A Different Kind of Green Garden

Slime Green

If conditions are optimal, algae will grow in lakes and ponds. In fact, algae grows in most lakes and ponds, but usually does not reach harmful levels. There have been over 30,000 types of algae discovered, and remarkably, some have been around for at least two billion years (source).

Algae needs water, sunlight and nutrients, like most plants.

Algae are plants and exist in three forms. Most lack the various parts that make up typical plants, like roots, stems, or foliage. Planktonic algae are single-celled and free-float suspended in the water. They are the ones that cause the most headaches for pond owners. Water has an unpleasant odor and taste as a result of their presence. How it gets to your pond is somewhat amazing. It can survive the water purification system and only one spore is necessary to start a colony. Most are killed by the water company’s filtration process, but not all.

The algae sticks to surfaces.

Filamentous algae, and Spirogyra (less common), are thread-like and make suspended mats on the pond bottom and the sides of rocks. Some mat on the lake surface. This type of Spirogyra algae is less likely to form high density blooms.

Many Macrophytic algae are affixed to the lake or sea bottom and have leaf and stem-like form. They appear similar, but have nothing in common anatomically with the complex land dwelling plants. Many seaweed, a loose term describing some benthic marine algae, are red algae, brown algae or green algae. Some seaweed are an example of plants belonging to the polyphyletic group of multicellular algae, meaning, they do not share a common ancestor (source).

Plants struggling to survive.

Algae creates problems for other aquatic life when it covers a lake or pond, like depleting oxygen levels, blocking sunlight and nutrient reduction. Fast growing algae gobbles up nutrients rapidly.

It also sticks to the surface of animals and people, not a pleasant occurrence. Some produce neurotoxins and can be detrimental to humans if ingested.

Algae Buffet

Algae has benefits for some creatures by providing a food source.

The dinner bell rang.


They provide food for most marine base chains, and without algae, the waters would not sustain life.

Have some manners and wipe that beak!

Most algae accumulation is the result of surface runoff of surrounding areas, dumping nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus into the water. An algae bloom can also occur as a result of changing water currents which stirs up the bottom and allows nutrients to rise to within the sunlight reaching surface.

Nothing like a big Wetnap.

When algae is floating on the surface, mechanical removal by raking is the best ecological alternative. Herbicides can be applied, but they can be harmful to aquatic life. Grass carp eat algae and have been used to control ponds.

Now that’s refreshing.

Algae As Renewable Energy is a good idea!

“Algae biomass from lakes and ponds can now be used for energy with the advanced technology of Algae Aviation Fuel. Their method can transform any fresh water blue-green algae into a viable turbine bio fuel for use as generator ground electrical power. This modern technology is a first of its kind that does not require the extraction of oil from algal biomass to make fuel. Countries all over the globe with algae bloom problems can now harvest the biomass for use as energy instead of land filling the biomass or using herbicides.” (source)

All ready for the portrait.

If you want additional information on algae, click the three links. The first link is by Natural Environmental Systems and they offer natural control methods. Don’t let your Koi pond get looking like these examples. Koi will eat algae, but if levels are high, it is dangerous for the Koi for the reasons explained above.

The ducks and geese are nice to look at but the slime can make a pretty picture too.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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22 Responses to A Different Kind of Green Garden

  1. I love the idea of algae bloom being harnessed as a bio fuel – though reducing excess nitrogen in water from run-off would also be a great idea…

  2. Donna says:

    Fascinating post…love the bio fuel idea…my pond produces algae every year especially with the heat. We clean it up but you can’t get it all. The frogs love it though. The green is pretty but not for long in our pond if we can help it. My reluctant garden helper is the keeper of the pond. This hot summer he had his work cut out for him.

  3. Great info. If we have it we can certainly find a way to use it!

  4. linniew says:

    Algae as energy source sounds wonderful. I appreciated your research together with the beautiful images of the wild birds, really great photography!

  5. Holley says:

    We battled algae bloom in our pond for years. Finally we got a system that is taking care of it and keeping the water clear. It can certainly be a nuisance! Good to know it has some good qualities.

  6. One says:

    I like your new header!

    As for algae, I see them in my lotus pot. My fish and lotus do not seem to be very happy with its existence. I reduce them by adding water daily and splashing the top layer away. The plants beneath the lotus pot seems to enjoy the extra nutrition splashed on them.

