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Thread: Understanding String Algae

  1. #91
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    The string algae battle is over for the year in my koi pond. The battle usually starts in late January or early February and peaks in March before fading away by late April/early May. It was especially bad year for string algae in my koi pond. I used modified fast this year with light feeding in warmer water and no feeding for 1-2 weeks when it was colder. If anything the string algae was worse this year than ever but who knows if the additional feeding had a significant effect.

    I also have a smaller pond for goldfish in a atrium that I cover and heat in the winter. I have never seen string algae in that pond. I use the same source water but besides being smaller, warmer, and using different food it is pretty similar.
    Disclosure:These opinions are based on my experience and conversations with persons I consider accomplished koi keepers and do not reflect the viewpoint of any organization.

  2. #92
    Jumbo Akai-San's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RayJordan View Post
    The string algae battle is over for the year in my koi pond. The battle usually starts in late January or early February and peaks in March before fading away by late April/early May. It was especially bad year for string algae in my koi pond. I used modified fast this year with light feeding in warmer water and no feeding for 1-2 weeks when it was colder. If anything the string algae was worse this year than ever but who knows if the additional feeding had a significant effect.

    I also have a smaller pond for goldfish in a atrium that I cover and heat in the winter. I have never seen string algae in that pond. I use the same source water but besides being smaller, warmer, and using different food it is pretty similar.
    Very interesting that my short bout with string algae in my QT has also come to a slow close. In a similar time frame as well. Started in February, got bad in March and in April the algae started to thin out and detaching from tank surfaces and clogged my filters for a few weeks. First time for me and it was very irritating. I still see algae in my QT, but not it is not clogging the filter anymore. Is this the normal cycle for the string algae when conditions are right for the algae? I find it very strange in that I dont have this problem in my main pond that is half covered. Same water source, simiilar water cycling and heavy JMat filter media and ceramedia used.


    Hey, I reached "Jumbo" status! Haha...Sorry folks, I guess I ask too many questions

  3. #93
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    The string algae in my pond typically begins its growth spurt in May, begins declining in early June and is over by late June. So far this year, however, there has been no sign of an outbreak starting. ...Having said that, it will probably start this weekend.

    Posts on various boards indicate some pond keepers are having outbreaks now, but I've not seen enough reports to try to find any pattern.

    Ray: Seems curious that your outbreak was especially bad when this past winter was harsher than normal. Did your pond temperature drop more than normal? Stay about the same?

  4. #94
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    Ray: Seems curious that your outbreak was especially bad when this past winter was harsher than normal. Did your pond temperature drop more than normal? Stay about the same?
    3-5 degrees cooler water temperature than average during the worse weather this winter. I do not see any string algae until the water temperature drops below the low 60's and it disappears once it warms and stays above the upper 60's.

  5. #95
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Zinc Oxide

    A post by BScott on a forum based in the UK was brought to my attention. It is a year old and there has not been any substantive follow-ups. I am borrowing the whole post because it is very interesting and I know BScott is not prone to flights of fancy. When he was a regular on this board, he was quick to shoot down wild ideas.....

    Hi Mates,
    About eight or nine years back I converted my filter system from an Evolution Aqua "Answer" to a static kaldnes prefilter. My guess is that most of the older members of this board remember the conversion. It is as far as I am concerned the perfect and most economical setup I can imagine and frankly I wouldn't change a thing. At the time of the rebuild I was suffering from blanket weed (or stringy algae as our North American friends call it). But for some reason unknown to me, the moment I changed the configuration to static Kaldness the blanket weed began to die back and never returned. I had always attributed this to some sort of denitrification happening within the static K but friends using similar constructions and suffering from the same trouble never seemed to get the same results I did. I speculated as much as I dared but to be truthful never really came across a valid explanation... until now.

    At the core of my drum containing the static K was a mesh barrier made of stainless steel. Last summer I noticed corrosion on this mesh and replaced it with a new stainless mesh. The result was a massive explosion of blanket week inside the pond. Now corrosion of stainless steel is not something we would expect in a freshwater environment so I took a closer look at the old mesh. My examination revealed that this was in fact not stainless steel but instead a zinc mesh which I scavenged from the shop only assuming it was stainless steel.

    Well to make a long story short, I obtained another sample of the zinc mesh and replaced the new section of stainless mess which I has installed when the old one was removed. The resulting reduction in blanket weed growth was noticeable within two week and by the end of the summer it was all gone!

