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Thread: Green Water and UV

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Green Water and UV

    This is the second year of going without UV and allowing my pond to be tinged green from time to time. There is enough bacteria-based bio-filtration that the water remains quite clear most of the time, particularly when water temps are 70F and below. This Spring there were a couple of periods lasting a week or 10 days when the water became greenish, but remained clear enough to see the fish at a depth of 6 feet. Now that temperatures are in the upper 70s, the water has taken on a slight tint.

    The koi are not as impressive for visitors as when the water is crystal clear. The whites are not quite true white when seen through a few feet of tinted water. However, I have adjusted. And, I think there are some benefits to this approach. The bacterial community is strong and effective, but there has to be ammonia consumed by the unicellular algae before it reaches the biofilm or the algae would not be surviving. The fluctuations in the tint of the water likely correlates with environmental factors that increase the nitrogeneous pollution in the pond or setback the bacterial community's efficiency. So, I am seeing the greenish tint as a cushion that complements the bio-filtration and provides a visual clue to fluctuations in the system. If I could not see the fish, I would know I have a real problem. What I have is rather clear, but greenish water.

    The UV is ready to turn on if a problem arises that would threaten oxygen levels, etc., but in the meantime, I'm letting Nature take the lead.

  2. #2
    Daihonmei
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    I also do not use my UV any more as my system is mature ( 20 years old) and my main filter is located indoors and the system never sleeps.

    And you are surely correct in that green water will grab the ammonia before the filter is active. This is the truth of competition in the micro world. But that also means that your nitrifiers must struggle against your unicellular algaes and also your heterotrophic bacterial population which also expands rapidly in the presence of dying algae cells. So you also have a greater chance of a higher aeromonas bacteria count.

    the idea that green water is good for koi color is exaggerated. It isn't bad but the observation of good color in green water is really a comment about the type system it is in. if it is in a mud pond, the pond is also loaded with species that feed on green water. And that makes for living water in a wild setting and not a nitrifcation based closed recirculating system. Good water is probably a 'hot potato' in our highly stocked closed systems when all the considerations are weighed.

    I do switch on my UV if I see murky water beginning ( a slighty green tint and NOT a milky white tint which is bacteria). I also ramp up my FF efforts and usually do those water changes in frequency that we talked about in the other thread.
    Come to think about it, your larger water changes might be inviting and promoting your green water? JR

  3. #3
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    I do not think the water changes are creating a disrupted condition resulting in green water. Undoubtedly the continual replenishment of minerals supports the algae. However, do not get the idea that the water is murky in any way. If you pulled out a bucket of water, it would seem clear as could be. But, looking down 6-feet tells a different story. It simply has a slight green tint rather than being the gin-clear water using UV creates.

    I see the potential benefit not being in any direct impact on coloration or the like, but simply having the algae present to cover any temporary lag period in the bacterial community adjusting to changes that occur. For example, my pond is now having its annual period of pollen from a nearby pecan tree affecting the water. There is always an increase in nitrate during the 'pollen season'. While ammonia and nitrite remain undetectable, I know there must be higher ambient exposure below the detectable limits of my test kits. I have also seen the greenish tint a slight bit more, and I do not think it is just my imagination. I figure the unicellular algae and bacterial biofilm are working in concert to accomplish my desired result, and may be doing it more immediately together than the biofilm could do by itself. Eventually, the bacterial community prevails, but not 100%.

  4. #4
    Oyagoi Ethan25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    I do not think the water changes are creating a disrupted condition resulting in green water. Undoubtedly the continual replenishment of minerals supports the algae. However, do not get the idea that the water is murky in any way. If you pulled out a bucket of water, it would seem clear as could be. But, looking down 6-feet tells a different story. It simply has a slight green tint rather than being the gin-clear water using UV creates.

    I see the potential benefit not being in any direct impact on coloration or the like, but simply having the algae present to cover any temporary lag period in the bacterial community adjusting to changes that occur. For example, my pond is now having its annual period of pollen from a nearby pecan tree affecting the water. There is always an increase in nitrate during the 'pollen season'. While ammonia and nitrite remain undetectable, I know there must be higher ambient exposure below the detectable limits of my test kits. I have also seen the greenish tint a slight bit more, and I do not think it is just my imagination. I figure the unicellular algae and bacterial biofilm are working in concert to accomplish my desired result, and may be doing it more immediately together than the biofilm could do by itself. Eventually, the bacterial community prevails, but not 100%.

