About this time last year, my little pond was overcome with a mossy, weedy growth. After doing some research, I discovered that it was string algae. Yuck!
Not only does it look terrible, algae buildup in a pond is bad because it can take over the pond quickly and eventually starve your fish and plants of oxygen and nutrients. String algae is a common problem in garden ponds and there is a ton of information on the internet about it.
|Small front pond (no algae)|
I was nervous when first started reading about algae growth in garden ponds.
I was worried that I would have to use a chemical that might kill my fish and plants… and possibly even have to start over from scratch with my pond.
But it turns out there is a natural solution to keeping pond water clear and getting rid of algae.
It sounds strange, but the answer is barley straw.
Not only is it natural, it won’t harm your fish or plants and it’s cheap.
In fact, I’ve read that barley straw works better than chemicals do!
Win, win, win, win!
You can find highly technical explanations for why barley straw works on the internet.
But basically, as the barley straw decomposes it releases something similar to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) which will eventually choke out the algae.
|Stuffing barley straw into mesh holder|
You can buy barley straw at your local nursery or on the internet.
When I bought mine, it came packed in small bales that were much too large for my pond (pictured above).
So I made a smaller bundles out of the mesh packaging the bales came in when I bought them.
|Making barley straw bundle|
I used string to tie the opening in the mesh closed.
It’s recommended you put your barley straw bundle near a fountain or waterfall where the water will flow through it.
It takes a few weeks for the barley straw to start to decompose, so it will take a little longer to get results than it would with chemicals.
If you want to start seeing results faster, there are a few steps you can take now.
|Barley straw bundle at bottom of waterfall (in my back pond)|
Start by removing as much of the algae as you can manually.
A toilet brush works great for grabbing the string algae and scrubbing the sides of the pond.
|Toilet brush used for cleaning pond|
Ideally, you would buy a new toilet brush to use specifically for your pond.
(what would be more disgusting – using a previously used toilet brush in your pond, or using your pond brush in your toilet!?)
|Rinsing pond filter|
If you have a filter in your pond, rinsing it daily during this time will also help to remove the algae.
As a second step, you could add hydrogen peroxide to your pond water.
I don’t know if there’s a special formula of H2O2 per gallon of water, so I recommend doing some research for your size of pond.
My small pond is 90 gallons, and I added 1/2 cup of H2O2. Pour the H2O2 over a fountain or waterfall to disperse it.
Shortly after adding the H2O2 and barley straw to my pond, I started to see results. In no time, my pond water was crystal clear, and it stayed that way all summer.
Now I put in a new barley straw bundle in both of my ponds in the spring to avoid algae growth and keep the pond water clean. Once the barley straw starts to decompose, the bundle will sink so it’s no longer visible on top of the water. It’s nice to be able to watch my fish swimming around and feeding.