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FAQs on Pond Algae Control with Copper

Related Articles: Pond Algae Control with Copper Compounds

Related FAQs: Vascular Weeds, Pond Algae, Control

 

Whirling Vortex of Doom, or Fun With Tadpoles? - 06/07/2005 Dear Sirs, <And Ma'ams!  <grin>  Sabrina with you, today....> Hi! <Hello!> I live in Michigan and have a pond that is approximately  35x75 with depths of 3 inches to an average depth of 5 ft to one section that is 12 ft. <Wow, very nice.> Our pond is lined as the water table was too low. We installed this 5 yrs ago. Shortly after we had it filled a snapping turtle was found to be in it carrying with him leeches. <Eew.  There aren't a great many living things that I truly dislike....  among them are hydra, Aiptasia, most disease-causing organisms, and leeches.  Ugh.> We got rid of him but the leeches stayed. <Naturally.  Undoubtedly, they were plotting to get between your toes and latch on....  Evil little creatures....> We were told to use copper sulfate to get rid of them which they did. <Sure would.> My neighbor came down who happens to be a "water environmentalist" <I'm almost afraid to ask, but what precisely do you mean by "water environmentalist"?  Are we talking a jolly, down-to-earth fish hugger, or someone with OCD who honestly believes that swimming in a river is a heinous crime because you might, god forbid, kill an amoeba?  I mean all that lovingly, of course.  Diversity is, after all, what makes this world a good one to live in.> and said my husband put too much copper sulfate in the pond and said his kids were never to be in my pond. <Hmm....  How much CuSO4 did your husband use?  Did your husband disclose the amount to your neighbor?  If so, does your neighbor have any facts or statistics, or a scientific background, to properly understand whether or not there is "too much" CuSO4 currently in the pond?  What, to your neighbor, constitutes "too much"?> He told me its not safe. <Well....  To be quite honest, I *do* have to agree with him that CuSO4 is "not safe", to some extent.  CuSO4 is pretty nasty to all invertebrates, and something that I urge aquarium owners to really think about before using it, as it can be adsorbed into the substrate to be leached out at a later time, and cause inverts to sicken and die.  But, again, it would help to know how much CuSO4 was added.> We still have frogs, water bugs and tad poles living in along w/ a few painted turtles every now and then. <The water bugs alone make me think there is not, or not much, CuSO4 currently present in the water.  Water bugs, any and all of 'em, are invertebrates, and thus are SIGNIFICANTLY more sensitive to copper than, say, a fish, LET ALONE a person, even a kid.> I do not remember how much my husband put in but he bought what he needed per what he told the salesman. <Perhaps you can find out the amount from the salesman?  Perhaps, given the same facts you gave him before (probably dimensions or volume of the pond), he can tell you what he would've sold you?> My question is, is my pond safe? <Well, to be precise about it, I have insufficient data to give you an accurate answer.  But from what you've told me so far, given the choice to drink a glass of your pond water or a glass of water from a four-star hotel in Egypt, I'd take your pond water in a heartbeat - provided I was allowed to pull any tadpoles or turtles out of my glass, first.> My neighbor came over last summer to see what we had done and he made the comment that there was a lot of copper in my water because it was blue. <Uhh....  *what*??> I told him that we have not put any copper sulfate in since that first time and that the pond was blue because we put blue dye in it. <Yeah, oh-kay, to my understanding, there is NO CuSO4 offered for use in aquaria or ponds that will turn your water blue.  I've worked with Copper II Sulfate in chem lab, and the crystals were a very inviting azure hue (one of my favorite shades, in fact!), so maybe that's what has him thinking this?  Either way, my GUESS is that the blue dye you are using is probably Methylene blue, a flavine dye, which in small quantities is essentially harmless to people - I wouldn't want to chug it out of the bottle, as that would probably cause some serious damage to me, but splashing around in a pond with a little bit of m. blue in it wouldn't be disturbing.  But....  I have to ask....  WHY are you using it??  I do recall having seen such a product claiming to prevent algae....  There are other "less blue" options to prevent algae, if you're interested.> His daughter was over yesterday along with another friend of my daughters and they ended up at the pond trying to catch the tadpoles. <A very noble quest, at a young age.  I have to admit, I still play with tadpoles, and have several in the tanks I have outside on my porch, thanks to some native very noisy and cute frogs that like to stick to things like suction-cups.> The little girl said she could not "touch" the water whatsoever <Sure, she might get wet.  And if she got wet, the world would end.  Or something like that.  Right?> and that her dad was going to sneak down and check on her. <Wow, very trusting of him.> I'm very good friends with these neighbors and don't want that to change but he is really ticking me off saying these things. <I can understand.  I really don't like when people jump to conclusions without having ANY facts to go off....> I would like to tell him once and for all that my pond is safe. Can you help me out? <If you stop adding the dye, once the pond becomes colorless again (as opposed to blue), you can buy test kits to test the copper concentration of the water.  I would hazard a guess that your test results would be zero.  Here are some test kits to look at:  http://www.bigalsonline.com/search/?type=catalog&method=all&collection=sitebuilder%2Fcatalog3-1&keywords1=copper+test .  The dye in the water will skew your test results, especially on the Seachem kit, which is really by far the best of those three.  The other two use different reagents that don't give you blue test results, so you *might* be able to try detecting a change in the color....  this *might* work, but I don't know.  Best to rid yourself of that dye, first, and go with the Seachem kit, in my opinion.> I forgot to mention that after the copper sulfate was added the first year we had beach sand thrown in over the entire pond surface. <Umm, how long ago WAS it that you used the copper?  It's starting to sound like we're talking about a matter of YEARS ago?  I see you opened the email with a time frame of five YEARS?  Was it five years ago you added copper?  If so, yeah, realistically, I just don't think that you have a problem with copper at all.  Likely less of a problem than having copper pipes in your house, even.  My best guess is that you're dealing with a father who knows just enough to be afraid but not enough to see reality.  Lack of knowledge is very dangerous stuff....  Utter the words "nuclear energy plant" in a room full of pretty much average folks and you end up with cries of Chernobyl, while hundreds or thousands die per year as a result of coal-fire energy plants to supply those folks' power in their homes....  Same principal.  Just do be patient with your "water environmentalist", and try to gather the cold, hard facts (or wet, sloshy facts, as it were) to prove to him that your pond is not a Whirling Vortex of Doom lying in wait to snatch up his little girl - this is his fear.  If you had a fear, no matter how senseless or unfounded, that something would without a doubt harm your child, you'd do everything to protect her, I'm sure.  Though your neighbor has no reason to, this is what he is doing.  So do be sensitive to him as you try to guide him to a better understanding.> Signed, Cindy <Wishing you and your Whirling Vor- I mean, pond- well,  -Sabrina>

