Having a water garden provides beauty and comfort to the atmosphere of your yard. To experience the beautiful growth of the plants you’ve planted and to see the happy and healthy state of your aquatic pets can be quite satisfying. But what if you notice something disruptive or something that can ruin your creative masterpiece, such as algae?
How do you control algae in a water garden? The best solution would be to use specific plants in advance that will prevent or reduce algae growth. Another solution is to use an algaecide. This is a very effective chemical that will remove algae if it ever gets too much for your plants.
Asides from these two solutions, there are additional options to help you prevent, reduce, and remove this annoying pest from your water garden. In this article, we will help you be well equipped to combat this never-ending, yet, defeat able water garden enemy.
When it comes to fighting, the first and basic rule to win or gain the upper hand is to “know thy enemy”. Before you can act or even know what to do, you need to understand your enemy first.
Knowing how algae works or even functions will give you the knowledge to counter its growth. This will also make it easier for you to act more swiftly and confidently in the future.
So, what are algae?
Algae are neither plants nor fungi, let alone an animal species. Although they are closely related to plants due to their growth process being very similar, such as using photosynthesis to produce food, they belong to their own category.
The main difference between them and plants is the fact that they don’t have stems, roots, and leaves. Most algae species are unicellular, meaning they can live by themselves without having to combine with other algae cells. This also means they lack the vascular system that plants have to help them circulate water and nutrients throughout their bodies.
What is their habitat like?
There are thousands, some say millions of algae species out there. The majority of these live in aquatic environments and thrive in bodies of water or at least where water is nearby. These can be saltwater or freshwater. Other algae species can live inland, places such as tree trunks or boulders.
Algae are very enduring living organisms and can live in hot or cold climates, even in acidic environments. They’ve been around for millions of years, so dealing with them can require constant work and attention.
If you understand algae, you’ll find that they are good for the environment as they help produce oxygen and remove carbon dioxide, just like plants do. Because they reproduce so quickly and are pretty much abundant, they contribute to producing almost half of the world’s oxygen in the atmosphere.
So, having algae is not all bad. In fact, sometimes, they are fine to have a little of in your water garden. However, you just need to control their growth. Plus, if push comes to shove, you could always easily illuminate them.
How do algae affect my water garden?
For some water gardeners, they don’t mind a little algae addition to their water garden feature. It can sometimes give off a natural and attractive look. But for others, an ideal water garden has stable control of algae growth or has none of it at all.
The main problem with algae in water gardens is the fact they feed off the nutrients that could be used for plants, leading them to be overgrown. If the weather is very sunny or wet, algae growth can increase significantly in the space of 24 hours. Too many algae can result in taking away the needed nutrients that your plants could use.
Additionally, too many algae can look very unattractive and does not look appealing as a water garden should, which should always have clear and clean looking water. There are two kinds of algae that you might discover in your water garden. They are called Green Water and String Algae.
- Green Water – Also known as suspended algae, these are algae that remain suspended in the water. It is these that give your water a green color when there is to much of it.
- String Algae – These are also known as hair algae due to their appearance and shape. They can produce long strands and can stick to rocks or solid objects. String algae are more visible compared to the green water type and can also be easily removed by hand.
Controlling Algae Growth
There are a few common things that you can do to address the increasing growth of algae. All of these will be helpful and make a difference in balancing out your aquatic ecosystem so that all life can enjoy coexisting with each other without any one-sided dominance.
Adding Aquatic Plants
This is probably the simplest and safest method to stop or prevent algae growth. If you’re just beginning to start your own water garden, then this is the best place to start at.
All aquatic plants absorb the nutrients found in water, but there are some kinds that do it better. Submergent plants are a perfect choice as this is their main benefit. These are plants that grow in the water and feed off of excess nutrients, thus leaving none behind for algae to take advantage of.
Another type of aquatic plant that’s also great are floating plants. These are plants that float on the surface of the water and can provide plenty of shade and reduce a significant amount of sunlight that is essential for algae to grow.
To help you get started, you can have one or a couple of oxygenating (submergent or floating) plants for every two square feet of your water’s surface. Of course, you always want to take into account the volume of water and the size of your water garden feature when planting.
Using Chemical Treatments
Water treatments are very direct and straight forward methods of dealing with algae. This would be the preferred method if you’re water garden has already too many algae or if you want to quickly remove what’s there.
Algaecide is one chemical that’s commonly used and is the perfect solution for fighting algae. Algaecide can come in liquid or powder form and is fast acting that can remove all of your algae in within a day. If you plan to use this method, make sure to carefully read and follow the instructions. To large of a dose can harm your fish and plants. You might want to apply algaecide early in the morning so you can monitor your fish throughout the day.
You also want to pay close attention to your water’s oxygen levels. Algae produce oxygen suddenly getting rid of all the algae can drastically change the oxygen content of the water.
The Importance of Fish
An algaecide is best used when combined with plants to combat and reduce algae. No pond is ever completely free of algae, but having a balanced ecosystem can help keep those pests in check. Another helpful hint that can prevent algae growth is to use high-quality food for your fishes.
Fishes are one of the main reasons why nutrients in the water exist. By feeding your fish with high-quality food, you will be discouraging the growth of algae as the food will produce less waste and fewer nutrients passing through the fish.
Understanding how algae grows is a very good start. This knowledge will help you appropriately treat your algae problem or prevent it from ever happening or worsening. Of course, there are other methods you could use too, aside from making good use of what mother nature has to offer. Here are a couple of questions that can help you expand your knowledge and array of “weapons”.
- “When does algae become toxic?” – Algae grow rapidly and if they become large enough that you can easily spot them, it is called “algae bloom”. Although algae blooms can be harmless, they can sometimes produce toxins that can be hazardous. Harmful algal blooms can damage your fish and may even kill them, so make sure you get rid of them before they wreak havoc in your water garden.
- “Can vinegar kill algae?” – If you’re looking for a non-toxic, home-made solution to kill algae, vinegar can be another weapon to use. All you have to do is mix one-part vinegar with three-parts water and then spray the mixture on those unsightly beings. The result is the removal of unpleasant green growth without the negative side effects of harmful chemicals.
- “Is bleach more effective in killing algae than vinegar?” – Bleach is a powerful cleaning agent that can destroy almost all microorganisms, such as mold and bacteria. It is also sometimes used to eliminate algae and is just as effective and stronger than vinegar. However, it has a greater risk of harming other living organisms, such as plants and fish as it can create a toxic environment once it makes contact with the soil or water.