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Has anyone used bacteria pellets to control filamentous algae and bottom sludge.
Thanks,
jdfish

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jdfish,

The use of bacterial products seemed like "snake-oil" to me, but I started using it last year on a few ponds. One pond in particular is a 4 acre lake that had a history of terrible algae algae problems, both blue-greens and filamentous. In fact, when I was first called to the site, the pond was about 85% covered with a species of algae called Pithophora- a pretty hard to kill species. We were able to kill it using a variety of algaecides/herbicides and dyes for prevention but it always came back in a short time. We battled for two years using the chemicals. We were successful after each application but the frequency of application was increasing.

We then decided to try the bacterial products. The application rates for a 4 acre pond meant a lot of money, but we weren't really getting anywhere with the chemicals. I began to get concerned about long term impacts of the chemicals so we gave the bacteria a try. We started the program last spring (2007) in late March when the temps began to stay above 55 degrees. We applied the product as recommended and were successful all year long! Could it be a fluke? I don't know for sure but we're having the same success this year. Further, other ponds in the area with similar algae problems that are still getting the good 'ol copper blast continue to have the same problems. The home's association witht he 4 acre pond couldn't be happier, and I am their hero (until duckweed shows up!). Anyway, the pond has looked better than anyone can remember. I should mention that we are still using dyes. We continue to make routine treatments even though the lake looks great. For now, we're not going to fix what isn't broken, but I have to wonder if the amount of bacteria and the frequency of application can be adjusted to involve less product. Like I said, we're sticking with what is working. I've seen the pond in a condition where you could barely see the water so we're not willing to try experimenting with dosages.

I have told this story to other clients with much smaller ponds and they jumped on board and have been applying the stuff themselves. In each case, the use of chemicals was a frequent occurrence. So far, the additional 6 ponds that I know are getting the product are doing fine and their owners are happy. We use the dry bateria that are packaged in water soluble bags. I do know that one started to get naiad, so they applied some Sonar and all is good.

Now then, I have read from others on this forum that the results have not been so favorable. I do not know what application dosages and frequencies they were using.

Someone on this forum has been using Rid-X (septic tank cleaner) and I believe they were having success. This would be a much cheaper solution. I've talked to a lot of suppliers and mfg's of various bacterial products and they all have the best.....go figure. Some preach that theirs is a blend of both anaerobic and aerobic bacteria, their's has a better carrying medium (eg bran)than others, etc. I did want a product that had a blend of microorganisms that could survive either aerobically or anaerobically. Perhaps I folded to salesmanship, but it made sense to me.

The stuff we use looks like sawdust. I hope that it's more than that!!! Whatever it is, I've seen great results from it. For me to even try it, is saying something. I'm pretty cynical about most things. You probaby will never be able to sell me ocean-front property in Arizona if you catch my drift. We were desparate for results, did our homework and gave it the ol' college try. So far so good. I would probably have more experience with it, but it is pretty expensive when you consider a season-long treatment regime.



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I have considered bacteria as well. I found this supplier, and the prices looked pretty good, but I have yet to order any.
"Flush-It" Bulk bacteria
Maybe someone has used it. The hype sounds like polititions, you just hope they do what they say they will, but just expect that it's a bunch of BS!



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 Originally Posted By: jdfish
Has anyone used bacteria pellets to control filamentous algae and bottom sludge.
Thanks,
jdfish


I hope that Bill Cody weighs in on this.

He did a very interesting presentation at the Pond Boss conference in which he tested the effectiveness of bacteria pellets against bottom sledge. The bottom line (here I go again with accounting terms) is that the pellets resulted in almost no improvement versus an untreated control area. The best treatment was a frequent raking of the bottom sediment. I don't recall if he tested the pellets against FA.

I sure would like to see a scientific test (much like Bill did with an untreated control area) of all of the bacteria additives. I think most of us (myself, and 11 of my other personalities included) would like a non-chemical solution whenever possible.

Oh and Shawn, my intent is not to dispute your experiences or in any way question your results. I realize that you are one of the forum experts and this keyboard monkey is certainly not questioning your competence, all you need to do is read a few of my posts and you will see that I can easily be discredited and labeled a quack.

From my recollection, Bill specifically tested the pellets (unless I have had a complete memory lapse which is as likely as anything) against bottom sledge and found that the were ineffective.

