Toxic Algae: What it is and how to prevent it

July 14, 2017

In peak algae season all over the country, it is not uncommon for bodies of water to have at least a little bit of algae on them. High temperatures are perfect growing weather for algae. Algae is a normal part of a water ecosystem, but when algae overgrows rapidly, it can become dangerous. Toxic algae can occur in all 50 states.

What is toxic algae?

When algae experiences an overgrowth, this is called an algae bloom. Some large algae blooms contain toxins that are harmful to humans. Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, are the harmful type of algae blooms. Algae blooms can occur in salt and fresh water and can be toxic to humans and animals alike. These blooms happen in slow moving water, in high-sunlight areas, and in waters with excess nutrients that algae like to feed off of (nitrogen and phosphorus).

An algae bloom can look like paint on the water or like scum. These can vary in color, from green, red, blue and brown. It will most often smell foul as well.

Harmful effects of toxic algae:

Animals and humans can experience negative side effects of toxic algae exposure. Irritation or rashes can happen, along with vomiting, weakness, diarrhea, and more. In pets that have been exposed, lethargy, difficulty breathing, vomiting may occur. If symptoms are left untreated, severe illness or even death may occur. If you or a pet is exposed to toxic algae, wash off and monitor for signs of exposure for the following few hours. Seek medical attention if symptoms are occurring.

If you see toxic algae, report it to your local authorities and stay away from the water. Don’t allow kids or pets in the water.

How to prevent and treat growth:

Since large algae blooms happen due to conditions such as ample sunlight, excess nutrients, and stagnant water, there are a few things you should consider doing to prevent prime algae overgrowth.

1.       Treat existing algae with an algaecide, such as Mizzen® algaecide from Lake Restoration.

2.       Use a nutrient reducer, such as SparKlear® or PhosControl® to rid your water of excess nutrients that aid in rapid algae growth. Make sure grass clippings and leaves aren’t getting into your water (this creates more excess nutrients in your pond).

3.       Use an aerating fountain, like the Vitaflume® floating fountain from Lake Restoration. The fountain will help keep water moving and gas exchanged between the water and the air.

Steps to Prevent Mid-Summer Algae Blooms

July 13, 2017

As the temperatures rise around the country this time of year, you may find that your pond is looking more green than usual. This is because warm temperatures, along with organic matter and excess nutrients in the water can create the perfect environment for very rapid algae growth.

To keep a clear pond, especially at this point in the season, you need to be proactive about making sure you are taking the right steps to keep algae away. Keeping your pond clear of algae is similar to weeding your garden; you need to keep up with it, or it will get out of control. We recommend treating every 3-4 weeks to keep your pond looking great!

Take note of some helpful tips and product recommendations to keep up with your pond.

1.       Using an algaecide regularly

Using an algaecide, like our copper-based Mizzen® algaecide, will be a key factor in eliminating algae once it is grown underneath or on top of your pond. Mizzen® is sprayed over the algae or can be applied with the TORMADA® remote controlled application boat. Mizzen® can help clear up your pond in as little as 7-14 days, with full results seen in a month. Algae can re-grow rapidly, even within a few days, so make sure you have enough Mizzen® on hand for a second treatment or spot treating throughout the season. One gallon of Mizzen will cover 20,000 square feet, and is $34.95. Mizzen® is also available in smaller sizes or gallon packs.

 

2.       Use a nutrient reducer as part of your treatment plan

Nutrient reducers, such as SparKlear® and PhosControl® can reduce the organic matter in your pond that weeds and algae feed off of. When used in conjunction with an algaecide, you will be reducing existing algae and making it harder for it to regrow. SparKlear® contains bacteria and enzymes that eat away at the nutrients in your pond, and it can help improve your pond’s water clarity. PhosControl® contains aluminum sulfate that binds with phosphorus (which algae feed off of) making the phosphorus unavailable for the algae. Monthly treatments with these products is recommended.

 

3.       Consider aeration to help keep water clear

Aerators or aerating fountains work to keep water moving and will help exchange gases trapped in the water that are aiding in algae growth. Lake Restoration offers Vitaflume® floating aerating fountains in 3 different sizes and can move 7,000-10,000 gallons of water per hour. Fountains keep water moving so that algae mats cannot form like they would in more stagnant waters. Aerating fountains help your pond “breathe,” and they also look great as a centerpiece. Vitaflume® starts at $975 and offers optional spray patterns and lighting so you can customize the look of your centerpiece.

 

4.       If you also have weeds, we recommend using the following products for an overall healthy pond:

Dibrox® herbicide: controls floating and submerged weeds like Eurasian Watermilfoil and duckweed.

