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#34865 06/23/05 06:04 PM
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I've noticed that some PB posters utilize lake dyes in their ponds. Some folks use lake dyes to help reduce weeds/algae through sunlight reduction while others use them to simply enhance aesthetics.

I won't go into the pros and cons of using lake dyes in ponds being managed for fishing. However, generally speaking, lake dyes (used at levels needed to inhibit sunlight penetration) can be detrimental to phytoplankton production and will therefore have a negative impact on the "natural" food chain. That impact can be offset to some degree with a fish-feeding program. But, that discussion and debate is not the purpose of my post.

Instead, I simply wanted to offer some advice (or "public service announcement") to those who elect to use lake dyes - for whatever reason - after fully understanding the associated pros and cons.

I've noticed a significant increase in the number of lake dye producers over the past few years. Even so, there are only two lake dye brands that are registered with the EPA for weed and/or algae control: AQUASHADE and ADMIRAL. All of the other lake dyes make no pesticidal claims (or do so very subtly) and are therefore not obligated to obtain an EPA registration.

HOWEVER, strangely enough, the knock-off "generic" brands always seem to list the identical use-rate recommendation for their product as is listed for the EPA-registered brands (ie. 1 gal. per 4 acre-feet). Also, the non-registered products always APPEAR to cost sigificantly less than the registered products. So, it would seem rational for most folks to say "Hey, this no-name brand lists the same use-rate as AQUASHADE and ADMIRAL - but it is a lot cheaper. I think I'll just use it and save some bucks".

If this is "you", then you've probably just bought into a cleaver marketing tactic.

Case in point: When purchasing a lake dye, you are NOT buying a GALLON of dye. Instead, you are actually buying powdered pigment [usually acid-blue 9, and sometimes acid-blue 9 + acid-yellow 23] that has been formulated into a gallon of liquid that is usually packaged in a 1-gallon jug.

Now comes the tricky part. Different lake dye formulators use different types of analysis to indicate their product's "pure dye content" (PDC) - which is the only accurate means of determining the dye-concentration of any lake dye product. Many of the knock-off lake-dye formulators don't even indicate their product's PDC, since they're not required to do so unless they actually register their product with the EPA. Why do they not list their PDCs? Easy, because their PDC is usually a lot lower than the more expensive lake-dye formulations. Even so, they attempt what I consider "deception" by listing a recommended use-rate that is identical to the EPA registered lake dyes.

All this to basically say: Don't be fooled into comparing the cost-per-gallon of two or more lake dyes from different manufacturers. Just because the various products are packaged in 1-gal. containers and list the identical use-rates does NOT mean that they all contain the same level of PDC. In fact, it is comical how much the PDC's differ amongst the various lake-dyes on the market these days.

So, if you're using one of the cheaper knock-off lake dyes (which are virtually guaranteed to contain NO acid-yellow 23) and wondering why you have to use so much to get blue water OR why you have to retreat so frequently, now you know. There are many differences between lake-dyes - besides their price tags.

#34866 06/23/05 06:50 PM
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Fascinating post, Kelly.

I haven't used dyes personally, but I've wondered if this "marketing technique" isn't more prevalent than we realize. That's why I like Pond Boss - - maybe I won't have to make every major screwup when I try something for the first time.


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#34867 06/23/05 08:58 PM
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Bruce - I'm certainly not a fan of Big Brother's tendency to over-regulate so many aspects of our lives. However, I'm equally opposed to the tactics found in several non-regulated industries which take advantage of uninformed/misinformed citizens. On either side of the middle, consumers pay an unnecessary or inappropriate premium for goods and services.

I am quite certain that I am a victim of similar tactics to those outlined above for other consumer products of which I have little background knowledge.

Always remember: caveat emptor

#34868 06/23/05 09:26 PM
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I think the registered dye products that use acid yellow in the formulation do so for a GOOD reason. I suspect that the combination of acid blue and correct amount of acid yellow together produce a light filtering feature that inhibits most green plant growth. The light filtering ability of the blue & yellow combination removes red and orange wave lenghts of light. Red and orange wavelengths are primarily responsible for green plant photosynthesis. Blue dye by itself probably does not remove both red and orange light rays and thus minimal plant control results.

Also proper concentration of the dye is important for adequate light filtration. "Light doses" of dye no doubt have less affect on underwater plant growth. I also think bluegreen algae do not use the same light wavelengths as green plants for photosynthesis.


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#34869 06/24/05 06:25 AM
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Kelly, great post. Although, your purpose was not keyed to the overall dangers of pond dye, you put it pretty succinctly. I like the word "holistic' when thinking about the well being of a water hole. I don't believe a pond can be termed healthy when the phytoplankton base is inhibited. To me, pond dye ranks right up there with suspended mud; no matter what the cost.

#34870 06/24/05 02:43 PM
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Great thread guys .