But once again let us see if Bill will discuss this issue.


Paging Bill Cody


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Jeff,

How dare you and your multiple personalities question my results:) Seriously, I really don't know if our results are real or coincidental with something else going on. I am becomming a believer because we have mulitple ponds responding to the treatments.

To be honest, I haven't even attempted to observe sludge reduction on the bottom. I do believe that nutrients are being tied-up and unavailable for the algae. The stuff we've been using literally looks like saw dust dispersing in the water. Since the product is not required to be registered with the EPA, my luck would predict that is probably just overpriced saw dust!

I'm glad that you posted Bill's results and I hope he chimes in. That is good to know about the pellets because I'm seeing more advertising about them all of the time. If he's using the overpriced sawdust like I am, then I will have to start scratching my head.

I will say this, the amount of product that is "recommended" is quite a bit when you look at 8 months worth of application. It adds up quickly. It really does seem to be working.

Jeff, you are not a keyboard monkey. You are much more evolved. How about keyboard Australopithecus?? I haven't had a lot of time to post, but I must say I read the forum about once a week and you (and Theo) make me laugh everytime. I was hoping to meet you in Texas but I just couldn't break away.

I hope others chime-in, too with their experiences. I would like to know what the real story is about the bacteria. The brands being used, the rates, and the observed results from others will be useful.



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I tested the bacterial pellets for afffects on black anaerobic sludge and reduction of overlying bottom organics. I did not test for affects upon filamentous or planktonic algae growth. The particular brand of pellets that I used came from GLB Inc of Wisconsin. Conclusions that I made were those particular pellets had very little affect on either black anaerobic sludge in gravel beach areas or on a unique form of organic / carbonate particulates that covered a beach swimming area.

As Shawn mentions some pondowners do see a reduction of FA with using SOME of the bacterial products. I think the type or species of algae problem can make a difference with the apparent results. Different algae have different growth - bloom requirements, so one time it may work and then not work if a different specie of algae is involved.
At times I have heard reports of visual reduction success with the bacterial products for accelerated digestion of bottom sludge. My summary is not enough documented and measured testing using controls and or replicated tests have been done with enough of the products to provide reliable purchasing information for consumers. None of the bacterial products come with guarantees - probably for a reason.

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Shawn, FYI, after doing much research, the few bacteria makers that specify their ingredients, have vastly different amounts of CFU's(colony forming units) of bacteris per gram, oz. or whatever. =I think what Jeff is talking about, if I remember correctly, is pellets placed directly on sludge out of the water. The bacteria you are using is placed in the pond in the presense of aeration to feed their multiplication. Ridex has the fewest numbers of bacteria per unit of wt. of any I have seen, but as you said, it is cheap and if it works for some, who is to question. There is no doubt that bacteria and enzymes will help rid a body of water of excess nutrients. I have seen the results on several ponds.


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Bill,

Just out of curiousity, did you contact that company after you had no results from using their product? If so, what did they tell you?

Some huge marketing firm has me on their list, because I get contacted by chem reps/natural product reps all of the time. These pellets you tried are being pushed on me often. I have not tried them.



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what is the differnce between advetised bacteria makers for ponds vs. septic systems?



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 Originally Posted By: Shawn Banks
Jeff,

How dare you and your multiple personalities question my results


I can only control three or four of them at any given time, the rest are much like rogue ninja. They enter the forum, lay waste to a post and them disappear without detection.

 Originally Posted By: Shawn Banks
Jeff, you are not a keyboard monkey. You are much more evolved. How about keyboard Australopithecus?? I haven't had a lot of time to post, but I must say I read the forum about once a week and you (and Theo) make me laugh everytime. I was hoping to meet you in Texas but I just couldn't break away.


Thanks for the kind words. It's nice to know I'm living proof that Darwin's theories are alive and well. We'll make a point of meeting at the next conference.

Anyhoo, back to bacteria...........


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Below is a blog I wrote a couple of months ago about my less than scientific finding using bacteria / enzymes. I posted this and then had second thoughts about it and deleted it. The reasons I deleted it are because 1) after 24 hours no one had commented and it did not appear to me that there was any interest in it, and 2) I really hate these snake oil sales statements we hear from sellers of the products and my observations are no better than theirs.