Algae control in a small fountain and pond!   8/23/06 To whom it may concern: I have a six tiered water fall <A bunch of tiers> terminating an a approximately 75 gallon pond. I am experiencing a problem in controlling the alga formation on the bottom of the water fall and walls of the pond. My question to you would be, what copper compound would be suggested and in what concentration on a per gallon of water capacity? Thank you very much Dave Dillon, Topock, Az <Mmm... copper is not easily dosed in most ponds... and am hesitant to encourage its use here... w/o knowing the livestock you intend to keep... In this small volume of water, if you did not have live plants present, I might use Jungle Pond Blocks (active ingredient Diuron, Di-Methyl Urea Calcinate)... Do you have data re the make up of the water? Is this feature shaded at all? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdalgcontrol.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Water features - thanks   7/26/06 Hi Robert Thanks for posting the tip about chelated copper on the Internet.  You've saved me hours of scrubbing! Sandra Monks <Thanks for the thanks! BobF>

Whirling Vortex of Doom, or Fun With Tadpoles? - 06/07/2005 Dear Sirs, <And Ma'ams!  <grin>  Sabrina with you, today....> Hi! <Hello!> I live in Michigan and have a pond that is approximately  35x75 with depths of 3 inches to an average depth of 5 ft to one section that is 12 ft. <Wow, very nice.> Our pond is lined as the water table was too low. We installed this 5 yrs ago. Shortly after we had it filled a snapping turtle was found to be in it carrying with him leeches. <Eew.  There aren't a great many living things that I truly dislike....  among them are hydra, Aiptasia, most disease-causing organisms, and leeches.  Ugh.> We got rid of him but the leeches stayed. <Naturally.  Undoubtedly, they were plotting to get between your toes and latch on....  Evil little creatures....> We were told to use copper sulfate to get rid of them which they did. <Sure would.> My neighbor came down who happens to be a "water environmentalist" <I'm almost afraid to ask, but what precisely do you mean by "water environmentalist"?  Are we talking a jolly, down-to-earth fish hugger, or someone with OCD who honestly believes that swimming in a river is a heinous crime because you might, god forbid, kill an amoeba?  I mean all that lovingly, of course.  Diversity is, after all, what makes this world a good one to live in.> and said my husband put too much copper sulfate in the pond and said his kids were never to be in my pond. <Hmm....  How much CuSO4 did your husband use?  Did your husband disclose the amount to your neighbor?  If so, does your neighbor have any facts or statistics, or a scientific background, to properly understand whether or not there is "too much" CuSO4 currently in the pond?  What, to your neighbor, constitutes "too much"?> He told me its not safe. <Well....  To be quite honest, I *do* have to agree with him that CuSO4 is "not safe", to some extent.  CuSO4 is pretty nasty to all invertebrates, and something that I urge aquarium owners to really think about before using it, as it can be adsorbed into the substrate to be leached out at a later time, and cause inverts to sicken and die.  But, again, it would help to know how much CuSO4 was added.> We still have frogs, water bugs and tad poles living in along w/ a few painted turtles every now and then. <The water bugs alone make me think there is not, or not much, CuSO4 currently present in the water.  Water bugs, any and all of 'em, are invertebrates, and thus are SIGNIFICANTLY more sensitive to copper than, say, a fish, LET ALONE a person, even a kid.> I do not remember how much my husband put in but he bought what he needed per what he told the salesman. <Perhaps you can find out the amount from the salesman?  Perhaps, given the same facts you gave him before (probably dimensions or volume of the pond), he can tell you what he would've sold you?> My question is, is my pond safe? <Well, to be precise about it, I have insufficient data to give you an accurate answer.  But from what you've told me so far, given the choice to drink a glass of your pond water or a glass of water from a four-star hotel in Egypt, I'd take your pond water in a heartbeat - provided I was allowed to pull any tadpoles or turtles out of my glass, first.