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Five spring tips for clear pond water

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The following spring algae-busting tips will help you enjoy your outdoor space throughout the summer without having to constantly worry about algae.

By Drs. Foster and Smith Posted Mar 9, 2009

The spring pond season is an exciting time especially after a long, cold winter. Many pond and water gardeners are anxious to experiment and try out new products and techniques for a refreshing new look. But for many, spring also means the arrival of the dreaded “spring green.” The warmer temperatures and longer days create conditions ideal for algae that turn your pond into pea soup.

Once algae take hold, they seem nearly impossible to rid. This may be the case if conditions that encourage aggressive algae growth are not addressed in a prompt manner. Simplify algae control by getting a jump-start. Take steps to keep algae growth under control as soon as possible – don’t wait until the water turns murky green.

The following spring algae-busting tips will help you enjoy your outdoor space throughout the summer without having to constantly worry about algae.

1. Reduce algal nutrients

Control aggressive algae growth by reducing nutrients available to algae. Replace chemical filter media such as activated carbon on a regular basis and use products designed to eliminate phosphate, the main algal nutrient. Consider taking a multiple approach using Barley Straw products or products designed to limit algae growth.

2. Increase aeration

When the pond ice has thawed, increase pond oxygen levels with aeration devices. It is one of the easiest ways to improve water quality and curb conditions that encourage aggressive algae growth. Well-oxygenated water not only allows beneficial bacteria to process organic waste materials more efficiently, it also reduces carbon dioxide that feed algae. When using aerators during spring, it is important to place these devices close to the water surface. Even if the air temperature is quite warm, the water temperature may still be significantly cold. Aeration devices placed deep in the pond can churn the cold water, creating stressful conditions for your pond fish.

3. Bacterial additives for spring

After a cold winter, the reduced numbers of beneficial bacteria begin to slowly increase. Give these helpful bacteria a boost and replenish their populations by adding a spring or coldwater bacterial formula for efficient biological filtration. Remove leaves and large organic debris to accelerate the decomposition of these materials.

4. Monitor fish food

Do not feed your fish until water temperatures are consistently above 50ºF. Once water temperatures stay above 50ºF, start feeding your fish wheat germ food. These low-protein, cool water foods are easier to digest and help minimize waste. Switch to a staple or growth food when water temperatures remain above 70ºF. Give your fish just enough food they can finish within a few minutes and remove any uneaten food.

5. UV clarifiers

Early spring is the perfect time to install an ultraviolet clarifier. These units emit germicidal ultraviolet light similar to sunlight (UVC) to help clarify green water associated with free-floating algae. When the water temperature is consistently above 45ºF, start up your filter along with a UV clarifier to maintain clean, clear water. If you already have a UV clarifier, spring is the perfect time to install a new UV lamp for optimum results throughout the season.

© 2007 Foster & Smith, Inc. Reprinted as a courtesy and with permission from

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  • jameswburke

    Barley straw has been traditionally used to clear up ponds. Throw in a bale and let it absorb algae.

  • Ben Helm

    Algae (green water) and blanket weed (string algae) are like the ying and yang of algae problems in a pond. That is – if your pond is suffering from one it is not likely to suffer from the other. This is because, either will thrive in a garden pond where there are excess nutrients but if your pond water is thick and green (and inpenetrable to light) then blanket weed will not thrive. If you then install a UVc (inline – between pump and filter), this will kill the green water, leave your pond crystal clear, but with the nutrients still in the water (phosphates and nitrates), enter the blanket weed, very appreciative of the perfect blanketweed conditions. The solution is to address the cause – not the symptoms. You are dealing with a mini-pollution problem, where the solution to the pollution might well be dilution. The cause is the combination of nutrients and sunlight. If you can control either (or both) within the pond, then you have a fighting chance against blanketweed (string algae) and algae (green water) in a garden pond.

  • You could also install some algae eating fish theres a few types of fish out there that nauturally eay algae as part of their diet for example some species of cichlids eat algae. Though you’ll have to do your research before adding them.

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