We understand a great deal more about the world around us than our ancestors did 100 or so years ago, but there are still some mysteries that remain. Algae is one of them. Blurring the line between plant and animal with their chlorophyll, eyespots, and flagella, algae has confounded even scientists, who have sorted algaes into two Kingdoms: Protista and Prokaryotae. How algae relates to your landscape is a difficult question. It can be both friend and foe, depending on the circumstances.
What is Algae?
There are numerous types of algae, divided into 11 phyla. Many species live in saltwater, so are not something you'll run into often, but three main groups make their homes in fresh water. These algae belong to:
- Phylum Chlorophyta
- Phylum Euglenophyta
- Phylum Chrysophyta
The types of algae growth you see in your backyard pond is due to one of these three groups, most often the green algae in Phylum Chlorophyta or the diatoms belonging to Phylum Chrysophyta. If you were to put algae under a microscope, you'd see that they're mostly made up of a single cell. Many have flagellum that help them move about. Some species even have a rudimentary eyespot that helps them locate and head toward light sources. Due to the wide range of creatures included under the umbrella, algae identification can be tricky at the cellular level. It's easy to see when these creatures have overrun your pond though.
Is Algae Control Necessary?
Algae are pretty amazing creatures that can move around, but also produce their own food. Some gardeners might tolerate them simply because they're so fascinating, but unless algae colonies are the only thing you're growing, you should consider controlling these organisms. Unfortunately, algae tends to bloom and die rapidly, first flooding your pond with the oxygen it produces while it removes all the nutrients from the water. Once all those nutrients are spent and the water is overly-oxygenated, the algae colonies die back dramatically, creating an opening for a bacterial bloom. All this cycling, not to mention the competition for nutrients, is hard on your pond plants and animals, so control is usually recommended. Mechanical filtration can catch some algae, as well as helping to eliminate the dead colonies, but you'll need to change or clean your filtration medium every few days until your algae colonies are under control. Whole pond changes are dramatic, but can eliminate most of your algae colonies if you scrub the liner well with an algaecidal disinfectant. If your algae problem isn't too bad and your pond life can tolerate it, regular treatment with an algaecide is a good idea.
Gardening tips, videos, info and more delivered right to your inbox!
Sign up for the Gardening Know How newsletter today and receive a free download of our most popular eBook "How to Grow Delicious Tomatoes."
Kristi Waterworth was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for many years, answering countless queries on plant pests and diseases.
10 Front Yard Plants That Will Add Value To Your Home – According To Experts
These stand-out plants will boost your home's curb appeal and make it more appealing to buyers. Invest in your front yard landscaping now, and these expert picks will be established by the time you move on.
By Melanie Griffiths
Growing Mushrooms On Logs: 5 Best Mushroom Varieties To Try
You’ll find growing mushrooms on logs is simple, enjoyable, safe and tasty – as long as you pick the right kinds! We reveal five of the best for an endless feast of fungi
By Janey Goulding
Flowering Pond Plants - Growing Aquatic Flowers
Adding flowering pond plants to natural and manmade water features can be an easy way to quickly beautify a space with lush greenery and vibrant bursts of seasonal color. Read on for more.
By Tonya Barnett
Full Sun Aquatic Plants - Full Sun Floating Pond Plants
There are pros and cons to putting a pond in full sun, but it's very doable. Here are some ideas to get you started.
By Mary Ellen Ellis
Echinodorus Creeping Burhead – Information On Creeping Burhead Plant Care
Creeping burhead plants are members of the water plantain family and commonly used in freshwater aquariums or outdoor fishponds. Echinodorus creeping burhead is native to the eastern half of the United States. To learn more about the creeping burhead plant click the following.
By Laura Miller
What Is A Saltwater Aquarium: Plants For Saltwater Aquariums
Building and maintaining a saltwater aquarium requires some expert knowledge in choosing the right plants. Here are some choices to start with.
By Mary Ellen Ellis
Outdoor Aquarium Ideas: Putting A Fish Tank In The Garden
Aquariums are generally made for inside the house, but why not have a fish tank outside? Click here for tips and ideas on backyard aquariums.
By Mary Ellen Ellis
Fish That Eat Plants – Which Plant Eating Fish Should You Avoid
Growing plants with aquarium fish is rewarding, but if you want to combine plants and fish, learn what aquarium fish to avoid. This article will help.
By Mary H. Dyer
Is Pond Fertilizer Bad For Fish: Learn About Fish Safe Fertilizer
Using fertilizer around fishponds must be done with care. Excess nitrogen causes algae, but can also contaminate the water and affect fish. Learn more here.
By Bonnie L. Grant
What Is Aquascaping – Creating An Aquarium Garden
Aquatic gardening can be a rewarding endeavor, especially when aquascaping. Click this article to learn more about creating an aquarium garden.
By Nikki Tilley