However, here are additional comments since I wrote the first piece: Rid-Ex costs about $15.00 for a three pound box. I'd guess I use no more than five or so boxes a year, so my cost is around $75.00 yearly. There are other products that are just a cheap or less that claim to have more CFUs. One is Dr. Drain that you can get a Wal-Mart. It claims to be five times as strong. another is a line I have only found at Home Depot. That is Zep which has several items that appear to be similar.

Anyway, following is what I posted a month or two ago:


Registered: May 03, 2002
Posts: 179
Loc: Southern Illinois I added aeration to my three acre pond about two years ago. The pond is 18 to 20 foot deep at the deepest. Being 55 years old it had quite an accumulation of muck. It also continually bordered on being too fertile.

In addition to aeration, starting right after the conference last year, I started adding bacteria. Now I wish I had kept better records of the progress the pond has made. The pond has six coves ranging from only 15 or 20 foot deep (long) off the main body, to perhaps 80 yards deep. Especially the longest cove had a great deal of muck, reducing the depth to just a few inches. Prior to aeration, when I would approach the back of that cove my boat would start running aground at a spot that happened to be right beside a large tree on the bank that I used to gauge how far into the cove I was. Now, I can go past that tree, perhaps another 20 or 30 feet. Since the pond only fluctuates a few inches over the season I can only surmise that the water is deeper because the muck is being reduced.

I really wish I had kept more exact records, but I am convinced the depth in the coves, and in the entire pond, is greater because of the aeration and perhaps because of my use of bacteria. In the main part of the lake I now find 20 foot water in more spots than I once did.

The bacteria I used was Rid-X. During the warmer months I would put about one and 1/2 pound of Rid-X in about once per week. I don't know if this is helping, but something is surely helping reduce the muck. Also, I read somewhere that if you put a dry culture bacteria in warm water and aereate it well for 24 hours or so, the amount of bacteria will be increased by several hundred %. Therefore, I would put one half of a three pound box of Rid-X in the bucket, keep air circulating through it with one of those $14.95 battery powered aerators you buy at Wal-Mart, and then dump the entire contents in the back of one or more of the coves. I did that about once a week and just did a different set of coves each week.


Without a doubt my pond is deeper and cleaner because of some of these activities. My greatest mistake was just not keeping better records.

Bing


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thanks for that bing, that is good pondmeistering stuff right there.

i second george's question......"what is the differnce between advetised bacteria makers for ponds vs. septic systems?"


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I think pond bacteria brands will often (maybe not always) have more species of bacteria and maybe more CFU's per pound of bacteria. Knowledgable sources, correct me if I am wrong.


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There is a difference in bacteria for septic systems and bacteria for ponds. Basically, different strains are used in septic products to address the waste found in septic tanks. For instance, you need bacteria that can readily feed on human waste, oil and grease and produce the associated enzymes to break that stuff down. Same thing goes for ponds, there is different types of waste in ponds, so you will want a slightly different bacteria bend to better address pond waste. This is not to say that they two products are totally different as most will share the same strains, but there will (or should) be some difference.

I will also say that I would not pay too much attention to the claims of 20-30 species of bacteria in a products as many time those "additional" species really dont do anything. From what I have seen there are maybe 6-8 or so good strains for pond bacteria


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This is a very interesting post as my problem and solutions are narrowing very quickly and something like what is being discussed here maybe my only option. Shawn can you tell me what product name you used that seem to have good success?
Using Rid-x a product for a septic tank would concern me although I understand it is the same concept.

I have been considering this product:
http://www.effens.com/products.php

Almost forgot here is the link to my problem
http://www.pondboss.com/forums/ubbthread...0083#Post128214


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Merdav,

I have been using a product called BioBlend II from Cygnet Enterprises. It retails for around $13/lb. You should be able to find some on the internet. I think your little pond would benefit from some sort of aeration system. They type and size of system would be dependent upon you max & avg depth. Good luck. Shawn



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That product seems resonably priced, it also seems to have a pretty low appication amount for what it claims it does. Shawn how long do you think it took to see results? Did you actually measure and observe the bottom muck thickness change?
I have spoken to some people here about aeration that have given me recommendations, average depth is 3 ft, max is maybe 5-6ft, I'm curious what type of aeration you would recommend.