  7. One says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention that your caption has been selected and is being posted today! Congratulations!!!

  8. Algae aviation fuel–I like that idea. Great shot of the Mallard!

  9. Tatyana says:

    Thank you Donna for showing this green world! Amazing pictures, like from the different planet!

  10. b-a-g says:

    This is an interesting post and that first picture catches my eye because I love (s)lime green. I have never taken a close look at algae before, avoiding ponds covered in it because of the stench.

  11. Beautiful colours, though I appreciate why people don’t want it in their ponds… Even our tiny bird bath seems to get full of algae in a few days, so I’m trying out different solutions to this and might just end up abandoning it. After all, birds and insects in my garden can drink from the little stream behind the house.

  12. andrea says:

    wonderful sights for photos, i love especially that turtle. I am amazed you were able to recognize it still. I am sure this post will be very informative to many. Have you heard of azolla, the freshwater fern which has a symbiotic relationship with cyanobacteria. Together they accumulate nitrogen from the water and air, and eventually they are very good source of fertilizer. This is done in many southeast asian countries.

    • I have heard about symbiotic relationship before and have been looking all over for where I first saw a great article on the symbiotic nature of plants themselves. I cannot remember enough to write about it, but it was talking about plants that live in the same region and form rooting networks and all kinds of amazing stuff. They fight off invaders as a team and ward off other plants from using their food source and soils. It was a very technical article from an in depth study and I can not locate it. It was way over my head the way it was written, but I was just amazed at the findings. I was familiar with nitrogen fixing bacteria and clover, but this was totally different because the relationship was strictly with upper level plants of different species. Maybe you have heard about this and let me know. It has been driving me crazy for a while. When I read the article I did not have the time to research every other word in the article so I could get a better grasp on what they were saying. I cannot even remember who wrote the study. I thought I bookmarked it and didn’t.

      • andrea says:

        Hahaha, it’s good i came back here because it’s difficult for me to have feeds not from blogger. Maybe the term which describes what you described is “allelopathy”, Wikipedia has a good general discussion about it. This involves mostly biochemical molecules or exudates mostly secondary metabolites. The science dealing with it is called allelochemics. It sounds high end, isn’t it! I wouldn’t have thought about it if you hadn’t mentioned here. It has affected distribution of species in natural habitats by affecting other plants and organisms, especially in herbivory. It is also the bases of synthesizing many pesticides or herbicides. Plant invasiveness greatly deals on allelochemics. Maybe i should post something about it. But you write very well, which I love.

        BTW, there is no rabbit in the roof of my latest photo, i had a difficult time looking for a rabbit-like structure there. I think you mistook the big leaves as a brown rabbit, LOL!

        • I kept looking at the ‘rabbit’ ears and really though one was on the roof. Silly me. I guess with the bunnies in my yard after the asters, I have rabbits on the brain. Do post on allelopathy. I look forward to learning more. I don’t remember that as the name, but it sounds about right otherwise.

  13. gardeningasylum says:

    Useful and interesting post – that last shot is beautiful, but hard to look at the birds struggling with the slimy stuff…

    • I had to answer you Cyndy, because the ducks and geese did not have to choose this lake. There are three other lakes on the property that have minimal algae and are very clear. I was amazed by the algae bloom because only two weeks ago it was not like this. I should have wrote about that in the post and showed images. The ducks and geese came here for the algae to feed and then they go through the ritual of cleaning themselves before they are off to the next lake. If the lakes were not so far apart, I would have followed them to make a story about that. I many go this week and do just that, but then again, not much for jogging through the woods chasing ducks.

  14. Interesting. Most bodies of water here are algae free. It’s only places near agriculture that every experience algae blooms. Wonder if that will change with climate change.

  15. What an informative post! The pond down the road from me is covered in algae and I think it is funny when the cows go in to drink and they get covered in green. Your green slime photo reminds me of that Dr. Seuss book “Bartholomew and the Oobleck. Love the geese shots!

  16. I like the symbiotic or bio-fuel options. They seem better for everyone overall. The turtle photo is so beautiful.

  17. Karen says:

    Algae is a fascinating plant, but one I’m not fond of when it’s in my pond either. I guess I’m like everyone else with a nimby attitude (not in my back yard)! How interesting that the ducks and geese like to eat the algae, it’s a blessing for them apparently. I guess I shouldn’t automatically assume just because it’s green it’s nasty. Very informative post, Donna!

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