If you have a pond, you probably want to know how to get rid of algae in your pond. Algae growth is the biggest complaint of pond owners. Algae, however, are a normal part of your pond’s ecosystem. In small amounts, algae are healthy and an essential component of any aquatic waterbody’s ecosystem. It is not always a sign that you should panic. When algae become excessive, it can take careful consideration to restore your pond to its original beauty.
Managing the algae in your pond is important. You want to enjoy the natural beauty of your pond. Beyond its aesthetic value, managing the algae is important for both recreational use of the pond as well as keeping the pond in good condition for fish and wildlife. Algae can render a pond useless for all these purposes.
In order to have a beautiful, ecologically balanced waterbody, it’s important that algae levels are managed. In order to effectively manage algae levels in the pond, you need to understand the causes and signs of algae overgrowth, methods for preventing it, and solutions for removing excessive algae.
Algae is an imprecise and informal term that applies to a wide, diverse range of photosynthetic eukaryotic organisms. It’s a catch-all term for many different, loosely related kinds of organisms. Types of algae include:
- Red pond algae
- Golden algae
- Green pond algae (cyanobacteria)
- Blue-green algae
Cyanobacteria/Blue-Green Algae in Florida Ponds
One of the most common types of pond algae in Florida is cyanobacteria (often referred to as blue-green algae).
Cyanobacteria often form in Florida ponds and become excessive as a result of organic material landing in the pond. Run-off from domestic animal and wildlife droppings, eroded sediment, grass clippings, and fertilizers used by landscapers all contribute to nutrient loading and poor water quality.
Blue-green algae can also release toxins. These toxins help the cyanobacteria continue to thrive because they kill other competing organisms. This is part of how algae can quickly take over a pond’s ecosystem and render it useless.
While not every blue-green algal bloom releases toxins, toxin-releasing algae can be extremely harmful. Cyanobacteria toxins, even in small amounts, can be deadly for pets, fish, and wildlife, so managing algae in your pond can be a matter of life and death.
Cyanobacteria poisoning in pets can unfortunately happen. Signs include:
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive Salivation
Given how dangerous cyanobacteria can be, it is important to know the signs of excessive algal bloom and cyanobacteria toxins in your pond.
Signs of Algae Build Up in Ponds
Commonly referred to as blue-green algae, cyanobacteria are best known for their blooms that have the appearance of spilled paint.
Given the serious consequences, it is important not only to look out for signs of an algal bloom, but also to look out for signs of cyanobacteria toxicity. Those signs include:
- Dead fish or waterfowl
- Unexplained sickness or death of pets
- Skin rashes following contact with water
Managing pond algae is imperative for the health of the pond as well as the humans and animals who enjoy it. Managing the algae in your pond is the first step to reclaiming your aquatic system and getting it back to its natural beauty.
It may be tempting to wait until the pond is completely overtaken by algae to focus on pond management. However, by the time you realize you have an algae problem in your pond, it will likely require a considerable investment of time and money to restore balance. Proactive and ongoing management of your pond is key to keeping it beautiful and your pond-related expenses in check.
Chemical Treatments for Pond Algae
There are aquatic herbicides, often referred to as “algae killers,” that are Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered that are safe to use when applied in proper doses by licensed professionals.
You can hire a company to manage the algae in your pond and use these “algae killers” to address an algal blooms, and treatments like this are often required if an algae problem has gotten out of hand. However, chemical treatments are a reactive management solution that treat a symptom (i.e. algae) and not the underlying water quality issues.
How Do I Get Rid of Algae in My Pond Without Harming Fish?
PREVENT ALGAE BEFORE IT STARTS
Algae result from excessive nutrients in your pond. Anything you can do to limit the organic matter that falls into your pond can be helpful. Putting measures in place to prevent excessive organic matter from entering your pond will help improve overall water quality, and limit the likelihood of problematic algal blooms. You might work with people who use or work around your pond to educate them about preventing any avoidable run-off. For example, you can speak with lawn maintenance professionals about strategies for keeping lawn clippings out of your pond.
There are a range of other preventative measures that you can try. Avoid feeding fish and waterfowl as any uneaten food will contribute to nutrient loading. Being careful about the amount of lawn-care products that you use near the water is also helpful. Lastly, prevent any pets from leaving waste in or near the water.
Professionals can also help implement proactive management solutions to help keep your pond balanced. Preventative strategies include water quality testing, the application of beneficial bacteria and nutrient remediation products, shoreline buffer management and native plantings, aeration and floating fountains, and fish stocking.
These techniques are best handled by licensed professionals. At Lake and Wetland Management, we are experts in lake and pond management throughout the state of Florida. We coach and assist our customers with the best strategies for maintaining a beautiful pond that humans and animals can enjoy year after year. We want to help you manage the cyanobacteria in your pond or water body and keep them at beneficial levels.