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As a fisheries management student (formally for 4 years, out of class for 7) I thought that bacterial products were definitly "snake oil". After treating customer ponds at my current vocation, I noticed very quickly that the ones that used bacterial supplements to our treatments needed much less chemical in general. The bottoms aren't always muck-free and they all have occasional algae blooms, but by and large they take less chemical to control... especially the aerated ones.

I thought that Bill's experiment showed the same results. The bacterial application sites showed no visual results, but what was the nutrient content? Did the entire pond show results? From my experience, it doesnt take much bacteria to make results in the entire pond. The pond wasnt aerated if i remember, so the raking would cause the agitation necessary to facilitate bacterial activity.

As far as using septic bacteria, isnt that type of bacteria anaerobic (i really dont know, but logicially it makes sense?). My schooling told me that anaerobic digestion is much slower and less efficient and turns out bad bi-products. I'm sticking with pond bacteria, even though its more expensive.

Its also my understanding that (Like cokeisit said) there are only a few real "front-runners" in the lake cleaning bacterial world. The extras are just for marketing. The distributor I buy from says he could but a thousand strains in, but theres really no reason. Also, I've been told that theres a threshold at which too many cfu's will result in canibalism within the bacteria colonies, thereby reducing effectiveness.

Hope some of that makes sense...


Justin McLeod
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Rainman,
Have you looked at a bacteria/dye combination called Biocycle? I understand you can get a trial sample to test BEFORE you buy.
DBR's

Check out http://www.wmtinconline.com for info.

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DBR's welcome to posting on PB.
















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 Originally Posted By: Bing
Below is a blog I wrote a couple of months ago about my less than scientific finding using bacteria / enzymes. I posted this and then had second thoughts about it and deleted it. The reasons I deleted it are because 1) after 24 hours no one had commented and it did not appear to me that there was any interest in it, and 2) I really hate these snake oil sales statements we hear from sellers of the products and my observations are no better than theirs.

However, here are additional comments since I wrote the first piece: Rid-Ex costs about $15.00 for a three pound box. I'd guess I use no more than five or so boxes a year, so my cost is around $75.00 yearly. There are other products that are just a cheap or less that claim to have more CFUs. One is Dr. Drain that you can get a Wal-Mart. It claims to be five times as strong. another is a line I have only found at Home Depot. That is Zep which has several items that appear to be similar.

Anyway, following is what I posted a month or two ago:


Registered: May 03, 2002
Posts: 179
Loc: Southern Illinois I added aeration to my three acre pond about two years ago. The pond is 18 to 20 foot deep at the deepest. Being 55 years old it had quite an accumulation of muck. It also continually bordered on being too fertile.

In addition to aeration, starting right after the conference last year, I started adding bacteria. Now I wish I had kept better records of the progress the pond has made. The pond has six coves ranging from only 15 or 20 foot deep (long) off the main body, to perhaps 80 yards deep. Especially the longest cove had a great deal of muck, reducing the depth to just a few inches. Prior to aeration, when I would approach the back of that cove my boat would start running aground at a spot that happened to be right beside a large tree on the bank that I used to gauge how far into the cove I was. Now, I can go past that tree, perhaps another 20 or 30 feet. Since the pond only fluctuates a few inches over the season I can only surmise that the water is deeper because the muck is being reduced.

I really wish I had kept more exact records, but I am convinced the depth in the coves, and in the entire pond, is greater because of the aeration and perhaps because of my use of bacteria. In the main part of the lake I now find 20 foot water in more spots than I once did.

The bacteria I used was Rid-X. During the warmer months I would put about one and 1/2 pound of Rid-X in about once per week. I don't know if this is helping, but something is surely helping reduce the muck. Also, I read somewhere that if you put a dry culture bacteria in warm water and aereate it well for 24 hours or so, the amount of bacteria will be increased by several hundred %. Therefore, I would put one half of a three pound box of Rid-X in the bucket, keep air circulating through it with one of those $14.95 battery powered aerators you buy at Wal-Mart, and then dump the entire contents in the back of one or more of the coves. I did that about once a week and just did a different set of coves each week.


Without a doubt my pond is deeper and cleaner because of some of these activities. My greatest mistake was just not keeping better records.

