Early spring algae control in ponds | Living the Country Life

Early spring algae control in ponds

There are some things you can do now before it starts looking like pea soup

My favorite time to go fishing is early in the spring when the ice is gone, the water is clear, and the algae hasn’t taken over yet. If algae is a constant problem in your pond, nip it before it gets out of control.
Bryan Swistock is an extension water quality specialist at Penn State University. He says there are three elements that algae require to grow: nutrients, sunlight, and warm water. Algae feed on the nutrients so do what you can to restrict them.

"It really depends on a case-by-case basis whether the nutrients are coming from fertilizers, or septic systems, or geese, or other animals," says Swistock. "If you can identify the source and start to reduce it, you’ll have a long-term effect, but it’s not going to work overnight."

Swistock says having a buffer strip of long grass and vegetation around the edge of the pond will help remove the nutrients before they get into the water. Another measure you can take is to reduce the amount of sunlight that goes through the water column.

"You can do preventatives like shading products that you can put into the pond that will actually sort of shade the water and prevent sunlight from reaching the bottom. Some of those products require permits, depending on the state that you’re in and the product that you use," says Swistock. "They also don’t work very well for ponds with a lot of flow through them because they just get diluted too easily. But in the right situation, they can work very well to prevent the growth of not only algae, but aquatic plants."

The first sign of algae growth is on the bottom of the pond where the water is four-feet deep or less. The sediment will start to turn green and almost look fuzzy. Not long after that, mats of floating algae will break loose and come to the surface. Swistock says if you use algaecides, they should be applied as soon as you see the green gunk on the bottom, and before it forms the floating mats.

Get rid of pond scum, learn more about controlling algae

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