Ultrasonic Algae Control Systems: Are They A Sustainable Algae Treatment For Ponds and Lakes?

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Written By Mark Washburn

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

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Excessive pond algae growth turns ponds and lakes into a green, slimy mess.  New advances in ultrasonic technology offers an eco-friendly remedy to control algae without chemicals or harming fish. Read on to learn how an ultrasonic system can help to create cleaner and clearer waters.

Why Algae Problems Plague Ponds and Lakes

Algae occur naturally in all water bodies, but under the right conditions, populations can explode into nuisance green algae blooms that:

– Ruin the appearance of ponds and lakes

– Reduce water clarity, impacting aquatic plants and fish

– Foul shorelines with rotting algal mats that smell bad

– Clog pumps, filtration, and other infrastructure

Warm temperatures, nutrient pollution from runoff, and stagnant water provide ideal conditions for algal growth to get out of control. Once established, blooms can be difficult to manage.

Why Algaecides And Other Chemicals Are Not The Best Way To Treat An Algae Bloom

For decades now chemicals have been the most commonly prescribed remedy for pond algae.  Even today, algaecides are recommended to treat most alga blooms, and while they can be effective in the short term, at least visually speaking, they come with a variety of long-term problems or side effects that need to be considered.

Toxicity to fish, plants, and other aquatic life – Many algaecides contain copper or other ingredients that can harm or kill pond inhabitants at higher concentrations. This can disrupt the ecosystem.

Water quality impacts – Algaecide residues can temporarily spike ammonia levels as algae die off, requiring mitigation. Some algaecides also reduce oxygen levels.

Repeated applications often needed – Chemical treatments don’t address the underlying causes of algae, so blooms often return and require re-treatment.

Spreading of resistant species – Using algaecides can selectively breed resistant strains of algae not harmed by the chemicals.

Loss of “good” algae – Most algaecides are broad-spectrum and can’t target just problem algal species, killing beneficial forms too.

Limited effectiveness in large water bodies – It’s not feasible to accurately dose an entire large lake or pond with an algaecide.

Recreation limitations – After application, ponds may need to be closed to swimming, fishing or other uses for a period of time.

Monitoring difficulties – Chemicals make analyzing water samples to track algae concentrations more difficult.

Long-Term Costs – Algaecides are expensive, especially for repeated applications in large ponds and lakes. Labor costs for application add up too.

The potential toxicity to the pond ecosystem and limited long-term effectiveness are key reasons many pond owners are shifting to alternate methods of algae reduction like ultrasonic treatments or mechanical removal. Using algaecides requires care to minimize side effects and avoid unintended consequences in ponds.

How Ultrasound Technology Provides Sustainable Algae Control And Better Water Quality

Ultrasonic algae control devices emit specific sound wave frequencies that disrupt and kill problem algae, providing safe, effective treatment.

The systems work by:

– Emitting targeted ultrasonic frequencies that resonate with internal structures in algal cells, causing them to vibrate and rupture.

– Radiating ultrasonic waves in all directions for 360 degree coverage of the entire water body.

– Running automatic programs tailored to different algae species based on periodic water sampling.

– Operating continuously to maintain control without chemicals or harming fish, plants or other aquatic life.

– Restoring water clarity and quality by killing and sinking algal blooms.

– Breaking up string algae so it can’t re-root and grow back after treatment.

– Fish and other aquatic organisms remain unharmed.

Review of Top Ultrasonic Algae Control Systems

Several companies now manufacture ultrasonic systems for controlling algae. Most well-vetted brands are best suited for treating algal blooms in really large ponds and lakes.  Here are two top options:

LG Sonic

The LG Sonic is a robust ultrasonic system designed for large ponds, lakes, and reservoirs with an effective range of 2600 feet. It emits varying frequencies including high 25-30 kHz range, medium 15-25 kHz range, and low 15-20 kHz for broad range pond algae control coverage.

Pros: Powerful performance, pre-set programs, cellular monitoring.

Cons: Expensive, seems more suited to large, commercial applications.

Pulsar Ultrasound System

The Pulsar 3000 is a more compact ultrasonic device that handles smaller ponds up to 3 acres. It uses a dense frequency range of 190-205 kHz with specific frequencies tailored to destroy blue-green algae.  Affects algae within  150 meters (490 feet) radially from the device.

The Pulsar 4000 uses the same frequency settings as the smaller Pulsar, but has an extended range of up to 400 meters (1300 feet) for blue-green algae.

Pros: Lower cost, simple operation, safe for fish, provides 360 degree coverage, commonly used in waste water lagoons, water quality monitoring is available for lakes

Cons: Not for use in smaller waterbodies such as koi ponds and water gardens.

How to Get the Most From Sonic Algae Control

To maximize the effectiveness of an ultrasound system:

– Conduct periodic algae sampling and analysis to determine what species are present so ultrasonic frequencies can be tuned to target them.

– Position transducers for 360-degree coverage across the entirety of the water body.  This is especially important to control algal blooms in large lakes.

– Use coagulants or flocculants to help settle or remove dead algae cells.

– Perform occasional maintenance like cleaning emitters to remove buildup.

– Monitor water quality parameters like temperature, nutrients, and oxygen levels.

– Reduce external nutrient influences to help prevent the recurrence of algae growth.

Why Algae Testing Is Important

Overall, there are thousands of types of algae species found in ponds, lakes, and aquatic ecosystems.

Algae are broadly categorized into groups based on their colors, cellular structures, photosynthetic pigments, and other distinguishing characteristics, with blue-green and green algae being two of the most common types.

  • Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) – These unicellular, bacteria-like algae get their name from the blue pigments phycocyanin and phycoerythrin. Examples include Microcystis and Anabaena.  Some of these can produce toxins.
  • Green algae – Contain chlorophyll a and b as their primary pigments, giving them a green color. Some examples are Spirogyra, Chlorella, and Volvox. They can be single-celled or multi-cellular.  Filamentous algae would be in this category.

Sonic devices can successfully control most of the algae species found in these classes.  However, there are a few specific species that may not be fully controlled with ultrasound alone.  Pithophora would be an example.

Ultrasound is also not recommended to treat an algae like Chara, which is a branching type of algae and more like a rooted aquatic weed.

Our recommendation is to always test for specific algae species using microscopic analysis.  Once the algae are identified the pond or lake owner will have a better idea of how well algae management will work in a particular aquatic setting.

Ultrasonic Algae Treatment Restores Clean Water

Ultrasonic technology to control nuisance algae in ponds and lakes is proving to be a viable alternative to chemical algaecides.   Using sound waves to restore the aesthetics, usability, and overall health of an aquatic ecosystem may sound like science fiction, but for many pond owners, the results and benefits are clearly obvious.

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