Is there a chemical free way to manage algae, in earthen ponds?

Algae on pond

If you’re like me, you spend the winter longing for the cold, dreary weather to pass and spring to come, so that you can get out there and enjoy your crystal-clear pond. Then, when the first green tendrils of life begin to creep back into your pond, BAM! Algae. The stringy green blob is there to crash the party. Sure, you’ve tried copper sulfate. It worked immediately, but after a few weeks the nasty green menace was back with a vengeance, right? Thought so.  But is there a better way? Your kids swim in the pond, your horses (and wild animals) drink from the pond, and your dogs like to fetch tennis balls thrown in the pond. What can you use that is sure to be safe for all of these pond users?

There are a couple different options out there that are both effective and chemical free.

1.       Pond dye These dyes, available in blue or black, shade the water and prevent most sunlight from reaching the primary algae growth spots. No more algae! Pond dyes are made of vegetable dye with some beneficial bacteria added for extra algae management. Blue gives the water a cool, tropical effect (and no, it will not dye your white swans blue). Black produces a shiny, reflective mirror effect that is both practical and aesthetically pleasing. The pond in the header of this blog page has been treated with black pond dye. Notice how reflective it is, and how well the colorful plants stand out against its surface. Microbelift Bio Blu and Bio Black are both excellent pond dyes that are inexpensive and easy to use.

2.       Barley straw: is an herbal treatment that blocks the reproduction of algae cells without affecting any other life forms in the pond, including fish, dogs, and kids. Just as mold found growing on bread was discovered to block the growth of bacteria and was converted to penicillin, there is a natural bacterium that grows on barley straw and blocks the growth of algae. Fairly easy to use, one application will last the entire year. Barley straw works best in water that has an alkalinity level of over 100 ml/g. For more information, see my barley straw post in the Earthen Pond s section.

3.       Pond aerators: are your third and most comprehensive choice. They work by removing the nutrients that algae need to survive from the water. In addition to managing algae, they also manage duckweed, water meal,  and other floating plants.  In addition they prevent winter and summer fish kills, reduce pond odor, and help clarify the water. Aerators are effective, efficient, and easy to use.

a.       Effective: Aerators circulate enough water to turn the entire bottom of your pond into a giant biofilter. Like a biofilter, the sediments in the bottom of a pond are capable of supporting massive populations of pond-cleansing, colorless, odorless, beneficial bacteria which process waste, break down accumulated organic debris, and use up many of the nutrients that would otherwise be utilized by algae, duckweed, and other nuisance growths.

b.      Efficient: Pond aerators, compared to their fountain counterparts, use a significantly lesser amount of electricity to do the same job. An efficient aerator for a typical one-acre, eight-foot-deep, pond that runs 24/7 costs only $40 a month.

c.       Easy: Aerators are so easy to install that a pond owner can do it over the course of a single afternoon. The compressor unit and cabinet come pre-assembled. The air stations can be lowered into position from a boat or kayak; no diving needed, and are kept in place ballasted with pea gravel.  No anchoring or tethering needed!  Air tubing is connected simply and securely with just a little PVC glue. No timer is needed, because systems run 24/7. If you choose not to run it in the winter, all you need to do is unplug it. Could it be easier? The only maintenance required is a small air filter on the shore unit that should be cleaned or replaced twice a year. Easy!

I recommend and sell the Vertex Bottom Aeration Systems , as it fits all my criteria for a great system and is well supported by their manufacturer.

Not sure what would work for your pond? Call or email me for a FREE ANALYSIS AND DESIGN! I can usually have a design back to you in less than two days; no cost, and no obligation.

For more information on bottom aeration systems, see more of my other pond aeration posts under “Earthen Pond” issues or the Aeration Section of my website.