Here’s the scenario... it’s January and you’re taking a stroll outside or look out your window and your pond looks like this…. an algae ridden cess pool!!
You think to yourself, C’mon I thought I was out of the woods with this stuff, it’s only supposed to grow in the summer heat, what’s happening?
There are thousands of strains of pond algae and they all only need two things to grow, sunlight and food! Unlike suspended algae, the algae that makes your water look like pea soup, string algae can grow in the winter.
The main source of food for algae is broken down debris such as leaves and any leftover sludge from the fish being active all season. Even though they are hibernating, your fish are also adding nutrients and food to the water for the annoying and ugly green stuff to grow!
These items add phosphorus and nitrogen to the water which string algae thrives on. During snowy winters the nitrogen levels can even get higher due to all the nitrogen contained in snow and the slow release of nitrogen during snow melt.
During the summer months bacteria and plants usually consume these nutrients, but we all know our plants are hibernating and the good bacteria go dormant this time of year, so no help from either of these!!
So, is it bad?
This string algae won’t hurt a thing, if anything it’s good for the system during the winter months. It does have some filtration capabilities and during the day is providing oxygen for your finned friends. So even if it’s abundance, your fish will be just fine and don’t really care.
The only reason it’s bad, is because, let’s face it, it looks terrible!!
What can we do?
The most effective solution in the winter time is to manually remove it, if it’s bothering you that badly. It’s the safest and easiest, however this isn’t going to help it form not growing. Also, should you have ice all over the pond, this might be, well just downright impossible.
There are a few companies out there that make cold water bacteria. They work at water temperatures below 50 degrees. We use Aquascape's Cold Water Bacteria during our winter visits, with success, but sometimes mother nature beats us and the algae does still grow. I’d have to say less, but some algae is still there.
In addition to the Cold Water Bacteria you could also try a Barley Straw Extract. While I haven’t personally tried this, some say it works. It might be worth a shot. If you do try it, let me know how it goes!!
All in all, this is common and not to be a concern in the least. At the worst, let it grow since you’re more than likely not out there enjoying your pond too much during the winter. All that string algae will all get removed during your spring clean-out.
Thank you for reading #TheWeeklyRibbit, we hope you learned a bit about the nightmare of winter string algae!
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Over the last 18 years, Clay has been involved in landscaping and aquascaping, which led him to his passion, POND BUILDING and opening A Frog’s Dream in 2006. His true passion is to create works of art for others to enjoy and marvel at in the privacy of their own backyards.