The majority of ponds will eventually have an algae issue at one point in time. As a pond owner who deeply cares for all of your gardening efforts, you may find controlling pond algae to be your biggest challenge. It can be troublesome to ponds because it consumes large amounts of oxygen and deprives the surrounding plants. This can result in an imbalance in your pond which not only affects the aesthetic profile of your pond but also harms everything inside the pond such as fish. Hence, it is important that you have the required knowledge to control blanket weed.
What is blanket weed?
Blanket weed known by its botanical name Spirogyra, is a type of monocellular algae that is commonly found in freshwater areas.Spirogyra comes from the charophyta division which is a part of the Zygnematales order. In the United States blanket weed is called long string algae.
There are hundreds of types of blanket weed species in the world. Blanket weed is unsightly and can result in deoxygenation harming aquatic life.
Spirogyra is not considered a plant but is a type of filamentous algae.
Several other types of blanket weed such as chlorella, silkweed, cladophera, ulothrix, horse hair, woolly algae, and rhizoclonium are also considered a type of filamentous algae.
The cells of blanket weed have helical shaped chloroplasts that give this algae its green colour. Blanket weed does not have leaves, stems, or roots that are ingrained in the soil. It is free floating and attaches to the sides of ponds and rocks.
In ponds where there is a lot of fish, algae reproduce quickly because it feeds off the nutrient-rich feces of the fish. As a result, nitrates and dissolved ammonia in fish excrement give pond algae the necessary nutrients it needs to grow even if it is not too sunny which otherwise would have promoted photosynthesis.
The spores of blanket weed can remain active in dry areas for several years and when/if they make contact with water, they can quickly infest the freshwater area. This is one of the reasons why blanket weed is very hard to control. However, do not worry as this article will guide you how to clear algae from your koi pond so that there is no more blanket weed.
Moreover, Algae thrives in tap water or sea water because the chlorine content causes a natural imbalance in the pond. In areas where there is not a lot of competition for nutrients and where there is not enough plant foliage to cover the water surface, then those areas are typically overridden by algae.
Pond Algae Identification
To know if there is a pond algae problem you needs to look out for three signals:
- Change of color of the pond to resemble something like pea soup
- Green scums that are floating on the surface of the water
- Algae that has hair-like green strands floating on the surface of the water or at the perimeter of the pond.
By now you should have an understanding of what is blanket weed? Continue reading to learn how to control it.
What is the best blanket weed removal treatment?
Blanket weed thrives in areas with an excess organic matter, lawn fertilizer run-offs, and in hot sunny conditions. It grows rapidly in areas where there is lots of sunlight or shallow fast moving waters. Therefore, it is common to encounter spirogyra in waterfalls and ponds.
Remember, a pond is a little eco-system that has the components such as water quality, plant types, and pond bacteria that all work together to maintain a balance between everything.
Speaking on the more natural ways to get rid of blanket weed, pulling the weeds is not a favourable technique. Correspondingly, pulling the weeds release spores which can result in even more pond algae!
Furthermore, pond algae are resistant to many types of removal methods.
Because Spirogyra is harmful to freshwater and aquatic life such as birds and amphibians, it needs to be controlled by using the best blanket weed killer.
Treating New ponds
If you are creating a new freshwater area, then ensure that you plant at least 30% of aquatic vegetation and oxygenator plants such as elodea crispa or slender club rush for ponds, fish tanks, or aquarium.
Purchase a pond liner preferably a dark colour and ensure it has a minimum water depth of 3 feet. A pond liner is an impermeable geomembrane used to hold water in residential or garden ponds. Filling up a pond liner with enough water will make sure the water does not warm up quickly in sunny weather.
Treating existing ponds
Treating established ponds that contain algae is a slightly more challenging task then if you were to start from scratch. There are six best ways to treat pond algae:
Blanket Weed Brush
The manual way to get rid of pond algae is to use a blanket weed brush. The durable nylon brush head and pointy tip allow for the weed to be pulled out effortlessly.
The Hozelock blanket weed brush has a telescopic design that can be adjusted to lengths between 60cm to 180cm. It is very cost-friendly as it only costs about 14 GBP.
Plants to control and stop blanket weed
There are several types of plants that can be used to control blanket weed. For example, water lilies and Rorippa nasturtium aquaticum are two plants that can assist in aquatic weed control.
Water lilies are one of the most sought-after and beautiful water plants. They have a beautiful colour and lush foliage. They work by purifying the water and blocking sunlight from reaching the pond floor.
Rorippa nasturtium aquaticum is a type of watercress plant that requires a lot of nutrients to sprout. Once the plant consumes enough nutrients, then the nutrient level in the pond drops and causes blanket weed to die off slowly.
Blanket weed treatment reviews
Several products on the market can help you clear your freshwater areas of algae. Here are the top products:
Cloverleaf Blanket Answer
Cloverleaf blanket answer is an award winning, best-selling product rated #1 by koi keepers. It has a special blend of minerals and enzymes. It is safe for all pond wildlife, plants, and biological filtration systems.
It can be applied using a watering can evenly over the pond surface. The 800-gram bottle can produce up to 10,000 litres of mixed powder solution, so one bottle will last a long time. Initially, it will make your pond look milky, but it will wear off within five days.
Blagondon barley straw extract
Blagdon Extract of Barley Straw is a natural formula used to remove green water algae and blanket weed. It is biodegradable and does not harm the environment. It is also safe for wildlife. One bottle is capable of making 4500 litres of the treatment solution.
Barley straw is an ingredient that is capable of controlling pond algae, but it does take time to work. A complicated process is involved when barley straw is used to control aquatic weeds. For instance, in-situ production of hydrogen peroxide is the process by which the product works.
Pond Algae Eaters
A natural and organic way to remove blanket weed is to put algae eating animals into your pond or aquarium. There are many pond algae eater solutions. Here is a brief list of animals that can eat blanket weed:
- Black Japanese trapdoor pond snails (lifespan 2-3 years)
- Viviparus malleatus
- Common plecostomus (cannot live in cold water but plecos can live with goldfish) (ex. longfin bristle-nose plecos)
- Grass carp
How to prevent pond algae in the future
Once you have managed to get all the blanket weeds under control, it is time to start thinking prevention. Here are a few pointers on how to prevent blanket weed from growing:
- Avoid lining the bottom of a pond with soil
- Consider placing a pond net over the water surface to prevent leaves from falling in
- Ensure that no lawn fertilisers are leaching contaminants into the water area
- Only plant flora in the water that can grow in low-nutrient conditions
- Monitor fish populations to avoid having too many fish in the pond
Remember, you want to achieve a balance in the pond or lake ecosystem. Make sure that the water’s nutrient levels are levelled, and by doing all this you will have a wonderfully and delightful looking pond, lake, or aquarium.