Bill I have a question about the last sentence of your post regarding the light wavelengths used by bluegreen algae vs. those used by green plants. I understand the sentence but I don't want to draw the wrong conclusion from it. I will ask the question in a general way . What effect does the proper use of registered pond dye { that containing the correct acid blue and acid yellow content} in a pond have on the plankton base in the pond ? Does the pond dye block out those light wavelengths that are necessary for plankton growth ? Thanks in advance for any help on this matter. ewest
















#34871 06/24/05 03:29 PM
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Yep you usually get what you pay for!

I'm using aquashade in a small pond that I am feeding male bluegills in to avoid the dreaded onslaught of excessive macrophytes. The pond is so small I'm not sure how easy it would be to create an algae bloom and maintain it.

Anyway I would prefer not to use it and the bluegills in my bass pond that has clear water seem to feed better. Personally don't like the look either.

Maybe next year I'll refrain from the dye and put in some grass carp like Bruce does as a proactive approach.


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#34872 06/24/05 06:21 PM
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Kelly can you tell me what do I look for in a good dye for the money? Do you just like Aqushade? I thought I was getting a good deal but maybe I'm a sucker.


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#34873 06/24/05 07:56 PM
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As with many unregulated products, it can be extremely difficult to discern "value" (defined as the relationship between price and quality).

You can buy a poor quality product and still receive a good "value", IF that product is cheap enough. You may have to buy 2X more of it to equal the higher quality product. But, if the net-cost is less, you still received a good "value".

I'm digressing from your question with economic theory. Sorry.

As for lake dyes, I've seen lab PDC statistics that list AQUASHADE and ADMIRAL far above the other products (that were tested)- sometimes by as much as 50% more PDC.

AND, these two products contain a good dose of acid-yellow #23 (which is considerably more expensive than acid-blue #9 - and is usually missing from the cheaper knock-off brands.

Also, knowing that the repective manufacturers of AQUASHADE and ADMIRAL are either "basic" in pigments (producing their own) or in a dominant cost-position on pigments, I can't believe that any of the "bathtub formulators" have a signficantly lower cost on their own pigment-components, which are purchased in relatively smaller quantities from other sources or producers.

Suffice to say that AQUASHADE or ADMIRAL are two quality formulations and probably represent the best "value" - depending on your objectives and the price that you're being quoted relative to your purchase-volume potential (ie. retail, commercial, dealer pricing).

#34874 06/07/06 02:50 PM
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Is anybody aware if these products will stain pond landscaping, such as limestone?


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#34875 06/07/06 03:50 PM
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Kelly - I would be very interested to know your opinions about the efficacy of pond dyes keeping excessive weed growth down and under control. Especially your thoughts on how pond dyes might affect milfoil, chara, and coontail growth if applied early in the year before growth gets started.



#34876 06/07/06 04:24 PM
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Another quick question for Kelly (or anyone). I put Aquashade in a small pond right next to a larger pond w/o Aquashade. The fish that I catch out of the small pond are noticeably duller in color that than others caught from the large pond. Is this normal?
Thanks, Randy


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#34877 06/07/06 09:00 PM
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Randy :

Many things can affect fish coloration including water clarity and chemical composition, bottom color , mating , light penetration and intensity . Color is often affected by the current situation such as the fishes status as predator or prey, aggressive or passive, agitated or calm, angered or under attack etc. Their coloration scheme is often divided in categories such as warning coloration , cryptic coloration , disruptive coloration , or countershading . Much of coloration is controlled by cells called chromatophores and iridophores which react to the various stimuli. With the acid blue and acid yellow in the dyes it can and does affect light penetration and with it fish color. You could take those same fish and put them in the no dye pond and very quickly they would change to the same color as the fish already there. See Bill Cody's post above wrt dyes effect on light filtering.
















#34878 06/07/06 09:17 PM
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Bruce - Diluted Aquashade will not stain limestone but concentrated solution will stain if directly spilled on limestone. I am not sure about the other types of "pond landscaping" that you mean.

Shorty, Aquashade at label recommentations (1ppm) will suppress growth of milfoil, chara and coontail. But recomenations for milfoil suggest that concentrtations can go up to 2ppm for best control. Chara is suppressed at 1ppm. Keep in mind that green plant growth shallower than 2 ft will not be effectively controlled. Coontail is not truly rooted to the bottom so near surface mats of coontail will not be suppressed very much. Early application (before ice formation or just after ice off) of Aquashade for control these plants will be most effective. Keep in mind that monthly renewal of small amounts of Aquashade is the best for keeping optimum light attenuation. Once the standard 1ppm is reached, the monthy small dose should be the original dose divided by the number of ice free months, i.e. one gallon (1ppm) divided 9 (Mar - Dec) = 128/9= 14oz per mo. At concentrations less than 1ppm, expect a respective amount of less plant control associated with the reduced conc.

rmedgar - I would expect fish living in blue dye to be a different hue or color than those living in unstained water. The blue stain no doubt affects how the fish's eye perceives the sunlight. Natural fish coloration is adjusted autonomically by the fish's chromatophores in the skin under the scales.