    THIS is exactly where I am this year, Mike. My UV is on, keeping me from having pea soup green water, but it is clear, and I cannot see 6 feet down, but 4 feet, yes. I see the fish very well during feeding time, and teh green tint I have found does well to give the fish "shade" from the direct afternoon sun.

    In addition, this year and last, I have found that the beni on my fish is superb...I really think that the algae in the water encourages a nice natural beni enhancement.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    The bacterial community is strong and effective, but there has to be ammonia consumed by the unicellular algae before it reaches the biofilm or the algae would not be surviving.
    Mike,
    I would like to respectfully disagree with this statement. While I think JR accurately points out there is going to be some competition for available ammonia between your bio-filtration and any algae present, most ponds endure accumulations of nitrate. Althought ammonia may be preferred, the algae will be only too happy to utilize nitrate as their nitrogen source. Point is: even if your bio-filtration is metabolizing virtually all of the ammonia produced by the fish, the resulting in nitrate is still a very suitable nitrogen source for the algae.

  6. #6
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Yes, Paul, but aquatic plants metabolize nitrate by first breaking it down to its constituent parts to get the nitrogen. It takes a great deal of energy for aquatic plant life to convert nitrate to ammonia as a first step in the process. As a result, there is a strong preference for ammonia. Only in its absence will nitrate be utilized. The presence of greenwater at the initial start-up of a pond can retard the 'cycling' period due to the competition for ammonia, with no ammonia being detectable. When I built my current pond 5 years ago, I purposefully introduced greenwater so that my koi would not go through 'new pond syndrome'. Virtually no ammonia or nitrite was ever detectable. Nitrate became detectable eventually as the bacterial community became established. It took longer than normal for that to occur, presumably due to the competition with the unicellular algae. In due course, the bacterial community out-competes the unicellular algae, but cannot be fully successful because the algae in the water column are first in line, even if not as efficient as the nitrifiers. In my pond the nitrate level rarely exceeds 5ppm. At that level, unicellular algae have difficulty feeding themselves.

  7. #7
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan25 View Post
    THIS is exactly where I am this year, Mike. My UV is on, keeping me from having pea soup green water, but it is clear, and I cannot see 6 feet down, but 4 feet, yes. I see the fish very well during feeding time, and teh green tint I have found does well to give the fish "shade" from the direct afternoon sun.

    In addition, this year and last, I have found that the beni on my fish is superb...I really think that the algae in the water encourages a nice natural beni enhancement.
    If you cannot see but two-thirds of the way down, I would recommend monitoring very carefully. I would not like to be that close to the edge.

  8. #8
    Sansai KoiKisses's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    If you cannot see but two-thirds of the way down, I would recommend monitoring very carefully. I would not like to be that close to the edge.


    Jeez......I'm gonna have a nervous breakdown...monitoring it how?
    I have been waiting for Mother Nature to 'balance' out my algae problem for about five weeks now . All the paramenters read as such: Am-0, Ni-0, Na-0, PH 8.4 (I can't figure out why the PH has stabilized to this reading ---- last year I had to add oyster shells to bring it out of the 6.8 range --- the shells have been removed since early Feb). I backflush the filter every other day or so, and do a 15% water change weekly. The water started changing color as soon as the pond temp hit 80. In the past, the temp of 80 has historically brought on algae --- whether the temp was coming down from its high summer temps back to autumn temps, or vice versa. And this would usually last 2 weeks or so before clearing up again. What am I missing that I should or should not be doing in 'monitoring' it ?
    "...no matter how you look at it, Mother Nature still makes the rules."

  9. #9
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    It has been my experience that UV lights are a crutch. They are ether a temporary solution for green water or a long term solution for under filtration.

  10. #10
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KoiKisses View Post
    Jeez......I'm gonna have a nervous breakdown...monitoring it how?
    I have been waiting for Mother Nature to 'balance' out my algae problem for about five weeks now . All the paramenters read as such: Am-0, Ni-0, Na-0, PH 8.4 (I can't figure out why the PH has stabilized to this reading ---- last year I had to add oyster shells to bring it out of the 6.8 range --- the shells have been removed since early Feb). I backflush the filter every other day or so, and do a 15% water change weekly. The water started changing color as soon as the pond temp hit 80. In the past, the temp of 80 has historically brought on algae --- whether the temp was coming down from its high summer temps back to autumn temps, or vice versa. And this would usually last 2 weeks or so before clearing up again. What am I missing that I should or should not be doing in 'monitoring' it ?
    Is it possible that your fish have grown and/or you have added more fish since last year?

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