> My neighbor came over last summer to see what we had done and he made the comment that there was a lot of copper in my water because it was blue. <Uhh....  *what*??> I told him that we have not put any copper sulfate in since that first time and that the pond was blue because we put blue dye in it. <Yeah, oh-kay, to my understanding, there is NO CuSO4 offered for use in aquaria or ponds that will turn your water blue.  I've worked with Copper II Sulfate in chem lab, and the crystals were a very inviting azure hue (one of my favorite shades, in fact!), so maybe that's what has him thinking this?  Either way, my GUESS is that the blue dye you are using is probably Methylene blue, a flavine dye, which in small quantities is essentially harmless to people - I wouldn't want to chug it out of the bottle, as that would probably cause some serious damage to me, but splashing around in a pond with a little bit of m. blue in it wouldn't be disturbing.  But....  I have to ask....  WHY are you using it??  I do recall having seen such a product claiming to prevent algae....  There are other "less blue" options to prevent algae, if you're interested.> His daughter was over yesterday along with another friend of my daughters and they ended up at the pond trying to catch the tadpoles. <A very noble quest, at a young age.  I have to admit, I still play with tadpoles, and have several in the tanks I have outside on my porch, thanks to some native very noisy and cute frogs that like to stick to things like suction-cups.> The little girl said she could not "touch" the water whatsoever <Sure, she might get wet.  And if she got wet, the world would end.  Or something like that.  Right?> and that her dad was going to sneak down and check on her. <Wow, very trusting of him.> I'm very good friends with these neighbors and don't want that to change but he is really ticking me off saying these things. <I can understand.  I really don't like when people jump to conclusions without having ANY facts to go off....> I would like to tell him once and for all that my pond is safe. Can you help me out? <If you stop adding the dye, once the pond becomes colorless again (as opposed to blue), you can buy test kits to test the copper concentration of the water.  I would hazard a guess that your test results would be zero.  Here are some test kits to look at:  http://www.bigalsonline.com/search/?type=catalog&method=all&collection=sitebuilder%2Fcatalog3-1&keywords1=copper+test .  The dye in the water will skew your test results, especially on the Seachem kit, which is really by far the best of those three.  The other two use different reagents that don't give you blue test results, so you *might* be able to try detecting a change in the color....  this *might* work, but I don't know.  Best to rid yourself of that dye, first, and go with the Seachem kit, in my opinion.> I forgot to mention that after the copper sulfate was added the first year we had beach sand thrown in over the entire pond surface. <Umm, how long ago WAS it that you used the copper?  It's starting to sound like we're talking about a matter of YEARS ago?  I see you opened the email with a time frame of five YEARS?  Was it five years ago you added copper?  If so, yeah, realistically, I just don't think that you have a problem with copper at all.  Likely less of a problem than having copper pipes in your house, even.  My best guess is that you're dealing with a father who knows just enough to be afraid but not enough to see reality.  Lack of knowledge is very dangerous stuff....  Utter the words "nuclear energy plant" in a room full of pretty much average folks and you end up with cries of Chernobyl, while hundreds or thousands die per year as a result of coal-fire energy plants to supply those folks' power in their homes....  Same principal.  Just do be patient with your "water environmentalist", and try to gather the cold, hard facts (or wet, sloshy facts, as it were) to prove to him that your pond is not a Whirling Vortex of Doom lying in wait to snatch up his little girl - this is his fear.  If you had a fear, no matter how senseless or unfounded, that something would without a doubt harm your child, you'd do everything to protect her, I'm sure.  Though your neighbor has no reason to, this is what he is doing.  So do be sensitive to him as you try to guide him to a better understanding.> Signed, Cindy <Wishing you and your Whirling Vor- I mean, pond- well,  -Sabrina>

