Controlling Koi Pond Algae – The Koi Keeper’s Enemy!
Without a shadow of doubt, koi pond algae is probably the number one enemy of koi fish enthusiasts… not only because of the look and smell it creates… but because of an even more insidious reason – algae actually threatens the very lives of their fish if left unchecked!
Yet the reality is that you can avoid algae buildup quite easily and it does not have to be this way… controlling algae is simple, if you know how to go about it the right way!
So here are some valuable tips to help you quickly get koi pond algae under control.
There are two main ways to control algae – with chemicals or by natural means, and this article will cover natural algae control. Chemical algae control will be described in later articles.
It must be said though, that natural pond algae control is the preferred method as it does not interfere with, or cause any imbalance to your pond’s ecosystem. That said, there will still be times when you need to treat the water with chemicals and this is acceptable provided it is not the sole method of algae treatment.
So first let’s look at why koi pond algae is such a threat and then we will look at preventing it.
The main reason is that decaying algae creates ammonia, and a buildup of ammonia goes on to quickly drain the levels of oxygen in the water… and it almost goes without saying that koi fish without oxygen are like humans without air… they start getting sick and ultimately they die!
But here is the good news… with some smart planning you can seriously inhibit the growth of algae, prevent dangerous ammonia buildup and remove your koi from risk.
Ok… there are two things that algae needs to thrive – sunlight and the right nutrients. If you limit these elements you severely restrict it’s growth or even kill it outright and that is where some smart planning comes into play.
Restrict direct sunlight on your koi pond
This is not to say that your pond should not have any sunlight because of course it needs it, but what you need to consider is how to keep as much direct sunlight off the bottom of the pond as possible, because that’s where algae mainly grows.
So if you are building a new koi pond, try to make as many areas as you can at least four feet deep… the deeper the better, because sunlight has a hard time penetrating beyond this depth.
Of course you will still want some shallow areas around 18-24 inches deep, so in these areas you want to consider using plants that have plenty of large leaves in order to form lots of shady spots.
Water lilies are a great natural shade defense weapon with their broad leaves and they also look fantastic and enhance the look of your pond.
For those who already have an existing pond which cannot be changed as far as depth goes, you may want to think about planting lilies and also installing some overhead shade cover. Perhaps an open pergola with shade material fixed on top… there are plenty of options here and you can let your imagination loose here… but you get the idea right?
If you can shade 70-80% of your pond… you will be quite surprised how quickly the koi pond algae growth slows down.
Remove the nutrients that the algae needs
Just as important as restricting sunlight is the need to eliminate the nutrients that algae thrives on… take away it’s food and starve it to death!
Remove all things like:
- Fish waste
- Uneaten fish food
- Decaying algae
- Decaying fish (yes they do die on occasion)
- Decaying leaves and debris
- Certain phosphates and tap water nitrates
Yes this will mean regular skimming and vacuuming of the pond floor, plus a good pump and filtration system to circulate the water, but the benefits will be well worth it. As referred to above, you will literally be starving the koi pond algae to death!
Plus… a good clean pond is the mark of a conscientious koi fish keeper.
So use these two simple tips and you will be amazed at how fast the algae starts to diminish – then you can get on with the real fun stuff – like enjoying your healthy koi!
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