Pond Management

Pond Saver is used to clean and clear pond water. While Pond Saver does not kill or control algae, many people are using this product in conjunction with their overall pond management program. Their intent is to keep the water clean, while taking various comprehensive steps to manage algae blooms so they won’t have to use algaecides so frequently. 

Employ a Comprehensive Strategy to Control Algae Blooms

An algae control program should not rely on algaecides alone, but should encompass a unified strategy to address the problem. Remember that an algae bloom is a biological problem, and should be approached from a biological viewpoint (rather than merely a chemical one). Here are some strategies that will help.

  1. Do not rely on bacterial treatment as an algae-control tactic. The use of a bacterial treatment will not eliminate algae. It will only help keep the water clean and clear, and help to reduce the nutrient load of the water. But when a large algae population exists before you begin treatment, it will be a very long time before this strategy could noticeably impact the existing algae population. Like any population, they can resort to their stored mineral nutrient reserves to hang on, and they can internally recycle some micronutrients. So a bacterial treatment can keep the water clean and free of odors, but it will not reduce your existing algae load. While bacterial treatment can be an important component of your overall pond maintenance program, it is not an algae-control treatment.
  2. To address an algae bloom, you will need to take direct action first before beginning or resuming bacterial treatments. Your choices are:
    1. Harvest and remove the floating algae first.
    2. Resort to the use of algaecides to knock down the existing population.
    Option A is better, because it removes the nutrients tied up in the algae body, so these nutrients won’t be released back into the water when the dead algae biodegrades. Unfortunately, option A is only practical for smaller bodies of water.
  1. Whatever you do, avoid stirring up the bottom sediment. This will release large amounts of fertility into the water that will almost always trigger an algae bloom. 
  2. Try to learn what is causing these algae blooms, especially in situations where the problem is worse than in prior years. An algae bloom is almost always caused by one thing--a sudden influx of fertilizers into the water. If you find out where this is coming from, you have a leg up on the problem. The most common sources of fertilizer input are the following:
    1. Did the pond owner recently add aquatic plants or add fertilizer (tablets?) to existing plants? I was surprised to learn how often this is done without the client realizing that this contributes to algae blooms.
    2. Does the client have fish or waterfowl that are fed regularly? This creates an unnaturally high population of fish or waterfowl, who produce an artificially high amount of very fertile waste.
    3. Was something done recently that dramatically stirred up the bottom sediment?  Sometimes, for various reasons, the pond owner will dredge or scrape the bottom.  Avoid stirring up the bottom sediment. It should be left alone to quietly store and decompose nutrients at its own pace.
    4. Is fertilizer applied to the grass or lands immediately surrounding the pond?  This is common on golf courses, where fertilizer is sprayed (usually in excess) on the turf right up to the edge of the water. Runoff from rain and ground water carry the excess fertilizer right into the water. Fertilizer application should be avoided or reduced within 50-feet of the pond's edge.
    5. Is there any other apparent source of fertilizer input into the water?  Anything that could be done to reduce or eliminate this will help dramatically.
  1. After you have taken steps to reduce the algae population and reduce or eliminate the fertilizer influx, then you can start or resume the bacterial treatments to keep the water clean, clear and odor-free. 
  2. If possible, aerate the water. A bubbler, fountain, or waterfall will do this. Adequate levels of dissolved oxygen support populations of water-cleaning aquatic bacteria.
  3. Keep an eye on the algae population for signs of another bloom. With clean water, blooms tend to be less frequent, but they can still occur. You should be ready with your direct algae control strategies, such as algaecides or harvesting, when an algae bloom becomes a problem. With a good pond program in place, the need for such direct control tactics should be significantly less frequent.

Be a Biological Detective

So when dealing with a problem pond, try to think like a biologist and a detective. The problem is excess nutrient load. The principal nutrients in question are nitrogen and phosphates. Find out where the excess fertility is coming from if possible. Reduce the nutrient load directly at the source if possible. Bacteria treatment will help reduce the nutrient load of the water only AFTER you have addressed the source of nutrient influx. You would be surprised how often you can quickly pinpoint the cause of the problem with a few well-placed questions designed to identify the nutrient influx.

What About Rooted Aquatic Plants?

There is a major difference between floting algae, and rooted aquatic plants.  Rooted plants have access to fertilizer nutrients that are trapped in the bottom sediment and accessed via their roots. So while algae populations are prone to drop when dissolved fertilizer nutrients are reduced, rooted plants will not suffer because they can still access the minerals in the sediment. Bacterial treatments can reduce the fertilizer content of the sediment, but it will take many years. So the comprehensive strategy discussed above (algaecides, clean water treatments, reduction of fertilizer influx) will not adequately address problems with overpopulation of rooted aquatic plants. This may require spot use of various herbicides designed for this problem, in addition to the above comprehensive program. 

Selecting Algaecides and Herbicides

Whenever selecting herbicides and algaecides, consider their effect on aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, like fish, birds, and local mammals. Select EPA registered products that are least toxic to non-target organisms. Also, wait sufficient time for the algaecide to dissipate before introducing your water-cleaning bacterial treatment. Otherwise, you may inadvertently kill the bacteria if you put them into the pond too soon after an algaecide treatment. A week to 10 days is usually sufficient for the algaecide levels to drop. Consult the product label for specific residual durations.