    Now you don't need to be a rocket scientist to deduce what is going on. The zinc contained within the mesh slowly leached into the system and a well established consequence of zinc in freshwater is the reduction of of algal growth. I would add that the short fuzzy algae on the side of the pond has remained and only the longer and more troublesome string algae has disappeared. That is to say the algae on the pond wall is short but in the same breath it may simply be blanket weed that is no longer able to gain any length. I cannot really say one way or the other with an in depth examination to determine the species of algae growing on the pond side and this is more or less outside my field of expertise. But when push comes to shove, I really don't care as long as the blanket weed is, and remains gone.

    So the big question is; How does the presence of zinc in my water column affect the well being of my fish? We all know that heavy metals in the water are never really a good thing and are something we should try to avoid. Indeed, much of the snake oil and magic potions on the market contain a variety of nasty things, the worst of which is copper. Long exposure to copper, being cumulative, will kill your fish when used for any extended length of time. Now I know of a couple of products that contain no copper but when added to the pond produce a huge white cloud which I, as well as many others, have long speculated that they contain zinc (oxide) as their active ingredient.. They do work well at removing Blanket weed but the dose is massive and they need regular application to maintain their objective. Provided this is the road one choses to go down to deteur blanket weed, I wonder whether a very low dosage maintained over a period of years might not be preferable to adding huge concentrations at monthly intervals?

    Once again, I do not have any sort of measurement of the zinc concentrations within my pond water. This would be the ideal way to go and should anyone wish to analyze samples of my water to determine this i would be glad to send them to you. The best I can do is give a rough indication of the amount of metal actually exposed to my pond and the length of time it was exposed for.

    The piece of mesh I used had a weight of about 350 gr when new. The flow rate was approx. 9 m3 / hr and the total water volume 13.5 m3. Water replacement was in the order of 4 m3 / week. The weight of the old mesh was around 280 gr after a 7-8 year exposure. Depending on how techical you wish to get and perhaps trying to determine to ratio of lost metal and the additional weight of the oxcides involved this information might be next to useless. But to just over simplify things we can roughly state that 70 grams of zinc was enough to treat 14 tons of water with a high refresh rate for well over half a decade. I might add that as far as my fish are concerned, in all that time I have lost but a single fish due to a swim bladder infection and all other fish are healthy individuals with sizes that vary from 58 to 75 cm and ages from 6 to 16 years.

    So my question is; For those unable to controle stringy algae by natural methods and who are forced to resort to chemical controls, How much of a chance do we take using zinc in low constant applications as compared to other methods?
    Cheers
    B.Scott

  6. #96
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    And, to repeat BScott's question.... What is known about harmful side effects to koi exposed to zinc? Anyone?

  7. #97
    Jumbo sacicu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    And, to repeat BScott's question.... What is known about harmful side effects to koi exposed to zinc? Anyone?
    I do not think zinc is harmful. I sometimes feed multivitamins that contain zinc citratr trihydrate and see no effect on the koi. I doubt as well if the zinc is the cause of removing string algae.

  8. #98
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    I'd like to know whether the pond is UV-lighted/treated or not. The biochemical pathway involved may or may not have a microorganism-related component to it.

    Also, I'd like to know the exact nature of the mesh. It can't be all-zinc, as I think the mesh won't have structural strength. More likely, it would be made of galvanized iron, which has a zinc coating. Then again, I'd have to question whether there is GI (Galv iron). GI can't last that long. Whatever the material, it has to be something other than GI to be mistaken for stainless steel, as GI is dull and SS is shiny.

  9. #99
    Oyagoi Eugeneg's Avatar
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    Here is some info on zinc and fish;
    [PDF] Acute toxicity of zinc to some fishes in high alkalinity water.

    Stainless steel has to have at least 20% chromium content or is useless in water
    Regards
    Eugene

  10. #100
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Good article, Eugene. It may be over 30 years old, but the summary of so many prior studies is very helpful. Thank you.

    The link did not work for me. Perhaps this will.... www.isws.illinois.edu/pubdoc/C/ISWSC-​142.pdf

    My take away is that zinc can have negative effects on growth and development of fish even if not fatal, but it depends on many interacting factors. In some instances, the negatives took extended periods of time to be observed. The typical mortality studies looking at short periods of time are not useful when considering a permanent, continuing addition of a substance as in BScott's practice.

    As Sacicu points out, zinc can be a beneficial mineral. Like a lot of things, there can be too much of a good thing. BScott's observation may lead to something useful, but at this point I would not recommend zinc additives.

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