently, koi go crazy for the taste of garlic so might work for gold fish.


Of course, only feed them when it makes sense to feed them, dependent upon the pond enivronment.
 

joesandy1822

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HTH said:
I was under the impression this was a newish pond with little natural food.
Yes, you are right. In the beginning, I probably should have fed the fish. However, the algae kicked in so quickly that I assumed they had plenty to eat from that point on. They did not go longer than about a week without plenty to eat. People go on vacation longer than that, so I didn't think it would really hurt.
 

HTH

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It could be that the fish are scared to come up with you standing near the pond. If you have a 2nd route for water to get from the pond to the pump turn off the skimmer for an hour or two after you feed and stay maybe 10 feet back from the pond so they can come up and feed.
 
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sissy

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I KNOW I KNOW .IT IS THE ALGAE FAIRY .Well it could be things blow in your pond and lots of rain also and even visitors to your pond like frogs .Darn frog fairies :cheerful: :cheerful: :cheerful:
 

sissy

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geeze HTH your trying to push your self to hard you will give yourself a stroke or heart attack .
 

joesandy1822

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Well, I have come to the conclusion that my pond just gets way too much sun. If you all remember, we removed an above ground pool, and we installed the pond where the pool used to be. Of course, when you have a pool, you want as much sun shining on it as possible to keep it warm enough to swim in. I thought that it would be also good for pond plants. Well, it IS good for them. My lilies are blooming beautifully, and everything is growing great, including the algae!

I really don't understand how it could have cleared completely after about 3 weeks of being filled. I thought that meant it was cycled, and that would be it for the algae. But as our weather has gotten hotter, and the days sunnier, the green has come back full force and shows no sign of leaving. The pond does get full sun most of the day, although the back portion does get shaded by the trees along the fenceline.

This was a huge undertaking for us. It's not like I can move the 3,000 gallon pond. It is like having a dream come true to even have it in the first place. After seeing it so clear for a week or so, then having it turn green again is really bothering me. I feel like I will NEVER see the fish again. All my levels are good, the pH is stable at 8.4, and there are no dying fish. Actually, we have baby fish, although it was a fluke that we even spotted them. I have a ton of plants. A ton. I just feel like with the amount of sun my pond gets, I will never get on top of the algae.

Can anybody give me a word of encouragement? No, half of the surface is not covered with plants YET because the lilies are not completely mature yet. Although I have 5, I probably should get even more. I also have some other floaters. But underwater there is a large amount of hornwort, which I'm assuming would use nutrients also. Am I going to go through this every year? I will shut down the filter and waterfall in the winter and just use an aerator to keep a hole open. Does this mean all my bacteria will die off and I will start from scratch each Spring? How can I get more shade without more plants?

Are there some ponds that, because of the amount of sun they get will never clear no matter how many plants or how good the biofilter is? I am getting really discouraged. I would love to see the fish. It's been nearly 2 months since we filled it, and as I said, there was a point where the pea soup cleared up completely. I could read the letters on the liner! But that did not last long.

I know patience is a virtue, but I am just afraid that maybe my pond will be problematic forever because of the amount of sunshine. I could make a canopy of sorts, but it would look so dumb.....

Thanks for listening. I guess I just needed to vent. It's not like it's the end of the world.

Sandy
 
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crsublette

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joesandy1822 said:
Well, I have come to the conclusion that my pond just gets way too much sun. If you all remember, we removed an above ground pool, and we installed the pond where the pool used to be. Of course, when you have a pool, you want as much sun shining on it as possible to keep it warm enough to swim in. I thought that it would be also good for pond plants. Well, it IS good for them. My lilies are blooming beautifully, and everything is growing great, including the algae!

1) I really don't understand how it could have cleared completely after about 3 weeks of being filled. I thought that meant it was cycled, and that would be it for the algae. But as our weather has gotten hotter, and the days sunnier, the green has come back full force and shows no sign of leaving. The pond does get full sun most of the day, although the back portion does get shaded by the trees along the fenceline.

This was a huge undertaking for us. It's not like I can move the 3,000 gallon pond. It is like having a dream come true to even have it in the first place. After seeing it so clear for a week or so, then having it turn green again is really bothering me. I feel like I will NEVER see the fish again. All my levels are good, the pH is stable at 8.4, and there are no dying fish. Actually, we have baby fish, although it was a fluke that we even spotted them. 2) I have a ton of plants. A ton. I just feel like with the amount of sun my pond gets, I will never get on top of the algae.