Mizzen® algaecide: to control filamentous and planktonic algae in scum.

SparKlear® or PhosControl® nutrient reducers: to reduce algae fuel and sludge, and improve water clarity.

Sapphire Bay® Pond Dye: Do give your pond a pleasing blue color.

*for lakes and dock and swim areas, use Mizzen®, Dibrox® and MuckMaid® pellets.

Following these steps will help improve your pond’s health over the hottest months of the summer when algae growth is rapid.

7 Spring Backyard Cleanup Tips

April 25, 2017

Spring cleaning can be a dreaded task, especially after a few months of neglecting your outdoor areas and spaces. Now that spring has sprung, take a walk around your yard, garden, and patio areas to assess what you’ll need to get done before summer hits.

Get a jump on the project so when the weather warms up, you’ll be able to enjoy your yard and begin planting, landscaping, hosting parties, and more without having to do last-minute cleanup!

 1.) What’s Your Plan?
When you first walk into your yard, you might notice you haven’t taken a good look at your backyard in a few months. There may be more to be done than you expected. Walk around and make a list of the small and large tasks that can be taken care of right away. Plot a course of action for what can be done first, then think about what your overall goal is for some of the larger projects that arise. Also, make sure you have tools and equipment for repairing and cleaning.

  • Broom
  • Garbage bags or wheel barrel for debris
  • Tree and plant trimmers
  • Hammer, screw driver, and nails for small repairs
  • Wash cloth and water
  • Hose
  • Touch-up paint for buildings 

2.) Garbage and Debris
As you’re walking around, you’ll notice any garbage laying around that may have blown into your yard. Take time to clean up any trash. Leaves and brush may have been left behind from fall. Rake any plant debris lying around and bag to use in compost or save as insulator for prepping plants for winter next fall. Do you have pets? Clean up any messes they’ve made that may create obstacles later on. 


3.) Assess Your Plants and Trees
How are your annual plants looking? Take time to trim and clean up their appearance, as well as the area surrounding them. Did the wind and storms damage any trees or plants? You may look around and see broken branches or a newly planted tree leaning slightly. Make sure you take any clearly broken parts of trees or plants off the plant, or pick them up from the surrounding area. Give your trees proper support (you may have to wait until the ground warms up to apply stakes for support if you live in a cold climate). Make note of any plants and trees that look like they won’t make it another season, and note where to remove and re-plant.


4.) Structure Repair and Cleanup
If you have a barn, pole barn, shed, lean-to, dog kennel, or any other type of structure in your yard that has been neglected in the last few months, check them out. Look for damage, areas to be cleaned out, and the overall look of the outside (if it will need a good washing), especially if it is an older structure.  If you live in a cold climate, winter can be tough on buildings, so make sure you know of any repairs that need to be taken care of before they will need to be used for summer. Take time to clean out cobwebs, dirt and dust, or rodent-takeover. Wash windows, re-paint siding, and fix leaking roofs.


5.) Pond and Backyard Water Features
Once the ice comes off your pond or water feature, it’s time to start thinking of how you are going to prevent weeds and algae from taking over this summer. Pond herbicides are a great way to combat your problems with floating or submerged weeds. Use a pond herbicide, such as Dibrox®, to tackle duckweed, milfoil, or hydrilla.  Dibrox® is quickly absorbed by the plants and you will see fast results.
If you have algae in your pond or water feature, using a chelated copper based algaecide will quickly control the filamentous algae.  As the temperatures start to climb, algae can return quite often.  Continue to use an algaecide, such as Mizzen®, to keep your water looking crystal clear. Lake Restoration, Inc., offers solutions to help you see clear and beautiful water in your pond or water feature all summer long.


6.) Patio Condition
      If you have a porch, deck, or patio area, you probably need to clean and repair anything that needs some T.L.C before you host any summer get-togethers. Clean and wash any patio furniture you have (chairs, tables, umbrellas, cushions, etc.). Sweep and pressure wash your concrete surface, or sweep and wash your deck. If your deck looks like it could use a fresh coat of paint, plan on doing so when the weather warms up and becomes slightly more stable (avoiding rainy days). If you have plants around your patio area, make sure they are in good condition and trim them if needed. Plan where to re-plant or add to your plant area.


7.) Till Your Garden
Soil can be tilled in the spring. You must wait until the soil is dry and warm enough. You should till your garden when the dirt crumbles in your hand (indicating it is dry) and when it reaches 60°. You can also get bean stocks and tomato cages ready for when it’s time to plant.

Spring cleanup can be a bit of work depending on the amount you find needs to be done, but once you have a plan, your yard will be looking summer-ready in no time at all! 

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