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Three Factors for Improving Water Quality

Koi Pond

Sunlight, warm temperatures and nutrients can combine to form the “perfect storm” of algae and clarity issues.

Instead of enjoying your beautiful water feature, you may end up spending just as much time trying to keep water clear. The best way to keep water looking pristine is to understand the variables that influence certain conditions.

The first is sunlight. All living organisms, especially plants and algae, need sunlight to survive and grow. Even if your pond is considerably shaded, algae can still grow and reproduce, even rapidly at times.

The second variable is temperature. Temperature naturally encourages growth and increases aquatic life activity. Once temperature raises, algae and bacteria come out of dormancy and begin growing. A good threshold for water temperature is 50º F. Warmer water does not hold as much oxygen as cooler water and can be concerning if algae begins.

Last, but most important, is nutrients. Nutrients are almost always the culprit when it comes to water issues. In a natural pond, there is a balanced ecosystem that can keep itself in check. With backyard water features, you’re shrinking down that ecosystem. Even a slight change can result in huge consequences. Nutrients come from several different sources, most from dead organic material (leaves, dead plants, dead algae) and from fish waste, uneaten fish food and lawn fertilizer run-off after rain.

If you find yourself in a never-ending battle with algae chances are one of these variables mentioned are out of balance.

Keep your water feature as pristine as possible.

Do regular “clean-outs” when the seasons change. Remove leaves, muck and other organic debris that collect at the bottom. Also remove algae that builds up and gets stuck onto rocks and the side/bottom of the pond. GreenClean Granular or GreenCleanFX Liquid Algaecide are ideal. Both are organic and safe for fish and plants. Make preemptive treatments using smaller doses once or twice a week leading up to those times when algae is normally an issue.

If you keep fish in your pond, a good rule of thumb is 10 gallons of water for every inch in length of fish. If you get younger fish, they will grow quickly! You should have an aerator or a waterfall to provide circulation and to add oxygen into the water.

Using beneficial bacteria is very important for water quality. Beneficial bacteria are essential for consuming organic debris (leaves, muck, fish waste) and keeping a balanced ecosystem. Beneficial bacteria occur naturally in water, but it’s recommended to periodically “boost” their numbers. This can be done with GreenClean Liquid Bacteria or GreenClean Bacteria Tablets.

Learn more about our complete pond program

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It’s Important to Be Clean

Dr. Vijay Kumar Choppakatla, a plant pathologist at BioSafe Systems, offers his advice on proper greenhouse sanitation.

No matter how much growing space an operation has, proper sanitation is essential. Below, Dr. Vijay Kumar Choppakatla, plant pathologist at BioSafe Systems, offers his insight into proper sanitation practices.

What are some tips for growers looking to improve greenhouse sanitation?

Dr. Vijay Kumar Choppakatla: Greenhouse conditions can promote growth of not only plants but ‘other’ life forms, which include plant pathogens, microbial bio-films, insects, algae and weeds. It’s imperative that some of these ‘others’ have to be contained through a good greenhouse cleaning and sanitation program to maintain/improve crop quality and general aesthetics of the greenhouse production.

The areas of focus should be on places like benches, floors and irrigation systems, including pipe lines and water storage tanks. Cleaning is the first step in this process that’s typically done in between crops and involves removal of any loose plant or soil debris from the previous crop, removal of any weed growth through mechanical or chemical means, and removal of any attached organic and inorganic deposits on surfaces through use of power wash or rinse with chemical cleaners. After a thorough water rinse, sanitation step should follow using approved sanitizers.

Are hydroponic greenhouses more difficult to keep clean?

The nutrient-rich water and wet environment in hydroponic crop production can accelerate algae growth both on surfaces and in water when compared to conventional greenhouses. Also, waterborne plant pathogens such as Pythium are a major concern in hydroponic production, and cross contamination risk is high between plants, especially in re-circulated water systems. Hence, both surface and water sanitation are key in hydroponic systems.

Algae growth in greenhouses, in addition to being unsightly, can also impact other aspects of crop production, such as impediment to water/nutrient percolation, and breeding ground for nuisance pests such as fungus gnats and shore flies. In irrigation lines, algae and biofilm growth can cause issues such as clogging of filters and reducing the water flow. In addition, extreme algae growth on walkways can be a safety hazard for workers. Weeds can harbor and serve as alternate hosts for some of the major greenhouse pests, such as thrips, whiteflies, mites, etc., and viral pathogens, such as Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV) and Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV). Also, fungal pathogens such as Rhizoctonia and Thielaviopsis can spread through the soil/plant debris attached to pots and flats, and can cause plant root infections.

Are there any products you’d recommend growers use?

Multiple products are available based on different active ingredients/chemistries. Each may have its own advantages and limitations and should be carefully assessed before implementation. When it comes to chemical cleaners, there are some alkaline and acid based products available for greenhouse use such as GreenClean Alkaline Cleaner, GreenClean Acid Cleaner and Strip-It When it comes to sanitizers, there are several available for greenhouse use such as Hydrogen Peroxide + Peroxyacetic acid, Quats, Sodium Hypochlorite, Ozone and Chlorine Dioxide.