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Tackling Algae: The Most Common Aquatic Weed

by Marcia Passos Duffy, All About Lawns Columnist

If you have a pond in your landscape, chances are you have to battle aquatic weeds. The most troublesome is algae, that unsightly green or black muck that builds up on the surface of water bodies.

Algae occurs even in healthy ponds. However, an algae "bloom" that takes over a pond means the ecosystem is out of balance. The algae has out-competed all other life forms in the pond.

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What an Algae Bloom Means

An algae bloom means your pond's oxygen is too low and the nutrients are too high. Nutrients are found in fish feces, leaves, and other yard debris that has fallen into the pond. The debris causes a chain reaction that starts with suffocating the bottom-dwelling plants (which emit oxygen)���and creates an environment perfect for algae to thrive.

How to Tackle Algae Problems Without Chemicals

While heavy metal additives in herbicides do kill algae, there are more environmentally friendly ways to get rid of it:

  • Clear Pond Applications. Natural bacterial products that don't kill the algae, but change the chemical composition of the pond making it difficult for algae to thrive.
  • Ion Applications. Uses ecologically safe metal ions released slowly into the water to prevent aquatic weed growth.
  • Sound Waves. Emit sound frequencies that disrupt the algae's system and ability to float, while having no impact on other aquatic life.
  • Skimmers. Handheld "brooms" that skim off the algae.
  • Barley Extracts/Straw. Used by farmers for hundreds of years as a natural algae preventative, it changes the water's pH, making it inhospitable for algae growth. Ohio State University offers a thorough fact sheet on barley straw.
  • Grass Carp. Penn State University encourages the use of grass carp, a fish that feeds on aquatic weeds.

If you have a pond, try some of these natural alternatives to control algae and maintain your lovely landscape investment.

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About the Author
Marcia Passos Duffy is a freelance writer and a member of the Garden Writers Association. She is a frequent contributor to Turf Magazine and Growing Magazine. Visit her site at www.backporchpublishing.com

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