Bing
Bing, have you followed the current PB thread regarding "Bacterial Nutrient Control" ?
I sure would be interested in your experience and knowledge about this subject in order to avoid another fish kill this summer, but don't want to spend a thousand bucks on an unproven technology.

Very best regards,
George



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So what happens to the bacteria you put into the pond? It does it's job and then disappears? What impacts does it have on, frogs, minnows, tadpoles etc.? I have read an ad that says they have a bacterial product that will control all aquatic vegetation. This thread dicusses algae but has anyone noticed other plants dying? I am thinking about calling these guys and see what their price is. They claim guaranteed results !!

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Wow there are really a lot of questions and interest in this topic. Maybe I can help a little.

What happens to bacteria after you put them in a pond? They multiply or they die. Bacteria require soluble nutrients for rapid assimilation, growth and performance. In addition, the presence of trace elements such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, sodium, chloride, zinc, iron, manganese, and many more are required for biological activity. If these things are present, the bacteria thrive and consume sludge. If they're not present they die. This is why the most effective sludge consuming bacterial products require "activation" meaning that you provide the bacteria with nutrients and carbon source, heat, and oxygen for 24 hours before applying to your pond. That's not to say that other products aren't effective. There is a caveate to this life or death situation...larger organisms feed on bacteria and larger organisms feed on those organisms so essentially, in a perfect pondmeister world, the bacteria keep reproducing and eventually become fish food. Biolgical activity is also very dependent on temperature and pH.

There are no direct effects on other organisms. There are not even direct effects on the vegetation itself. The idea is to consume the soluble nutrients via bacterial digestion so that we starve the algae of nutrients. The bi-products of this process are mainly CO2 and inert ash. There are some other greenhouse gasses but they are nominal in abundance.

Indeed there are different types of bacteria that thrive in different environments. Some of these "snake oil salesman" might have told you that their bacteria function in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions. This does not appeal to our intuitions. However the bacteria they are referring to are called facultative bacteria and do in fact live in aerobic, anoxic and anaerobic conditions. However they thrive and consume nutrients best in aerobic conditions. The organisisms that are the driving force of sludge digestion (really we're talking about the nitrogen cycle) are Nitrosomonas, Nitrobacter, Pseudomonas, and Clostridium.

You can enhance the effect of bacteria by providing more surface area for them to live in a process called "fixed film media" we can install growth media such as a product called Aquamats or even the popular Floating Islands that have been discussed on this forum. The idea is to have a media in which layers of bacteria grow on. Aerobic bacteria grow on the outermost portion of the media while anaerobic bacteria grow closest to the media and anoxic bacteria in between. In a Floating Island, the roots extending down into the water column provide this growth media.

The effects of bacterial sludge and nutrient digestion are well documented and some pond products can consume up to an inch per week of organic sludge. I've personally seen it happen. Bacteria is responsible for treating our wastewater, creeks, ponds, and virtually any surface water. If you really want to bore yourself to death on this topic (as if I haven't done so already ) pick up a copy of Metcalf & Eddy's Wastewater Engineering; Treatment and Reuse. This is the bible for wastewater engineers and has invaluable information on bacterial water treatment.


Richard Dennis
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WaterWizard, thanks for the info, I'm sure there are many pond owners interested in this topic because there has been so much info pro & con.
I've been researching this topic to find the most cost effective bacteria to use, as I stated earlier I used a pound of flush-it last year because It advertised one of the highest bacteria to dollar ratios. Most of the products I have been looking at don't give info on bacteria count.
AS you stated that temp. and PH have big affects on the bacteria count, I feel that it's one of the big problems I have due to water PH of 5.5.
I also agree that islands are a big help to the water quality in the pond, I have 2 natural Islands and the amount of fish, insect and other wildlife around and on them is significant.
Thanks again for the valuable info.


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Waterwizard.....thanks for that GREAT explanation. I have been reading on the floating island. I think my pond is full of nutrients as it was pretty empty for a number of years and is now full. During the empty years, alot of grass had grown on the pond bottom. Pondweed sprouted up and engulfed the pond. Algae has also started to become a problem. On top of that, I am pumping water into the pond almost 24\7. Algae seems to grow alot where the fresh water comes in. I don't aerate and don't really have the money to invest in it. My pond catches alot of wind and is only about 5 feet deep. I think I will give the bacteria a try to see what happens. Seems like the pros outweight the cons.

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