5) Can anybody give me a word of encouragement? 2) No, half of the surface is not covered with plants YET because the lilies are not completely mature yet. Although I have 5, I probably should get even more. I also have some other floaters. But underwater there is a large amount of hornwort, which I'm assuming would use nutrients also. 5) Am I going to go through this every year? I will shut down the filter and waterfall in the winter and just use an aerator to keep a hole open. Does this mean all my bacteria will die off and I will start from scratch each Spring? 3) How can I get more shade without more plants?

4) Are there some ponds that, because of the amount of sun they get will never clear no matter how many plants or how good the biofilter is? I am getting really discouraged. I would love to see the fish. It's been nearly 2 months since we filled it, and as I said, there was a point where the pea soup cleared up completely. I could read the letters on the liner! But that did not last long.

5) I know patience is a virtue, but I am just afraid that maybe my pond will be problematic forever because of the amount of sunshine. I could make a canopy of sorts, but it would look so dumb.....

Thanks for listening. I guess I just needed to vent. It's not like it's the end of the world.

Sandy

1) I really don't understand how it could have cleared completely after about 3 weeks of being filled. I thought that meant it was cycled, and that would be it for the algae.

Algae comes and goes. There are many theories out there as to why algae "spontaneously" collapse, but it will always return. As the pond ages, allowing different bacteria colonies to appear and grow bigger and plants get bigger, then the algae might less likely to occur, but this is a long process that could take several years if wanting to take the natural approach.


2) I have a ton of plants. A ton. I just feel like with the amount of sun my pond gets, I will never get on top of the algae. ... No, half of the surface is not covered with plants YET because the lilies are not completely mature yet. Although I have 5, I probably should get even more. I also have some other floaters. But underwater there is a large amount of hornwort, which I'm assuming would use nutrients also.

Yeah, I have seen when plants are not the only answer. Although, using heavy nutrient feeding plants will help such as water hyacinth, duckweed, and sedges do noticeably help.


3) How can I get more shade without more plants?

I have no idea. I guess ya could make a pergola over the pond, but controlling the amount of sun is the very last thing to be considered to influence algae since, in our context of an outdoor pond, it is just not practical.


4) Are there some ponds that, because of the amount of sun they get will never clear no matter how many plants or how good the biofilter is? I am getting really discouraged. I would love to see the fish. It's been nearly 2 months since we filled it, and as I said, there was a point where the pea soup cleared up completely. I could read the letters on the liner! But that did not last long.

There are ponds with full sun and never have algae problems. It all depends on how old the pond is and how you manage it. If you want to take the more conventional approach, as an example of my version (post#22), then this will definitely handle the situation, but it is a less natural approach.


5) Can anybody give me a word of encouragement? ... Am I going to go through this every year? I will shut down the filter and waterfall in the winter and just use an aerator to keep a hole open. Does this mean all my bacteria will die off and I will start from scratch each Spring? ... I know patience is a virtue, but I am just afraid that maybe my pond will be problematic forever because of the amount of sunshine. I could make a canopy of sorts, but it would look so dumb..... Thanks for listening. I guess I just needed to vent. It's not like it's the end of the world.

Keep your head up. Jump back on that horse or doggy when ya get knocked down and hope for the best.

The bacteria are amazingly resilient. During the winter, particular species do die, but then others start thriving and then, when conditions are right, then the bacteria that died will start growing again. Bacteria in the bio-filters and pond are amazingly resilient, as long as they do not get zapped by chlorine or some other product. It would also be very beneficial for the bacteria, during winter, to put a small aquarium air stone in it as well if it is going to be kept full of water. Everyone has their own way how to winterize their bio-filter, which likely is talked about in the "winterizing your pond" sub-forum here.

Yep, with the algae, you will be going through this every year until your pond ages, and, depending on how you treat the pond, you might still have a major algae bloom once or twice a year.

Try all the various natural methods with just plants, infusoria microorganisms, organic polymers, improved builds of bio-filters, increased aeration, and increased water circulation. It does takes patience when using the natural approach.

And it is good to vent. Also, beer and wine helps too. :beerchug: :0000000057:
 

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crsublette said:
Ugh, I am reading some of these extremely old threads of mine and just shake my head .

:beerchug:
Yup, they have the same effect on me!
John
 
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joesandy1822

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Charles, this is a quick shout out because I am packing for a short vacation, but yesterday we lost power for 9 hours. What a hot, nasty day to lose A/C. Anyhow, obviously that meant my filter falls was not running (no electricity, no pump). Does that mean more problems because all the bacteria probably died in the filter? One thing after another......but there was nothing I could do. We do not have a backup generator. Fish seem ok today. Pond still green. Hotter than Hades today.

Thanks!
 

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