Here’s a situation that pond owners run into time and time again-we’ll use Dan as our example. Dan loves the pond on his property; he loves to look out over the fish swimming around, frogs leaping into the water from the edge, and birds fly in to rest.
With the best interests of his pond in mind, and hoping to get rid of a little excess algae, he contracts a ‘pond company’ manage his pond. When the company arrives for their first ‘treatment, ‘ Dan walks out to observe and is surprised by what he sees-two men wearing protective suits, gloves, and a mask are navigating a boat around his pond, spraying an unnaturally deep blue liquid all across the surface.
When Dan inquires about what they’re spraying, they respond with “copper sulfate, it’s a chemical algaecide.” Concerned about his pond and the wildlife living in it, Dan then asks if it’s safe, prompting the pond company to respond, “uhh sure, it’s perfectly safe…”
Dan then asks the next logical question, “then why are you both wearing hazmat suits?”
Encounters like this are leading pond owners nationwide to give up use of harsh chemicals to manage their pond. Just like Dan, they are gaining the awareness that chemical treatments are not really ‘treating’ at all-they are actually devastating your pond’s natural ecosystem. And this is only one of many reasons why pond owners are avoiding algaecides:
1. Algaecides Cost You a Bunch of Money:
a. Algaecides themselves are costly, costing as much as 80% more than safe, environmentally friendly alternatives. Not only are they expensive, but many states also require algaecides to be applied by a licensed technician because they are so dangerous.
So, in addition to paying for expensive chemicals, you also have to pay for a professional to apply them roughly every two weeks. Pond owners sometimes pay thousands and thousands of dollars to control algae, unaware that cheaper, more environmentally friendly options exist.
2. You Can Never Stop Using Algaecides:
a. In order for algaecide to be effective, it must be in your pond in a specific concentration that is tough to maintain. Algaecides are weakened as water flows in and out of your pond, and they also leach into and accumulate in the soil.
If you want to maintain algae prevention, you can never stop applying the chemical. Unless you use a eco-friendly pond management alternative, quitting use of algaecides will lead to much larger algae blooms than you began with, because:
3. Algaecides Don’t Treat the Causes of Algae in Your Pond:
a. Algae require nutrients to grow, just like we need food, and these nutrients are constantly flowing into your pond from the surrounding environment. If you take care of these nutrients, you get rid of the algae. Algaecides do nothing to affect the nutrient, as they only treat the visible symptoms of the overall problem by killing the algae itself.
This algae, in turn, sinks to the bottom of your pond and decays, releasing its nutrient to fuel even larger algae blooms in the future. The more algae you kill with chemicals, the more decaying matter will build up in your pond-sometimes leading to the need to dredge (remove sludge) at a huge expense. Not only that, but as the algae decays it sucks the oxygen out of the water, potentially leading to severe fish kills.
4. Algaecides are Extremely Toxic to Your Health:
a. Copper sulfate is readily absorbed through the skin, and has been classified by the EPA as being in toxicity class I – highly toxic -requiring the signal words “DANGER – POISON” on its container. According to the Extension Toxicology Network, accidental ingestion just gram quantities of copper sulfate can lead to some very nasty and deadly effects. Having such hazardous chemicals sprayed onto your property is an absolutely unnecessary risk.
5. Algaecides Damage Both Your Pond and its Surrounding Environment:
a. Algaecides upset the natural balance of the water body: phytoplankton, the base of the food chain, are greatly reduced and no longer support small aquatic life; sediment-dwelling insects are killed by the accumulating poison; and plants, serving as both fish food and habitat, are killed by algaecide’s photosynthesis disruption.
After your pond’s ecosystem has been debilitated, the highly water-soluble algaecide is flushed out during a rain event, becoming a hazard for downstream organisms. This can stress and sometimes be lethal to many types of fish, and can negatively affect animals that drink the water by bioaccumulating in their heart, liver, brain, kidneys, and muscles.
These terrible consequences are leading governmental bodies to consider banning on algaecide use. The City of Naples, Florida has banned copper sulfate because it heavily pollutes Naples Bay, and the European Union has considered prohibiting its use because it is “not compatible with sustainable ecosystems.”