WHY BLUE GREEN OR FILAMENTOUS ALGAE FORM

The water cycle above gives us a good starting point in understanding water features and the formation of algae. Water storage in ice and snow along with cloud precipitation leads to surface runoff and collection in streams, ponds, lakes and rivers. This is where algae formation can occur.

Algae are tiny plant-like organisms which are found just about everywhere on earth. Every water feature has a unique ecosystem with lots of living organisms, including algae. The most common types of algae are filamentous, stringy mat-type algae (pond scum or pond moss) and planktonic, green water algae (pea soup or blue green algae).

Filamentous algae tend to form on the bottom of water features on rocks and logs and may look like green fur. As the clumps grow, they break loose from the bottom and float to the top, causing green mats on the surface. Filamentous algae begin growing in early spring and are visible around the edges of a water feature. Here is a link to helpful information from Penn State University about filamentous algae:

https://extension.psu.edu/filamentous-algae

Planktonic algae are extremely small microscopic organisms that give water features a green color. Normal populations of planktonic algae are important for a healthy water feature. They are the base of the food chain, essential for healthy aquatic life and beneficial for the ecosystem. Planktonic or blue green algae blooms are commonly found during summer months from a combination of warm temperatures, sunlight and nutrient rich water. This can look like green paint floating on the water surface. Here is a link to helpful information from the Washington State Department of Health about blue green algae:

https://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Contaminants/BlueGreenAlgae

Planktonic blue green algae can produce toxins which are dangerous to humans, animals and pets. During a bloom, drinking or coming in contact with the water should be avoided. Since blue green algae are microscopic in size, bacterial treatments must have a fighting chance to get ahead of the algae. If blue green algae have a head start and gain a strong foothold in a water feature, getting rid of it can be very difficult. Once blue green algae are well established, chemical treatments with an approved aquatic herbicide are necessary to eradicate the algae.

A healthy water feature is one in which the ecosystem is balanced. Measuring the pH of the water is the first indicator of a balanced ecosystem. Other constituents to evaluate balance include total nitrogen, total phosphorous and dissolved oxygen. If the conditions in a water feature favor algae growth, green, cloudy water or floating algae is noticeable.

The pH scale above allows us to determine the acidity or alkalinity of a water feature. The logarithmic scale measures acidity below pH 7 and alkalinity above pH 7. A neutral pH is 7. Freshwater ponds, lakes and rivers should not be too acidic or too basic with an ideal pH relatively neutral. Algae prefer alkaline water conditions where the pH is above 8. Key nutrients consumed by algae are phosphates, nitrates and ammonia. All water features have some nutrients present; the objective is to keep these in balance. Sources of nutrients include decaying vegetation (leaves, twigs, flowers, and seeds), fertilizer runoff, dead organisms (insects, fish, snails etc.), fish waste and excess fish food.

Dissolved oxygen in the water is another key factor in the health of a water feature’s ecosystem.  Sometimes adding air to a pond can cause more algae to bloom. But if the water becomes stagnant, adding aeration or improving water movement will help increase the oxygen content of the water.

If organic nutrient loading in a water feature goes unchecked, it may lead to eutrophication. This is the overall process where organic decay consumes oxygen and depletes the water of this life-sustaining substance. This can lead to possible death of fish and other aquatic life forms which, in turn, can lead to more organic decay and more oxygen depletion. Eventually the water feature may not support animal life at all and a fish kill may occur.

Small ponds have fragile ecosystems that can change in a short amount of time with changes in daylight hours, temperature, pH and nutrients. This is where BioWorld can be a beneficial addition. BioWorld Algae Treatment combines a bioenhancement liquid with selected, naturally occurring microbes for the safe and effective treatment of algae. The enhancement formulation maximizes the ability of the microbes to reproduce and thrive in the water feature. The microbes are more efficient at consuming nutrients in the water which disrupts algae growth. The microbes also work to break down and digest organic waste, a food source for algae growth. BioWorld is nearly 100% successful in eliminating filamentous algae, overcoming eutrophication issues, and helping balance water feature ecosystems.

The time to start treating a water feature is at the first signs of algae formation. This usually occurs in the spring time when daylight hours begin to increase. When using the BioWorld technology, we recommend at least a 6 week treatment period at the outset. After the initial 6 week treatment period, additional product applications may be necessary. Since every water feature is different, it is difficult to estimate what the follow up maintenance dosing may be. However, the rates and frequency of treatments can be decreased when the algae are under control and the ecosystem comes into balance.

If planktonic, blue green algae are just starting to form, BioWorld Green Water Algae Treatment can be used to outcompete the algae for the nutrients in the water. The BioWorld technology provides a 2-pronged approach: 1) the microbes are more efficient at metabolizing the nutrients; and 2) the microbes break down and digest organic waste. This hinders algae growth and reproduction. Up to a 70% success rate is reasonable to expect with BioWorld if treatments are started early, enough products are used and treatments are done consistently and correctly.

BioWorld Algae Treatment is one of the management tools to help clear the water of unwanted algae and work toward balancing the overall ecosystem of a water feature.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *