- If you have a swimming pool, a fishpond or even a birdbath, you have algae. Although algae are technically plants, they do not have roots or leaves and are often considered unsightly and bothersome. There are several methods you can employ to get your water feature algae free.
- One of the most common algaecides is copper. According to the University of Florida, "Copper is a fast-acting, broad-spectrum, contact herbicide which kills a wide range of aquatic plants and algae." Common copper algaecides are copper sulphate and chelated copper. Though copper-based products are very effective at eliminating algae from home water features, there are some drawbacks to using such chemicals, including the accumulation of copper in local sediments and encouragement of copper-resistant algal growth. They can also be harmful to fish and birds, so these algaecides are not recommended for water features such as fishponds or birdbaths.
- For small home water features such as birdbaths, regular household cleaners can be effective algaecides. Remove the water from the feature and use a scrub brush and dish detergent to remove any accumulated algae. Rinse the water feature well after scrubbing and before refilling it with water, as dish detergent residue can be harmful to birds. After refilling the feature with water, add an algaecide that is safe for animals to prevent algal growth in the future.
- There are products on the market that are billed as "green" algaecides. These algaecides work by oxidizing the water and releasing beneficial bacteria into the water to kill algae. Unlike copper-based algaecides, these products are safe to use in animal-frequented water features as they will not harm the animals.
- There are natural algaecides. Use 5 lbs. of cornmeal for each 1,000 square feet of water. According to Howard Garrett, landscape architect and author, cornmeal "balances the water chemistry and thus kills off the algae." Garrett also warns that using chemical algaecides with cornmeal applications will cause the cornmeal to be ineffective. Another natural algaecide is barley straw. Place a bundle of barley straw in a mesh bag or pair of old pantyhose, and then place the bundle of straw in the water. Place the bundle near a fountain or waterfall area. It must stay afloat so that sunlight can reach it. As the barley straw decomposes in the water, it releases compounds that are changed to hydrogen peroxide by the sunlight, which kills the algae.