Friday, August 10, 2012

String Algae and Me

Ten years ago I spent my late summer and early fall digging my garden pond and stream.  Little did I know at that time that by making the water feature I had created a center for my continuing education. Gene has been an invaluable support in this learning process.

The first couple of years of the pond and stream we struggled with algae blooms and string algae.  Gene consulted a local water garden nursery.  They suggested an external filtration system.  That is how Gene came up with the cattle tank filled with lava rock filtration system.  That has done a great job over the last eight years.

Today has been an absolutely beautiful day here in southwest Missouri.  Temperatures have been moderate, a cloudless sky with just enough breeze to be perfect to work outdoors.  So I was in the  backyard by 9:15 working toward rebuilding the stream part of the water feature.  This project will have to be done in several stages.  Plant trimming and removal, reshaping the bottom of the river, adding more height to the west side of the stream edge will get a good start on the project.  The last part of the stream change may include moving the location of the filtration tank before adding the decorative stones along the stream edge.


With the overall project in mind my focus today was twofold:  removing some liriope spicata from the bed next to the stream;  introducing some algae control products into the water system.  The liriope spicata had become invasive around the stream and deck edges.  The rain earlier this week along with the selected watering of the yard made digging up these plants much easier.  I was able to remove all the plants along the south edge of the stream.  There will be a few more clumps to be removed near a walkway and by the pond.   But I was pleased with the  progress so far.

The best way to beat algae in a pond to to avoid too much decaying matter in the pond.  Also, keeping filters clean.  We failed miserably on both counts last fall.  Did not get the netting over the pond in time to keep the falling leaves out of it.  Did not give the filter a fall washout.  The water quality is paying big time for our lack of energy.  In June we did an all day wash of the tank filter but it is really full again.

The more shallow areas of the pond were filled with algae before I had pulled and scrubbed the areas yesterday.  String algae had the stream almost completely engulfed.  About every other day I have been pulling almost a gallon of string algae from the stream and pond.  Yuck.



Research on line to determine the best approach for algae removal put some more wrinkles on my brain.  According to the sites on ponds, barley straw releases a chemical that controls new algae growth.  Those same websites noted that the lava rock eventually becomes too full of stuff to adequately filter pond water.  Bio balls, light weight devices, are now the recommended filter media.  All sites noted the importance of skimming debris from ponds.  So barley bales, bio balls and an new skimmer net to replace the torn net were ordered earlier this week.

After removal of the liriope menace a complete wash down and scrubbing of the stream liner was completed.  By relocating the edges of the liner to avoid rain water washing dirt into the stream should cut down on debris.  Barley bales are now placed at the end of the return water hoses and just below the waterfall.  300 Laguana biospheres in a mesh bag were added to the filter tank so they can be populated by "good" bacteria.  Just try me one more time string algae.
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