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Are algae bad for your pond and how can you prevent it?

A pond covered in thick algae

Pond algae is something many people will be only too familiar with. Whether you already have a pond or looking to set one up, pond algae is something everyone will encounter at some time. But are algae bad for your pond? If so, how can you prevent it? We explore the details.

What are algae?

A small pond with a thick pea coloured algae layer

Algae is a type of non-flowering aquatic plant. Many alga types live in different water conditions, including seaweeds, blanket weed (or Spirogyra), duckweed, and spirulina. Algae can be found in ponds, streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans.

Unlike other plants, algae do not have roots, stems, or leaves. They have much more varied photosynthetic pigments compared to other plants too. They have unique cells not found in other animal or plant kingdoms.

Algae can be suspended in the water or string algae attached to surfaces. Suspended algae turn the water into a pea-coloured green if left and can produce quickly due to its single-cell structure. String algae is a filamentous type of algae that attaches to plants, rocks, and the walls of ponds.

Algae can also be red or green. Red algae, or Rhodophyta, are typically found in freshwater environments. Red algae are given their distinctive red colouring due to phycocyanin and phycoerythrin pigments.

Green algae are algae with chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b pigments to give the algae a distinctive green colouring. Blue-green algae are not considered algae anymore due to the presence of prokaryotes. Algae are classed as eukaryotic organisms.

Some characteristics of algae include their unicellular or multicellular nature, only found in moist settings, reproduction through spore formation or physical contact with haploid gametes, free-living, and photosynthetic in nature.

Are algae bad for your pond?

A fish swimming through water with algae

In most cases, algae blooms can be harmful to your pond. Algae, in large, uncontrollable amounts, can block sunlight and remove oxygen from the water. This can damage a pond’s ecosystem and kill fish due to the lack of oxygen.

Inflow and outflow pipes may also become clogged with algae, either living or decaying. This can affect the drainage and water levels of your pond. Different algae have different growth rates, such as blanket weed, which can rapidly grow in the right conditions.

However, this all depends on the type of algae present in the water. Some alga types, such as plankton, can benefit your pond’s ecosystem. Plankton forms the food chain's basis, which helps provide food for fish. However, this is only beneficial in manageable amounts.

Algae naturally produce oxygen. But without sunlight, algae respire at a much higher rate compared to other lifeforms. In turn, algae use more oxygen in respiration, causing a shortage of oxygen in the water for other life forms. Aquatic plants and fish will struggle to survive as a result.

Algae thrives best in warm conditions. Most algae blooms occur in the summer due to the sunlight heating the water and providing ideal conditions for the algae to grow. Even if algae are absent in your pond, wind can carry spores that land in the water, planting the seed for algae blooms.

Because shallow water, such as that found in ponds, is warmer, it provides an ideal breeding ground for algae. High mineral content in water also provides the nutrients for the algae to grow. High mineral content in water can result from the following:

  • - Organic matter,
  • - Fertilisers seeping into the water,
  • - Fish feces,
  • - Fallen leaves,
  • - Using tap water instead of rainwater,
  • - Acidic water levels.

Algae produced through spores only worsens the situation, as spores are released when the algae are disturbed. No sooner have you removed the algae that it thrives again. Due to the problems caused by excessive algae, many people look for solutions to remove or eliminate pond algae.

How can you prevent pond algae?

A blanket weed controller attached to a pond's main water pipe

Preventing pond algae can be a significant challenge. Although many may opt for the simple option of scooping algae from the pong surface using a net, this is only a temporary fix. Spores released into the water means the algae will grow back with a vengeance.

The sooner you act to prevent algae, the better for your pond’s ecosystem. Before attempting to remove any pond algae, you must kill it first. That way, no spores will be released into the water as you scoop it out.

For those wanting a long-term solution to preventing pond algae, disrupting the pond’s equilibrium is recommended to prevent future algae outbreaks. Methods, such as a blanket weed controller fitted to the pond's surface, provide a long-term, permanent fix.

Another method you can use to limit the growth of pond algae is to add some shade to your pond. While not as effective as a blanket weed controller, limiting sunlight exposure can hinder algae proliferation. Adding beneficial pond foliage can also help.

Blanket weed controllers

Blanket weed is a single-celled type of algae and is reliant on calcium in the water for growth, providing the right balance exists. Using a low-frequency magnetic field, a blanket weed controller disrupts the balance needed for blanket weed growth.

The field emitted from a blanket weed controller disturbs the balance needed for blanket weed growth without affecting the rest of a pond’s ecosystem. Such a field causes an unsustainable growth spurt of blanket weed, causing the algae to die.

Unlike other solutions for removing blanket weed, a blanket weed controller doesn't use or add any chemicals to the pond water. The magnetic field emitted from the device also doesn’t harm any other lifeforms in the pond, including aquatic plants and fish.

Installing a blanket weed controller can provide many benefits, including:

  • - A low-cost solution,
  • - It helps maintain the appearance of your pond,
  • - Sustains a healthy ecosystem,
  • - A permanent solution to eliminate algae,
  • - Easy to install with no moving parts or need for regular maintenance,
  • - It helps keep any pipes, pumps, or filters free from algae,
  • - Fit and forget.

Installing a blanket weed controller is straightforward. Consider fitting the controller between the pond’s pump and the filtering system for optimal effect. The device can also easily fit around your existing piping, removing the need for additional pumping.

The existence of pond algae can indicate that you have nutrient-rich water. While nutrient-rich water is not bad, it provides the right conditions for algae growth that can affect your pond. Taking suitable measures to prevent algae can ensure you continue to enjoy a healthy pond.