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Dutchess_III's avatar

Is this algae or a tiny seed?

Asked by Dutchess_III (26849 points ) 2 months ago

Our pond was be clear, the first year.

Then, last year, it developed a green scum. It lasted all through the winter, and it’s still there.

Rick and I have been debating whether it’s some sort of seed, because they’re tiny, round balls, or algae. I say algae, but then we came across this plant and it sure looks suspicious.

Here is a pic of the seeds off of the plant.

Here are some pics of the crap itself: One

Two

Three

Our dogs go swimming in the pond, and they end up looking like this, yupid AND covered in scum.

If it’s algae, I’ve heard that barley hay can eliminate and prevent it. If it’s a seed from that plant, what can we do?

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31 Answers

El_Cadejo's avatar

It looks like you have duckweed

Dutchess_III's avatar

Looks you you nailed it @El_Cadejo!

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Dutchess_III There are a bunch of different types, this image really shows the distinction between five of them. I’m thinking you have wolffia.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Or Wolffiella.

Hm. Well, there is a crop field next to our land and his water run-off runs into our pond. I wonder, then, if those are a good thing….

Dutchess_III's avatar

It just looks prettier when it’s clear.

Dutchess_III's avatar

…So would you guys leave it, or clear it?

El_Cadejo's avatar

Personally I’d leave it.

“Duckweed is an important high-protein food source for waterfowl and also is eaten by humans in some parts of Southeast Asia. As it contains more protein than soybeans, it is sometimes cited as a significant potential food source.[6] The tiny plants provide cover for fry of many aquatic species. The plants are used as shelter by pond water species such as bullfrogs and bluegills. They also provide shade and, although frequently confused with them, can reduce certain light-generated growths of photoautotrophic algae.

The plants can provide nitrate removal, if cropped, and the duckweeds are important in the process of bioremediation because they grow rapidly, absorbing excess mineral nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphates. For these reasons they are touted as water purifiers of untapped value.[7]

The Swiss Department of Water and Sanitation in Developing Countries, SANDEC, associated with the Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology, asserts that as well as the food and agricultural values, duckweed also may be used for waste water treatment to capture toxins and for odor control, and, that if a mat of duckweed is maintained during harvesting for removal of the toxins captured thereby, it prevents the development of algae and controls the breeding of mosquitoes.”

It’s got quite a few benefits and aside from cosmetics, no draw backs.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I read that. It was very interesting. I wish there was a way to control it though, because it isn’t conducive to swimming. Maybe a pump or something to clear most of it once in a while, then leave it alone to grow back….

Duckweed. It’s what’s for dinner.

dappled_leaves's avatar

It’s certainly a sign that your pond is not healthy. Nitrogen runoff is providing excellent food for the plants, and that’s great for them, but over time it will deplete the oxidygen and lead to the death of animals (fish, snails, and anything else) in your pond. Another word for this process is eutrophication. For the moment, the duckweed, by producing oxygen, is working to protect your pond somewhat, but you should deal with the source of the runoff now or soon if you can.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I can’t. The watershed belongs to the farmer. The pond and our 5 acre wood was originally part of a much larger homestead, and was actually dug TO catch the water run off from the fields. Over time the farm lands were sold or parceled out, and out little Shangri-La was left behind.

And duck weed doesn’t deplete oxygen, and actually prevent certain algaes from growing, and algae DOES deplete oxygen.

From your link “phytoplankton and algal blooms disrupts normal functioning of the ecosystem, causing a variety of problems such as a lack of oxygen needed for fish and shellfish to survive.” Duckweed prevents them from growing.

It’s also not a sign that my pond isn’t healthy. From all I’ve read, it’s actually a good thing. May just have to learn to like it!

(Also, how can it deplete oxygen and produce it at the same time? It’s either one or the other.)

Dutchess_III's avatar

What we need to do is get a huge tank to tow behind the Mountaineer and suck up a tankful of that duckweed and spray it on our yard at the house as a fertilizer!

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Dutchess_III I didn’t say the duckweed was depleting the pond’s oxygen. I said it was helping to slow down that process.

Dutchess_III's avatar

? You said, ”..but over time it will deplete the oxygen…” Can you clarify for me? And slowing down which process?

dappled_leaves's avatar

The duckweed is flourishing because your pond is too rich in nitrogen. The duckweed produces oxygen as it lives and grows. However, it also dies, leading to an accumulation of dead plant matter at the bottom of the pond. The decomposition of plant matter (along with the activities of other organisms, like algae and bacteria) depletes the oxygen.

If you read through the information on eutrophication I posted, it should be clearer. It’s a complex process.

Also regretting turning “oxidation” into “deplete the oxygen”, leaving the unsightly “oxidygen”.

Dutchess_III's avatar

OK, that makes it clearer! I’ll go look at the article again.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Gosh. Your article mainly focuses on the bad things that algae and photoplankton can do. In reading @El_Cadejo link on Duckweed, it sounds like it does more good than harm. And I can’t stop the nitrogen at its source. So maybe we need it to control the nitrogen.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Yeah, @Dutchess_III, agricultural runoff is simply devastating. You might want to start reading up on it – perhaps you can suggest some better practices for your neighbours. Consider that many regions and farming associations have had to address the problem on a much larger scale than yours. Maybe have a look through their information sheets and see if you can find something?

Dutchess_III's avatar

No no. I’m not about to broach this with the farmer. It’s not a danger of any kind, and in fact, appears to be more beneficial than anything. The nitrates won’t hurt anything.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What we need are DUCKS! Lots and lots of DUCKS!

dappled_leaves's avatar

Well, that’s obviously not true, as you’ve just discovered by reading about it, but it’s your decision.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The article you linked to eutrophication didn’t involve duck weed. The article that dealt specifically with duck weed listed nothing but benefits.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Just like talking to a brick wall.

Dutchess_III's avatar

:( I don’t know WHAT to do. One article says it’s good, another says it’s bad.

longgone's avatar

One more vote for “it’s bad”. Healthy water is all about balance. Any food source for ducks is harmful…if there are not enough ducks. That’s why feeding water fowl is often prohibited.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I suggested to Rick that we could just pump it out onto the land. The water would drain back into the pond and leave the plants. I think a little bit of the stuff is OK.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Ok, I will say it again – the duckweed is not the immediate problem. The duckweed is a symptom that you have a serious problem. Only addressing the flow of excess nitrogen into the pond is going to solve the problem.

But if left alone, yes the duckweed will, over time, also become a problem.

snowberry's avatar

Since you can’t control the nitrates entering the water, you can still control the oxygen by putting in a bubbler, or even a fountain. Anything to get more oxygen in there, and preserve the wildlife in the water. It will help balance out the carbon dioxide/oxygen ratio.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, we’re looking at that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I don’t know that the problem is due to nitrogen run off. Rick and I have noticed that duck weed is in ALL still water around here. Guess it’s just a year for duckweed.

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