When to replace barley straw?


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So the barley straw in my pond is a super green, algae infested mess. I know it’s supposed to decompose but should I be changing it now? It’s been in there for about one month. I read online it should be replaced every four to six months but that seems crazy. What do you guys do?
 
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I wouldn't use it at all, for the very reasons you stated. Who needs a disgusting rotting mess of straw in the pond?

Were you having an issue with algae?
 
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I wouldn't use it at all, for the very reasons you stated. Who needs a disgusting rotting mess of straw in the pond?

Were you having an issue with algae?
Hi. Yes I was. My tank gets full sun and it has just been a mess of string algae. My water hyacinths roots are all caked in algae too
 
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Ah. Same algae issue.

Barley straw purportedly works by emitting a chemical as it decays which keeps algae from growing. But as you noted, the process then leaves you with a rotten bale of straw. Which doesn't appear to be working anyway, if I'm not mistaken. Some people swear by the barley straw extract - same idea, but no rotting bale of straw.

However, let's approach this problem another way - consider the algae not as THE problem, but only a symptom of the ACTUAL problem. You have an excess of organic material in your pond - too many fish, too much fish waste, excess food, rotting plant material, etc. The algae is not only letting you know you have an imbalance, it's also helping to keep your pond water safe for your fish by consuming the excess. By treating the symptom, you are not getting at the root cause.

You said this was a 400 gallon tank, correct? How many fish do you have? What kind? How big? How long has this pond been running? What type of filtration? Do you have aeration? A How many plants? Do you test your water? If so, what are the results?
 
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I’ve never used straw. For 29 years I’ve been using Hydrogen Peroxide to get rid of string algae. My pond is 3500 gallons, no mechanical filtration. Water is pumped up a hill into a bog and then down a 30’ stream and water fall. When I get string algae, I add 6 bottles and within a week or so it’s all gone and remains good for a long time. It’s never bother anything else in the system, fish breed like rabbits and the plants grow like crazy.
 
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Interesting. I may give it a go in the swimmin' pond. But I was afraid the HP would kill off the beneficial bacteria, along with the string algae.
 
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Interesting. I may give it a go in the swimmin' pond. But I was afraid the HP would kill off the beneficial bacteria, along with the string algae.

I get it, I’ve had my pond a Long time and have never had an algae bloom, I re-home 100 fish a year during my annual clean out and the plants grow like crazy. I’ve never done any testing of the water as I trust my observations of conditions. Way back when my understanding was that the HP chemical effect is basically the same as straw. Just need to understand your volume vs dosage which I’m sure is on the net somewhere.
 
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While hydrogen peroxide will kill bacteria, the low dosage you need to control string algae is not going to kill all of anything.
 
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I’ve never used straw. For 29 years I’ve been using Hydrogen Peroxide to get rid of string algae. My pond is 3500 gallons, no mechanical filtration. Water is pumped up a hill into a bog and then down a 30’ stream and water fall. When I get string algae, I add 6 bottles and within a week or so it’s all gone and remains good for a long time. It’s never bother anything else in the system, fish breed like rabbits and the plants grow like crazy.
@Tomphot What's the dosage of HP you use? Thanks in advance.
 
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@Tomphot What's the dosage of HP you use? Thanks in advance.

My pond is 3500 gallonsish - I use 6 bottles (16oz) and it does the job. I've never noticed any other side effect in the pond. If it kills any bacteria, I have not noticed any side effects and rehome about 100 fish every year when I clean out the dead leaves from the bottom.
 
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My pond is 3500 gallonsish - I use 6 bottles (16oz) and it does the job. I've never noticed any other side effect in the pond. If it kills any bacteria, I have not noticed any side effects and rehome about 100 fish every year when I clean out the dead leaves from the bottom.
Ok. Thanks for this information @Tomphot
 
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I use the barley and it works excellent , when the small bale gets green I replace it between the barley the light and the filter My water is clear . I do agree the root of the problem is to many fish , to mush waste or organic material in the water leaves exc. .
 
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So the barley straw in my pond is a super green, algae infested mess. I know it’s supposed to decompose but should I be changing it now? It’s been in there for about one month. I read online it should be replaced every four to six months but that seems crazy. What do you guys do?
I leave it in about 8 weeks, I’m experimenting to see the impact. It’s placed in the waterfall and is almost totally hidden from the human eye. I was trying it out to see if it would make an impact on the build up on the rocks in the pond. I also added Japanese snails to see how well they did on cleaning.
 
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Ah. Same algae issue.

Barley straw purportedly works by emitting a chemical as it decays which keeps algae from growing. But as you noted, the process then leaves you with a rotten bale of straw. Which doesn't appear to be working anyway, if I'm not mistaken. Some people swear by the barley straw extract - same idea, but no rotting bale of straw.

However, let's approach this problem another way - consider the algae not as THE problem, but only a symptom of the ACTUAL problem. You have an excess of organic material in your pond - too many fish, too much fish waste, excess food, rotting plant material, etc. The algae is not only letting you know you have an imbalance, it's also helping to keep your pond water safe for your fish by consuming the excess. By treating the symptom, you are not getting at the root cause.

You said this was a 400 gallon tank, correct? How many fish do you have? What kind? How big? How long has this pond been running? What type of filtration? Do you have aeration? A How many plants? Do you test your water? If so, what are the results?
Great information on too many fish, I had some renegade births, comets and also the koi have definitely grown. Don’t have the heart to remove the comets, which have grown a bit, I would say there are five too many.
 
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Years ago I tried the barley bails, then the extract and I didn't see any results. I think it's a waste of money and you're not getting to the root of the problem.
@Lisak1 Gave a great explanation. Nature put the algae there to balance the ecosystem. You need to add lots of plants to compete with the algae and starve it out.

You need adequate filtration as well, along with the plants.

I suffered with solid green water all of 2019. I knew the problem was way too many fish which cause excess nutrients. The fish just keep multiplying.
I had two pressure filters going and one UV light and it was still solid green. The only time I saw my fish was when they came to the surface to eat.

In 2020 I added the bog upflow filter and within a week the water was crystal clear. Eventually all the plants in the bog matured which thrive on the excess nutrients. Those plants, plus the ones in the pond have kept the water clear along with the mechanical filtration performed by the gravel in the bog.

Make sure your filtration is up to par and add lots of plants. Whatever you do, don't add algecide or any other chemicals. You will risk killing your fish.
 
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My opinion, if the bale is a nasty mess, take it out, maybe replace it or try the extract.
I'm in Florida, so have a 12 month algae growing season. I've used the extract and it didn't do much good, UV and bigger biofilter helped but not enough ... adding a bog and plants was what fixed my problem.
The members above are giving good advice on improving the health of your pond.
Good luck, let us know how it's going.
 

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