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#34879 06/07/06 09:33 PM
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Thanks Eric & Bill. You guys are a very knowledgeable and interesting.


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#34880 06/07/06 10:12 PM
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Thank you.


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OK, new customer loves the pond dyes. I do whatever the customer wants. But I went with EcoShade and cannot find anywhere the exact amount or percentage of dye contents. Does anyone know?

Question #2. Says you can apply it diluted around shoreline, or spray surface. Which is more effective usage of the product?

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1. I wish we kenw the PDC of the dyes avialable.
2. TPF you speed up coverage by pouring in mutiple spots but if you pour in one location it wil dilute out all over the pond at some point. Spraying it woudl be a nightmare, you wil look like papa smurf. We dilute in bucket and sling out iin pond in mutiple locatiosn.

Actually now we throw in a dye packet, much easier to use to me. With a good water soluble pack that we sell the client can toss and never get the smurf aspect.


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Pond Frog, Your Ecoshade is like my Blue vail, neither state what the dye % is. I found that a big syrnge like a turkey injecter works good. Using gloves and the syrnge keeps if off of me and gets the product out in long thin lines in the pond. Is spreads very quickly when distributed this way. I've even used a kids squirt gun, it gets it out there a long way. The only problem was it found every possible leak in the toy gun and i looked like a smurf before i knew it \:\(

Last edited by rcn11thacr; 03/29/10 07:19 AM.

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Awesome, I always wanted to be a smurf. I picked up this stuff for $10 a bottle when it retails for around $30. I have used it before on fountains and small koi ponds, but this pond is kind of large. Probably go to Aquashade next treatment as that was a one time clear the shelf deal. I have a few of those turkey injectors around somewhere. No squirt gun, those things leak like hell. I have a sprayer also. I have to at least try that. Even better than a smurf I could end up like that chick on Willy Wonka and be a blueberry. A violet Frog. But according to my latest Pond Boss magazine article, dye is one of the better treatments. Get to fish pond for rest of day when I finish so I need to get this done. If there are any white muskrats will this turn them blue? Thanks for the ideas.

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I'm just not gonna ask why you "always" wanted to be a smurf... There are some things guys should not know about other guys. \:\)

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Well I did the dye deal yesterday with the Ecoshade. It is normally what I use for smaller applications anyway. I rigged up or invented this delivery system. Worked even better than anticipated. I got a 10 ft section of PVC. 1 1/4" schd 40. Inside of that I put a 10 ft section of steel pipe. It then had zero flex. It is my out rigger, and goes in my oar locks. I filed the PVC down both top and bottom at the oar locks so it would fit tight. It locks in place, no twist or lateral movement. Then I bored out my oak lock retaining pin holes and put in some ball locks pins to lock it down. On the rig I notched a couple of places about half way out from the end caps and the boat. This is for my bleed buckets. Each one has a different amount and different size holes. These are labeled also. I removed the plastic handles, bored them out and put medium thickness, 12" length bungee cords. I use the same buckets to pour mixed dye into them because they have a nice pour spout and internal measurement scale.

I then mixed 6/1 using clean pond water. Poured that into the already in place bucket on the outrigger and away I went. Around the edges of the pond. Since this is my first trip I went ultra slow with a 2 - 1/16 hole bleeder. Just worked like a champ. Two little trails dribbling a couple of inches above the water. Could easily see them what by boat seat and putt putted along in super slow around the pond edges. Round and round I went, only using one bucket. Apllied one gallon of dye.Without the ball locks pins holding the outrigger down and in I could not use just one bucket. One of the most picturesque ponds I have ever worked. Photos not downloaded onto puter yet, busy as hell. Most assuredly meets the Frog never seen two ponds alike. The fish population was a can't judge a book by it's cover. Pretty good time, super nice customer lady.

No smurf, actually no dye on me at all. Pretty clean method of applying.

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So what would be the difference between labeled organic and standard pond dyes?


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You know of all the products I have dealt with, the pond dyes are about the loosest labeling I have seen. It's hard to get any info, even data sheets or MSDS. In order to get organic labeling you have to go through a certification process. I don't think a lot of manufacturers care enough to deal with that. I know some algaecides are toxic to birds, and other critters. But this dye stuff is pretty much just a colorant. Not a cide. It is not meant to kill anything. It also says right on the label, nontoxic to fish. Something to shade the sun and prevent algae is better than nothing. Besides, I'd much rather go this route organic or not than use copper killer and sink the algae to feed another bloom. Today Italian marble fountain maintenance at a winery. I have aquatic gardens in there. But can't use dye there and risk staining.

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The EPA no longer requires registration of dyes for ponds. The contents, Acid blue 9 and Acid Yellow 23, that are listed in Admiral and Aquashade are exactly the same contents in many if not all dyes for lakes and ponds. The clever marketing technique is representing that the dyes need to be registered with the EPA to be used in ponds. That is what you are paying for, something that is no longer required. I do agree that there are many strengths of dye available on the market today and with a little simple testing one can determine the relative strength of the product you are buying.

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