Re: The use of copper sulfate in my pond?? Sabrina, <Don't know where that young lady is... BobF here> Hi! I'm glad you wrote back, sorry it took me so long to read my email. We lost our power on Sunday due to a storm which by the way did NOT bring us any rain. My yard is brown and picky to walk on. Well onto my pond. I did have the water tested and based on the size I told him it measured just under 1ppm, <... too much copper> its actually less because our pond is bigger than what I said it was. We do put the blue dye in the pond to make it pretty. I buy it from a pond supplier. I spoke w/ my neighbor and he now say's that he's not worried about the copper after all, its the organism's that are in it. He say's because our pond is lined and we don't have plants in it stuff doesn't break down naturally like it should. He say's we should treat it as a pool instead of a pond due to the fact that it is lined w/ no plant life. I'm going to have my water tested again and test for PH, Fecal chloroform, Nitrates & Nitrites. He say's he won't totally be sure it's safe until I get that done, so I will to appease him. And as for his title, he's a Ground Water Environmentalist. He has a degree and actually knows what he's talking about but I think he also likes to know everything..... Well thanks for your info, I look forward to hearing back from you. Cindy <Good luck with the basin, neighbor. Bob Fenner>

Copper sulfate in FW pond - 8/24/03 I put copper sulfate in my pond which is about 12ft in diameter and 36 inches deep. It killed the algae  all right . Now the clarity of the water is so I can't see my fish . what can I do to make it clear again?  thank you <it's very important that you do extra water changes now (particularly from the bottom to siphon killed and decaying algae) else it will reoccur. Also... please do read some of the many helpful links here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/Pond%20Sub%20Web.htm best regards, Anthony>

Re: Ich Treatment Mr. Fenner, When treating with copper, is it unsafe on human hands? (from tank or directly from bottle) Just thought I ask this question, because there are no warnings for humans. Sorry about asking such a question. <No worries about asking any question in sincerity. Copper solutions are actually quite harsh (caustic) to human touch. Best to avoid contact, and if they end up on your skin, to promptly rinse them off with soap and water. From using copper on a regular basis I have had quite rough and red hands. Bob Fenner>

Algae solution?  Dear Mr Fenner, We have not made an active move on the algae situation yet, hope to finalise the decisions soon. <I'll bet... "Wax on, wax off"... those kung fu lessons have got to be getting old... I assure you a "blue stone"/copper sulfate solution is your best route...> Meantime have I received the information below from a friend of mine in Tampa. He's been looking around a bit for me and came up with a company that deals with these things apparently. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on that. Hope you have finished moving, have moved many times myself and hated it every time. <In progess as we key... am hiding upstairs for a rest...> Regards, John From: Sparky Brennan To: John Brokaar > The people from the chemical company responded finally yesterday. After their > research, they have come to the same conclusion that you have. They recommend > a product called K-tea. It is also a Copper/hydroxide algecide. > It is used in livestock, golf course , crop type applications. It is mixed a > 1ppm > in the situation that you described. This means 1 1/2 gallons for the entire > 1.5 million gallon tank should solve the problem. They indicated that the > walls would still have to be cleaned before using the chemical but that it > should arrest the problem. The K-tea is about 40.00 per gallon. I have a > material safety data sheet on the stuff that I will fax you if you need it. > Let me know if you need me to follow up with this John. It is hard for me to > believe that 1 1/2 gallons of chemical will solve the problem but that is > what the chemists have recommended. <No to this product... copper hydroxide is too "fast" toxic in marine biological systems... If you want/have to purchase a made product look to the McNabb brothers... Cutrine, Algaetrine... from Applied Biochemists... let's see if I can find their site with my engines: http://www.appliedbiochemists.com/ Need to add this to the WWM links... for sure. But I would still be making my own citrated solutions... really a huge savings... and fine for your open/semi-open systems... at a million and a half gallons to regularly treat/replace, you can really spend some money here. Bob Fenner>

RE: Algae solution? This is interesting information.  <Ah, yes... and an apology for not having "complete" information for you all... You can imagine my hesitancy in supplying "partial answers"> How often do we have to put the chemical in? <Almost continuously (sometimes punctuated treatments are advised) with such a large system, one that is open to semi-open... to maintain a physiological dose. For your operation, a very good idea (I wouldn't do otherwise) to adapt a probe, controller to a dosage pump to continuously monitor free cupric ion (Cu++) and be applying more with time... This is SOP in public aquariums (and even large wholesale livestock facilities) around the world... Once again, am very surprised that you folks don't have such gear (dosimetric) and operations in place... Losses due to epizootics and labor for manual algae removal are real costs... Bob Fenner> Lynn

 



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