Ultrasonic Algae Control And It’s Uses

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Written By Mark Washburn

Mark has 20 years of experience as a professional pond management consultant.

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If you’re old enough to remember the original Star Trek TV show, it’s not much of a stretch to look at todays cell phones and chuckle a little bit at the similarities. Technology is truly shaping life as we know it today and it has many benefits. Pond owners aren’t immune to the benefits of high tech equipment and in particular, those who own large ponds with algae problems may now have a tool that will help.

Ultrasound has found many uses since it’s invention. Many are familiar with it’s medical or dental applications, but did you know that pond algae can be affected as well? It’s true. Ultrasonic algae control is, in some cases, replacing the use of chemical algaecides in an effective and eco-friendly way.

Ultrasonic systems work by using a transducer that’s placed in the water. This component is submerged slightly below the surface and continuously sends out an ultrasound wave which, in effect, creates vibrations in an algae cell. Regardless of what type of algae you’re seeing in a pond, all of them are made up of individual cells. And as these cells become damaged through consistent vibrations, they become disabled or die. In simple terms, this is how ultrasound works.

The technology has been in use for almost a decade now, at least in terms of testing. For the last 5 or 6 years ultrasonic algae control has been used in the U.S. . Like any new application, improvements have been made that improve the performance and effectiveness. It’s important that an ultrasound system uses very precise frequencies. The sounds must match the frequency of an actual algae cell, and the closer they can get to that, the more effective they will be.

It’s estimated that for most algae types, ultrasound will be effective from 70 to 100% of the time. There are algae types that, because of their cellular structure, are more hardy and resistent to the vibrations.

Most green water, or planktonic algae can be affected positively, and many types of string algae can be reduced. Normally, after installation, which is often quite simple using an attached float, the device will remain in the water and running continuously. After several weeks, there should be a noticeable difference in the algae. If a device has been in use for 2 to 3 months or about 90 days, and not gotten results, then it’s most likely due to the type of algae that’s present. In cases like this, ultrasound may have helped to an extent but may need more assistance from other types of treatments such as a short term use of an algaecide.

There are models available to treat most sizes of ponds. In terms of the American made Sonic Solutions models, these range from the ss100 which will treat any pond up to about 100 feet in length, to the ss600 which can be used for very large waters ranging up to about 800 feet.

So how do you know if ultrasound is a viable option for your pond?

First, you may want to test to determine the types of algae that are in your pond. Ultrasonic algae control has been used long enough now to narrow down what it will and won’t work on. The test results can be compared to a database of results and whether ultrasound is worth trying or not.

Trials and rentals are available from some companies and ultimately this is the best way to find out if ultrasound will work. There is nothing quite like putting a unit in a pond to find out how well it will do. Usually these rentals will run about 3 months giving one adequate time to test the effectiveness.

For ultrasound to work, it must have a clear line of sight to affect the algae. Islands or other obstructions in the middle of the pond will affect the performance. Also, the transducer which sits underwater, should not be placed too close to a mud lined bottom. Clearance of about 3 feet or more is helpful for the best effect and reduces the absorbtion of the sounds waves into the mud.

If a pond has harder water in it, calcium and other mineral deposits may routinely form on the transducer head. These should be cleaned periodically with a mixture of warm water and vinegar to ensure optimum performance.

Be sure as well to run the unit continuously once it’s installed. It is the constant bombardment of the sound waves that ultimately affect the algae. And finally, if string algae is the main issue, it is often helpful to use some type of treatment to knock down or kill any algae present, then start the ultrasound system. In other words, it’s best to start with a clean pond and use ultrasound as a deterrent to new growth rather than a treatment for what may be present. Green water can be treated as is without the use of an algaecide.

When these basic tips are kept in mind, ultrasonic algae control has shown very good results in a variety of pond settings and for those who are wanting to cut down on chemical applications or the inherent costs of treating a larger pond, ultrasound may turn out to be a great alternative.

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