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Algae Management

This article focuses on algae management. Click here for detailed information regarded shoreline & underwater weed management.

 

7,000 algae species are native to Florida. It is not possible or desirable to eliminate all algae. These tiny plants add oxygen to the water & provide food for billions of other tiny creatures. See the Algae Science article for more scientific information about this important plant.

 

Algae management requires a thoughtful combination of prevention & biological control. Algae is a problem because many people think it’s ugly. More importantly, it’s a symptom of excessive nutrients in your lake. 

 

Algae can be managed many ways. The title of each section below is a link to more information about that topic.

 

Chemical control – 1950s generation

Spraying harsh chemicals in your lake simply masks the symptom. It doesn’t address the underlying cause of excessive algae growth. 

These chemical products, mostly copper based, are harsh.

  • They kill snails, clams & all other organisms that clean the water & reduce algae

  • They never biodegrade, but instead build to toxic levels in the lake bottom

  • They create a vicious cycle of killing the algae & then causing a new algae bloom in three weeks

Chemical control – new generation algicides

New products kill algae without building up in the lake. They also kill fewer beneficial organisms. They are an excellent alternative to the old copper-based products. 

Harvesting

Whether with equipment or manual labor, alga is physically removed.

  • More expensive than chemicals

  • Has immediate results

  • No chemicals enter your lake

  • Algae nutrients are removed from lake

  • Removing nutrients is environmentally friendly

  • Future algae growth is reduced

  • No harm is done to the filter (cleaning) organisms

 

An ounce of prevention / Best landscape practices

What you do in your yard directly affects the amount of algae in your lake. The most important way to control algae is to implement sustainable landscape designs & practices. 

  • Fertilizer is algae food. Keep it far away from any water.

  • Do not fertilize prior to rain. Half the fertilizer can wash in during a heavy rain.

  • Keep grass clippings out of the lake. The grass blade tips are algae food.

  • If your community uses reclaimed irrigation water, drastically reduce fertilizer. 

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Shade

Algae thrive on sunlight, particularly in the shallow water near the shore. Any way we reduce sunlight penetrating to the bottom of the shallow areas reduces algae growth.

  • Aquatic plants are an excellent plant to block sunlight. They also improve habitat for snails & clams that clean the water.

  • Pond dye, a vegetable oil product, blocks ultraviolet sunrays. Consider it sunscreen for your lake. 

 

Aeration

Aeration creates water currents. Water moves from the bottom to the surface & from the middle to the shore. Here’s how the water movement helps:

  • Cools the surface water & slows algae growth

  • Pushes algae & floating plants to the shore

  • Circulates oxygen-poor bottom water up to the surface where it “absorbs” oxygen from the air.

  • Sun-loving algae are forced to the dark bottom, slowing its growth & killing some of it.

  • More oxygen at the bottom favors the growth of invisible, beneficial bacteria instead of algae

 

Biological control

The best control is Mother Nature’s way; a balanced ecosystem. Many organisms eat algae or compete with algae for nutrients. These include fish, beneficial bacteria, snails, freshwater mussels & aquatic plants. Every lake & neighborhood is different. Specific solutions for your lakes require an inspection. But the general rule is that algae grow out of control when these other organisms are absent.

 

Education

New people move to your community every year. Most people will “do the right thing” once they have heard the message a dozen times. Beautiful Ponds offers monthly articles for your community newsletter or website as part of our lake management service. Education turns complainers into neighbors who are proud of their lakes.

 

BioFilter – nutrient reduction

Beautiful Ponds prefers proactive prevention over reactive treatment. But some lakes have accumulated nutrients in their sediment due to decades of chemical treatment. When this happens, prevention isn’t enough to stop algae blooms. 

Beautiful Ponds partnered with Cornell University to reduce lake nutrients (& algae) with biofilters. This technology rests, out of sight, at the bottom of your lake & reduces the nutrients & algae.

 

Contact Beautiful Ponds to learn about any of the algae management techniques above.